Master your research.
Get published.

Research fellowships

4–24 weeks

5 reasons research fellowships are for you

Contribute to research
abroad and get published
Complete your thesis
or dissertation
Get guidance from
expert supervisors
Gain access to
data sets
Live on a remote
research station


Participant Testimonial
Participant Testimonial
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Program types
Program locations

Benefits of joining a research fellowship with GVI

Author or co-author a scientific paper

During your research fellowship, you’ll get the opportunity to author or co-author your findings in a scientific paper and get published. You can also use your research fellowship to complete your thesis or dissertation by accessing unique data sets and utilising the expertise on base.

Not only will this raise your academic profile, but you’ll contribute to real research projects that will inform and guide sustainable nature conservation projects in vulnerable habitats around the world.

Join a legacy of published scientific research

GVI has been working in the conservation and sustainable development space for over 25 years. We have decades of expertise in facilitating nature conservation research projects with students from all over the world, with our research being cited on Google Scholar more than 1,000 times.

You’ll be partnering with and learning from PhD-holding scientists, impact directors and researchers that will shape your studies and influence your future career. You’ll also get access to exclusive data sets, gathered in remote habitats through various methodologies over the years.

Get professional guidance and support

Thanks to our academic support staff, qualified local team members at our bases and remote academic supervisors, you’ll be supported all the way through your research fellowship: before, during and after your program.

Our enrolment staff are experts in research fellowships and are on hand to make sure you select the perfect topic to match your research goals and academic requirements. 

Once you’ve been matched with your topic and program, our team will make sure you have everything you need until you’ve wrapped up your data collection and are ready to get started with writing your thesis, or publishing your findings.

Specialised remote academic supervisor

GVI’s research fellowships are conducted outside of a traditional university setting, as our in-field research fellowships involve hands-on practical work. 

Although you probably already have a university supervisor overseeing your academic studies, we’ll provide you with a PhD-holding academic supervisor. This is because you’ll need bespoke program support to understand how your research fits into the specific program, and specialised guidance on your methodologies and data collection in the field.

If you’re doing conservation research on, say, predator kill preferences in a South African reserve, you might study the leopard slinking across the safari plains of Limpopo hunting for its prey.

On a wildlife conservation internship like this one, you might be paired with a remote research academic supervisor with research experience in statistics, spatial analysis, spreadsheet modelling, satellite image processing, remote sensing, as well as using geographic information systems like ArcGIS, IDRISI and QGIS. 

Live on a remote research station

Swop your office or classroom for a research lab set in the middle of a rainforest, nature reserve, tropical beach or African bush.

Venture off the beaten track to stay and work immersed in pristine natural environments. Get exclusive access to protected habitats and research rare and vulnerable species.

When you join any environmental program with GVI, you commit to join our policies to ethically engage with all wild animals, marine life and habitats

Boost your conservation career

When you join one of GVI’s international research fellowships you’ll boost your academic and professional development with our pre-program, online leadership course and a specialisation course in wildlife conservation, marine conservation or community development. 

And, you can add to your academic qualifications even further by completing GVI’s Careers in Sustainable Development online course. All of our online courses are accredited by the University of Richmond and are offered at no extra cost to your standard program fee. 

The best part is that once you’ve successfully completed your research fellowship, you’ll have four weeks to complete your post-program online course. And, if you successfully complete the course, you’ll receive a certificate of completion to add to your resume. 

Gain skills to advance your career

We know how important it is to add practical work experience and proven skills to your LinkedIn profile and CV. That’s why we’ve curated training sessions that will teach you specific skills to promote your conservation career.

These are some of the valuable skills you’ll walk away with:

  • data collection
  • data analysis
  • data presentation
  • report writing
  • presentations
  • leadership
  • project management
  • critical thinking
  • creativity
  • resiliency
  • time management
  • volunteering
  • cultural awareness
  • interpersonal skills
  • communication
  • teamwork
  • flexibility

Remote career coaching sessions

GVI’s research fellowships have a lot to offer, but how do you prepare for your future once you’ve completed your program? GVI will assign a remote career mentor to you, and you’ll have access to two online mentoring sessions. 

