Duke in Alaska

4-WEEK SUMMER PROGRAM IN Ecology & Biodiversity

Ecology and Biodiversity of Alaska

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Duke’s Department of Biology and Global Education Office for Undergraduates (GEO) offer a four-week, one-course program focusing on the major-biomes, conservation issues, and human-environment interactions of Alaska. Alaska offers an outstanding venue for integrating science and the humanities. Students on the program will spend time in and gain familiarity with major environmental regions within the state: temperate rainforest of the southeastern Alaskan panhandle and the boreal forest as represented around Anchorage.


Location: Juneau, Seward, and Anchorage, Alaska

Term: Summer

Dates: May 26 to June 24, 2019

Application Deadline: February 1

Academic Theme(s): Ecology and biodiversity of Alaska

Credit Type: Duke Credit

Eligibility:  No pre-requisites. Non-Duke students are welcome to apply.

Duke Affiliation: Duke Department of Biology

Housing: Residence Halls

GEO Advisor: Abby Grubbs

  • Duke in Alaska students at the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau

  • Examining tide pool organisms in Juneau

  • Students study the boreal rainforest biome while in Juneau

  • During a class near Juneau

  • A moose at a wetland near Anchorage

  • Standing on arctic ice in Utqiaġvik (Barrow), Alaska

  • Students take a cruise to observe wildlife while in Seward

  • A glacier in Kenai Fjords national park near Seward

  • A short but spectacular Alaskan summer sunset


All students are enrolled in one course, Biodiversity of Alaska, for a total of one Duke course credit. No pass/fail option or auditing is permitted. 

Biodiversity of Alaska
NS, STS 1.0 Credit
Instructor: Dr. Jon Shaw

Pre-requisite: None

The structure of the course  will include lectures/discussions, complemented by field trips and visits to museums and other cultural centers. While the program emphasizes ‘hands-on’ experiential learning about Alaskan plants and animals, the lecture component will focus on how biodiversity is studied in a scientific manner. Students are also given an introduction to cultural topics especially related to indigenous Alaskan natives and to the history of arctic exploration and the 1899 Klondike gold rush. 


Students stay in dorms at the University of Alaska-Anchorage and University of Alaska, Southeast (Juneau) in addition to hotels during program excursions.

Meals in Juneau and Anchorage will be through the university meal services and will be included in the program fee.


These costs are estimated based on previous years’ programs and the current exchange rate. All costs are subject to change.

Summer 2019

  Duke Students Non-Duke Students
Tuition $3,492 $3,492
Program Fee $4,730 $4,730
Transcript Fee N/A $40
Other Costs Other Costs Other Costs
TOTAL (Estimated) $10,422 $10,462


Explanation of Costs

Financial Aid

Duke students receiving institutional need-based grant aid are eligible for aid for this program; work-study funds are converted to grants. 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.


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: May 26, 2019
  • Departure: June 24, 2019

The program is field-oriented and will travel to various sites around Alaska including the cities of Juneau, Seward, and Anchorage. A final itinerary and schedule will be made available to students during the pre-departure orientation. 


You will make your own travel arrangements to and from the program site. You are expected to arrive on the arrival date cited above. Once you have a flight itinerary, log in to MyGlobalEd to update your travel registry.

Housing Before/After

You will need to make your own housing arrangements if you will be arriving before the program start date or leaving later than the program end date.


The program faculty director can assist with questions related to program academics, admissions, on-site needs, etc. For all other inquiries, please contact the GEO representative listed.

Jonathan Shaw

Professor of Biology

Soraya Campbell

GEO Asst. Director & Regional Manager


Deadline: February 1

This program has rolling admission. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis until the program fills; after that, qualified students are added to a waitlist and notified of openings. Applications must be received by the deadline to be considered. Application opens November 1.

PriorityPriority is given to applicants who apply early and meet the prerequisites.

Minimum GPA: There is no minimum GPA.

Non-Duke studentsNon-Duke students are welcome to apply for this program. 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.


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.

Submit the following items using MyGlobalEd

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


Satisfying a Biology Major Requirement on Duke in Alaska

By Blaire Rikard

The Duke in Alaska program offered Blaire a practical reason to do the program – it fulfilled the Organismal Diversity Biology Area Requirement for her major in biology (pre-med). However, she was pleasantly surprised to find the program also expanded her interests in environmental sustainability, ecology, and conservation, all of which inspired her plans for the following summer.

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