Students ages 13 and older who are completing grades 7 and 8 are eligible to participate in our middle school expeditions. Students who are completing grades 9 through 12 are eligible to participate in our high school programs.
We expect student participants to maintain high standards of personal behavior. Because they are encouraged, within the context of our programs, to take leadership roles and to make some of their own discoveries, students whose parents require them to be under constant surveillance; who are likely to act irresponsibly; who use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco; or who may behave in an otherwise 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 a dismissed student's 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.
Group Size and Composition
Group size generally ranges between 14 and 28 participants. Our community service programs are limited to 18 participants; photography workshops have generally 25–30 students; and university workshops accommodate up to 50 students. The student-to-Expedition Leader ratio is usually between six and eight to one, and never more than nine to one. In addition to Expedition Leaders, a National Geographic Expert joins a portion of each expedition, generally for a period of four to eight days. On photography workshops, the National Geographic photographer joins the entire program. On university workshops, a number of National Geographic Experts share their work during the program.
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 team environment. We will temporarily reserve a space for an applicant in a particular program upon receipt of the Application Form, a $700 payment, and the Agreement Form.
For applications received after March 15, final payment is due within five business days after the initial payment is made.
An applicant’s file is not complete and cannot be considered for admission until we have received a completed application, which consists of theApplication Form, $700 payment, Applicant Statement, two completed Teacher Reference Forms, and signed Agreement Form.
Find out more about our application process or apply now.
Tuition and Supplemental Fees
Photo & Video On Assignment Fees
Tuition for National Geographic Student Expeditions programs includes all meals, lodging, activities, excursions, ground transportation, taxes, gratuities, and pre-trip materials. Tuition excludes the $200 application fee, airfare, costs associated with obtaining passports or visas, baggage charges, trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance, and personal expenses. National Geographic arranges escorted round-trip group flights for our international, Alaska, and Hawaii programs at additional cost, and will provide applicants with information about these flights.
Students on a high school expedition who choose a Photography On Assignment project must bring their own digital camera; there is a supplemental fee of $150. Students who choose the Film & Video On Assignment project must bring their own video camera; there is a $250 supplemental fee. Students on photography workshops must bring their own digital SLR camera, external hard drive, and laptop computer. More information about what equipment to bring on each program will be provided in pre-trip materials.
Select high school programs—including Baja, Belize, and Fiji—offer the opportunity to scuba dive. While scuba diving is not the main focus of these trips, students who are certified will have the opportunity to participate in a number of dives. The supplemental fee for diving ranges from $150 to $300, depending on the number of dives offered.
A minimum fee of $150 is assessed when a student’s travel falls outside of the designated arrival and/or departure windows, and additional staffing or logistical support is required as a result. For programs without a group flight, if your arrival to or departure from the program destination falls outside of the designated window(s) requiring special coordination from our staff, you will be charged a minimum of $150. For programs with a group flight, if you do not travel on the group flight and your arrival to or departure from the program destination requires additional days/nights of accommodation, special travel arrangements, or otherwise requires special coordination from our staff, you will be charged a minimum of $150. If your arrival to or departure from the U.S. gateway airport falls outside of the designated window(s) indicated in pre-trip materials AND you miss the group flight and/or your connection because of this, you will be charged a minimum of $150 to cover the cost of our staffing and logistical support.
Many major airlines have policies that require students under a certain age who are flying alone to register as an “Unaccompanied Minor.” If your child is flying alone and is required to register as an Unaccompanied Minor, the airline will require that an adult escort them to the departure gate and meet them at the arrival gate. National Geographic Student Expeditions is able to provide staff and logistical support when your child arrives and departs from the U.S. Gateway Airport for a $150 fee.
International and domestic airfare and any internal flights during the expedition are not included in the cost of tuition. We have arranged for an escorted round-trip group flight for each of our international (and Alaska and Hawaii) 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 our U.S. programs (except Alaska and Hawaii), students traveling by plane are met by an Expedition Leader at the airport, and escorted to the airport at the end of the trip. On all programs, parents are responsible for making arrangements for students to get to and from the U.S. departure/return meeting points.
Terms of Payment
APPLICATION FEE & TUITION DEPOSIT: A $700 payment (made up of a $200 Application Fee and a $500 Tuition Deposit) is required with all applications. The Tuition Deposit is credited to the tuition for accepted students. Payment may be made by check or credit card.
FINAL PAYMENT: Final payment of the full tuition, and group flight airline tickets (if applicable), is due on March 15, 2020. For applications submitted after March 15, final payment is due within five (5) business days after the initial $700 payment is made. Final payment may be made by check, wire transfer, or credit card. Checks must be in U.S. dollars and must be drawn on a U.S. bank. Please make checks payable to “Putney Student Travel” and write the student’s name clearly on the check. For payment by wire transfer, please consult the National Geographic Student Expeditions office for wiring information. For final payment made by credit card, a 2.75% fee is added to your payment.
If an application is not accepted or if space is not available on the trip listed as first choice, the full $700 payment amount will be refunded, or if payment of the full tuition, and (if applicable) payment of group flight airline tickets, has been made, the amount of the full payment will be refunded.
WAITING LIST: Wait-listed applications must include the $700 payment, which will be fully refunded if space does not become available or if the application is withdrawn prior to acceptance. A wait-listed application must be completed to be considered for acceptance.
WITHDRAWAL: If the student withdraws from a program for any reason, either before or after his or her application is accepted, the following terms will govern any refunds. For a withdrawal on or before March 15, all payments, and (if applicable) group flight airline tickets payments, will be refunded, less the Application Fee. For a withdrawal after March 15, no refunds of the $700 payment, tuition, or (if applicable) group flight airline tickets will be made.
CANCELLATION: National Geographic Student Expeditions and Putney Student Travel reserve the right to cancel applications that are not completed in a timely manner; however, National Geographic Student Expeditions and Putney Student Travel will communicate with applicants to facilitate the admissions process prior to cancelling applications. National Geographic Student Expeditions and Putney Student Travel further reserve the right to revoke an acceptance when payment is past due. No refund of the payments made to date is provided in this circumstance.
If National Geographic Student Expeditions or Putney Student Travel cancel an application on or before March 15, all payments will be refunded, less the Application Fee. If National Geographic Student Expeditions or Putney Student Travel cancel an application or revoke an acceptance after March 15, the $700 payment and, if applicable, any non-refundable airline tickets, will be forfeited.
If National Geographic Student Expeditions or Putney Student Travel cancel an application or revoke an acceptance, written notification will be sent to the address provided on the application form.
Leaving a program in progress, for any reason, will not result in a refund, and no refunds will be made for any unused portion of a program. National Geographic Student Expeditions or Putney Student Travel reserve the right to cancel any program because of inadequate enrollment that makes the program economically unfeasible to operate or because of good faith concerns with respect to the safety, health, or welfare of the students. If National Geographic Student Expeditions or Putney Student Travel cancels a trip prior to departure, Putney Student Travel will provide a full refund of monies paid, except in the event the cancellation is due to a significant event that makes it infeasible to operate the trip as planned, in which case Putney Student Travel will provide a refund and/or trip credit equivalent to monies paid. If National Geographic Student Expeditions or Putney Student Travel cancel the trip in progress, Putney Student Travel will provide a prorated refund based on the number of days not completed on the trip. National Geographic Student Expeditions or Putney Student Travel will not be responsible for any refund for any expenses related to nonrefundable airline tickets.