Gaining course credit as a research assistant

For students interested in gaining course credit for their time on expedition, there are two ways of organising this: (1) signing up for an external course or (2) gaining internal course credit.

External course credit

Students participating in Operation Wallacea expeditions can earn university course credit from University of West Florida. The course credit is based on exam results, a field diary, a research project essay, and an assessment of student performance in the field. Whilst the UWF course credits are only accepted toward Marine Biology or Biology degrees at UWF, you can submit a summary of the course completed and your completion certificate with grade (which will be provided by the university) when applying for relevant degrees at other US universities and they may or may not count it as relevant credit towards your degree.  The cost of the 3 credit course is $600 for both in-state and out of state applicants and the course credit is completed from the field experience plus an essay that is submitted after returning from the field. Please note that we cannot currently offer this at our Mexican, Cuban or Honduran sites. You can find more information here.

An alternative credit option is to complete one of the combination on-line and in the field courses offered by Shasta College in Redding, California. The courses involve some pre and post expedition web-presented (online) course work that includes readings, assignments, quizzes, keeping a field journal, and submitting a final presentation, as well as an assessment of student performance in the field.  Those students going to Honduras, Mexico, Dominica, Guyana, Peru and Ecuador can enrol in NHIS 5/5L – Natural History of the Neotropics (4credits/units). For those going to South Africa, Tanzania & Malawi, Madagascar, Transylvania, Greece, Indonesia, East Timor or Fiji can complete BIOL 12/12L – Field Biology (4 credits/units).  Both NHIS 5/5L and BIOL 12/12L are fully transferable in the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems and may be transferable to universities in many other states as well (check with your institution).  For California high school students these 4 transferrable credits cost only about $40!  University students who are California residents can complete the course for just under $225. Out of state college and high school students would pay approximately $1000 for the 4 transferrable credits.  For those students going to Cuba they can complete a 3 credit Coastal Marine Sciences course (ESCI 16/16L) which costs $40 for California high school students, $178 for California college students and $808 for out of state high school or college students. ESCI 16 /16L is a fully transferable course in the in the UC and CSU systems and again, may be transferable to other universities too (check with your institution). The advantage of doing these courses is that you are much better prepared for the research projects and, of course, you are earning transferrable course credits at a much lower costs than at most universities.  For those going to Cuba there is the additional advantage in that it clearly demonstrates that your expedition was earning you credit towards your degree. Shasta College is currently updating their website and details about the courses and how to enrol should be available from November onwards. In the meantime information on Shasta College Semester Abroad program can be found here.

Internal course credit

It is sometimes possible to use an Operation Wallacea expedition to gain credits from your own university. This is often done through an Independent Study or Internship program. The amount of credit available will vary depending on which university you are at and the duration of your expedition. Your university will often require a piece of work based on your experience to go towards your Independent Studies or Internship, again these vary between institutions but may be in the form of a presentation or written report.

To organise gaining credit in this way, you will have to speak to your academic advisors and often your Study Abroad departments to find out what they can offer. They will usually have forms for you to complete before coming out with us, which will need certain details about the expeditions before you can gain the credit. This might be details of time allocation or academic supervision during the expedition, all of which we can happily supply to you, if needed.

If you have any questions about gaining credit from your university, please email If your academic advisors or Study Abroad departments have questions about the program, they can also contact us at this address. It is very important that if you are gaining credit in this way for an expedition, you email us in advance so we know you are gaining credits, even if you have no special on site requirements. This will make the awarding of credits much easier and ensure that any provisions you need on site are prepared in advance. If you fail to tell us about any credit you are gaining before an expedition we cannot take any responsibility for problems that may occur on site or when you return to your university.


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Suggested Reading: Honduras Marine
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