Frequently Asked Questions

If you can’t find the answers you need, please feel free to contact us and ask away!


  • How much does the IFP cost?

    There is a $4,500 program fee plus regular UGA tuition and fees (student activity and health fees can be waived for the summer). The program fee covers room, board, and transportation for the whole semester. Thus the IFP is quite affordable, and can cost even less than a semester on campus. See our Program Costs & Deadlines page for a full explanation.

  • Does HOPE cover tuition?

    Yes, the HOPE and Zell Miller scholarships cover tuition at the same rates they do for on-campus courses.

  • What courses does the IFP offer?

    We offer introductory level courses in Geology, Anthropology, Ecology, English (Creative Writing) and PE. Upper level courses are also available. There are no prerequisites for the IFP. Most students earn 14-15 credit hours on the program. See our Course Credit Options for full details.

  • What are the trip dates?

    The trip runs for two months June-July. See our Itinerary page for the exact dates of the upcoming program.

  • When is the application deadline?

    Student applications are due at the beginning of March. See our Application Instructions for the exact date for the upcoming program. Note we accept early applicants on a rolling basis, so we recommend getting your application in early. We can also sometimes accept late applications. If you are interested in the IFP after the deadline, contact us to see if space is available for the summer.

  • Do you have to be a UGA student to participate?

    No, we can accept students from anywhere. Non-UGA students will have to enter UGA as a summer transient and then transfer credit back to their home institutions. Most schools accept our courses as transfer credit.

  • Can high school seniors apply to the program?

    Yes, absolutely. Even if you don’t end up going to UGA in the fall, you can still participate in the IFP.

  • How many students participate each summer?

    Our usual enrollment is 12-18 students.

  • How many staff travel with the program?

    A typical number would include 2-3 instructors, 2-3 teaching assistants, and 2 cooks at any given time. Generally program faculty rotate in and out during the summer, while the TAs and cooks do the entire trip with the students.

  • Do you have an orientation session before the trip?

    Yes, we host an orientation picnic in the spring (usually a Saturday afternoon in April). All prospective students and their parents are invited, and many former students and staff attend.

  • How have you kept this program going for over 25 years?

    Running the IFP is a labor of love. We have had the constant support through the years of the UGA Geology Department, the Honors Program, and more recently Recreational Sports and the Center for Applied Isotope Studies.

Below are questions we often get from parents.
  • How often will I be able to talk to my son/daughter over the course of the two months?

    You will be able to talk regularly without a problem. There are some locations without cell phone service, however. In areas with weak signal, texting often works better than trying to make a call. Many campgrounds now have Wi-Fi service, so emailing is also possible. We do keep everyone busy during the day, so expect to communicate in the evenings.

  • Can I send care packages?

    Yes, and students love getting them! We receive mail via General Delivery every week or so, at pre-determined post offices. We will announce these locations prior to trip departure, and we’ll post mailing instructions on our Forms & Documents page (look for “Mail Drops”).

  • Can I meet up with the group at any point?

    Yes, we welcome visitors! We’ve had many parents and friends meet up with the group over the years, often on one of our days off or to join us on a hike. Please let us know your plans ahead of time, so we know you’re coming.

  • What are the sleeping arrangements?

    Students sleep in their individual tents. Depending on the location, some also choose to sleep in a hammock or to pull out a ground cloth and sleep under the stars. IFP faculty are always on site.

  • How will my son/daughter change by the end of the summer?

    Our students come home with a tremendous sense of accomplishment as well as improved self-discipline and teamworking skills. They are equipped with a greater awareness of the physical and cultural resources of the United States and a fresh perspective on many of the environmental issues our country is facing.

    They also might find it a bit strange to sleep in a bed for the first time in two months.

These additional questions have been asked and answered by IFP students!
  • How do we get from place to place?

    We caravan in vehicles provided by the university, followed by the gear and food truck for the whole 8 weeks!

  • Do we get days off?

    Absolutely! We get days off approximately once a week. Santa Fe, Flagstaff, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Portland, Bozeman, and Boulder are some of the cities we get to spend the day in.

  • What is an average day on the IFP?

    It varies day to day, of course. An average day can be anything from waking up before sunrise to go on an all-day hike, to doing a group field project, to taking a morning exam followed by a day off in a great city. Most studying gets done in the vans on the road or at the campsite at the end of the day.

  • How are we tested?

    There are four tests throughout the course of the trip (taken while outdoors!), as well as various projects related to each discipline.

  • Can I bring a guitar?

    If you know songs other than “Wonderwall” or “The General,” then yes, yes you can. Musical instruments (which can be safely stored) are encouraged!

  • Do I need to be in shape?

    If you aren’t already, you will be! There are many hikes that are exhausting if you aren’t at least somewhat in shape (aka, can climb two flights of stairs without sweating). However, we have had plenty of students come out of shape and they have all survived!
    Hikes become successively harder as the summer progresses and are planned to build up your acclimatization and endurance. By the time you hike Mount St. Helens, you will be ready for it! Click here for a list of the hikes we do.

  • How much money should I bring?

    It’s a good idea to bring some cash, but for the most part you’ll always have access to places that accept credit/debit cards and there are ATMs along the way. The exact amount is really up to you. You can survive the summer on about $150, but of course most students want to buy patches, shirts, bumper stickers, and other memorable items along the way.

  • What all do I need to bring with me?

    Here’s a list of the gear we recommend you bring.

  • What will we be eating?

    There are two cooks who travel with the program and cook all dinners (except for days off). The cooks are always exceptional and dinners are delicious and well-rounded (not canned beans and hot dogs!). For lunch, expect to pack your own sandwiches, fruit, and snacks for each day from a selection provided for the program by the cooks. Breakfasts are usually served cold (cereal, fruit, yogurt, etc) and coffee is abundant.

  • Are we backpacking?

    We do not camp or backpack without access to the vans. At no times do we carry all the things we need to camp with us while hiking! This is a car camping trip only.

  • Can I bring nice electronics like a laptop or camera?

    You can if you’d like, and you can expect safe storage. Cameras are encouraged! Laptops are not usually necessary, but some people like to have theirs. The program will provide iPad Mini’s for each student for the duration of the trip.

  • How often can we shower?

    Enough 🙂 It depends on the location, but the longest you’ll go without a shower is about 4 days. The arid climate makes it seem like just 2 days.

  • Are we camping the entire time?

    Yep, the whole two months! This is not primitive camping, though! Imagine going on a family camping trip to a state park, with picnic tables, camp chairs, and good food. Now extend that trip for 8 weeks!

  • Are there toilets???

    Always. The only time you have to wilderpee is during a long hike! Otherwise, there will be either pit toilets (not as bad as they sound), flush toilets or gas station toilets. You will see many toilets along the way.