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Frequently Asked Questions

Am I required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to participate?

Participants are not required to show proof of vaccination. However, all students are strongly encouraged to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Out of respect for the health and safety of the WKU community and in adherence with CDC guidelines and practices of all public universities and colleges in Kentucky, the University requires that a tightly fitting mask that covers both the nose and mouth be worn at all times when in public areas within all buildings. Students who fail to wear a face covering as required will be in violation of the WKU Code of Conduct and will be asked to comply or will face disciplinary action, including possible dismissal from the Karst Field Studies program.


How do I get new course announcements?

We announce information about all of our courses, including new course announcements, registration deadlines, course changes, etc., through our social media and email listserv. To stay up to date on the latest KFS announcements, make sure that you follow us on social media and sign-up for our mailing list on the home page.

Can I take a field studies course for credit?
Yes. Field studies courses can be taken for graduate, undergraduate, or continuing education credit. Please see the 'Courses' Tab and click on a course title in the table for information on which specific credit options are available for the course(s) you are interested in.

I am not a student at Western Kentucky University. Can I still take a course for academic credit? 
Yes. However, to take a course for graduate or undergraduate credit you must first apply to enroll as a non-degree seeking student at Western Kentucky University. Visit the WKU Registrar webpage at for more information on the enrollment process. You must enroll before summer registration can take place. Graduate students must also proceed through the graduate school application process.

How do I register for a course if I am taking it for graduate or undergraduate credit?
To register for Graduate or Undergraduate credit courses, you must first apply to become a student at Western Kentucky University (WKU). Please see the Registration tab for more information on this process. Once you are enrolled, to register, click on the "Register Now" button (found under the "Registration" tab) and follow the instructions to access the registration links and pay the nonrefundable $250 lab fee. Once the fee is processed, the course restriction will be lifted from your WKU account and you will be able to proceed with registering for the course on WKU TopNet at You will receive the remainder of your tuition bill directly from the WKU Registrar's Office.


How many credits can I get for a course?
Students are awarded three credit hours per course. If you are not a WKU student, you should check with your home institution to ensure academic credit will be honored.


Where can I stay while taking my course?
A number of options exist for housing during the Karst Field Studies courses offered near Mammoth Cave National Park:

  1. Hamilton Valley Bunkhouse/Dormitory: This facility is where most KFS course lectures will be held. Hot showers, kitchen facilities (including refrigerators, stoves, and basic kitchen utensils and cooking equipment), and 10 bunk rooms with 4 bunks per room are available at this site. Internet is available in the main living area of the facility (access is not available in bunk rooms). See the logistics<accomodations page for more information about life at Hamilton Valley. The cost for this accommodation option is $14.00 per bunk, per night (cost not included in the course fees). Bunks are reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis.

  2. Hamilton Valley Camping: A camping area is available at Hamilton Valley for $14.00 per night. Hot showers and kitchen facilities will also be available for campers.

  3. Mammoth Cave Hotel: Located across the Green River from Hamilton Valley, these accommodations are situated near the Historic Entrance at Mammoth Cave. You must make arrangements for staying in a hotel on your own. Students staying at this facility will need to make their way to Hamilton Valley each morning (approximately 15-20 minute drive).

  4. Cave City Hotels: Several hotels are located near I-65. Students staying at this facility will need to make there was to Hamilton Valley each morning (approximately 15-20 minute drive).



What do I need to take a course?
The equipment/material requirements vary by course. Information on a specific list of materials for each course will be sent by the instructor after registration is complete and posted on this website as it becomes available. You may visit "Equipment and Supplies" list under the "Logistics" tab for more information about equipment.


How much does it cost to take a course?
Course costs depend on whether a course is taken as a workshop or for academic credit. A breakdown of these costs can be found under the "Registration" and "Course Fees" tabs.


How do I pay for my course?
For all courses a $250 lab fee/deposit will be paid by accessing the Registration link found on the "Register Now" page. This payment is due at the time of registration. If you are taking a course for undergraduate or graduate credit all remaining tuition fees will be paid directly to WKU via TopNet. If you are participating in the course for CEU credit or as a non-credit workshop you will pay all remaining course fees through the registration link.


Is there a discount for registering early for a course?
No, there is not a discount offered for early registration for those persons taking the course as a workshop.


Do I need to do anything after I register and pay for my course?
Yes. There are a series of forms that must be completed and returned by the due date in order in order to participant in a course. You may access these forms under the "Registration" tab. Click on the link for "Required Forms" and follow the instructions on each of the listed forms. Failure to submit all required forms may result in restriction from class participation.


When is the deadline to register for a course? 
The deadline to register for a course is Monday, May 6, 2024. The deadline to pay tuition, regardless of whether you are taking a course as a workshop or for college credit is Monday, May 6, 2024.


How do I get to Hamilton Valley?
Instructions for getting to Hamilton Valley can be found in as a PDF document under the 'Logistics' < 'Accommodations' tab.


When do I need to arrive at Hamilton Valley?
Course start dates and times vary by course. To learn about the specific start day and time for a course visit the Courses tab, select the course name in the table, and then click to view or download the course syllabus. A tentative schedule for the course is provided at the end of this document.

Is there transportation to Hamilton Valley from Nashville International Airport or Louisville International Airport?
Rental cars can be rented at the Nashville Airport. There are no formal transportation options available from the airport to Hamilton Valley. For groups arriving at the same time, please contact Leslie North at in order to discuss the possibility of arranging WKU transport.


Who should I contact if I have more questions? 
You may correspond directly with the coordinator for the program by emailing Dr. Leslie North at or

I would like to teach a course for the KFS Program. How do I become an instructor and submit a course idea?
We are always looking for new and exciting courses to offer through the program. To submit your idea download and complete the Course Proposal Form, then email it to We look forward to hearing from you. Course proposals are accepted year round.


Do I need my own bedding if I am staying at Hamilton Valley?
Yes, you need to bring pillows and bedding for use in the bunkhouse. Many participants bring a sleeping bag and a pillow, but others also bring a TWIN sheet set and comforter. Rooms are equipped with individual air conditioning units.

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