Hone your wild primate research skills in an immersive and engaging setting!
Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation
Info session recording
Questions about these courses should be directed to the program instructor.
Please note: course descriptions are tentative and subject to change.
Students on this program are required to enroll in three courses:
ANTH 505: Conference Course: Panama Primatology Research Proposal (3 units)
ANTH 552: Field Studies in Primatology (6 units)
All course offerings require ANTH 311 and consent of the program instructor.
January (date TBD), Calgary: Mandatory introductory meeting for accepted students
February or March (date TBD), Calgary: Mandatory Group First Aid training and Travel Clinic
March (date TBD), Calgary: Mandatory pre-departure orientation facilitated by UCalgary International
May 1 – 5, Calgary: Mandatory classroom block week & field preparation, to be completed at the University of Calgary; full days starting at 9 a.m.
May 7, Calgary/Panama City: Travel to Panama City; evening tour of Casco Viejo
May 8, Panama City: Visit the Biomuseo and Ancon Hill
May 9, Colon: Day trip to Colon. Drive along canal, tour Colon, stop at the Agua Clara Locks visitor centre; return to Panama City before dark
May 10, Isla Colón: Travel to Isla Colón; orientation meeting at the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (ITEC)
May 11 – 21, Isla Colón: Fieldwork at ITEC
May 22, Isla Carenero: Transfer from ITEC to the Cosmic Crab Restaurant & Resort
May 23 – 25, Isla Carenero: Coursework & presentations
May 26, Panama City: Fly back to Panama City; final meetings
May 27, Panama City/Calgary: Return to Calgary (or continue on independent travel)
June (date TBD): ANTH 553 research proposal will be due following the program
The estimated cost of the Panama Primatology Group Study Program includes tuition, airfare, field trips, local transportation, accommodations, and meals. The program cost is $7,871.
For the full cost breakdown and payment deadlines, please see the program Student Cost Summary (click here).
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.
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 Science IDEAS Fund: All undergraduate students who are in good standing and enrolled in programs offered by the Faculty of Science are eligible to apply for financial support from the IDEAS Fund. Find out more here.
Faculty of Arts Group Study Program Scholarships - up to 10 awards of $1000 each! For more information, please click here.
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 email@example.com 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!
During the fieldwork component, which is the majority of the program, you will be staying at the Institute for Tropical Ecology and Conservation on Isla Colón in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. The ITEC dormitory rooms hold 3-4 students per room. We hope that each student will have their own bunk bed (so that you have one bunk for sleeping and another to store your belongings). There are several private bathrooms available at the dormitory for everyone to use. ITEC has a full kitchen/dining facility and you will be provided with 3 meals per day. More information about what to expect can be viewed online here.
Please be aware that the conditions at ITEC are very rustic. The site is well-established and safe, however you will be in close contact with wildlife, insects, and each other (minimal privacy). There is no WiFi and restricted electricity. Water availability depends on rainfall and showering may be restricted to one 3 minute shower per day. We will discuss this in depth and make sure you are well-prepared before you travel, but if you have any concerns or questions, please contact the instructors.
At the start and end of the program, your accommodations will be in hostel-style hotels and dormitories, again in shared rooms. There likely will not be kitchen facilities available so you will be obtaining your own meals during this time, e.g. local restaurants and street vendors.
This program is open to undergraduate students in good academic standing from all faculties.
Applications will be considered after your online application and supplementary documents have been received in full.
Please read the sections below for information about what your application will include. The application is completed online. Because the online application will time out after 1 hour, we recommend writing out your answers to the application questions in a Word document and preparing any of the supplementary documents you may need in advance.
Once you are ready, click here to access the application system.
Announcements on whether you have been selected to the program will not be distributed until after the November 15 deadline.
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 word limit for this question is 500 words. Check for spelling, grammar, and word count before submitting your application.
- Download an unofficial transcript from your Student Centre. Click here for a step-by-step guide to access your unofficial transcript.
- Submit your transcript through your online application with your statement of purpose.
Within the online application, there are several additional questions. This includes short written questions about the courses you have previously taken and your travel experience, and yes/no questions where you will indicate that you understand the potential challenges of attending a rural field program.
Some questions will have a word limit, however you are not required to follow a specific format. You are welcome to be concise, use bullet points, or write your response however works best for you.
Please ensure that you have read the Group Study Program General FAQs thoroughly before applying.
Q: Is Panama safe?
A: Yes, Panama is a safe country to travel and work in. English is spoken at the ITEC field site, and also commonly used in Panama City. Of course, there are always precautions that should be taken whenever one travels in a foreign country, especially when in more isolated or "non-touristy" regions. We will discuss these precautions before we go.
Q: What kind of food will be available?
A: Some meals will be purchased on your own (e.g. while in Panama City). However, during your fieldwork at ITEC, you will receive 3 meals per day. Meals are served buffet-style and follow a traditional Panamanian cuisine. Vegetarian options are offered as well. If you have other food restrictions or allergies, please contact the Group Study Programs team at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss what options may be available for you.
Advice from past students
"As someone who has managed anxiety for my entire life through the development of routines and support systems here in Canada, it was very difficult to walk away from that and put myself in a completely new situation with new people and no established routine. As the program progressed, our whole group experienced mental & physical exhaustion from the rigours of fieldwork, and I was shocked by how supportive and kind everyone was. We became so close so fast and were so open with our needs that I truly felt like we became a family by the end. So, the resolution to my biggest challenge in the field was also one of the biggest highlights of my trip. In terms of advice for future students, opening yourself up to your classmates and relying on each other for support and reassurance is absolutely essential to your success in this program. Also, set realistic expectations of what the trip will look like in terms of free-time and 'vacationing', and accept that programs like this need to be tackled one day at a time. It was hard, but it is so worth it if you fully commit to the experience."