Duke in Australia



Through a series of successive field trips to observe the ecology and biodiversity of diverse Australian habitats, you’ll travel to Darwin in the Northern Territory, the Blue Mountains and Sydney in new South Wales, and the Great Barrier Reef and tropical rain forest in northern Queensland. Majestic landscapes of beaches, deserts, rainforests, and reefs form a spectacular backdrop for this immersive course experience. 

Australia is an ideal place to develop an understanding of why fauna and flora around the world are different from place to place and, on the other hand, why plants or animals separated by great distances may be closely related. 

As an ancient world, Australia’s geological record goes back to the very dawn of time, harboring evidence of the oldest crust on Earth, the origin of life itself, and the very first animal communities. Human memories also run deep in the Land Down Under. The Australian Aboriginal Peoples arguably represent the longest continuous human society on planet Earth, going back at least 40,000 years. Due to this unique geological and human history, Australia preserves perhaps the most unique ecosystem and diversity of plants and animals of any continent.


Location: Various locations in Australia

Term: Summer

Dates: July 5 – August 3, 2017

Application Deadline: February 1, 2017

Academic Theme(s): Biology, Earth & Ocean Sciences, Environmental Science

Credit Type: Duke Credit

Eligibility: Open to all majors. No prerequisite. Non-Duke students are welcome to apply.

Duke Affiliation: Co-sponsored by Duke’s Department of Biology 

Housing: Hostel, Tent Campsite, Apartment, Hotel

GEO Advisor: Alayne Wood



All students will enroll in the signature course, which consists of field studies supplemented with readings, videos, and class discussions. You’ll gain firsthand knowledge of Australian biodiversity and an understanding of the basic issues of conservation biology, ecology, and evolution.

Signature Course

BIOLOGY 288A / EOS 288A / ENVIRON 288A  Biogeography in an Australian Context  

(NS, STS) 1.0 Course Credit. Taught by Dr. Alexander Glass

This course starts in the capitol of the Northern Territory, Darwin, and continues with visits to the Blue Mountains and Sydney in New South Wales, as well as the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. You will study the distribution of plants and animals in space and time as determined by the interaction of geology, climate evolutionary history, and culture. Special emphasis will be placed on the unique terrestrial and marine flora and fauna of the Australian continent and the impact of humans on the distribution of these plants and animals.

Participants must register for BIOLOGY 288A or above crosslisting. No pass/fail option or auditing is permitted. 

Prerequisite: None. No prior course work in these areas is assumed or required.


In Darwin and Katoomba, you will stay in hostel-style accommodations. While visiting Kakadu National Park, you will stay in tents. No meals are provided in Darwin; meals are provided while camping.

While in Sydney, you will be housed in a modern apartment complex, centrally located in Sydney, with fully equipped kitchens. You will receive a meal stipend, which is included in the program fee.

In Cairns, you will stay in a hotel; and in Cape Tribulation, you will be housed in hostel-style lodging. Some meals will be provided in these locations.


Costs below are estimates based on previous years’ programs and the current exchange rate. All costs are subject to change. 

Summer 2017

  Duke Students Non-Duke Students
Tuition $3,291.00 $3.291.00
Program Fee $5,850.00 $5,850.00
Transcript Fee N/A $40.00
Other Costs Other Costs Other Costs
TOTAL (Estimated) $14,466.00 $14,506.00


FAQ Costs

What does the program fee cover?

The program fee for this program includes: 

  • Accommodations
  • Most meals
  • Airport transportation to/from site
  • Local transportation
  • International SOS Coverage
  • Program-sponsored activities and excursions
  • Orientation program
  • Internet usage where available

What is not included?

Use the following list to assist with budgeting for expenses outside the program fee. This list contains common examples but should not be considered exhaustive.

  • Airfare
  • On-site accident and health insurance policy
  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses
  • Immunizations
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Access to activities such as sports, lectures, social gatherings, etc. at host university
  • Visa and/or residency permit
  • Passport
  • Textbooks and class materials
  • Mobile phone
  • Laundry
  • Independent travel and entertainment
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Incidentals

Personal Spending

Personal expenses can fluctuate greatly depending upon habits and preferences of the individual. It’s also wise to budget for unexpected expenses such as medical emergencies. You can use a cost-of-living comparison tool to get an idea of what daily life costs in the program host location.

When will payments be due?

Step 1: Submit the Summer Participation Agreement found in your MyGlobalEd application to confirm your enrollment. A parent/guardian’s co-signature is required. This form takes the place of a deposit.

NOTE: If you withdraw after March 31, you will be charged a cancellation fee of $1500 for this 1 credit program.  

Step 2: Summer invoices will be sent via email to your Duke email address and home email address. Remit payment to the Bursar per due date and address indicated on your online statement. All financial arrangements involving Duke University must be completed prior to departure for the program.

