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  • Locations: Antofagasta, Chile; Paranal, Chile; San Pedro, Chile; Santiago, Chile
  • Program Terms: Winter Break
  • Restrictions: UC applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Program Type Detailed: UC Faculty-Led Program Program Type General: Faculty-Led
Level of Study: Undergraduate Academic Theme: University Wide
Credit Offered: UC Credit Click here for a definition of this term Registration Term: Fall
Eligibility Restrictions: University Honors Program Students Only Minimum GPA: 3.2
Language Courses Offered: No Language of Instruction: English
Click here for a definition of this term Language Prerequisite: No Housing Options: Hotel
Program Lead Faculty: Dylan Ward Program Advisor: Matthew Paul, Neil Choudhury
Program Description:

Program Overview

The Atacama Desert occupies a continuous strip of nearly 1,000 miles along the Pacific coast of northern Chile, South America.  It is the driest non-polar desert in the world.  Yet, near inland oases and valleys, people have lived in the desert for millennia and make up some of the most advanced Pre-Columbian societies found in Chile. This course offers students the opportunity to travel to the Atacama following formal instruction on the geology of the region.  Due to the altitude and dry, dark skies, some of the most sophisticated telescopes in the world are found there.  Students will review astronomy before the tour, as well as learn photography and video techniques to document the stunning beauty and culture of the region.  Throughout the course, a human perspective of the region will be included.  Students will learn about the indigenous people of the Atacama, visit archaeological sites and learn the history of the region up to the current day.  This includes a review of the extensive present day mining of its rich geology and a visit to its world-class telescope sites.  By Permission Only.
Additional Information: The course is also being taught synchronously with a selected group of Chilean students, from the Universidad de Concepción, Chile, who will join the UC students for a study tour of the Atacama region at the end of the term.

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Desert lake
At the end of the fall semester the class will take a mandatory study tour to the Atacama Desert of Chile, the highest and driest desert in the world. Students will visit Antofagasta, San Pedro and the Paranal Observatory. 

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Who Can Participate?

Radio telescopes
Applications for this seminar will open in December 2017 and will be due on Feb. 26, 2018. An interview with the faculty may be required as part of the application process. This seminar is capped at 15 students.

UC undergraduates who are not in the University Honors Program are welcome and encouraged to apply to participate, provided the student has a cumulative university GPA of 3.2 or above and are enrolled full-time at UC (i.e. for at least 12 credit hours in the fall 2018 semester). Graduate students are not eligible to enroll. Although priority is given to University Honors students, we are often able to offer spaces to other students as well.

Course Expectations

Students are expected to meet the instructor's academic and behavioral expectations during the class time leading up to the travel component. Students who do not meet academic and/or behavioral expectations will not be permitted to travel. Students in this situation will not receive a refund.

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Academic Program and Course Information

Steamy sunlight
All students in this program are required to enroll in GEOL2179 The Atacama: Connecting Earth and Sky Through a Human Perspective for 3 credits for the fall semester.
Tuition and fees are assessed based on total enrolled hours for a term. This includes the hours associated with the study abroad class. Students who enroll for more than 18 hours for the term will be assessed additional per credit hour fees over and above the flat fees associated with being enrolled full-time (for most students full-time is 12-18 hours).
Co-op students selected to participate in this program are required to enroll in the course during the designated term, regardless of when the student may be on co-op.  If the course is during a term when the student is on co-op, tuition and fees will be charged per a student’s residency status and college, based on the part-time per credit hour rate.
A student can see his/her full and part time tuition rates and college fees here (use left-side navigation menu to click into the relevant academic year):


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Sun-baked rocks
Dr. Margaret Hanson - Prof. Hanson has always been interested in spectroscopic measurements of astronomical objects.  Her research in observational (experimental) astronomy has extended from the ultraviolet, optical, infrared, millimeter and into the centimeter wavelengths.  Her most recent research uses infrared spectroscopy of hot, massive stars to characterize massive stellar clusters found deeply embedded within our Milky Way Galaxy.  External grants and contracts since coming to the University of Cincinnati in 1998 exceed 1.5 million dollars.  From 2005 to 2012, she served as Associate Editor-in-Chief for The Astronomical Journal, the oldest professional science journals in astronomy in the United States and among the most prestigious in the world.  In Fall 2011, she moved to the Graduate School, to serve as The Associate University Dean.  In 2016, she joined the leadership team of the College of Arts & Sciences as the Associate Dean for Natural Sciences.  

