Shoals Semester

Photo of a Shoals Semester student.

The Shoals Semester Program offers a full semester’s credits to students with the added benefit of only having to take one course at a time. Combine 4 SML courses in one summer, and earn enough credits to replace a regular academic semester, with no overlapping assignments, labs, or exams! The Shoals Semester Program has ‘built in’ breaks to ensure a rest between courses. Room and board is provided during scheduled SML semester breaks, if desired. Students are free to leave the island during breaks or stay and engage in fun volunteer activities and group outings.

What are the benefits you'll receive as a Shoals Semester student?
  • Full immersion in your courses with maximum experiential, hands-on education style.
  • Close-knit learning environment in an island community filled with fellow students and experienced marine biologists.
  • Small classes that enable a close relationship with faculty (4:1 student to faculty ratio). Establish some great references for your future job or graduate school applications!
  • Opt to enroll in the Shoals Research Apprenticeship – gain real independent research experience and build your resume!
  • Special Scholarships offered for all students taking more than one class.

How to Apply

To enroll in a Shoals Semester, you should email or contact an SML Academic Coordinator:

Our Academic Coordinators will walk you through the process of choosing your Shoals Semester courses and creating a summer plan, like the examples below.

Financial Support

ALL students who enroll in a Shoals Semester will receive our Multiple Course Scholarships! Additional, financial support is available through SML merit scholarships, SML need-based scholarships, and SML student staff positions. Learn more.

Logo for Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Click on this logo to read Cornell's press release about special Shoals Semester funding.
*NEW for Cornell CALS undergraduates:

You can apply your Cornell CALS financial aid package to the Shoals Semester in place of a regular fall or spring semester on campus! This option could help you graduate early or take advantage of an internship or job opportunity available during the academic year. Read the official announcement from CALS. Questions? Email

Example Shoals Semesters

Design your own custom Shoals Semester to match your indidivual interests or course of study (select any four non-overlapping courses). Here are some examples of potential combinations:

Example 1. Shoals Semester especially for Cornell biology students

SML Course 1

SML Course 2

SML Course 3

SML Course 4

Field Ornithology

Anatomy & Function of Marine Vertebrates

Ecology and the Marine Environment

Evolution and Marine Diversity

TOTAL = 13 CU/16 UNH credits from May 26-July 29, 2022

Example 2. Advanced research methods semester

SML Course 1

SML Course 2

SML Course 3

SML Course 4

Marine Parasitology and Disease

Integrated Ecosystem Research and Management

Investigative Marine Biology Lab Research in Biology

TOTAL = 12 CU/16 UNH credits from May 30-July 25, 2022

Example 3. Marine biodiversity and sustainability semester

SML Course 1

SML Course 2

SML Course 3

SML Course 4

Sustainable Fisheries

Anatomy and Function of Marine Vertebrates

Aquatic Invasive Species

Shark Biology and Conservation

TOTAL = 12 Cornell/16 UNH credits from May 30- July 25, 2022

To start planning your own Shoals Semester: