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About National Geographic Student Expeditions

Explore the World with National Geographic!

We invite the next generation of explorers to get out in the field and follow in the footsteps of National Geographic’s photographers, writers, and scientists. You might snorkel with marine biologists in Belize, go on photo shoots in Paris with a National Geographic photographer or help out with a community project.

It only takes a little digging to find that there is wonder—big and small—all around the world. Come discover it with us.


Students completing 9th through 12th grades are eligible to participate in National Geographic Student Expeditions.

Our Long History in Exploration

National Geographic has been exploring the planet since 1888, and our network of experts and contacts across the globe is vast and deep. We tap into these resources to create unique and exciting travel opportunities for students. Get to know Bushmen in Namibia. Conduct research with wildlife biologists in Brazil, and trek across glaciers with park rangers in Alaska.

To make these innovative trips possible, we have partnered with Putney Student Travel—a highly respected student travel organization that has offered quality student expeditions for more than 60 years. Putney is a leader in its field, delivering innovative, safe, and fun expeditions all around the world.

Our Trips

We offer five types of programs: expeditions, conservation in action trips, photo workshops, community service programs and on campus programs.

All of our trips range from eleven days to three weeks. On our expeditions, you’ll experience the best of the destina­tion through in-depth exploration of a country or region. On our conservation in action trips, you will work closely with scientists and researchers on some of National Geographic’s top conservation priorities. Our photography workshops are shorter, generally 12 days, with one or two bases from which you’ll set out to explore our spectacular surroundings. On our community service pro­grams, you’ll settle into a local community and take part in everyday life while working on a variety of service projects.

Throughout each program, you’ll work on a project, whether it’s a slideshow presentation, a field guide, a portfolio of photographs, or a gallery opening for an exhibition of your work.

Dynamic Travel Groups

STUDENTS. Traveling with your peers naturally creates a spirit of collaboration and teamwork. You’ll develop strong bonds while working in teams on On Assignment projects. Plus, seeing a place alongside your new friends brings a whole new dimension to your experience. Our expeditions and conservation in action trips range between 14 and 28 students. Community service programs are limited to 18 students and our field workshops average 25-30 students.

TRIP LEADERS. To lead our trips, we’ve selected dynamic college graduates who are pursuing careers in fields such as photojournalism, conservation biology, and cultural anthropology. They are energetic, creative, responsible, knowledgeable, and fun. They know the destination well and seek to share their love of travel with high school students. Our student-to-trip-leader ratio is usually between six and eight to one and never more than nine to one.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPERTS. On each expedition and field workshop, a National Geographic expert—a photographer, writer, researcher, or explorer—will join us for four to eight days of the trip. On our photography workshops, the expert—a National Geographic photographer—will join the entire program. Our experts are leaders in their field who will enrich the trip with their stories and their insight.

Community Involvement

On many trips, you have an opportunity to participate in community service projects that allow you to become more engaged with the place you’re exploring and to make a useful contribution. Depending on the location and the community’s needs, help with small-scale construction, tutor students in English, clean up a park, or help out at an orphanage. If you would like to focus more intensively on community service projects, take a look at our community service programs in Peru, Costa Rica, Tanzania, and Thailand. Estimates of community service hours on each of our programs are listed below.


Expeditions and Field Workshops:
Tanzania 10-16 hours
India 10-16 hours
Peru 12-16 hours
Costa Rica 8-12 hours
Grand Canyon & the Southwest 8-12 hours


Community Service Programs:
Peru 35-40 hours
Costa Rica 35-40 hours
Tanzania 35-40 hours
Thailand 35-40 hours


Our Sustainable Travel Philosophy

As an organization that seeks to inspire others to care about the planet, National Geographic is committed to sustaining the character and integrity of each place we visit—its environment, culture, heritage, and the well-being of its residents. In providing authentic travel experiences for students, we strive to protect the sites we visit, support local economies in our choice of accommodations and services, and increase students’ understanding and appreciation of other peoples and customs through meaningful friendships and cultural exchange.

Transportation Details

International and domestic U.S. airfares and any in-country internal flights are not included in the cost of the tuition. We have arranged for an escorted round-trip group flight for each of our international (and Alaska) programs, and will provide applicants with information about these flights. Group flights for each program begin and end at a meeting point at a major U.S. airport. For the Pacific Northwest, Grand Canyon & the Southwest, and Yellowstone & Montana programs, students arriving and departing by plane are met by a trip leader at the arrival/departure airport. On all programs, parents are responsible for making arrangements for students to get to and from the U.S. departure/return meeting points.

Airlines require that we reserve space far in advance, but do not set a final price until shortly before departure when tickets are issued in each traveler’s name. Until the time individual tickets are issued, airlines reserve the right to increase fees (e.g. fuel surcharges) and additional government fees may be assessed. The airfares we quote to you represent the figure that the airline has given us when we booked in the fall, and is subject to increase (which we will pass along to you) if the airline or a government agency assesses additional fees prior to final ticketing.

Photography and Filmmaking On Assignment Projects

Students who choose the Photography On Assignment project must provide their own digital camera with a pixel depth of at least five megapixels and a USB flash drive of at least 8 GB. Digital SLRs are highly recommended. Personal laptops are also recommended. There is a supplemental fee of $150 to cover additional supplies and on-site computing facilities for this On Assignment project.* For students who choose the Filmmaking On Assignment project, we provide video cameras, camera stock, and computers for editing. However, students who wish to bring their own digital video cameras and laptop computers are encouraged to do so. There is a $250 supplemental fee to cover additional equipment and facilities necessary for on-site editing for this On Assignment project.

*There is no supplemental fee for Photography Workshops.


We expect student participants to maintain high standards of personal behavior. Because they are encouraged, within the context of our trips, to take leadership roles and to make some of their own discoveries, students whose parents require them to be under constant surveillance or who are likely to act irresponsibly; use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco; or behave in a disruptive manner should not apply. Students who violate our few rules are subject to dismissal at our sole discretion. Parents are responsible for making arrangements for, bearing the cost of, and providing supervision for dismissed students’ immediate travel home, even in situations that require extended international travel. No refund of the tuition is given. Students dismissed from our programs will not receive credit for community service hours completed prior to their dismissal.

Application Process

Applications are carefully reviewed by our Admissions Committee, and students are selected on the basis of their maturity, enthusiasm, motivation, and willingness to live and participate constructively in a supportive community environment. Find out more about our application process or apply now.

Your participation in a National Geographic Student Expedition provides support to National Geographic's mission of increasing global understanding through exploration, geography education, and research.
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