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  • Locations: Highlands, NC, United States;
  • Program Terms: Fall
  • Budget Sheets: Fall
  • App for Spring & Calendar Year open July 1/Apps for Summer, Fall, & Academic Year open December 1
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Study Abroad Contact: Derek Shepard Program type: Faculty-Led
Program features: Field Study, Internship, Research Click here for a definition of this term Minimum GPA: 2.0
Eligibility: Junior, Senior, Sophomore Open to Non-UNC students: Yes (with approval)
Language prerequisite: No Language of instruction: English
Program Description:
Location| Courses & Credits| Housing| Program Costs| Application Process | More Information|

UNC Institute for the Environment Highlands Field Site

The UNC Institute for the Environment established the Highlands Field Site in 2001 as part of its effort to provide UNC-Chapel Hill undergraduate students with opportunities for experiential learning in environmental studies. The Highlands Field Site invites students to participate in a semester-long investigation into the issues of biodiversity conservation in a mountain setting. This residential program includes coursework, seminars, field trips, individual research projects with local organizations and a collaborative group project focused on an important regional issue.


Highlands is situated on a high plateau of the Blue Ridge Mountains at an elevation of 1,170 meters. Much of the land in the Highlands region is within the Nantahala National Forest, with sections of three additional national forests nearby. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway are also accessible from the site. The Highlands area is renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, but also faces increasing pressure from residential and commercial development and recreational usage. These attributes make the Highlands Field Site an ideal location for the study of biological conservation.

Courses & Credits

Students participating on this program will take the following courses for a total of 17 credits:
  • ENEC 256: Mountain Biodiversity (4 hours) 
  • ENEC 264 Conservation of Biodiversity in Theory and Practice (3 hours) 
  • ENEC 479: Landscape Analysis (3 hours) 
  • ENEC 204: Cultural and Land Use History of the Southern Appalachians (1 hour) 
  • ENEC 698: Capstone (3 hours) 
  • ENEC 395: Research Internship (3 hours)
Coursework for this field site would be suitable for students pursuing a concentration area in Ecology and Environmental Infrastructure. Note that HFS students are required to complete an internship with a local organization or an independent study with a HFS faculty member.

Courses in this program are UNC Graded Credit.
UNC Graded Credit Programs (often taught by UNC Faculty): No action required
  • These courses automatically show up on your Tar Heel Tracker and UNC Transcript.
  • You will receive a letter grade for those courses, and this does affect your GPA.
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Students will live and study at the Highlands Biological Station in the town of Highlands, North Carolina. The Station, a unit of the University of North Carolina system, was founded in 1927 as a facility for biological field research and education and today serves as a research facility for top biologists and ecologists from around the nation.
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Program Costs

Review the Budget Sheet posted above for detailed information on costs and fees. Costs vary per term and are subject to change.

Tuition and fees for the program are based on current UNC tuition rates, the student’s NC residency status, and operating costs of the program. Tuition and fees will be charged to the participant’s UNC student account. Review the Budget Sheet for additional Cashier Billed Expenses and Out-of-Pocket Costs. The Study Abroad Office strongly encourages students to budget carefully for their time abroad.

Getting Started: Funding Study Abroad
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Application Process

Complete the required UNC application by clicking “Apply Now” at the top of the page. If you have not done so already, create a profile to start your application.

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More Information

For pictures, frequently asked questions, student testimonials, and more, visit the program’s blog!

For information on requesting ARS accommodations (academic, health, and mobility concerns) for a study abroad program, contact the Advisor for Access.
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Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

App for Spring & Calendar Year open July 1/Apps for Summer, Fall, & Academic Year open December 1