This summer, spend 2-6 weeks immersing yourself in field learning, gaining valuable hands-on experience and skills, and making progress toward your Biology or Zoology major or minor.

Reasons to enroll:

  • Earn up to 9 credits in just 6 weeks, leaving plenty of time for other summer opportunities, like work or travel
  • Get out of the classroom and into the field with courses that emphasize experiential field-based learning
  • Gain valuable skills in plant and animal identification, field survey techniques, and invasive species management — great preparation for a future career or graduate school
  • Earn 6 of the required 9 botany credits to become a Certified Wildlife Biologist
  • Stack your Summer Session with additional online courses or an internship, and obtain a full courseload that could allow you to graduate a semester early
  • Become eligible for financial aid by enrolling in at least 6 credits
  • Enjoy small class sizes
  • Skip the trip: the first RCFS Summer Session course begins right after finals week, so on-campus students can save the hassle of moving away and back to campus
  • Experience one of Oswego's best times of year

Below, you can find more information about 2024 course offerings, as well as FAQs.

Note: Please register for BIO 301 by searching for CRN 20317 in myOswego. Because this course begins outside the regular summer term, it is not browseable under summer 2024 courses.

BIO 301 Ecology of Invasive Plants | May 13 - 24

Instructor: Dr. Eric Hellquist

Course Description: A review of the ecological and evolutionary hypotheses that explain the prolific spread of invasive plants. Ecological impacts and management of invasive species will be examined with a focus on species problematic in central New York. A field project will investigate one or more invasive species found at the Rice Creek Field Station.

Prerequisite: BIO 120 or 213, or instructor permission.

Registration: Please search for CRN 20317 in myOswego. This course is not browseable under summer courses because it begins before the regular summer term.

ZOO 374 Field Ornithology | May 28 - June 7

Instructor: Dr. Daniel Baldassarre

Course Description: Comprehensive field study of the taxonomy, ecology, and behavior of birds in northeastern ecosystems. Emphasis will be placed on field observation, identification, and census techniques. Students will participate in MAPS (Measuring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) banding station activities.

Prerequisite: BIO 120 or instructor permission.

BIO 345 Trees and Shrubs | June 10 - 21

Instructor: Dr. Kristen Haynes

Course Description: This course focuses on the identification, natural history, ecology, and cultural/ecological/economic importance of native and cultivated woody plants found in the Central New York region. You will learn to identify common woody species of the northeastern United States as well as how to identify unfamiliar trees and shrubs using keys. This course uses a non-traditional "contract for a B" grading scheme based on effort.

Prerequisite: BIO 120 or instructor permission.


Can I take just one or two of the RCFS Summer Session Courses?

Yes! Students can register for one, two, or all three courses.

How do I register for the Summer Field Session?

Registration begins Monday, March 18, 2024 via myOswego.

Registration steps for individuals who are not current students at SUNY Oswego are available on the Summer Session webpage.

For questions, please contact Caitlin Rioux, the Winter/Summer Program Manager, at or 315-312-2270.

Is financial aid available for summer courses?

Yes! Although each case is different, many students qualify for aid over the summer. Below are some general rules.

  • All students who register for at least 6 credits over the summer will be prompted to apply for financial aid. This doesn't guarantee that aid will be available for every student, but all students have the opportunity to apply.
  • Students who are eligible for the Pell Grant can often receive this aid over the summer. It may not cover the full bill, so students may have to use a loan or pay for the difference.
  • Financial Aid allocated for the academic year can be used to cover summer courses. Although the total aid package for a student using this option would not increase, this can be a great option for students who may want to use summer courses to graduate a semester early. For example, spring 2025 aid could be used to cover the summer 2024 term, allowing a student to graduate in December 2024 with no net increase in loans or payments.
  • Students who are not matriculated at SUNY Oswego may not be eligible for aid through SUNY Oswego.
  • Many students use loans to supplement aid or pay for summer coursework in full.

Because each case is different, students interested in summer courses are highly encouraged to make an appointment to speak with Financial Aid, either remotely or in person, by emailing Financial Aid staff can help students understand their aid availability over the summer. Completing the 2024-2025 FAFSA at is a great way to start the conversation.

Will the Excelsior Scholarship cover summer courses?

Unfortunately, no. However, summer courses (taken at your own expense) can help you fulfill the required 30 credits in 365 days needed to receive your full award. Otherwise, those who drop below 30 credits will only receive the scholarship for their first term. 

For more Excelsior Scholarship information, please visit their FAQ page.

