Organization for Tropical Studies at Duke University: Tropical Diseases, Environmental Change & Human Health
The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) is a nonprofit consortium of over 50 universities and research institutions in the United States, Costa Rica, Mexico, South Africa, and Australia. All OTS undergraduate course offerings are monitored by the Department of Biology, the Nicholas School of the Environment, and the Department of Romance Languages at Duke University. OTS provides students with unique, hands-on learning experience under the close guidance of highly qualified academic professors in a diversity of tropical habitats and communities.
The Tropical Diseases, Environmental Change & Human Health program explores diverse problems in both local and global contexts that are at the crossroads of medicine, culture, politics, economics, and the environment. Students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Costa Rica both scientifically and culturally, to experience a variety of different ecosystems throughout, and to create their own independent research projects. Students meet active researchers and local stakeholders and develop the skills needed for advanced studies and careers in global health.
- Minimum GPA: 2.7
- SU required course load: 12-19 credits for undergraduate students
- 1 semester of biology and 1 semester of college-level of Spanish
Fall Semester: mid-August to early December
Spring Semester: mid-January to early May
Through this program, students learn about the effects of environmental change including climate change, habitat fragmentation, and disruption of ecosystem services on the spread and severity of tropical diseases. Students also conduct a series of short research projects led by faculty that culminate in a final student research project. These projects are developed in cooperation with health authorities on topics relevant to local communities.
The program consists of four, 4-credit courses including a course on culture and language in Costa Rica. Courses are taught in English with some Spanish lectures. Courses and grades from will be posted to your academic record and factored into your overall GPA at SU.
For a list of courses pre-approved for SU credit, please click on the "Courses Offered" link at the top of this page. There is no guarantee courses on the list will be offered during your semester abroad, so please refer to the World Partner website for the most up-to-date course offerings. If you want to take a course that is not already approved, Syracuse Abroad will assist in obtaining approval from the appropriate SU academic department.
For most of the semester, you are housed at the OTS field stations. Accommodations can range from two large rooms of bunk beds at some sites, to smaller rooms for four to six people. You will also experience immersion in Costa Rican culture during a three-week homestay in the San José area while you study intensive Spanish at the local language institute.
You will pay SU tuition and can apply all SU financial aid except work study. Besides tuition, you will also be charged a program fee which includes pre-departure meetings, International Student ID Card, room and board, local travel, certain recreational activities, field and office equipment, transcript fee, and some computer services. For the most recent program fee and further explanation of estimated costs, please see the financial planning budget here: Costa Rica Duke OTS Budget 2013-14.pdf.
Cara Hardy, Counselor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Applying to this program requires completion of both Syracuse Abroad and OTS applications.
Please note: due to the small number of spaces in each program, it is possible for a program to reach maximum enrollment before the application due date. Apply early!
- Complete the Syracuse Abroad application.
- All application material must be submitted by the Syracuse Abroad application deadline.
- Complete the OTS application. Check the OTS website for the application deadline. Please be aware that it is possible for a program to reach maximum enrollment before the application due date.
- Follow instructions from OTS for supplemental documents.