Maya Archaeology and Ecology

Meet Maya history and culture face-to-face!

The Maya Archaeology and Ecology program offers a multidisciplinary approach to the study of rainforest ecology and Maya cultural heritage. Students participate in a unique field research program which is integrated with the Yaxnohcah Archaeological Project, located in the Calakmul Biosphere, a protected area of pristine rainforest in Mexico.


During your 14 days in the field, you will conduct on-site research with teams of investigators from Canada, Mexico, and the USA. This trip offers the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology as the researchers digitally record tangible archaeological heritage and integrate remote sensing technologies with on-the-ground investigations of the rainforest ecosystem.

Key information




Spring 2022

Program type

Group Study

Application information

Application status


Application deadline

Program full

Eligibility requirements

This program is open to students from all majors. See the Eligibility section below for more details.

Info sessions

October 13 at 12:00 pm 

Did you miss it? Watch the recorded info session video on this page! (See right side on desktop, or scroll down if on mobile.)

Student experience

Maya Archaeology student group (2019) posing at Calakmul temple site

Photo credit: Chyna Clay

Info session

Hear Dr. Reese-Taylor talk about this program, followed by an explanation of how to apply! (Captions are automated; please contact us with any questions.)

Have questions?

For program information, please contact Dr. Kathryn Reese-Taylor at

For application and registration support, please contact the Group Study Team at

Other useful links:

Program details

Questions about these courses should be directed to the program instructor.

Please note: course descriptions are tentative and subject to change.

  1. Courses offered

    Students on this program are required to enroll in two courses and may take up to three, if desired.


    Students must take one of:

    ARKY 347: Regional Studies in Latin America (3 units)

    ANTH 523: Human Ecology (3 units)


    And one of: 

    LAST 303: Latin American Field Research (3 units)

    ANTH 400: Independent Research Topic on Contemporary Maya (3 units)

    ARKY 597: Independent Reading Course (3 units)

    DEST 501: Directed Research (3 units)

    LAST 501: Directed Study in Latin American Studies, Topic 50, Advanced Maya Studies (3 units)


    Note: it may be possible for students to select courses not including ARKY 347 or ANTH/ARKY 523. Such exceptions should be discussed with Dr. Reese-Taylor for approval. 

  2. Prerequisites

    The prerequisite for registration in all of the courses offered on this program is by consent of the instructor.

  1. Pre-departure

    TBD, Calgary: Mandatory pre-departure orientation facilitated by Group Study Programs.

    TBD, Calgary: Mandatory Group First Aid training and Travel Clinic.

    May 2, Calgary: Mandatory coursework to be completed at the University of Calgary (lectures/discussion for ARKY 347 & ANTH/ARKY 523; student meetings for LAST 303, ANTH 400 & ARKY 597), full day, 9-12 am and 1-4 pm.

    May 3, Calgary: Mandatory coursework to be completed at the University of Calgary (lectures/discussion for ARKY 347 & ANTH/ARKY 523; student meetings for DEST 501 & LAST 501), full day, 9-12 am and 1-4 pm.


  2. In-field

    May 4-5, Calgary/Cancun: Depart Calgary, arrive Cancun airport, travel to Chetumal

    May 6, Chetumal: Travel from Chetumal to field site location in Villahermosa; class discussion

    May 7 – 12, Villahermosa: Field activities in Villahermosa biosphere

    May 13, Xpujil: Depart Villahermosa, arrive at Chicanna Ecolodge in Xpujil; tour Calakmul; class discussion

    May 14, Lake Bacalar: Travel to Lake Bacalar; tour Becan and Kohunlich; class discussion

    May 15, Lake Bacalar: Tour Dzibanche; class discussion

    May 16, Valladolid: Travel to Valladolid; tour historical Valladolid

    May 17, Valladolid: Tour Chichén Itzá and Yaxuna cenote & interpretive community center

    May 18, Cancun/Calgary: Travel to Cancun for departure flight to Calgary (or continue on independent travel)

  3. Post-field

    Assignments may be due in some courses following the program.

  1. Costs

    The estimated cost of the Maya Archaeology and Ecology Group Study Program will include tuition, airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations and meals. The program cost is $6485.

