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Coastal Study Away Programs

Students looking at jelly fish

Interested in spending time on a pristine Georgia barrier island that is known for its history, culture, and scientific discoveries? Join us at The University of Georgia’s Marine Institute on Sapelo Island for one of our 2024 academic programs. Students will experience an immersive learning environment focused on the various components of barrier island and near shore ecosystems. Topics to be covered include marine invertebrates, marine vertebrates, barrier island plants, ecosystem energetics, island freshwater systems, fisheries, animal behavior, barrier island ecology and conservation. Work with experts in the field, make connections with local, state, and federal biologists, learn up-to-date field and laboratory methods, and conduct your own research project under the direction of faculty mentors. The program is open to all UGA and non-UGA students pursuing degrees in biology, ecology, ocean science, fisheries, wildlife biology, natural resource management, and environmental science.


Students will be in residence at the UGA Marine Institute (UGAMI) on Sapelo Island. UGAMI is located on Sapelo Island, an undeveloped barrier island situated between the Atlantic Ocean and pristine salt marshes. UGAMI has a long history of coastal research and has made significant contributions to understanding of the links between uplands, salt marshes and estuaries. UGAMI is located within the NOAA Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR). There are fewer than 100 residents on the island.

During the program, students will also take several field trips to other locations on the Georgia Coast. 

UGAMI campus


Sapelo Housing

Students will be responsible for tuition (HOPE can be applied) and applicable UGA fees.

The program fee varies per program and students should visit UGA's Study Away website for the most updated information. Fees cover the cost of  accommodation (shown above), dinner at night, and transportation between coastal facilities and field study sites.  There's also a laboratory fee of $142.
The program fee does not include student travel to and from the coastal sites at the beginning and end of the course. Breakfast and lunch will not be provided, but facilities for food storage and preparation are available. 

Please contact the program director, Dr. Thomas Hancock, if you have further questions.

Marine Biology Spring Semester

January 8 - April 26 2024
17 credits

For More Info and to Register

MARS 3450-3450L Marine Biology and Marine Biology Laboratory (4 Credits)

seine seine seineStudy of marine organisms and the environments they inhabit; diversity of marine organisms, primary and secondary production in marine habitats, ecological interactions in marine environments, and management concerns.

ECOL 3500-3500L- Ecology and Ecology Laboratory (4 Credits)

Population structure and dynamics, organization and classification of communities, and nutrient and energy flows in ecosystems.

MARS (FISH) 4380/6380  Marine Fisheries Biology (3 Credits)

Interaction of oceanographic processes with the life histories and productivity of marine fisheries species, and the human interactions with major marine fisheries. 

BIOL 3720L Field Animal Behavior (3 Credits)

Hands-on field study of animals living in diverse habitats. Illustrates behavior principles and provides experience with methods and techniques used in animal behavior research. Emphasis on data analysis and written communication of results.

ECOL 3480 Special Topics in Ecology (3 Credits)

Discussion and/or lectures relating to a central theme of special interest in ecology. Topics and instructors vary by semester.


Introductory Biology: BIOL 1107-1107L (Principles of Biology I) and BIOL 1108-1108L (Principles of Biology II)

Introductory Chemistry: CHEM 1211-1211L (Freshman Chemistry I) and CHEM 1212-1212L (Freshman Chemistry II)

Introductory Math: MATH 1113 (Pre Calculus)


May 14 - June 5 2024
4 credits

 For More Info and to Register

MARS (PBIO) 4160-4160L Life and Death in the Salt Marsh with Lab (4 Credits)

Two small white boats with outboard motors sit in the middle of the frame one behind the other as they are tied to a dock on the left of the image. The tidal creek winds its way vertically through the image and is flanked on the right by grass and salt marsh and on the left by live oaks draped in Spanish Moss. The sky is light blue with scattered clouds and the lighting is that of early evening but not quite sunset yet.

Exploration of the diversity, adaptations, and interacting functional roles of estuarine plants, animals, and microorganisms.

This course includes both a lecture and a laboratory component. Lectures are primarily concentrated during the first week of the class, after which students spend 10 days at the UGA Marine Institute on Sapelo Island doing a combination of laboratory and field work. (Students are required to spend 8-10 hours in class during this period.) The final week focuses on data analysis and interpretation of independent research, and includes discussion and synthesis sessions.


Organismal Biology (BIOL 1104 and BIOL 1104L) or Principles of Biology II (BIOL 1108-1108L) or Organismal Plant Biology (PBIO 1220-1220L) or permission of department

Coastal Summer Semester

June 3 - June 28, 2024
8 credits

 For More Info and to Register

MARS 4225 Methods in marine Ecology with Lab (4 Credits)

on a botStudents will be introduced to field and laboratory methods used to investigate marine ecosystems. This course emphasizes methods for identifying and studying marine organisms, oceanographic and coastal marsh sampling, and other field research methods. Major course topics include: organisms of the marine environment; sampling and analytical approaches for studying invertebrates, plants, and plankton; survey tools for the study of marine ecosystems; and data collection from oceanographic vessels. This course satisfies the laboratory course requirement for Biology majors, or can be used as a Biology elective. It satisfies the methods/skills requirement for Ecology majors.

BIOL/ECOL/MARS 4960R – Undergraduate Research in Biology (4 credits)

Faculty-supervised independent or collaborative inquiry into fundamental and applied problems within a discipline that requires students to gather, analyze, and synthesize and interpret data and to present results in writing and other relevant communication formats.


There are no academic pre-requisites for the summer semester program; however students must have permission of the program director, Dr. Thomas Hancock


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