Dr. Dylan Ward - Prof. Ward's research includes numerical modeling, field measurement, and geochronology to constrain rates and mechanics of fluvial and glacial geomorphic processes; paleoclimate and atmospheric circulation as reflected in the landscape; response of landscape processes to climate change and to exhumation of different rock types. He is an assistant professor in geomorphology and numerical modeling. 

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Living Arrangements

Desert flamingos
Students and faculty will be staying at local hotels (TBD) while in Chile. 

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Getting There

Desert road
On Dec. 13, 2018 the group will depart from Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport to Santiago, Chile with a connecting flight to Antofagasta, Chile. From there the group will take ground transportation to San Pedro and various other sites. On Dec. 22, 2018 the group will depart for Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport from Santiago. 


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Program Costs

Mountain reflection
2018 Program Cost:  $4100 

Included in Program Cost:
  • Airfare and transfers
  • Accommodations
  • CISI insurance
  • Breakfasts at hotel
  • Group museum admission tickets/passes
  • Guides
 Not Included in Program Cost:
  • Personal meals
  • Baggage fees
  • Passport
  • Personal expenses
  • Personal ground transportation
  • Souvenirs
  • Visas
The program fee for this study tour is $4100. However, this program has been awarded a $200 UC International Scholarship (matriculated, UC degree-seeking students only) and a $1000 University Honors Grant. This brings the posted financial liability of the program down to $2900. 

Note that both program charges and UC International scholarship will be posted separately on a student’s OneStop bill on the semester in which the course for the study abroad experience is given.  Program charges are posted shortly after students commit to the program through the online application process.  Scholarships are posted after all students 1) register for the course connected to the study abroad experience, and 2) complete all study abroad online paperwork.

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UC Financial Aid and Scholarships

For full details on using your financial aid to help pay for your study abroad experience, you should contact UC Financial Aid.

UC International awarded over $500,000 in student grants last year. Please refer to the UC International webpage for more information.

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Passports and Visas

A valid passport is essential to your international travel and study abroad. If you are planning to travel abroad, its best to apply for a passport now as processing times may vary. Please see for more information.

In order to obtain country-specific visa instructions and resources, refer to your host country’s embassy web page. One way to access this information is visa the US Department of State’s webpage at

UC International is happy to guide UC faculty, staff and students to possible resources about visas for study abroad. Although, applying for the necessary visa for travel is the responsibility of the individual UC traveler. Entry requirements change frequently and we advise you to pay close information to consular updates. It is your responsibility to knowing and addressing the requirements for your host study abroad destination.

Applying for a visa can be a complicated process. Some UC travelers choose to third party to assist with this process, for example A Briggs (mention UC for a possible discount).

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Health and Safety Abroad

UC International is committed to student and faculty safety while abroad. The following are a few resources for travel abroad.

UC faculty, students and staff are responsible for their own health and safety abroad. The US Department of State, Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) and International SOS are excellent resources for country specific information.

UC partners with International SOS medical and security advice. UC code is 11BCAS000010

UC students, faculty and staff can utilize International SOS in the following ways:
  • Sign up to receive email alerts for medical and security information, customizable to various locations abroad
  • Read about travel health information with medical advice, food and water safety, and cultural tips
  • Explore travel security with personal safety tips and travel risk ratings for locations abroad

UC faculty, students and staff traveling abroad should register their travel abroad through the US Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of an emergency abroad.

All UC students participating in a University of Cincinnati sanctioned or funded international travel program are required to purchase and maintain insurance while abroad. UC International partners with CISI to provide insurance for UC students.

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Contacts for More Information

Please contact Neil Choudhury for any questions not answered from the above information. 


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This program is currently not accepting applications.