In my previous post, I mentioned that I couldn't afford the fancier field study course offered by my college.
I did take care of my field study course requirement with a traditional course that involved a lot of primitive camping and bouncing across the landscape in woefully not-offroad-ready 15-passenger vans. In our case, we were using reserved college vans we'd driven out west. We spent most of the trip in arid, remote areas (likely because it's much easier for students to map geology where the land isn't buried under vegetation and "no trespassing" signs).
I did some poking around the internet, and there are a bunch of geology field study courses available for students who aren't able to attend their school's own courses. For example, course listings are available here, here, and here. The 4 to 6 week summer course appears to be standard, and although courses are available in more exotic areas (islands of Greece! Antarctica! New Zealand!), the cheaper ones will be the ones you can at least road-trip to.
Prerequisites and course rigor (both physical and intellectual) will vary widely. For my field course, the students were pretty much universally out of shape compared to the professors, who appeared to spend their free time running up and down mountains. So we did a lot of huffing and puffing after them. The expected timeframe for doing the courses will also vary by school. I did my field study course the summer after my freshman year - it had no hard prerequisites other than an intro geology course. Other field courses may have a long list of prerequisites or a focus on a particular area, such as geophysical or environmental sampling techniques.
So the final question is, do you need a field study course at all? That's for the next installment...