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Academic Field Trip Guidelines

Academic field trips are defined as a university course-related, off-campus activity led by a faculty or staff member and designed to serve educational purposes. A field trip would include the gathering of data for research, museum visit, participation in a conference or competition, or visits to an event or place of interest. The duration of a field trip may be a class period or longer and could extend over multiple days. This definition does not apply to activities or placements in the context of a teacher preparation program, intercollegiate sports, or service-learning placements, all of are governed under separate policy.

Guidance for Trip Leaders

The guidelines on this page aim to inform trip leaders and administrative staff of best practices when preparing for academic field trips. Please be sure to check with your College regarding their guidelines for academic field trips. Some colleges may require trip leaders to submit a Field Trip Request Form to the College Dean as outlined in the Faculty Administrative Manual (FAM) 836.1 Field Trips.

Conduct a Risk Assessment

Document any unusual risks or dangers (strenuous activities, dangerous animals, poisonous plants, local area crime potential) that might be expected on the trip and retain this information on file with your department. See resources and forms for a generic risk assessment template.

Inform students in writing of associated risks and hazards 

Advise participants of associated risks and communicate what is being done to mitigate them.

Example: Extreme heat conditions - drink water, wear lose clothing, and take breaks in the shade.

Provide students with trip information agenda

This notice should include safety & emergency procedures and the student code of conduct

Collect the following forms from trip participants

Send completed forms to department/college to retain on file.

Student Travel Participant ListRelease of Liability


Assure that students understand the transportation arrangements and that all designated vehicle drivers follow the Field Trip Transportation Requirements. The Department Chair is responsible for reviewing the necessary forms and ensuring the files can be easily retrieved.

Once authorized, staff or faculty driving on a field trip or carrying out any State business must possess:

  • A valid California driver’s license
  • A current Defensive Driver Training certificate
  • A good driving record

Please note that personal liability insurance is primary coverage when driving a privately owned vehicle. No alcoholic beverages or controlled substances shall be transported in a State or private vehicle (on State business) at ANY TIME. 

For further information regarding State or private vehicle use, authorized drivers, and related information, please refer to the Vehicle Use & Policy Program webpage.

Insurance Coverage for Accident/Injury


Non-Employee and Non-Student Participants   

The participation of non-employee or non-student individuals on an academic field trip is strongly discouraged because of increased liability.