Member Institutions

Established in 1927, the Highlands Biological Station (HBS) has a long tradition of supporting field-based research and education in a full spectrum of organismal, ecological and evolutionary disciplines. Operating as a research non-profit supported by a consortium of regional universities for its first 50 years, since 1976 HBS has been a University of North Carolina institution, administered by Western Carolina University. In keeping with its roots, the institutional consortium remains an active and vital part of HBS today in the form of the HBS Member Institution Program. The Highlands Biological Station is proud to offer membership to academic institutions. Students of member institutions receive a 20% tuition discount for summer courses, and researchers and faculty receive the same discounted rates for classroom use and bench space.

In addition, our Board of Scientific Advisors, whom we consult for important decisions that include administering funds to applications for grants-in-aid, is drawn from our member institutions.

If you would like to learn more about our Institutional Membership program, please email our Executive Director at

Download the information brochure (PDF)

Membership Benefits

1. Tuition discount on HBS summer courses and workshops.

Students and alumni from HBS member institutions receive a 20% discount on tuition for our summer courses and workshops. Our immersive courses are field-oriented, taught by expert faculty intimately familiar with regional systems and organisms. Students obtain quality hands-on field experience and in-depth introduction to regional organisms, communities, and ecosystems by studying in our “natural classroom and laboratory.” HBS courses are fully accredited through UNC-Chapel Hill (BIOL 459) and Western Carolina University (BIOL 493 / 593); credits are typically transferrable to students’ home institutions.

2. Discounts and priority for researchers and faculty with visiting classes.

Faculty and graduate student researchers from HBS member institutions are given a 20% discount on fees and priority in reserving bench space and equipment for their research based at HBS. Faculty from member institutions wishing to bring a class to HBS for a field trip are given a 20% discount plus priority in reserving classrooms, labs, or equipment for their classes. HBS offers first-rate teaching and research space, including a state-of-the-art teaching wet lab, GIS lab, seminar room, and general-use classrooms (all with sinks and prep areas for flexible use for lecture or lab activities). Teaching is further supported by digital projectors, high-quality dissecting and compound microscopes, and video-microscope demonstration systems. Four individual research laboratories are available, as is a general purpose lab with walk-in environmental chambers, an aquatics lab with a dozen tanks and chillers, and a molecular lab with a full range of molecular-genetics equipment for DNA isolation, purification, and amplification.

3. Advanced notice of program schedules.

Students from member institutions are given advanced notice of the summer program of courses and summer positions in our Botanical Garden and Nature Center.

4. Acknowledgement on our website and use of our logo.

We acknowledge members of the HBS consortium on our website, and provide member institutions with a high-resolution image of the HBS logo. Members are encouraged to use the logo on their website or print materials to highlight their HBS membership among the opportunities they advertise for their students and faculty.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of institutions become members of the HBS consortium?

Our member institutions are highly diverse, including public and private schools, research universities and liberal arts colleges, schools with baccalaureate programs only, and those with graduate programs.

What other privileges do member institutions enjoy?

Member schools are entitled to appoint a faculty member representative to serve on the HBS Board of Scientific Advisors. This Board evaluates our annual Grant-in-Aid proposal submissions, and is consulted periodically on matters pertaining to HBS policy and teaching and research opportunities as they relate to HBS users.

What do member institution funds support at HBS?

Member institution funds support research at HBS. For 60 years, our Foundation has had an annual Grant-in-Aid of Research program for graduate research that is based at HBS. Funding is based on weeks in residence at the Station, up to a 12 week maximum. We typically fund about a dozen projects, amounting to $20-$25K each year. For more information about this program, please visit

Why become involved with the HBS consortium?

Consortium membership is not a requirement for students to take HBS courses; however, we do give preference to students and alumni from membership institutions for course space and financial aid. Consortium membership provides easy access to the field-based, in-depth experiential courses at HBS. Colleges and universities nationwide are experiencing a sharp reduction in the availability of a full range of field biology courses, including organismal field biology courses, that teach students the nuts-and-bolts of what makes biological communities and ecosystems tick. These are the types of courses in which we specialize. HBS is dedicated to the “up close and personal” model of field biology education, and we do so in a region nearly unrivaled in temperate zone biodiversity. Our students study their subject all day every day for up to two weeks, offering unparalleled opportunities for a deep experience in the field and lab with the study system. The southern Appalachian landscape, with the highest, wettest, and greatest extent of mountainous terrain in eastern North America, is our classroom and laboratory.

How much does it cost to become an institutional member?

The institutional membership rate is $500 annually.

How does a school join the HBS consortium?

Membership is easy: Email or call HBS Business Officer (828-526-2602) to arrange for payment of the annual membership fee ($500, payable to the Highlands Biological Station). To nominate someone from your school for the Board of Scientific Advisors, email HBS Executive Director Jim Costa or email Associate Director Jason Love and we will assist with your nominee and with any questions you may have. We will provide you with information about HBS research and course opportunities for your students and faculty, and send you a link to download a high-resolution image of the HBS logo. We value your membership! You will become a part a venerable group of regional colleges and universities, many of which have been a part of the Highlands Biological Station community for decades.

Many thanks to our 2023 Member Institutions!