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.
Anticipated Course Options*
- BIOL 440 Field Biology
- EVPP 490 Special Topics in Environmental Science and Policy
- INTS 399 Study Abroad
- Environmental Science and Policy
- Environmental Science and Public policy
*Subject to change. Course offerings will be finalized by the application deadline.
3 January - 16 January, 2021
Day 1 Arrive in Belize and transfer to Ambergris Caye.
Day 2 Explore coastal ecosystems on Ambergris Caye.
Day 3 Explore coastal ecosystems on Ambergris Caye.
Day 4 Explore coastal ecosystems on Ambergris Caye.
Day 5 Travel to San Ignacio.
Day 6 Visit Xunantunich and travel to Southern Lagoon.
Day 7 Explore estuary ecosystems of the Southern Lagoon.
Day 8 Explore estuary ecosystems of the Southern Lagoon.
Day 9 Explore estuary ecosystems of the Southern Lagoon.
Day 10 Travel to Lighthouse Reef.
Day 11 Explore marine ecosystems of the Lighthouse Reef.
Day 12 Explore marine ecosystems of the Lighthouse Reef.
Day 13 Explore marine ecosystems of the Lighthouse Reef
Day 14 Travel to Tropical Education Center, Night zoo tour.
Day 15 Travel to BZE airport and depart for U.S.
* 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.
Winter 2020: $4,445
Winter 2021: TBD
Included: 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, snorkeling equipment (mask, fins, snorkel), some meals, personal spending, required textbooks and/or course materials. *Note: Participants must arrange their own airfare once instructed to do so by the Mason Global Education Office.
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.
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 October 20th. 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 November 10th. 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 "Intent to Use Financial Aid" form is available in the MasonAbroad application system once you have started your application for this program. If you are using VA Benefits please contact your program officer to request the "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form."
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 be 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.
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.