Duke Bursar’s Office >

Can I use financial aid to pay for this program?

Duke students receiving financial aid are eligible for aid for this program (work-study funds must be converted to loans). Students are individually responsible for making the necessary arrangements with the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support and the Duke Bursar’s Office.

Non-Duke students are not eligible to receive financial aid at Duke and should contact their home institutions for financial aid information.

Are there scholarships available for this program?

This program offers the following scholarship opportunities:



Attendance is required at all classes, excursions, and group events. Given the intense nature of this program, late arrival and/or early departure is not permitted.

  • Arrival: July 5, 2017*
  • Departure: August 3, 2017

*Flights: You are required to take the designated international round-trip flight organized through STA Travel. The flight will depart from the west coast on July 3, 2017. You will arrive in Australia and begin the program in Darwin on July 5, 2017. You may depart the program, leaving from Cairns, at any time on August 3, 2017.

Additional details on the designated flight will be provided for enrolled students in the spring. Tickets for your domestic transportation will be issued in conjunction with your international ticket utilizing fares, which are less expensive than purchasing a separate ticket.



All students are required to have a visa for travel to Australia. STA Travel will be processing your electronic visa when you book your flights through them. 

Non-U.S. citizens—Pay special attention to the visa requirements for your specific citizenship by contacting your country’s embassy. GEO can provide a letter that may be required as part of the visa application process. Please begin the visa process as soon as you have been admitted to the program to ensure you receive your visa in time for the program start date.


All participants must have a valid passport. Make sure your passport has at least six months of validity beyond the program end date to avoid unintended disruptions. For instructions on obtaining or renewing your U.S. passport, visit passports.state.gov.

International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

An International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is optional. ISIC is the only internationally recognized form of student ID, endorsed by UNESCO. The ISIC will allow you to enter many museums free or for reduced fees, and will often entitle you to travel discounts. If purchased in the U.S., the card also carries with it a supplemental insurance policy, which can prove to be very helpful in the event of serious injury.

You may purchase this card through www.myisic.com. Processing of the card takes between 4-15 days. After confirmation of enrollment and prior to departure for the program, email your ISIC card/policy number and expiration date to globaled@duke.edu.


  • Deadline: February 1, 2017. This program has rolling admission. Applications must be received by the deadline to be considered.
  • Priority: Priority is given to applicants who submit all materials by the deadline.
  • Minimum GPA: 2.7 on a scale of 4.0. If your GPA is lower than 2.7, you must obtain permission from your academic dean to study away. See: GPA Waiver Form.
  • Non-Duke students: This program is open to all majors and applicants from accredited colleges and universities. You must be a degree-seeking student in good standing at an accredited college or university. Consult your university’s registrar and/or study away advisor for assistance with transfer credit. Students who are not matriculated at a college or university are not eligible to participate in Duke’s study away programs.
  • Late applicants: After the published deadline, qualified applicants will be considered on a space-available basis.

Physical Demands

Before applying to this program, please note that the majority of this program’s activities are spent outdoors in climates that include dry deserts, high altitude cold, and hot tropical rainforest.

Most of these activities will include significant walking and moderate to strenuous hikes (including hill slopes). The latter might include areas of little to no shade, and those that are exposed to the elements (potentially high wind, heavy rain, and even snow). You'll also want to consider the following factors:

  • Although the ability to swim is not required, it is highly recommended if you want to participate fully in some of our aquatic experiences.
  • Much of our day-travel is by coach or bus, sometimes along heavily winding roads. If you are prone to vehicle motion sickness, please be prepared.  
  • Some of our hikes, depending on the weather, might be through areas heavily populated by mosquitoes and other biting insects.
  • You should be prepared to spend at least two nights camping, and be comfortable hiking with flashlights.  
  • At least one of our activities includes entry into a cave, which includes descending a steep 30-foot stairway, and some narrow, low-ceiling passageways.  

If you are concerned about any of these activities please contact the faculty program director.


The Duke in Australia program director can assist with questions related to program academics, admissions, on-site needs, etc. For all other inquiries, please contact the Global Education Office.

Alex Glass

Lecturer in The Division of Earth & Ocean Sciences

Alayne Wood

GEO Program Coordinator / Advisor


Apply Now

Please start your application early to ensure that it is complete by the deadline! Incomplete applications will not be forwarded to the program directors for consideration.

To apply to this program, please submit the following items using MyGlobalEd: 

  1. Online application
  2. Official transcript(s) from all colleges and universities attended. First-year students should wait until fall semester grades are posted.
  3. Personal statement, no longer than one page, explaining why you would like to participate
  4. Academic letter of recommendation (one)

Apply Now