Semester at Sea requires students to meet our standards to cultivate a learning experience worthy of traveling the world. Please take a moment to review what we are looking for in a student.
Traditional Undergraduate Student Requirements
- Students must be enrolled full-time in a degree-granting program at an accredited college/university (domestic or international)
- Students must have completed at least one full term at the post-secondary level
- Students must demonstrate at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA and be in good academic standing
- Students must have their school’s judicial affairs office complete a disciplinary clearance form at time of application
- Students must demonstrate their writing skills in a 300-500 word essay as indicated on the application
Non-Traditional Student Requirements
- Are you an International Student? Click here for application steps and resources.
- Are you a Gap Year student? Click here for your admissions checklist.
- Do you wish to sail as a post-graduate student? Click here for eligibility and application information.
Embarking on a semester abroad takes a little extra effort but at Semester at Sea, we do everything in our power to provide you with a straight-forward and simple admission process. Follow these easy four steps to successfully navigate the admission process and start your own voyage of discovery.
Step 1: Application
To be considered for the Semester at Sea (SAS) program you must complete an online application. SAS operates on a rolling admission basis; therefore, there are no set application deadlines. However, we recommend applying as early as possible. A completed file for admission consists of the following:
- A completed admissions application
- A short essay of 300-500 words (optional)
- A non-refundable application fee of $50
- All college-level transcripts
- A disciplinary clearance form completed by your school’s judicial affairs office.
- An academic letter of recommendation (optional)
Step 2: Acceptance
After our admissions team receives all of the above information, we begin reviewing these forms. Once a decision has been made concerning your application you will receive an email confirming or denying your acceptance.
In keeping with the policies of the Institute for Shipboard Education and the academic sponsor, qualified students of any sex, gender identity, race, disability status, veteran status, nationality, or ethnicity, are eligible candidates for admission.
Step 3: Financial Aid
Academic admission to Semester at Sea does not automatically provide students with a confirmed space in the program. Upon notification of acceptance to the program, a $1,000 deposit is required to reserve a cabin space. Further processing, such as awarding of financial aid and academic registration, cannot take place without the deposit, which is fully refundable up to 90 days before the voyage embarkation date.
Step 4: Start Packing!
Official voyage preparation begins approximately 5 months prior to embarkation!
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I apply?
Semester at Sea operates on a rolling admissions basis, meaning there are no application deadlines for specific semesters. However, it is recommended that you begin the application process 12 months before the semester in which you would like to participate. Students will be asked to provide an updated academic record at the conclusion of the semester prior to their participation. Applications will continue to be accepted until approximately one month before the start of the voyage.
Is the program open to students in all majors?
Yes, students from all majors regularly enroll in Semester at Sea. More than 40 majors are typically represented on any given voyage.
What are my chances of gaining admission?
If you are in good academic standing and have a good record with regard to behavior on your home campus, you will be given every consideration. Your transcript, disciplinary clearance and essay provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate your potential for academic success aboard the voyage. The Institute for Shipboard Education operates with the philosophy that all undergraduate students should study abroad. We will work with you to help make it possible.
Do I have to apply for a specific semester?
Yes, however, you can transfer your application to a different voyage without reapplying. You will be required to provide updated transcripts, and an updated disciplinary clearance form, in order to be considered for admission to the later voyage.
How long will it take to hear about my admission?
Once the Office of Admission has received your completed application, including the transcript and disciplinary clearance form, you will receive a reply in about a week. It is advisable to follow up to verify that all components of your application have been received.
I am a first semester Freshman. How do I submit my academic record?
You should follow the Gap Year student application process for admission to your voyage. After you complete your first term in college, send us your undergraduate transcript and your status will change to a traditional undergraduate student.
When should I submit the $1,000 deposit to reserve a space?
As soon as you are academically admitted. The deposit is applied against the tuition and fees for the semester. It is refundable up to 90 days prior to the start of the semester should you decide that you are unable to attend.
When do voyages fill?
It varies. Voyages typically fill one to four months prior to sailing. We encourage you to submit your application early but please contact our offices if you have a last-minute opportunity to join our program for the semester.
If I am on a waiting list, what are my chances of getting a space?
Spaces regularly open as students change plans. Many students from the waiting list are accommodated. However, it is impossible to estimate how many students will be able to receive a space or how long it will take. Students on the waitlist are encouraged to consider alternative study abroad programs and establish a date by which they need to make a decision. Students may also opt to transfer to future voyages.
Do I need a passport? What about visas?
Yes, if you do not already hold a passport you should apply for one now. If you do have a passport you should check its expiration date. Your passport needs to be valid for six months beyond the end of the semester in which you enroll.
Visa requirements vary depending on the countries included on the itinerary. Typically, students need to secure two or three visas individually, with the remainder group visas obtained by ISE. Detailed information regarding passport and visa requirements are emailed to all confirmed (deposited) participants approximately 5 months prior to embarkation.
What if I need to cancel from the program?
SAS is committed to making the voyage possible for all students. If you are considering cancellation due to financial constraints, we encourage you to contact the SAS Financial Aid Office to discuss your options.
All cancellations or transfer requests must be mailed, emailed, or faxed by the participant on or before the posted cancellation deadline for the voyage. The Institute for Shipboard Education’s payment and cancellation policy specifies the refund structure for those students that must cancel their plans to sail. Below, you will find the refund structure:
Prior to fall and spring departures, refund of all payments, with the exception of the application fee, will be made for written cancellations or transfers received no later than the 90-day payment due date before the scheduled sailing date. Cancellations received after the 90-day payment due date before the scheduled sailing date will automatically result in forfeiture of the $1000 deposit made at the time of confirmation of acceptance in the Program. The following fees will also apply
- Cancellation up to and including 90 days prior to the voyage – full refund to participant
- If cancelled 89-60 days prior to voyage – 25% of program fee*
- If cancelled 59-45 days prior to voyage – 50% of program fee*
- If cancelled 44-31 days prior to voyage – 75% of program fee*
- If cancelled 30 days prior to the voyage and after voyage departure – 100% of program fee*
After departure no refund will be made to a Participant who voluntarily withdraws from the program or who must withdraw from the program due to any violation of the Standards of Conduct. No refund of any kind will be made if the Participant must interrupt the semester due to a medical or psychological illness.
If a participant’s departure or dismissal from the program requires a return or reduction of applicable federal or institutional aid or loans, the student is responsible for the program fees that were covered by these funds.
*Students may opt to transfer to another voyage, however all funds will become 100% non-refundable.
What is the Payment Policy?
In order to confirm your intent to participate for the upcoming term, you must submit your $1,000 deposit online. Cabin space is not guaranteed solely upon admission. Deposits are accepted by check (payable to “Institute for Shipboard Education” Mail to: Semester at Sea, Colorado State University, Campus Delivery 1587, Fort Collins, CO 80523) or by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover). The deposit is not a supplemental expense and will be your first payment toward the total cost of the program.
The entire balance of the program cost is due 90 days prior to sailing (excluding participants enrolled in the TuitionPay payment plan). Students anticipating financial aid should plan to provide documentation of approval from aid source(s) indicating details of the disbursement to ISE. Necessary forms are provided to students. Documentation of any financial aid that is to be credited to a student’s account (such as Stafford loans or Parent PLUS loans) must be submitted to ISE by the payment deadline. Participants who have not made arrangements for full payment by the due date may forfeit enrollment in the program.
NOTE: The $1,000 deposit is refundable until the 90-day payment deadline. Deposits are refundable past the 90-day deadline for waitlisted participants only. Participants confirmed into cabins from the wait list will have two weeks to make full payment.
Will I be charged late fees?
A penalty of $250 may be assessed on outstanding accounts after the due date. Participants enrolling with the TuitionPay payment plan and those receiving documented pending financial aid will not be charged a late fee.
Can there be a fuel surcharge?
Semester at Sea, like any company, sets up a yearly budget based largely on estimates of fixed and variable costs with some room for variation. In the not too distant past we were impacted directly just as everyone in the travel industry in general, and the maritime industry in particular, with then significant overall increases in our fuel prices. Depending on each port’s regulatory and environmental requirements, we have to consider at least two different types and grades of fuel, each with significantly different price points. Political unrest in certain parts of the world, as well as periodic natural disasters, also can contribute to increasing and unpredictable volatility as well, which in turn lends to overall instability and unpredictability in fuel prices.
Fuel charges remain a material component of our overall cost structure. We make every effort to contain fuel costs through enhanced itinerary planning (which we conduct one to two years in advance), and through the use of standard advance fuel purchase commitment arrangements when appropriate. However, it is impossible for us to accurately predict what we might pay for fuel per voyage, port-to-port. Like airlines and major shipping companies we regrettably must offset these higher costs from time to time with additional fuel surcharges.
In advance of sailing, the Institute for Shipboard Education may enact a fuel supplement surcharge for all participants in the event that the average price for the blended types of fuel and related costs during the voyage is expected to exceed a certain budgetary threshold in pricing per metric ton. Historically this cost has been up to $9 per person per day or more, but may vary due to the volatility of the market. These incurred costs include not only what is expected to be paid in various ports, but also include additional costs for fuel contracts entered into. These fuel contracts are intended to cushion the financial impact if future fuel prices became volatile. Such surcharges when enacted are necessary to help offset a portion of the total excess fuel costs that exceed this budget threshold. For more information please review our fuel surcharge policy.