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Summer Courses

Saint Louis University offers several upper-division field biology courses at Reis Biological Field Station each summer.

A group of six students stand and kneel at the top of a rocky bluff overlooking the Ozark forests.

In summer 2024, the three SLU courses being offered are BIOL 4200:Aquatic Ecology, BIOL 4330: Spring Flora of the Ozarks, and BIOL 4260: Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles.

All courses are four credit hours. Courses are three weeks long and occur during the first intercession of the summer.

The session runs from May 19 to June 8, 2024. Courses run concurrently, so you may register for only one course per session. 

Cost: About $3,200 for tuition and $500 for food. All buildings have air conditioning. Transportation to and from the field station is provided. For more information contact Professor Robert Wood at

All courses satisfy upper-division lecture and lab electives for SLU biology majors. Credits earned are transferable to most academic institutions. The only prerequisite for any of these courses is BIOL 1060: Principles of Biology II. Each course is worth four credit hours and satisfies a lab requirement.

BIOL 4200: Aquatic Ecology 

Course description: An exploration of freshwater ecosystems in Missouri including springs, rivers and lakes. The course will explore the diversity of living organisms, both animals and plants, found in these ecosystems. A major goal will be to understand how the physical and chemical properties of water affect the abundance and diversity of aquatic organisms. 

Instructor: Robert Wood (

Seven students stand in water, wearing hip waders

BIOL 4330: Spring Flora of the Ozarks

Course description: Spring Flora is a field-based course designed to acquaint students with the spring flora of the Ozark Highlands Physiographic Province. Students will learn to recognize common plant families found in Missouri and to identify plant species using taxonomic keys.

Instructor: Marcela Mora, Ph.D.

A group of students stands in a forest, examining papers and samples.

BIOL 4260: Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles

Course description: Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles (Herpetology) is a field-based course designed to expose students to the amphibians and reptiles of the Ozark Highlands. 


  • Hands-on field experience.
  • Study frogs, toads, salamanders, turtles, snakes and lizards in their natural habitats.
  • Amphibians and reptiles are imperiled worldwide.
  • Beautiful surroundings
  • Earn four credits in three weeks!

Instructor: Mark Mills, Ph.D.

A student kneels in the forest and examines samples.

Learning Conditions

Please note that field courses include major outdoor components to take advantage of the unparalleled opportunities for learning about organisms in their natural environment.

Expect to spend a considerable portion of class time hiking, canoeing, sampling, wading, etc., in potentially hot, humid weather. Classes are not canceled for rain.

You will likely encounter wildlife such as mosquitoes and other insects, ticks, snakes and frogs, as well as poison ivy and stinging nettles. We will ensure that you learn to recognize these organisms so that you can avoid or deal with them appropriately.

If you have any questions about the courses or concerns about whether a field course is appropriate for you, contact the field station director, Robert Wood, Ph.D., or the course instructors.

FAQ About Summer Session Courses

Who can take field courses at Reis Biological Field Station?

The only prerequisite for all field courses is BIOL 1060: Principles of Biology II. Students who have completed freshman biology are encouraged to apply.

How long is the summer session?

The summer session at Reis Biological Station will run Monday through Saturday for three weeks. In 2024, this will be May 19 to June 8. If you sign up for a course at the field station, you should expect to leave the station no earlier than 1 p.m. Unless there is an emergency, requests to leave early will not be considered.

How much time is spent in class each day?
Classes run all day Monday through Friday, with exams given on Saturday morning. A typical class day consists of three hours of lecture and three hours of lab.
What does it cost to take a summer field course?
About $3,200 for tuition and $500 for food.
How do I get to the field station?
 SLU provides transportation to and from the station at the beginning and end of the session. You may also drive yourself or be dropped off at the station. All transportation during the session to off-site locations is provided.
What is housing like at the field station?

Students stay in single-sex cabins that are heated and air-conditioned. Cabins have wooden bunks with foam mattresses; students should bring their own pillow, linens (sheets, mattress pad) or sleeping bag and towels.

Students in the cabins use men's and women's indoor shower houses with three flush toilets, three sinks and three showers. Students provide their own personal toiletries (soap, shampoo, etc.).

A loft above the main lodge also sleeps up to 10 students. Two bathrooms are available in the lodge: one with a sink and toilet, the second with a sink, toilet and shower.

A small coin laundry has two washers ($0.50) and two dryers ($0.25); laundry soap is provided.

What are meals like at the field station?

We provide three meals each day. Breakfast includes a hot option (pancakes, french toast, eggs) and various cold cereals. Lunch options may include sandwiches, salads, soups and fruit.

Dinners range from grilled choices such as burgers, chicken and kebabs to pasta, tacos, red beans and rice, and more. A variety of fresh salads is offered at each dinner.

Meatless options are available at every meal.

Should I bring money?
You may want to bring a small amount of money for activities like bowling, ice cream trips and personal purchases. Bringing large sums of cash is unnecessary.
How do I contact the outside world while at the field station?
The station has a DSL internet connection. Cell phone reception at the station is spotty but occasionally works; more reliable reception is available a five-minute drive away. A landline is available for emergencies. 
What is there to do for fun?
During the week, there are nightly campfires, Wednesday night bowling, trips to an ice cream shop, and twice-weekly informal talks by faculty, graduate students or visiting researchers. Students also enjoy swimming in Huzzah Creek, playing cards and games and reading.