    For the full cost breakdown and payment deadlines, please see the program Student Cost Summary.

    Important information regarding deposit payments: Deposits are non-refundable. Deposits secure your space in the program and allows payment for logistical arrangements to be made in advance.

  2. Funding

    International Study Travel Grant: Students studying abroad may be eligible for the University of Calgary's International Study Travel Grant. For more information on eligibility, application details and deadlines please click here.

    Faculty of Arts Group Study Program (GSP) Scholarships (for GSP participants) and Faculty of Arts Student Study Abroad Scholarships (for other international programs) - up to 10 awards of $1000 each! For more information, please click here.

    IDEAS Funding: Students in the Faculty of Science are encouraged to apply for IDEAS funding. For more information, please click here.

    Historically Underrepresented Groups Scholarships (HUGS): Awarded by the Society for American Archaeology. Scholarships of up to $3000 are offered to undergraduate students in Archaeology from historically underrepresented minority groups. For 2022, 6 scholarships are available! Applications are now open, deadline: January 31, 2022. For more information, please click here. Note that separate funding is also available for Native American students.

    Student loans: If you qualify for student loans, your program should qualify. We are able to provide you with a letter confirming your participation in the program for funding purposes. Please email to request a letter. Please note that eligibility for student loans is determined by your loans provider.

    Click here for more info on funding opportunities!

Students will be staying in hotels while travelling, and camping (more like glamping!) while at the Villahermosa Research Station. Two students are assigned to each 10' x 12' x 6' cabin tent. Air mattresses, sheets, and pillows are supplied for each student. There are also showers, latrines, and one communal building with a full kitchen, dining room and lab facilities. Further, there is a large volleyball court to play on each night!

This program is open to undergraduate students in good academic standing from all faculties.

Applications will be considered after your application has been received by Study Abroad.

Please note: After Dr. Reese-Taylor has reviewed your application, she may contact you to request a follow-up conversation regarding your application and course selection prior to your acceptance. 

  1. Statement of Purpose

    Please tell us why you want to study abroad, why you have selected this particular program (academic reasons, personal interest, career prospects, etc.), how this program will meet your academic objectives and/or complement your degree, how you plan to finance your program and why you should be selected.

    The Statement of Purpose is submitted within your online application (max 500 words).

    Note: Because the online application will time out after one hour, we recommend that you compose your statement of purpose in advance in Word to check for spelling, grammar and word count, and then paste it into the online application.

  2. Unofficial Transcript

    Download an unofficial transcript from your Student Centre and submit it by email to

    Click here for a step-by-step guide to access your unofficial transcript.

Please ensure that you have read the Group Study Program General FAQs thoroughly before applying.


Program-Specific FAQs

Q: Do I need to have an Archaeology background to qualify for this program?
A: No, this program welcomes students from all majors! Many of the topics covered (like cultural heritage and forestry surveys) have interest beyond archaeology, and your participation at the Yaxnohcah Archaeological Project will help you develop research skills valuable in any field. Having a different academic background will give you a unique perspective on this field program. 

Q: Is there any required equipment I should be aware of?
A: Your work on this program will include using a digital imaging system and 3D modelling; it is recommended to bring a smartphone or digital camera with you, as well as a cable, for direct download of pictures to the computer. Other equipment will be discussed by the instructor at your predeparture meeting.

I think the greatest experience was simply learning outside of the classroom, and being exposed to the sites, structures, people, towns and cities made the environments that we were learning about more tangible and real.

Past Participant

Getting started

Program-Specific Info Sessions

Info sessions are scheduled for every Group Study Program. Attending an info session is not required to apply, but strongly recommended as it will give you an opportunity to meet the instructor and learn more about the travel experience.

We also recommend watching Global Learning 101 for general information.

Watch Global Learning 101

Study Abroad Advising

If you have questions about this program, you can meet with one of our Group Study Advisors by emailing or booking an appointment through the link below.

1. Select "Advising"
2. Select “Study Abroad”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Select your program advisor to view available times.

Book an appointment

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how a Group Study Program might align with your degree.

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.