Frequently Asked Questions

Students will spend seven weeks living and studying at different NRS reserves. While conducting firsthand study of California ecosystems, students will gain skills in field research methods, experimental design, data analysis, scientific writing, and public speaking. California Ecology and Conservation will emphasize the skills needed to conduct independent scientific research.

Students will spend seven weeks living and studying at different NRS reserves. While conducting firsthand study of California ecosystems, students will gain skills in field research methods, experimental design, data analysis, scientific writing, and public speaking. California Ecology and Conservation will emphasize the skills needed to conduct independent scientific research.

The course will start and end at an NRS reserve near San Jose. Students must provide their own transportation to and from this location; however, all other transportation during the course will be supplied by the University.

Students should expect to stay in tents for most, if not all, of their time on course. However, there will be no backpacking and students will not need to carry their camping gear for long distances.

There are showers at most of the NRS reserves visited, and laundry facilities at some reserves. Students should pack at least 10 days’ worth of clothing and may occasionally need to do laundry by hand.

There is only one scheduled day off during course. However, most days students will have blocks of unscheduled time.  A detailed itinerary will be shared with the class before the program begins.

California Ecology and Conservation is an intensive program of study that requires students to work long hours, hence students will accrue more than enough instruction hours to meet credit requirements in seven weeks. Students are free to return home after instruction concludes. See below for information on the additional work required of students from semester campuses (UC Berkeley and UC Merced) during the fall and spring terms.

Yes. All students will enroll in BIOL/ENVS 188 California Ecology and Conservation. Students from quarter campuses will receive 19 quarter units. Students from semester campuses (UC Berkeley and UC Merced) taking the class in fall and spring must also enroll in BIOL/ENVS 189 Critical Conservation Issues in California, for which they will be required to complete additional assignments prior to and during the 7 weeks in the field. As a result, students from semester campuses will receive 15 semester units for fall and spring classes, and 12.7 semester units for summer classes.

The course will be offered three times per year: fall term, spring term, and a summer session. Dates of instruction and other key course dates can be found here.

The maximum class size is 27 students, selected from across all nine of the general UC campuses.

California Ecology and Conservation is open to all University of California undergraduates in good standing at their home campus who have at least a 2.5 GPA and have passed an introductory ecology or biology course prior to applying for the program. Students considering a career in field ecology, wildlife biology, botany, physical geography, conservation biology, or environmental science are particularly encouraged to apply. International students who are seeking a degree at the University of California are welcome to apply, but unfortunately international short-term students (one year or less) are not eligible.

Students must complete an application and provide a copy of their unofficial transcript; there is no fee to apply. UC undergraduates with a minimum GPA of 2.5, in good standing with their home campus, and who have passed an introductory ecology or biology course are eligible to apply. Course instructors and NRS systemwide staff will be involved in the student selection process.

Students must successfully complete a prerequisite course before applying to California Ecology and Conservation.

No. The schedule of CEC requires full-time participation and represents a full course load. Additionally, you will not always have regular online access to email and will be in class and conducting research at irregular hours. Therefore other outside commitments during the course are not recommended, with the exception of an occasional online meeting.

California Ecology and Conservation will be offered every spring, summer, and fall term. Application deadlines and other key dates for upcoming course offerings can be found here.

Students accepted into the program will be directed to the UC Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) to register for the course. UCEAP will inform your campus registrar of your acceptance into the program. You will not need to register for any course at your campus for the term of your NRS participation. After you have completed the course, your grade will be sent to UCEAP. Then, your units and grade(s) will then be transmitted from UCEAP to your campus registrar.

The UC Education Abroad Program has over 50 years of experience running an academic program open to students throughout the UC system. For this reason, the NRS has arranged for UCEAP to provide administrative support for the Field Studies Program. UCEAP works with financial aid and registrar’s offices throughout the UC system, and is uniquely suited to assist students based at different UC campuses.

In addition to the tuition and campus fees students normally pay each term, students in the course will pay a program fee that covers costs such as transportation, food, lodging, and research equipment. Note that costs for summer classes are different than for the regular academic year, as summer tuition is charged by the unit and non-resident supplemental tuition does not apply. A more detailed description of course costs can be found on the Finances page.

The program fee covers food, transportation, and lodging for the entire seven weeks of the class, meaning you are not likely to have to pay for rent, groceries, gas, entertainment, and other costs you would normally incur while at your campus. The course offers students the opportunity to spend roughly 50 continuous days in the field—substantially more field time than other UC field courses.

Generous donations have made it possible for the NRS to offer scholarships to students participating in California Ecology and Conservation. Scholarship applications are available at the same time as program applications. In addition, if you are currently receiving financial aid, the total cost of participating in this course will be considered in the financial aid package from your home campus. You may therefore be eligible for increased financial aid while enrolled in this course.

All credits earned in California Ecology and Conservation (19 quarter units or 15 semester units in fall and spring, 12.7 semester units in summer) count toward graduation from UC. Academic departments at each campus determine how course credits fulfill major, minor, and/or GE requirements. Across campuses many departments in relevant fields have determined how credits from California Ecology and Conservation map onto degree requirements; the most current information can be found here. Students may also contact their academic advisor to discuss how course credits apply toward their personal course of study.

Grades will not be available immediately after the course ends because it takes several steps to send the data from UCEAP to your campus registrar. Once your grades have been transmitted you will receive an email at the address you provided in MyEAP. Grades are generally reported within 90 days of the end of a program.

Do not file to graduate during the same term that you participate in the program; your grades will not arrive in time for most degree verification deadlines. That said, graduating seniors enrolled in the program spring quarter may still walk in spring commencement ceremonies, though their degree will not be conferred until summer. If you are nearing graduation, contact your campus Registrar’s Office when you return from the program to inquire about the completion of graduation checks and the recording of grades.

If you have an outstanding balance owed to UCEAP, your grades will not be transmitted to your campus’s Registrar’s Office until your balance is paid in full.