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A 2012 UGA Costa Rica student Says:

"Costa Rica is an amazingly peaceful country with amazing culture and wildlife. The trip was not a culture shock, but a culture re-awareness. You learn about other values, customs, and at the same time learn the importance of conserving the land & its creatures."

Conservation Medicine & Conservation Biology (2015)

SAN LUIS main road through campus rainbow CONS MED group attending to small puma CONS MED students stethoscope small puma CONS MED anesthesia GEOMORPH students on coast Sloth upsidedown closeup baby COAST sea turtle tracks male lying down width COAST girl snorkel sea cucumber CONS MED wild puma tracks
Undergraduate, Graduate / Summer / Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources | School of Veterinary Medicine

Program Overview


Conservation medicine is an emerging field concerned with the interface between human health, animal health (both wild and domestic), and ecosystem health, synthesizing the fields of veterinary medicine, public health, ecology, forestry, and natural resources using the principles of biology, biogeography, population genetics, anthropology, and a variety of other disciplines used to understand biological diversity throughout the world. Conservation biology, on the other hand, is the scientific study of the Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction. It, too, is an interdisciplinary subject drawing from sciences, economics, social sciences, and practices from natural resource management.


Who should attend this program?


Pre-professionals seeking a career in wildlife health, biology, wildlife management, domestic animal-wildlife interface issues, and those interested in habitat conservation will benefit from a solid foundation in both of these disciplines. Undergraduate students interested in conservation, ecology, wildlife, and either the pre-veterinary or pre-medical majors should apply, as well should graduate students of veterinary medicine, wildlife management, conservation biology, disease ecology, and wildlife medicine.


An international location for this course lends itself well to covering issues facing the developing world such as emergent diseases, the relationship between dwindling water sources and disease, as well as animal and public health challenges. This 30 day course aims to provide students from a variety of backgrounds the opportunity to practice the principles of conservation medicine and biology using Costa Rican fauna and ecology, a nation well-known both for its rich biodiversity and its long history of conservation research.


Program Objectives:

  • To learn and practice the basic principles and major topics of conservation medicine and conservation biology in field conditions, while providing service to local communities.
  • To understand how to create and implement hypothesis-driven research projects in the field.
  • To develop efficient and safe field work skills in a tropical environment.
  • To understand how the interplay of humans and nature have shaped the landscape in Costa Rica.
  • To promote interdisciplinary collaboration and integration between students in veterinary medicine, ecology, and natural resource management.
  • To understand the cultural and socioeconomic issues that relevant to conservation biology and conservation medicine.

How are these objectives met?


We will travel to four sites in Costa Rica in order to immerse ourselves in the natural history and prevalent conservation issues of that particular region. We will then conduct both observational and experimental work to answer questions embedded in the major themes of conservation medicine and biology. In the process, we will engage in specific service-learning activities intended to “leave something behind” while learning firsthand the needs and values of Costa Rica and its people, as well as try to understand the socioeconomic and cultural context that leads to the major conservation issues facing this nation.


One major portion of this program will focus on wildlife disease investigation and surveillance in the context of endangered species, the wildlife-domestic animal interface, and public health. Another large component will identify conservation challenges and solutions. And of course, basic natural history and local ecosystems will be explored at each site.


Please note: The course numbers will soon be changing for the program. In the mean time, please contact Sonia Hernandez with any questions about the course specifics.




March 20 2015



Program Dates

June 8 - July 8, 2015

Application Process

Enrollment is limited to 18 qualified students. Students will earn 6 credit hours.


To apply, students must submit a complete UGA Costa Rica program application and UGA transient application (if applicable). A $300 deposit will be required 10 days after the full program fee hits your UGA Student Account. This deposit will be refunded if the applicant withdraws by the program's withdrawal deadline (see below). If you are a transient student, please click here for complete application instructions.


For more information, contact Sonia Hernandez. You can also reach the UGACR Office at (706) 542-6203.

Costs & Payments

Program fees are approximately $TBD*, which covers all lodging (both on- and off-campus), three meals per day, travel insurance, and all sponsored in-country transportation and entry fees. Additional costs include UGA in-state tuition† and fees, personal items, and international airfare. For more information on tuition and fees, please visit the UGA Bursar's website.

* The final program fee is subject to student enrollment.
Note: Out-of-state students pay in-state tuition. Additionally, the HOPE scholarship applies to those who are eligible.



Once you are admitted, all program fees will be charged to your Student Account. You may pay online with a credit card or mail a check to the Bursar's Office. Access your Student Account here. If you receive a scholarship from either OIE or UGA Costa Rica, or plan to utilize financial aid, please notify the UGA Costa Rica Office should any payment need to be submitted after the deadlines. We are generally willing to work with students who have special circumstances.



An additional application and $60 processing fee is required for non-UGA students to enroll. Click here for instructions and to download the Transient Student application. Contact the UGA Costa Rica Office to confirm once you have started the application process. And per University of Georgia policy, all non-UGA students will be charged a $250 fee in addition to their tuition (unless a student of a USG or SEC institution), which is assessed by the UGA Bursar's office.

Other dates / Deadlines

Application Deadline: March 20, 2015


Withdrawal deadline: March 30, 2015

After this date, students who withdraw from the program will be responsible to forfeit their initial deposit as well as any program costs that have been spent on their behalf (e.g., hotel reservations, transportation, and payments to local vendors). To withdraw a student must submit the official withdrawal form.


Final Payment Deadline: June 1, 2015

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