Your career mentor will assist you with preparing for your future career by:
  • giving you feedback on your CV
  • assisting you with communicating your GVI experience on LinkedIn and your CV
  • helping you to practise for interviews
  • assisting you in mapping out your career goals
  • providing advice on job searching
  • giving you general career advice.

So, after you’ve completed your research fellowship, you’ll be equipped with everything you need to begin a successful career in the industry.

Receive a LinkedIn reference

With a completed research fellowship and your future career plan under your belt, all you’ll need is one more boost to add to your resume. 

Your remote academic supervisor will give you a LinkedIn reference to impress your future employers. This reference will highlight what you learnt on the program and outline the skills you developed during your internship. They will also add a summary of this reference to your LinkedIn profile, along with an endorsement of relevant skills.

Job guarantee

Job hunting has never been this easy. GVI’s research fellowships offer all qualifying interns a job guarantee in the sustainable development industry within 18 months of successfully completing a 6-month program.  

We’re so confident you’ll land a job in the sector after your internship with us that we promise to give you a 50% refund of your program fee if you don’t. 

After successfully completing one of our research fellowships, you’ll also become an alum of GVI. This means you’ll be eligible for preferential recruitment if a GVI role becomes available. And that’s not all we have to offer. 

After successfully completing your research fellowship, you’ll have access to an online job portal that collates vacancies in the sustainable development industry.

Choosing between research fellowships types

First things first. When you join a research fellowship with GVI, you get the chance to choose between two types of research fellowships:

1. Flagship research project

When you decide to join one of GVI’s flagship research projects, you’ll contribute to existing, ongoing research. 

Each of our research bases has specific environmental challenges that they are addressing through scientific research, whether it’s focusing on an endangered species, vulnerable habitats or location-based conservation issues. 

By joining our flagship projects, you’ll assist our permanent teams and local partners with continuous conservation monitoring efforts.

2. Independent research project

Match your existing field of interest or topic to one of GVI’s specific partner projects in a location that aligns with your research needs. You can then use this opportunity to complete your specific individual dissertation or thesis, with access to the data, environments and support that you need to do so.

The best locations to do research fellowships

GVI runs permanent hubs across the globe, managed by permanent local staff in each location. When you do a research fellowship with GVI, you’ll probably start by looking at your research topic and then find a location that will help you pursue your academic interests.

It’s important to note that although most of GVI’s hubs conduct some type of research, only some of them offer research fellowships that offer you the opportunity to complete your studies and get published.

Here are some of the GVI locations where you can join research fellowships:

We know. All of these look amazing, right? Request a callback from one of our team members to talk you through the main features, so you can choose the best program to suit your research needs.

Frequently asked questions about GVI research fellowships

How do I select my research type, topic and location?

If you’re not sure about what research topic, type or location you need to choose – our team is there to guide you through every step. Get in touch by submitting an enquiry or request a callback so we can find the best program to suit your research goals and personal needs. The good news is  we have hundreds of programs and research topics for you to consider.

Can I speak to a supervisor to help me choose the right research topic?

Yes, our impact director will be able to pre-approve your research topic during your enrolment process with us and even suggest alternative topics or locations to carry out your fellowship. Your remote research fellowship supervisor might also have sample research topics and data sets ready for you to look at.

Will I get paid for doing a GVI research fellowship?

Although some academic and graduate fellowships are considered fixed positions at universities that pay stipends, research fellowships within the development sector are approached differently. 

Many organisations and non-profits have their own type of fellowships. A research fellowship with GVI is not paid, as we provide an excellent level of support, training, supervision and access to exclusive data sets to enable participants to complete their studies in the field.

Can I do my own research topic?

Yes, you have the opportunity to conduct your own research for an individual project. Your research project proposal will, however, first need to be submitted and approved by our impact director before you conduct your research. 

If you’re doing research that is part of a university degree, please get in touch with our impact director first before booking, to ensure that you get the most out of the experience.

Can I publish my paper or data?

Even though it’s not a requirement of the research fellowship program, we encourage you to publish your papers as it holds many benefits for everyone involved

Why should I join a research fellowship with GVI?

