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Programs : Brochure

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Fact Sheet:
Education Abroad Adviser:
Erica Nikolaisen
Minimum GPA:
Class Standing:
1 - First Year
Language of Instruction:
Language Requirement:
0 semesters
Internship Available:
Fields of Study:
Agricultural Sciences, Biology, Ecosystems, Environmental Studies, Science, Sustainability
Program Description:
Sea turtle swimming in the ocean

Program Overview     

Australian wildlifeThis summer program offers two, four-credit courses that are taken in combination to provide a thorough introduction to biodiversity conservation and the socioeconomic factors influencing land and resource managment in two unique areas. 

Rainforest ecosystems harbor some of the world’s highest levels of biodiversity. The rainforests of Australia and New Zealand host extraordinary remnants of the world’s oldest species of plants and animals. Large areas of northeastern Queensland were once covered in spectacular tropical rainforests, preserving millions of years of evolutionary history; however, over the centuries, logging, farming, and development have destroyed and disrupted rainforest ecosystems and habitats, leaving fragile fragments that are often too small or isolated to sustain some species.

Though many of Australia’s tropical forests and species are now protected under World Heritage legislation, they are faced with continual threats due to climate change and invasive species. Similarly, only fragments of northern New Zealand’s ancient forests remain to house endemic fauna and flora. At the same time, these rich forests provide food, medicine, and spiritual value to residents and visitors.

Program Quicklinks     

Course Offerings
Housing and Meals
Program Costs
Financial Aid & Scholarships
More Information
How to Apply
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Education Abroad Credits

You will receive credit for all academic courses taken at this institution, and all of your grades from abroad will count toward your Penn State cumulative GPA. You may not take any courses overseas on a Pass/Fail basis. Students may not take sport or physical activity courses (e.g. sailing, bowling, yoga, etc.) abroad. These courses will not be credited at Penn State.

The program operates in 2 sessions. Each session offers one course for four credits. By completing both sessions, students can earn a maximum of eight credits. 

Courses Offered

  • Session 1 - SFS 3540 Rainforest Management Studies (4 credits)
  • Session 2 - SFS 3550 Techniques for Rainforest Research (4 credits)
To see what kind of credit students in past semesters have received for courses taken on this program, visit the SFS Australia and New Zealand Course Equivalency List. You will need to complete the course equivalency process once you have been accepted to your program and after you have completed your registration abroad. To obtain specific instructions on this process visit our Course Equivalencies page. To learn how the courses on this program can work into your individual degree audit, meet with your academic adviser.


Sunset at Lake TaupoAcademic coursework in cultural anthropology, economics, basic statistics, ecology, and rural sociology is not required, but great to have taken prior to the program. It is helpful for students to arrive with a familiarity of concepts such as ecosystem services, livelihood strategies, resilience, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and trade-offs and synergies between conservation and development.

Students must be 18 years or older and have completed at least one semester of college before participating in the program.

The Center for Rainforest Studies is located in a remote area of Australia. Students should be prepared to encounter the hazards of the rainforest. Flexibility is essential.

Students in the College of Agricultural Sciences should speak with the Study Abroad Coordinator within the College of Agricultural Sciences Office of International Programs when preparing to study abroad.

Housing and Meals

Water pool in national parkThe Australia accommodations are eight-person cabins at The SFS Center for Rainforest Studies in the heart of the Australian rainforest. In New Zealand, student accommodations will be at various lodges.


In Australia the Center for Rainforest Studies lies on the edge of the Atherton Tablelands, about a 20-minute drive from Yungaburra, in the heart of the traditional land of the Yidinji people. Protected World Heritage forests and farmland surround the rolling hills covered in tropical foliage. Student cabins are nestled within the rainforest, which comprises the majority of the property’s 153 acres. Sightings of tropical birds, bandicoots, pademelons, musky rat kangaroos, amethystine pythons, and other unique rainforest species are common. The site is alive with the sounds of the rainforest. Students share eight-person cabins with separate shower and bathroom blocks. The main building of the field station houses the classroom, dining area, and a common room.

New Zealand

During the New Zealand portion of the program, student accommodations will be at the Kiwanis Lodge for the majority of the two-week stay in country. The Lodge is a historic seaside campsite located within a Regional Park, adjacent to Huia Bay and the Waitakere Ranges, and a 45-minute drive from downtown Auckland. Kiwanis Lodge is situated close to several hiking trails through rainforests, meadows, and beaches. The camp includes cabins, which serve as student dorms, a kitchen and dining building, and the Hinge House, an 1890s mill manager’s house, along with plenty of outdoor space. Kiwanis is close to the Arataki Visitor’s Center, which is a hub for information on the history of the Ranges, its ecology, and recreational opportunities. Sightings of unique birds, like the huge kereru and the vocal tui, are common and night walks from Camp bring sightings of glow worms, wetas, and other wildlife.

Program Costs

For more information on program costs, please be sure to review the Summer budget sheet. The budget sheet includes information on costs that are billable to the bursar bill, as well as estimated additional costs. Costs vary by program, so it is important to review this information carefully.

Please note that tuition rates may vary depending on major and class standing.

Students participating in both Session 1 and Session 2 receive a $1,000 discount; this discount has already been applied to the summer budget sheet.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Students backpacking in AustraliaPenn State students studying through Education Abroad can use most components of their existing financial aid packages toward the cost of study abroad. This may include federal and state grants, VA educational benefits, federal student loans, and University scholarships and grants. Notable exceptions include work-study awards and some athletic scholarships.

The University Office of Global Programs also administers a number of grants and scholarships. Eligibility is based on academic excellence and/or financial need. There is also funding available for study abroad programs in diverse locations and for students from diverse backgrounds. In most cases, applicants should have a current year FAFSA on file with the Office of Student Aid. Funding opportunities may also be available through Penn State academic departments. For detailed information on financial aid and scholarship opportunities and application procedures, please visit the Funding Study Abroad section of the Global Penn State website.

For More Information

For more information about programs and education abroad at Penn State, we encourage you to meet with or contact our Peer Advisers. These study abroad returnees can explain program options, give an overview of the education abroad process, as well as provide information about his/her program. If you are not at University Park, contact your Campus Global Representative

To learn more about the specifics of each program, schedule an appointment with the education abroad adviser for this program.

For the inside scoop on life in a foreign country, be sure to check out the Student Spotlights of Penn State students currently studying abroad.

How to Apply

If you would like to participate on this study abroad program, you will need to apply to Penn State Education Abroad by clicking the "Apply Now" button on this page. 

You must complete the following materials in your application:

  •  Education Abroad Questionnaire
  •  One academic recommendation
  •  Signature Documents
Visit the How to Apply section of our website for more information.

Studying Abroad with a Disability

Many students with disabilities successfully study abroad each year. Please note that other cultures may have different attitudes and available accommodations regarding disabilities. While we cannot guarantee the accessibility of all program sites and locations, specific accommodations may be arranged in consultation with our office, the Student Disability Resources office, and our partners abroad. To prepare for success, students are strongly encouraged to research the country and program location to consider if and how they will manage their disabilities abroad in advance of selecting a program. Students with disabilities and other diverse backgrounds can begin their research on our Diversity Awareness Abroad page.

Other Useful Links

Steps to Study Abroad
Schedule an Appointment
Cost & Funding
Health & Safety
Parents & Family

Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2018 02/01/2018
02/14/2018 06/04/2018 08/08/2018
NOTE: Start date marks arrival in host country. End date marks departure from program housing.
Summer 2019 02/01/2019 02/13/2019 TBA TBA

Indicates that deadline has passed