Duke in Australia


Program Alert

The Duke in Australia program has been suspended for Summer 2021. Please reach out to GEO Program Manager, Alayne Wood, if you have any questions.


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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 65,000 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.

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. Through successive field observations of the ecology and biodiversity of different Australian habitats, you'll travel to the deserts of the Northern Territory, the coastal ranges of New South Wales, the high elevation forests of the Blue Mountains, and the rainforests and Great Barrier Reef of Queensland. Majestic landscapes of beaches, deserts, rainforests, and reefs form a spectacular backdrop for this immersive course experience. 


Location: Darwin (NT), Katoomba (NSW), Sydney (NSW), Uluru (NT), Cape Tribulation (QLD), Cairns (QLD)

Term: Summer

Dates: June 13 to July 18, 2020

Application Deadline: February 1st

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: Duke Department of Biology 

Housing: Hostel, Tent Campsite, Backpacker Accommodations

GEO Advisor: Alayne Wood

  • Field studies are supplemented with readings, videos, and class discussions.

  • Snorkeling near Cairns, Queensland

  • Sunset at Kakadu National Park, Australia's largest national park

  • Duke in Australia students

  • Duke in Australia students

  • Sydney Opera House

  • Field studies on Duke in Australia

  • Picnic lunch break on Duke in Australia

  • Gaining firsthand knowledge of Australian biodiversity!

  • Snorkeling on Duke in Australia

  • Sunset after a long day exploring the outback of the Northern Territory


All students will enroll in the signature course offering one Duke credit. No pass/fail option or auditing is permitted. 



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

(NS, STS) 1.0 Course Credit.
Instructor: Dr. Alexander Glass

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

Course work 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.

The course introduces students to the ecology of the seasonally dry tropics of the Northern Territory, the cool and warm temperate climates of New South Wales, and the high and low elevation wet tropics and Great Barrier Reef of Queensland.  You will learn common representative species of plants and animals in each of these environments, as determined by the interaction of geology, climate, evolutionary history, and culture.  Special emphasis will be placed on the interaction between the Australian ecology and the Aboriginal Peoples.


From the Faculty Director

A detailed course website is maintained by the program's faculty director and updated each year: https://sites.duke.edu/dukeinaustralia2019/

Course Content


In Darwin, Katoomba, and Sydney you will be stay in hostel-style accommodations, usually 4-8 people per room. Continental breakfast provided by the hostels. In Kakadu National Park and the Red Center, you will stay in tents. All meals are provided while overnight camping.

At Cape Tribulation you will be staying in bunkhouse accommodations in the rainforest, usually 8-10 people per room. All meals in Cape Tribulation are included.

Cairns to the list above with hostel-style accommodations. Breakfasts are included.

For details on which meals are included please visit the meal plan https://sites.duke.edu/dukeinaustralia2020/logistics/meals/


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

Summer 2020

  Duke Students Non-Duke Students
Tuition $3,579 $3,579
Program Fee $4,500 $4,500
Transcript Fee N/A $120
Other Costs Other Costs Other Costs
TOTAL (Estimated) $13,404 $13,444

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.

  • U.S. Departure: June 13, 2020
  • Australian Arrival: June 15, 2020 
  • Departure: July 18, 2020 


You are required to take the designated international round-trip flight organized through the travel agency. Do not book your own flight. We will depart the U.S. as a group from LOS ANGELES, CA (LAX) one day prior to the program start date, and we will return through LAX. The travel agency will help you with arranging connecting flights to LAX. Additional details on the designated flight will be provided for enrolled students in the spring.
Tickets for the domestic flights within Australia will be issued in conjunction with your international ticket utilizing fares, which are less expensive than purchasing separate tickets.

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.




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

An International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is optional. ISIC is the only internationally recognized form of student ID, endorsed by UNESCO. 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. 


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.

Alex Glass

Lecturer in The Division of Earth & Ocean Sciences

Alayne Wood

GEO Program Coordinator / Advisor


Deadline: February 1st

This program has rolling admission. Applications will be considered 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.

Priority: Priority is given to applicants who apply early and perform well on the individual interview with the faculty director.

Minimum GPA: There is no minimum GPA.

Non-Duke students: Non-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.

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 five 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.


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
  4. Academic letter of recommendation (one)

Interview: The program faculty director will contact you to schedule an individual interview.


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