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.

Students of any major are invited to enroll. For those pursuing a Marine Biology major, minor, or related concentration, the Shoals Semester program is an excellent opportunity to gain immersive field experience, build skillsets, and make professional connections through the lab for applying to jobs or graduate school.

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. 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!

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

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:

By enrolling in 12+ credits ("full-time" status), 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 use a gap semester to take advantage of an internship or job opportunity, allowing you to graduate at the same time, for the same cost, but with additional experience. Read the official announcement from CALS. Questions? Email

Read Lan Nguyen's (CALS '23) Field Note report to learn more about the Shoals Semester and her summer on Appledore Island.

Example Shoals Semesters

Design your own custom Shoals Semester to match your individual 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

Evolution and Marine Diversity

Marine Ecosystem Research & Management

Investigative Marine Biology Lab

Applied Science Communication

TOTAL = 13 CU/16 UNH credits from June 15-August 14, 2023

Example 2. Advanced research methods semester

SML Course 1

SML Course 2

SML Course 3

SML Course 4

Marine Invasive Species

Field Animal Behavior

Investigative Marine Biology Lab Research in Biology

TOTAL = 12 CU/16 UNH credits from June 5-August 14, 2023

Example 3. Marine biodiversity and sustainability semester

SML Course 1

SML Course 2

SML Course 3

SML Course 4

Marine Mammal Biology

Anatomy and Function of Marine Vertebrates

Shark Biology and Conservation

Marine Parasitology and Disease

TOTAL = 12 Cornell/16 UNH credits from June 5-August 14, 2023

To start planning your own Shoals Semester: