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Off-Campus Study & Exchanges

Woods Hole at sunset
U.S./Domestic Off-Campus Study
The Semester in Environmental Science (SES)

The Semester in Environmental Science (SES) is offered each fall semester by the Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), located in Woods Hole, MA. It is a 15-week program in environmental science made available to Skidmore students through the college's participation in the MBL Consortium in Environmental Science.

The MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in North America, and has served as a home to researchers and students studying both basic biology and the environment for over 110 years.  Today about 250 scientists, technicians, and support staff occupy the lab year round.  The SES program is dedicated to providing undergraduates with an opportunity to learn about ecosystems and conduct environmental research with some of the top scientists in the field.

There is no better way to find out about ecosystems than to interact with the scientists actively carrying out research; there is no better way to find out about research than to actually do it. The SES program emphasizes learning by doing -- students spend over 20 hours each week in the lab and field investigating forests, ponds and estuaries on Cape Cod. Virtually all ecosystems have been impacted by human activity, and so this is also a curriculum about how human-caused changes in the environment are affecting the globe.

The Program

Two core courses, one focused on aquatic ecosystems and one dealing with terrestrial ecosystems are the foundation of the program.  The core course lectures emphasize biogeochemistry and global changes in ecosystems. 

SES students all take part in a seminar that introduces the art of science writing. This is taught by the writer-in-residence and several professional science journalists with the goal of illustrating how the results of scientific investigations can be transmitted to the larger reading audience in ways that catch their interest and educate. Students will write a profile of one of the distinguished scientists based on an interview.

In addition to the Core Courses, SES students take one elective which meets twice a week. The elective is intended to deepen understanding in a specific sub-discipline of ecosystems science. 

During the last five weeks of the course, students will be able to devote full time to a project of their choosing. At the end of the semester, students present their findings in a day long public symposium and write up their project results in two forms: a scientific paper format and a journalistic format suitable for presentation to a lay readership

A number of distinguished scientists are invited to give lectures and meet with SES students each year. It is an opportunity for students to hear from some of the country's top practitioners and to find out about their research and current concerns. During the visit of each of these scientists, the SES students are able to question them closely about everything from basic science to environmental problems to the availability of graduate programs.

The Curriculum


Students live in dormitories on the MBL campus.  All students enroll in the meal plan which provides three meals daily Monday through Saturday, and breakfast and dinner on Sundays at the on-campus cafeteria. 


Students are charged Skidmore tuition, room at the apartment rate, and full board.  Skidmore will handle payment to MBL for program tuition and mandatory academic fees, room and board, medical insurance, and any other mandatory program fees.  Students are responsible for airfare to/from the program site, books, and personal expenses.

Skidmore students may apply all financial aid to the cost of the program.  Students should meet with the Office of Student Aid and Family Finance to review their financial aid package when considering an off-campus study opportunity.

Requirements & Application

Please apply by the following deadlines: March 1

To be eligible to participate in the Semester in Environmental Science Program, students must:

Applications may be accepted after the listed deadline on a case-by-case basis.  However, availability will be limited.