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  • Locations: Laikipia, Kenya; Nairobi, Kenya; Nakuru, Kenya
  • Program Terms: Winter Break
  • Budget Sheets: Winter Break
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Minimum GPA (Undergraduate): 2.25 Language of Instruction: English
Housing: Field Station, Hotel, Other Number of Credits Offered: 3
Eligible Population: 01 Freshman, 02 Sophomore, 03 Junior, 04 Senior, General Public, Graduate, Non-Degree Seeking Prerequisite: No
Type of Program: Faculty-led Click here for a definition of this term Area of Study: Geography and Geoinformation Science, Biology, Environmental Policy, Integrative Studies
Click here for a definition of this term Study Abroad Host: Global Education Office Minimum GPA (Graduate): 3.0
Open to non-Mason Students: Yes Program eligible for VA Benefits: Yes
Program Description:

Wildlife and Conservation in Kenya

Kenya, Winter 2021

Wildlife in Kenya 2
The Wildlife and Conservation in Kenya program is designed to expose students to several key areas of conservation science with the additional benefit of on-the-ground field research in wildlife ecology. An engaging exploration of Kenya's vast and diverse ecosystems, this course will put you in close proximity to some incredible and charismatic wildlife.

Participants will have an incredible experience viewing wildlife, while learning about current challenges facing terrestrial megafauna that include the classic big five (lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhino). We will accomplish this by visiting multiple national parks, meeting key conservation biologists, and being introduced to a wide range of current wildlife management issues. Here is a list of some of the places we will go:
  At both the applied and academic level, topics will include the conservation, biology, and behavior of species; landscapes and the conservation of protected and non-protected areas; human-wildlife conflicts; and the complexities of community-level interactions.

Due to the sensitive nature of the region, this group's size will be limited, so we suggest you submit your application as soon as you can.

Program Highlights

  • Conservation in action: research to applied science
  • Wildlife management: mammals, landscapes, and conflict resolution
  • Ecosystem and geography: savannas, Great Rift Valley, grasslands
  • Culture and conservation: human dimensions of wildlife protection
  • Business and leadership: Tourism, marketing, and politics


Study Abroad video ad featuring KENYA
General: Wildlife of Kenya


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This program is open to all undergraduate students including students who do not attend George Mason University.  Members of the general public and non-students are also welcome to participate.  Note: Participants must be able to endure long intervals of using ground transportation (safari vehicles) in addition to spending hours out in the field and hiking across flat landscapes.  Due to the nature of the program, space is very limited.

Undergraduate students must have a minimum GPA of 2.25.


Students will choose one 3-credit course during the application process.

Course Options

  • Biology - BIOL 440: Field Biology
  • Environmental Science and Policy - EVPP 490: Special Topics in Environmental Science and Policy
  • Integrative Studies - INTS 399: Study Abroad
  • Geography and GeoInformation Science - GGS 399: Special Topics in Geography and GeoInformation Science 
  • (Tentatively, awaiting approval) Film and Video Studies - FAVS 399:  Special Topics in Film and Video Studies 
  • Participating as a graduate student in this course is possible but requires additional work on the student side and student must have permission from their Academic Advisor and your department head. There are additional academic components required to earn graduate credit and you must talk with the Academic Director for approval.

Program Dates

January 2 - January 17, 2021


JAN 2:  (Saturday) Departure from US
JAN 3:  Arrival to Kenya - Nairobi
JAN 4:  Nairobi
JAN 5:  Nairobi to Laikipia Plateau 
JAN 6:  Laikipia Plateau 
JAN 7:  Laikipia Plateau 
JAN 8:  Laikipia Plateau 
JAN 9:  Laikipia Plateau / Great Rift Valley
JAN 10:  Great Rift Valley
JAN 11:  Great Rift Valley / Maasai Mara Game Reserve
JAN 12:  Maasai Mara Game Reserve
JAN 13:  Maasai Mara Game Reserve
JAN 14:  Maasai Mara Game Reserve
JAN 15:  Maasai Mara Game Reserve
JAN 16:  Nairobi - Departures
JAN 17:  (Sunday) Arrival to US

* 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.

Program Cost

Winter 2023: TBD
Winter 2020: $4,305

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.

  • Application Deposit
  • Tuition for 3 credits and mandatory fees 
  • Pre-Departure Orientation
  • Accommodations*
  • Most meals
  • Guided tours and field excursions, as described in itinerary
  • In-country travel 
  • International emergency medical insurance.
*Note: Accommodations range from guest houses, cottages, to tented camps. None of the facilities will have air conditioning (though it is not necessary), and at times hot water and electricity will be limited, but always accessible.

