The University of South Carolina offers a Maymester study abroad program for students to earn major, minor or elective credits while helping save endangered sea turtles and learning about the rich culture and history of Mexico.  The logistics for the course are provided by TTPP and Vida Milenaria.  Students interested in biology, marine science, sustainable development or Mexican culture and history will find this to be a rewarding experience. Since the course deals with advanced topics in biology and conservation, it is only open to students whose major or minor is biology, marine science or environmental science.  Other majors may contact us to see if we can make an exception.  For MSCI majors, this course has been approved by the undergraduate studies committee to count as an alternative to your MSCI460 requirement.

This course will be challenging, both physically and academically. You will live in a relatively remote location on a beautiful Mexican beach in the Gulf of Mexico. There is no hot water and it can be very hot and sometimes very buggy. And you will be required to walk long distances every day. In the hot sun. And in these conditions you will be tasked with evaluating and writing scientific papers, analyzing data and making presentations to your classmates about our research. But in return you will get first hand experience on a real scientific research project. This isn’t something dreamed up for students to have something to do – its an actual research project that needs your help! Our research focuses on the most endangered sea turtle species in the world – the relatively tiny Kemp’s ridley. You will receive training from USC scientists – and sometimes scientists visiting our beach from other parts of the world – who are well known experts in their field. And then the success of the project is in your hands since you become an integral component of a scientific research team as you work side by side with a dedicated team of Mexican researchers and volunteers.

But we will also have time to explore the natural and cultural history of the area. There will be tours of a vanilla plantation, guided boat trips through the nearby mangrove habitat, visits to archeological ruins and several days in Mexico city as we explore one of the largest cities in the world.

This course is limited to twelve students.   Unfortunately this means that only select students will be permitted to register. Students wishing to sign up for the course must submit an application packet consisting of:

  1. a curriculum vitae
  2. a one page statement of interest wherein you explain why you are a perfect fit for this unique and special Study Abroad course.
  3. a list of any relevant biology, environmental science or marine science course you have take and what grade you earned in those course.

Note that the Study Abroad office offers various forms of financial assistance for which you might be eligible. Please contact them for more information.  You must act soon, because deadlines are fast approaching.

Email your completed application packet, or any questions you might have, to


To learn more about the area and the research being done be sure to check out some of these blog posts: