University of Virginia's Rotunda

An Ideal Academic Partner

Semester at Sea is proud to have the University of Virginia, one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher education, as its academic sponsor. Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University sustains the notion of developing leaders who are well-prepared to help shape the future of the nation. The University of Virginia is a world-class institution, fundamentally committed to international education, and a member of Universitas 21, an international network of 23 universities around the world.

U.S. News & World Report Rankings: America’s Best Colleges

Since U.S. News began a separate listing of the top 50 public universities, the University of Virginia consistently has been ranked as the #2 public university and has never dropped out of the top 25 listing of all national universities. Learn more about U.Va.’s superb rankings.

Academic Credit

Semester at Sea students are enrolled as visiting students of the University of Virginia (U.Va.). Grades are recorded at U.Va. and students receive official U.Va. transcripts. Courses on Semester at Sea appear as  U.Va. courses, are fully accredited, and meet the generally accepted standards for transfer. The University of Virginia appoints the academic dean from among their most accomplished faculty, approves all course designs, field labs, syllabi, and faculty on Semester at Sea prior to sailing.

Each SAS voyage includes students representing 250-300 universities. Since 1963, students from more than 1,700 colleges and universities have participated. SAS credit easily transfers to most schools.

Learn more.

Voyage Credit Offerings

  • Fall & Spring Voyages: 12-15 transferable credits
  • Summer Voyages: 9-12 transferable credits

Role of the Academic Sponsor

Appoint the academic dean:

Approximately two years prior to launching each voyage, a distinguished faculty member is selected to serve as Academic Dean. Criteria include demonstrated excellence in teaching, research and publications, as well as administrative and international experience.

Approve all faculty and course syllabi:

Academic Deans review faculty applications, interview selected candidates, and discuss specific courses to be included in the curriculum. Faculty credentials and the syllabi they develop with the guidance of the Academic Dean then undergo a comprehensive review process by the appropriate academic department at the University of Virginia.

Issue course credits and transcripts:

Semester at Sea students enroll for a minimum of 12 semester credits on Fall and Spring voyages and a minimum of 9 credits on summer voyages. All academic credit is awarded by the University of Virginia, and an official University of Virginia transcript documenting the letter grades earned is provided at the end of the semester.

Acquire and maintain library resources:

The onboard library (with a significant collection of volumes tailored to the international academic focus of Semester at Sea) is updated each semester by a University of Virginia appointed librarian. Voyage faculty members recommend the purchase of library materials for their discipline and the collection is further supplemented by access to the University of Virginia’s vast online library resources. The University also provides the voyage librarian and selects the assistant librarian.

Maintain overall academic standards:

Prior to the voyage, syllabi undergo a comprehensive review that includes examination of course objectives, topics, field requirements, assignments, methods of evaluation, required readings and overall academic content and rigor. During the voyage, the Academic Dean and faculty set high academic standards and emphasize academic integrity but also monitor student progress and assist students in meeting these standards.

The Honor Code

On my honor, I pledge that I have neither given nor received help on this assignment.

Founded in 1842, the Honor System is one of the University of Virginia’s most cherished institutions. Based on the principle that University students want to be trusted, and to be able to trust their peers, it helps create and strengthen a “Community of Trust.”

Due to the unique nature of the Semester at Sea Program, the Honor Committee’s procedures have been slightly modified with respect to SAS students, who are subject to the Honor Code for Academic Honor Offenses. An Academic Honor Offense is any Act of Academic Fraud or any other Act of lying, cheating or stealing that was committed in order to gain academic credit or other academic benefit, which Act (a) is committed with Dishonest Intent, and (b) is not Trivial. Allegations of an Academic Honor Offense will be reported, investigated and adjudicated prior to the conclusion of the voyage.

Because all SAS students have made this commitment to academic honor, they are presumed by their peers, faculty members, administrators, and community residents, alike, to act honorably, until proven otherwise.


Questions about the University of Virginia’s role and responsibilities as academic sponsor of Semester at Sea can be directed to the Office of Summer and Special Academic Programs at U.Va., 434.924.3371 or

Update on Semester at Sea Academic Sponsorship

The Institute for Shipboard Education and University of Virginia have mutually agreed that U.Va.’s academic sponsorship of the Semester at Sea program will conclude by May 31, 2016. Please see below for more information.

What is occurring regarding U.Va.’s involvement with Semester at Sea?

The Institute for Shipboard Education and University of Virginia have agreed to conclude U.Va.’s academic sponsorship of the Semester at Sea program no later than May 31, 2016.

Why is the sponsorship concluding?

After careful consideration and in-depth discussion, ISE and U.Va. have mutually agreed that the time is right for each to explore other opportunities. ISE is actively pursuing a new academic sponsor. U.Va. has served in that role since 2006.

Will the upcoming voyages take place?

Yes. All voyages from now through Spring 2016 will proceed as planned. Beginning with the Fall 2014 voyage, ISE will move to a two-voyage model with only spring and fall voyages.

Will students on those voyages receive academic credit through U.Va.?

Yes.  Students who successfully complete the required coursework on voyages for which U.Va. is the academic sponsor will receive University course credit.

Any questions regarding upcoming voyages should be directed to the Institute for Shipboard Education by calling 800.854.0195 or emailing