Not included:

*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. 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.


Program Payments

The full program fee is charged to your Mason Student Account. Students pay the Global Education Office (GEO) Program Fee as advertised in two payments (Application Deposit + Final Payment.)

Application Deposit: $200 non-refundable Application Deposit must be received by the application deadline. This fee is paid online through the MasonAbroad application system and is included in the program fee.

Final Payment: The final balance payment is made through the Mason Bill+Payment system. Payment is due according to the Mason Payment Schedule. The amount due is the difference of your Program Cost minus the $200 you will have already paid, the Application Deposit.
Note: You can make your final payment in the Mason Bill+Payment system even if you do not see the GEO program charge on your student account. George Mason University applies payments to outstanding charges first. If you have an outstanding balance from a previous semester your payments will first go to paying that charge. You will still be responsible for the GEO charge.

Financial Aid:
In most cases, financial aid (federal, state, institutional financial aid, scholarships, grants or loans) can be used to finance study abroad. It is the student’s responsibility to check with the Office of Financial Aid to review their financial aid package. The Office of Financial Aid is the only office that can determine your aid eligibility.
Meeting with your financial aid officer prior to applying to study abroad will help you understand if, how much, and when your aid can be used to study abroad.
Confirmation of your financial aid award may not be available until registration and billing for the term in question is final. If aid eligibility changes, or the amount of aid disbursed is lower than anticipated, students are responsible for all remaining account balances or risk late fees, holds on their accounts, and program dismissal.
To assist students in the processing of their financial aid, GEO will communicate with the Office of Financial aid those students who plan to utilize financial aid for their specific study abroad program through their application with GEO.  Please note there is no guarantee to students that their aid can be utilized for their specific study abroad program.

If you plan to use federal, state, institutional financial aid, scholarships, grants or loans to finance your study abroad you must: 
  • Mark “Yes” to “Do you plan to use Financial Aid to finance your program (federal, state, institutional financial aid, scholarships, grants or loans)?” in your profile in

After acceptance: *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:

VA Benefits: The Veterans Administration determines if a program is eligible to receive VA benefit payments based on the participants VA education program. Use of benefits is dependent on type of benefit and type of program. If you plan to use VA benefits to finance study abroad contact your program officer at to request the "Intent to Use VA Benefits Form." You will complete that form with Mason’s Office of Military Services. To contact Military Services be sure to email them directly at

Withdrawal and Refund Policy: All participants are bound by the Mason GEO Withdrawal and Refund Policy.

Payment Instructions

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:


Application Opens:

May 1st


Application Deadline:

October 10th


Application requirements:*

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.

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.

Application instructions:

Academic Director

Name Ryan Valdez, Ph.D
BIO: Ryan Valdez is adjunct faculty with GMU’s Biology Department, College of Science.  He is also the Director for Conservation Science & Policy for National Parks Conservation Association. He facilitates the application of multidisciplinary science focused on air/climate, energy, landscapes, water and wildlife toward conservation strategies helping to protect US national parks.

Ryan previously worked for Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute for over 10 years in the field, classroom, laboratory and museum settings. He has managed ecological programs throughout the Americas and East Africa and holds a strong interest in applied GIS. He frequently uses on-line interactive maps to share the story of protecting national parks.

Ryan founded the George Mason University Kenya Wildlife Study Abroad program in 2010, which has been a life-changing experience for numerous university students pursuing degrees in conservation biology. As a STEM career and academic mentor, Ryan has helped many students develop strategies toward employment opportunities and graduate level education.

Ryan holds degrees in conservation science from three universities: Texas A&M University (B.S.), Yale University (MFS) and George Mason University (Ph.D.).

Field Assistant

  Mary, Kenya
Name Mary Wykstra
BIO: Mary Wykstra is based in Nairobi, Kenya and is the co-founder and director of Action For Cheetahs in Kenya. Mary completed her Bachelor of Science in Zoology from Michigan State University and holds a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Since 2001, 15 Masters and over 30 undergraduate students completed their thesis projects and internship programs under the guidance of Mary and the Action for Cheetahs in Kenya Staff. She oversees a staff of 25 people working from two field locations in research, community development and conservation education projects using the cheetah as a means to understand ecology and threats to environmental sustainability.

GEO Program Administrator

Name Brittany Harris
Phone 703-993-2155

Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.