A research fellowship allows you to meet your university or independent research requirements in a supportive and structured environment. With over 25 years of experience in field research, GVI will support you throughout the process, and connect you to an appropriate topic of research and a remote research fellowship supervisor. 

GVI is an award-winning, international volunteer and internship organisation recognised by Go Abroad and Go Overseas. Some awards we’ve won include the Go Abroad Top Rated Intern Abroad Program award and the Go Overseas Value, Safety and Support award.

Will I be allowed to use your data sets?

A valuable benefit of joining a GVI flagship research program is that you’ll have access to existing data sets. Having access to existing research means that you don’t have to go out and collect the same data for your dissertation. 

This will save you time, strengthen your findings and give you the opportunity to hone in on other areas of your research. Using existing databases also contributes to the sustainability of resources used on the project. And, any new research you conduct during your research fellowship will be added to our databases, contribute to future students’ work on the project, and towards scientific conservation research more broadly.

Will I get to work with other scientists and researchers?

On our research fellowships, you’ll also get to collaborate with other researchers across our international locations. This also includes the chance to connect with students from universities around the world whose research interests and goals are similar to yours. You’ll also work alongside our qualified on-the-ground staff members who are experts in their field.

Along with the opportunity to expand your professional network, you’ll make lifelong international friendships, receive and offer support to fellow students on our international research fellowships and learn directly from professionals in the industry.

What’s included in my program fees?

Your fee will cover your pre-departure support and materials, food, accommodation, training and orientation, long-term GVI field staff, 24-hour in-country support, and project equipment. As well as:

  • Pre-program training.
  • Three GVI online courses endorsed by the University of Richmond.
  • Training on GVI’s ethics and work with the UN SDGs, your internship location and project focus.
  • Practical experience working in the field alongside local and international experts.
  • A remote academic supervisor who’ll provide you with one-on-one support and guidance.
  • Support by expert supervisors to complete a research paper, dissertation or thesis.
  • A LinkedIn reference upon successfully completing your internship.
  • A LinkedIn reference and skills endorsement upon successfully completing your internship.
  • Access to a job portal of available roles in conservation and sustainable development.
  • Preference regarding opportunities to work for GVI.
  • A six-month minimum job guarantee.
  • Not to mention unforgettable, off-the-beaten-track, life-changing experiences.

How old do I need to be?

You need to be at least 18 years old to complete one of GVI’s research fellowships.

How long are fellowship programs?

We offer flexible duration options so that you can find the right fit for the goals you would like to achieve from your internship. 

Our on-the-ground research fellowships run between 4 and 24 weeks, depending on the research data and work you would like to take part in at the GVI base.

Do I need any experience or qualifications?

No, our trained field team will provide you with all the training you need when you join your internship. Some of our diving programs do require interns to be PADI Open Water certified prior to joining; please contact us to speak to an enrolment manager for more information.

Can I apply for a bursary to pay for my fellowship?

GVI does not provide any academic bursaries for our programs, but you are welcome to apply for independent financial aid such as student loans to cover the program fees. This is because the fees from our programs provide important funding to sustain our projects on the ground.

GVI may award a scholarship to high-performing participants on a program, or allow a participant to stay on their program for a longer duration at no extra charge.

Can I get a job with GVI after my fellowship?

After you’ve completed your program, you’ll gain access to GVI’s online job portal, where you’ll find the latest job postings for a variety of international development work. As a research fellow with GVI, you will have preference for any GVI role you apply for and skip the CV queue.

Can I keep my research and data collected?

When GVI conducts research, our staff and participants collect data on behalf of nature conservation partners which include local and international organisations, NGOs and government. 

Any data, reports, photographs and documentation collected by you on your GVI program are therefore the intellectual property of the partner that you’re collecting data for, and can’t be kept. 

In the published scientific paper, you’ll be listed as an author or co-author who contributed to the research on behalf of or in co-authorship with the entity that has the rights to research in that location or ecosystem. GVI is unfortunately not an independent research organisation and can’t assign these rights to our participants.

What approval and permission do I need to publish my paper?