What are my on-campus housing and meal options?


Students currently living on campus can continue living on campus during the RCFS Summer Session. Because the first course, Ecology of Invasive Plants, begins right after finals week, students remaining on campus will not have to move off-campus between the spring and summer terms. They may have to move to a different building, however, as typically a single building is designated for summer term students. Students can sign up for housing by logging in to their account and filling out the summer housing application. 


Students living on campus over the summer are required to purchase a meal plan. Unused Dining Dollars will roll over to the fall semester, provided a fall academic meal plan is purchased.

  • From May until mid-June, residential dining centers are not open. Students are allocated $35 Laker Dining Dollars per day for use in retail dining locations (Crossroads) and Get Food off-campus partners: Oswego SubShop, The Pies Guys (both offer delivery) and Fajita Grill (pick-up or dine-in only).
  • Starting June 10, one residential dining center will be open. Students are allocated 14 swipe meals per week plus $25 per week in Laker Dining Dollars, which can be used at retail locations or Get Food off-campus partners (see above).

Students sign up for their meal plan when signing up for summer housing.

Is transportation available from campus to Rice Creek?

Yes, we will run a van shuttle from campus to Rice Creek for those who need transportation. The Green Route shuttle does not run during the summer term.

What is a typical day like?

The Summer Field Session courses are immersive. Most class time is spent with hands-on learning in the field or examining samples or data back in the laboratory. Some class time will be spent with lectures, discussions, and quizzes. Some courses also include field trips to local natural areas.

Summer Field Session courses are scheduled for 6.25 - 7 hours of class time per day, so you will spend the majority of your day with your instructor and other class members. As is common with laboratory sections, you may, however, finish your fieldwork early on any given day. Your class will either break for lunch or your instructor will advise you ahead of time to bring a lunch (for example, on field trip days).

Course-Specific Details:

  • In Ecology of Invasive Plants, students can expect to spend time learning to identify invasive plants, survey for their presence, and evaluate their impacts.
  • In Field Ornithology, students will spend time learning to identify birds by sight and sound; participate in running the MAPS banding station while learning how to safely capture, measure, and release birds; and learn field survey techniques.
  • In Trees and Shrubs, students will go on many plant walks, learning how to identify common CNY woody plant species. Students will complete additional laboratory exercises including a quantitative vegetation assessment. This course includes several field trips to natural areas in the region.

For more information on the day-to-day activities of each course, please reach out to the instructors.

What degree requirements do these courses fulfill?

These courses fill the "free elective requirement" for Biology and Zoology majors and the "elective requirements" for Biology minors. 

How could I achieve a 12- or 15-credit summer term – and potentially graduate early?

Carrying a full course load over the summer could help students graduate a semester early. There are several options for achieving 12 or 15 credits, building from the RCFS Summer Field Session.

  • 9 credits - RCFS Summer Field Session: May 13 - June 21 (6 weeks, overlapping SUNY Oswego's traditional Summer Session I and II)
  • 3+ credits - Take an online BIO course. BIO 341 Plants and Society is an asynchronous online course (3 weeks, June 10-28, during SUNY Oswego's Summer Session II). This course can be taken at the same time as Trees and Shrubs, and fulfills a general education requirement (World Awareness) or a free elective. Other typical summer BIO courses include BIO 309 Cellular Physiology, an asynchronous online course that fulfills an Area 3 Molecular/Cellular/Physiology elective requirement. Browse online BIO courses beginning Feb 12 on myOswego.
  • 4+ credits - Fulfill Chemistry, Physics, or Mathematics requirements with an online course (3 weeks, timing varies, synchronous or asynchronous). Browse availability on myOswego beginning on Feb 12.
  • 1-3+ credits - Internship in Biology or Zoology (BIO or ZOO 498). If you already have a summer work or volunteer experience lined up after the Summer Field Session, this is a great option for gaining additional credits. Students can register for as little as 1 or as many as 12 internship credits over the summer. 40 field hours must be completed for each credit. A limited number of BIO/ZOO summer internships are available at Rice Creek Field Station and the Oswego Herbarium. Please contact for more information. Please see for more information about internships.
  • 3+ credits - Take an online course that fulfills your general education requirements. The full list of approved courses is available at

As you can see, there are many ways to make degree progress over the summer! Please contact your advisor to discuss the options that would best work for you.

Summer Field Session Contact

Dr. Kristen Haynes

Assistant Director, Rice Creek Field Station  |  315.312.6678