This program explores tropical coastal ecosystems in Belize and the conservation challenges of anthropogenic stressors on ecosystems. This program provides students with an opportunity to use the scientific method to answer questions in marine ecology.
Explored ecosystems include coral reefs in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (including the Great Blue Hole), seagrass and algae beds, and mangrove forests. We will survey sharks and other fishes, corals and other invertebrates, and vegetated coastal habitats. In these ecosystems, students will study community composition, population demographics, and ecosystem health.
Students will also have the opportunity to explore the history and culture of the ancient Maya on foot and horseback. Students visit a protected archeological site of Xunantunich, and explore unarchived remains of Mayan culture.
This program is open to all undergraduate students, including students who do not attend George Mason University.
Undergraduate students must have a minimum GPA of 2.25.
Students will choose one 3-credit course during the application process.
- BIOL 440 - Field Biology
- EVPP 490 - Special Topics in Environmental Science and Policy
- INTS 399 - Study Abroad
- EVPP 505 - Selected Topics in Environmental Science
July 18 - July 31, 2021
July 18 Arrive in Belize and transfer to San Ignacio.
July 19 Explore ancient Mayan sites and the rainforest in San Ignacio.
July 20 Travel to Xunantunich and Tropical Education Center. Night zoo tour
July 21 Travel to Billy Hawk Caye.
July 22 Explore coastal ecosystems of Billy Hawk Caye.
July 23 Explore coastal ecosystems of Billy Hawk Caye.
July 24 Explore coastal ecosystems of Billy Hawk Caye.
July 25 Travel to Ambergris Caye.
July 26 Explore coastal ecosystems of Ambergris Caye.
July 27 Explore coastal ecosystems of Ambergris Caye.
July 28 Explore coastal ecosystems of Ambergris Caye.
July 29 Explore coastal ecosystems of Ambergris Caye.
July 30 Explore coastal ecosystems of Ambergris Caye.
July 31 Depart Belize and return to United States.
* Dates and itinerary subject to change. The Global Education Office reserves the right to make changes to a program in light of currency fluctuations, changing security and safety conditions, and/or any other unforeseen circumstances.
Summer 2021: $4,600
The Program Cost for study abroad courses is assessed separately from Mason tuition and fees. This means separate charges are put on your student account for this course, a study abroad tuition charge and a study abroad program fee charge which together equal the published Program Cost for this course.
- Tuition for 3 credits
- Accommodations (dormitory-style housing in field stations, some camping in tents, jungle lodges and inns)
- Almost all meals
- Park fees and archaeological access permits
- Guided tours and field excursions as described in itinerary
- In-country transportation
- International emergency medical insurance.
Airfare*, passport and visa fees, COVID-19 testing in the U.S. before departure, COVID-19 testing while abroad, vaccinations, snorkeling equipment (mask, fins, snorkel), some meals, personal spending, required textbooks and/or course materials.
*Note: This program does not include a group flight. Information regarding arrival times and location will be sent out to all participants after the application deadline. Do not purchase airfare until you receive the "Green Light for Flights" notice from the Global Education Office via email. The notice will include information on the arrival/departure airports, flight times, and where to meet the group. Students who fail to follow the guidelines GEO sends out will be responsible for applicable costs of changing their flights and/or costs associated with arriving prior to the start of the program.
When the time comes to purchase airfare, GEO will recommend the purchase of Flight Interruption and Cancellation Insurance. The “Green Light for Flights” email will provide additional information about this insurance.
Students on MasonGEO programs must pay the advertised program cost in order to participate. This cost will be made in three payments (Deposit + First Payment + Final Payment). Students using financial aid can provide additional paperwork in lieu of deposit and final balance payments. All payments and charges are reflected in the student's Mason Student Account.
Application Deposit: A non-refundable program deposit $200 must be received by the application deadline. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system and is included in the program fee.
First Payment: A non-refundable payment of $1000 must be received by March 20, 2021. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system and is included in the program fee. Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.
In the event that a student’s financial aid or VA Benefits is estimated to cover the entire costs of the study abroad program, the entire charge will be posted to their student account, since that is where the aid will be applied. In this case students do not pay their first payment through MasonAbroad. However students must submit their “Intent to Use Financial Aid” form by the first deposit deadline.
Final Payment: The final balance payment is due by April 10, 2021. This is the difference of your Program Cost minus the $1200 you've already paid (Deposit + First Payment). Students who are using financial aid may have this payment deadline extended. See "Financial Aid" information below.
Financial Aid and VA Benefits: Students who intend to use financial aid or their VA benefits to fund their program fees (partially or in full) must have the "Intent to Use Financial Aid" or "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form" completed and on file with the Global Education Office by the First Payment deadline. The Office of Financial Aid is unable to assess if a student will have aid available for summer until mid to late February. The "Intent to Use Financial Aid" and "Intent to Use VA Benefits" forms are available in the MasonAbroad application system once the Office of Financial Aid can review aid for this program.
* Students must be enrolled at least half-time for federal loans and the majority of grant funds. Please refer to the Financial Aid Website for a definition of half-time for undergraduate and graduate students: https://www2.gmu.edu/admissions-aid/financial-aid/eligibility.
Withdrawal and Refund Policy: All participants are bound by the Mason GEO Withdrawal and Refund Policy.
For more information on payments, financial aid, and information for non-Mason students:
GEO offers a number of need- and merit-based scholarships. All Mason students on this program are welcome to apply:
Program Deposit: $200 for all applicants.
Course Selection Questionnaire: You will choose the course(s) you would like to receive credit for on this program. Check the "Academics" tab to see what courses are offered on this program. If you need help selecting your course, check with your academic advisor.
Passport Status Questionnaire: You do not need a passport to complete this questionnaire or the application. However, if you do not have a valid passport, you should begin applying for one now. The Global Education Office offers Passport Grants to help.
Signature Documents: Read and electronically "sign" the documents regarding the acknowledgement of risk, the pre-departure orientation, and your financial responsibility.
Intent to Use Financial Aid Form: For Mason students only. If you use financial aid, this form must be completed by your financial aid counselor and submitted by the 1st payment deadline. The Office of Financial Aid is unable to assess if a student will have aid available for summer until mid to late February.
Additional Requirements for Non-Mason Applicants:
Official transcript: To be mailed or emailed to the Global Education Office at George Mason University.
Non-degree Contract Course/Admission Form: Please complete the form and upload it into the questionnaire.
* Additional application requirements may apply to individual programs. Once you open your application, you will see all application requirements.