Lisbon, Portugal

Aquatic Ecosystems & Sustainability

Summer '20 applications are now open!
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Information for term Aquatic Ecosystems & Sustainability

Application deadline, and cost information.

Application Deadline

Rolling Admissions

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Dates: Jun 14 – Jul 4, 2020 (3 weeks)

Application Deadline

Rolling Admissions

Program Deadlines and Pricing Info

  • Dates: Jul 12 – Aug 1, 2020 (3 weeks)


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Combine your passions for ecology and the sea in the port cities of Portugal.

Observe different aquatic species, from starfish to bottlenose dolphins; swim, snorkel, surf, and study the stars at night. Each day you’ll explore a range of fascinating topics related to water resources and aquatic biodiversity as you immerse yourself in conservation and sustainability projects in the scenic coastal cities of Portugal. You will also engage in activities with local peers – playing beach games and sports, performing community service, and practicing your conversational language skills in the most authentic way possible!

Through lectures and lab work onsite, you’ll be introduced to Mediterranean natural history, climate, habitats, and sustainability challenges. On side trips to nature reserves and marine parks in North, Central, and South Portugal you’ll explore both river and ocean biodiversity. Traveling to Alentejo, you’ll be exposed to consequences of climate change and water management in one of the driest regions of Europe. In the Algarve, a popular vacation destination known for its reefs, caves and dramatic coastline, you will observe first-hand and critically discuss how sustainable tourism can help to protect its fragile ecosystems.

These three weeks are all about water, so get ready to get wet! When not kayaking or swimming for fun, you’ll find yourself knee-deep in various river, coastal and maritime ecosystems while gathering and analyzing data with your team. Working alongside marine biologists, conservationists, and sustainability researchers, you’ll develop important skills in a short period of time.

Surveying plants, birds and marine biodiversity in the wild provides invaluable experience and lifelong lessons. Back home in the US, you can apply these insights to future studies on ecology, and spread your message about the importance of long-term sustainability for our society and our planet.

  • Learn

    Identify river and maritime ecosystems: history, species, and challenges

  • Understand

    Recognize the importance of river ecological recovery for long-term sustainability

  • Examine

    Assess the ecological role of the ocean as a life-support system

Location & Culture

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Sunshine and sea breezes make for pleasant, temperate coastal climates.

With half of its territory bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal is a prime location for this program. It features a pleasant mix of Mediterranean oceanic climate and prime proximity to valuable ecosystems for content studies.

As Portugal is a small country, it's very easy to travel from place to place. It’s also safe, affordable, and friendly. Lisbon, the capital, is a beautiful city with many cultural events and affordable activities during the summer. You can enjoy a full meal for 8-10€ and for 6€ a taxi will take you pretty much anywhere in the city. More ancient than Rome, Lisbon combines beautiful patrimony with cutting edge cultural events.

The best parts of Portugal? Many students name the beaches – among the top places in Europe to go surfing – and the food! Because of the sea, the Portuguese eat a lot of fish of all kinds – grilled, boiled, or roasted. Vegetarian options are gaining popularity around the Portuguese community as well.

Daily Life

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Daily Life

"Today we woke up bright and early to beat the crowd to the beach and get to our surf lessons...."

Learn more about daily life on a high school study abroad program by reading our blog posts above.

  • Housing

    You will stay in hostels in Lisbon, Aveiro and Algarve

  • Local Support

    24/7 Support from your CIEE program leader and in-country CIEE staff members

Program Blogs

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Program Blogs


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Sample Activities

  • Venture to local natural parks to study river and ocean ecosystems
  • Kayak or canoe in local rivers
  • Swim and snorkel in the sea
  • Sign up for a surf class or play beach soccer
  • Visit the Lisbon Oceanarium, the Mora Fluviary, and historical and cultural sites such as the Bone Chapel in Évora or the Slavery Museum in Lagos.
  • Kick up your heels in a traditional dance workshop
  • Whip up regional specialties in a Portuguese cooking class
  • Stargaze with fellow students at Astronomy Night


  • Alentejo – one of the driest regions of Portugal's temperate climate, known for features like the Mora Fluviary and Alqueva Dam, the largest dam in Europe. We will also visit the city of Évora, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
  • Algarve – one of the most sought after touristic destinations in Europe. We will explore its incredible coastline, with its reefs, caves and biodiversity, and prime spots for swimming and snorkeling  

​​Please note this list of activities is based on past programs and subject to change at CIEE's discretion to both adapt to local circumstances and participant feedback. Our goal when revising itineraries is always to enhance your experience. Every activity is designed to provide you with a deep immersion in your topic, local culture and sights. Get ready for maximum fun!

Dates & Fees

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Dates & Fees


  • No specific requirements for standard sessions.
  • Program open to all current high school students: Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors. 
  • For scholarship eligibility requirements, please check our Scholarship page.
  • This program involves engaging in moderate to high intensity physical activities such as hiking, boating and snorkeling. Ability to swim is not required but strongly encouraged to enjoy the program and location at its fullest.

Application Fee


Program scholarships and tuition include iNext Travel Insurance but do not cover the cost of flights. More details about tuition inclusions can be found here.


Application Due

Start Date

End Date


Summer Session I 2020 3 weeks Rolling Admissions Jun 14, 2020 Jul 4, 2020


Summer Session II 2020 3 weeks Rolling Admissions Jul 12, 2020 Aug 1, 2020


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