Gap Year Student Requirements
Semester at Sea offers a one-of-a-kind Gap Year Program. Students earn 9 or 12 college credits while sailing the ocean and visiting 10-12 different countries. Our ship, the MV World Odyssey, is the most unique floating campus in the world, is equipped with classrooms, a movie theater, gym, wellness clinic, and more. Our ship is where you’ll learn, live, travel and reflect on your global, study abroad experience.
Before embarking on my SAS journey I had no idea just how intense college courses would be. I am so grateful that I decided to do this program before entering my first year of college. It really provided me with an idea of what to expect in the fall.
-Kayla Allen, Baylor University
Features of the Semester at Sea Gap Year Program include:
- 100 Level College Courses: You enroll in two (2) or three (3) courses offered at the 100-level. Available courses include Astronomy, Cultural Anthropology, Exploring World Music, Oceanography, Reading without Borders, Sociology, and World Literatures.
- IE 300 Global Studies course. You also will enroll in the Global Studies course. This course is required for all students on the voyage. Global Studies integrates three core themes – port country discovery, intercultural competence, and oceans and sustainability – and prepares students for life as global citizens.
- IU 193 Freshman Seminar. (1-credit) This seminar is required and exclusively for Gap Year students. It prepares you for success on the voyage by building a network among peers and setting the stage for academic and community success. The seminar meets for 1 hour every other day for the first half of the voyage. It also includes a 1-day in-country Field Class in the first port-of-call.
In addition to in-country field classes, students have the opportunity to explore the port countries through field programs and independent travel.
- Semester at Sea designs a range of field programs available to participants including multi-day explorations of a country, homestays with local families, and service programs.
- Students have an opportunity to develop their own independent travel plans in each country with newfound friends and classmates.
Shipboard Life and Support
- One Resident Director is responsible for co-teaching the Freshman Seminar and providing ongoing assistance and engagement with the Gap Year students throughout the voyage.
- There are over 75 student organizations on each voyage for students to join covering a range of interests like photography, spirituality, theater, and social justice.
- An experienced team of professionals including resident directors, academic advisors, mental health counselors, and physicians are aboard ship to support all voyagers.
- 3.25 high school GPA
- SAT or ACT scores
- Two letters of recommendation (minimum one academic recommendation)
- Disciplinary Clearance Form completed by your high school
- Submit an additional 300-500 word essay that responds to the following question:
- Why do you wish to participate in Semester at Sea as a gap year student and how does it fit into your long-term academic plan?
- Admission to an accredited college or university (optional)
Why choose Semester at Sea for your gap year?
Give your future a kick start
The broad exposure of Semester at Sea provides a comparative global education experience. This is incredibly valuable for gap year students in narrowing their field of study, choosing a major, and thinking about future opportunities to study, volunteer, or work abroad.
Define Your World
As a gap year student on Semester at Sea, you will get a taste of the entire world as you explore 8-12 international ports and communities, attend classes on global topics with students from around the world, and take part in service projects and cross-cultural opportunities in port. You will then be more prepared to head off to college with a defined sense of the world and a clearer understanding of your own strengths and interests.
Prepare for College
Some options for additional support for gap students include an seminars on preparing for college, informal mentoring with upperclassmen, academic tutoring, access to shipboard faculty, involvement in student clubs and activities, and reflection activities after each port and at the end of the voyage.
On Semester at Sea voyages, gap year students are fully mainstreamed in with the shipboard community, but we do offer some additional support that students can choose to utilize. The Resident Director for Academic Success will provide support for gap students throughout the voyage. This RD will set up an initial meeting to give gap students the opportunity to connect with their peers, ask questions, and explore common interests. After this initial gathering, the students can decide whether or not they wish to continue meeting as a group.
What do gap year alumni have to say about how Semester at Sea prepared them for college?
After traveling the globe for a semester my desires and goals have become much more focused. I feel much more motivated to do well in my studies and I have taken much more interest in global issues. My hope is to major in international studies, whereas before I had no idea what where my interests lay.
My experiences prepared me for life, not just for college. After SAS, I was academically, socially and emotionally more than ready for college…I realized several aspects of my personality, and during SAS, my true personality showed up, and I was exposed to a whole new spectrum of myself…I loved it so much that I came back for another voyage, and I’m positive that I will sail again in future, not just once, but multiple times. MV Explorer is home for me.
One of the most valuable things I took away from my experience was the relationships I made aboard the MV Explorer, some of which I continue to connect with. They were all current college students, and offered me great advice when I began my freshman orientation during the fall after my summer voyage.
We learned a lot [about] how to live with others who are completely different [from each other] and still have respect and a lot of fun together and still hold our friendship until this day.