You will need to get permission from GVI and our in-country partners before any data can be used (e.g. before you can include it in a research or scientific paper). Data may not be released to a third party without GVI’s or our in-country partners’ prior approval. Please note that no monetary compensation will be provided to you for any data or research you collect.

Join a program abroad and save up to 15%!

Book by 30 September

Finish your thesis, dissertation or research paper

Collect data in
remote habitats
Conduct research through
different techniques
Analyse data and
interpret results
Present findings in
report and presentation

Choose between two types of research projects

Flagship research project
Contribute to existing, ongoing research projects and assist GVI and our partners with general conservation monitoring efforts.
Independent research project
Complete your studies by conducting your own research that aligns with the topics and data that GVI and our partners have available.

Backed by science

Contribute to a 25-year legacy of scientific research by gaining access to GVI’s exclusive data sets and expertise.
View our publications on Google Scholar.
GVI cited 1000+ times on
South Africa

Examining the optimal winter strategy for avian species in Karongwe private game reserve.

Scientific paper
Costa Rica

Observations of king vulture scavenging at green turtle carcasses in Tortuguero National Park.

Research paper

Effects of nature-based tourism and environmental drivers on the demography of a dolphin pod.


Studying the spatial distribution of aldabra giant tortoises on the Curieuse island.

Research paper
Costa Rica

Studying first record of jaguar predation on loggerhead sea turtles in Tortuguero National Park.


Studying the effect of protection on the size and distribution of Grouper fish.


Cutting edge science. Published
research. Maximum impact.

Dr Vardhan Patankar
GVI Conservation Impact Director
  • PhD, Conservation Biology.
  • MSc Marine Sciences
  • Author, co-author and cited in over 400 academic papers.
GVI cited 1000+ times on


Guided by expert supervisors

Dr Michael Musgrave

PhD in Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews.

Dr Musgrave has been researching, teaching and working in wildlife conservation for over 20 years. A milestone moment in his career, is the work he’s done for African Parks, to develop an innovative conservation project, serving 16 national parks and its surrounding communities. He is currently a senior consultant for community conservation and carbon monetisation.

Dr Vardhan Patankar

PhD in Coral Reef Ecology and Conservation Biology, Madurai Kamaraj University

Dr Patankar has extensive experience in a range of applied studies in marine systems – including socio-ecological resilience, illegal marine trade, protected areas, dugongs, dolphins and coconut crabs. He is currently the Impact Director at GVI where he designs and implements conservation project impact frameworks, processes and policies.

Dr Brett Cohen

PhD in Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town.

Dr Cohen is a registered climate change expert on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and rated as a C2 National Research Foundation researcher. He has worked on various sustainability projects around the world, and currently leads multiple projects linked to climate, greenhouse gas emissions and energy systems.

Dr Gabrielle Johnson

PhD in Marine Science, University of California.

Dr Johnson is a senior international marine program manager and conservation education specialist. With more than 15 years of experience, she has worked on various impactful marine conservation projects across the globe. During her career, she has collaborated with National Geographic, PADI and the Charles Darwin Foundation.

Stand out from the crowd

Conservation skills
  • Survey techniques
  • Climate change impact
  • Fauna and flora identification
  • Biodiversity and ecology
Leadership skills
  • Project management
  • Critical thinking
  • Resilience
  • Time management
Soft skills
  • Cultural awareness
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communication
  • Teamwork

Raise your academic profile

When you complete an internship  of 12+ weeks, we guarantee you’ll secure an impact-driven position within 18 months (or we’ll return 50% of your program fee). View our career guarantee.

Research Fellowship
Program Certificate
Subject Area
Foundation Certificate
Leading Teams for
Impact Certificate
Careers in Sustainable
Development Certificate
You'll also get:
  • Weekly group sessions
  • Research supervisor guidance
  • Research fellowship training
  • Job portal access
  • Career coaching sessions
  • Career course
  • LinkedIn reference
Rare species. Exclusive access.

Mahe, Seychelles

Kekoldi, Costa Rica

Karongwe, South Africa
4–24 weeks

Work remotely on real projects for conservation partners.

2-12 weeks

Get broad exposure to a variety of conservation initiatives.

24 weeks

Get a three month placement to work for a conservation partner.

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