Maya Archaeology and Ecology

Meet Maya history and culture face-to-face!

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


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

Key information




Spring 2020

Program type

Group Study

Application information

Application status



Application deadline

First come, first considered.
Programs fill quickly - apply today!

Eligibility requirements

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

Info sessions

February 6, 4 – 5pm, ES 859

Student Experience

Mexico Maya

Photo credit: Chyna Clay

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 or three courses. 


    Students must take any two of the following courses:

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

    ANTH/ARKY 523: Human Ecology (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)

  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 to be conducted by your group study program advisor

    May 4 - 8, Calgary: Mandatory coursework to be completed at the University of Calgary

  2. In-field

    May 9, Calgary/Cancun: Depart Calgary, arrive Cancun airport, depart Cancun, arrive Chetumal

    May 10, Chetumal: Depart from Chetumal and arrive on site in Villahermosa

    May 11 – 16, Villahermosa: Field activities in Villahermosa biosphere

    May 17, Calakmul: Depart Villahermosa, tour Calakmul, arrive Chicanna Ecolodge

    May 18, Xpujil/ Lake Bacalar: Depart for Xpujil, tour Becan and Kohunlich, arrive Lake Bacalar

    May 19, Lake Bacalar: Tour Dzibanche/Ichkabal, free time on Lake Bacalar

    May 20, Tulum: Depart Lake Bacalar and arrive in Tulum

    May 21, Tulum: Tour Tulum and Coba. Free time in Tulum

    May 22, Tulum/Cancun/Calgary: Depart Tulum for Cancun and fly from Cancun to Calgary

  3. Post-field

    TBD, Calgary: Assignments due 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 $5,661.

    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.


    2020/21 Tuition Fees:

    The following proposed rate increases are being shared in advance of their approval to help students plan their finances for the upcoming school year.

    The Government of Alberta recently lifted the tuition freeze that has been in place since 2014-15. As a result, tuition rates for Canadian (domestic) students will be permitted to increase by 7% annually in each the next three years . Tuition rates for international students will no longer be regulated. In response to this change, the University of Calgary’s Board of Governors will be reviewing proposals to increase tuition rates in January 2020. If approved, the following rate increases will apply for the 2020-21 academic year:

    • New domestic students: 7% increase to all tuition fees, except for undergraduate programs in engineering course-based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 10% increase is being proposed.
    • New International students: 10% increase to tuition fees with the exception of course based graduate programs in engineering (MEng), public policy (MPP) and business administration (MBA) for which a 15% increase is being proposed.
    • Graduate thesis students: A new tuition structure that will even out program costs over the length of the program versus having higher costs in years one (Masters) or pre-candidacy (PhD)
    • All continuing students:  5% increase to tuition fees

    If approved, these rate increases will be in effect for the Spring 2020 term.

  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.

    New! 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! Deadline to apply is March 31st.  Any queries about these scholarships should be directed to Faculty of Arts Associate Dean Gavin Cameron: 

    IDEAS Funding: Students in the Faculty of Science are encouraged to apply for IDEAS funding. 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 to request a letter.

    Please note that eligibility for student loans is determined by your loans provider.

Students will be staying in student appropriate 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. In this building, there is 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.

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! 

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 [that made] the environments that we were learning about made the information 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.

Please scroll up to the top of this page to view the info sessions for this program.

We also recommend watching Study Abroad 101 for general information.

Watch Study Abroad 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 “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Select #2, "Study Abroad Advising", 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.