be_ixf;ym_202212 d_08; ct_50
Financial Aid

Understanding Tuition, Cost, and Value

MV World Odyssey

Semester at Sea is a unique and valuable educational experience that results in tangible personal and professional benefits. The opportunity to see the world aboard a state-of-the-art floating university affiliated with Colorado State University, is a truly remarkable opportunity. However, the costs associated with administering a first-rate global study abroad program are substantial, and they directly impact SAS tuition and fees.

More and more, the costs of study abroad programs are rising and many question how program rates are determined. We offer the following to help you understand SAS tuition and fees, the resources we depend on to operate, our special nature as a non-profit, our growing financial aid initiative, and the value of our program compared to other study abroad options.

Semester at Sea is the premier global program for study abroad and has a over 50-year successful history and 68,000 program participants. While it is critically important that we continue working to control costs and make our program affordable to every qualified applicant, it is also important that we never do anything to weaken our education program or our health and safety standards in an effort to make it less expensive.


Program Costs

The cost is what Semester at Sea spends to educate an individual participant. This includes operating our shipboard campus; significant quantities of bunker fuel and oil; faculty, staff, and crew salaries; insurance premiums; and academic program enhancements.

The tuition and fees are what a participant is charged to attend our program, and they don’t fully cover our costs. Because Semester at Sea is administered by a nonprofit and is dependent on program enrollments, our program costs must be subsidized by corporate and alumni philanthropy, endowments, and foundation grants to sustain operations.


What is the value of spending an academic term abroad with Semester at Sea?

  • Unlike traditional immersion programs, we cultivate a unique academic community of undergraduates, lifelong learners, faculty, and international scholars who live and learn in a shared environment while exploring as many as 12 international ports of call, so the participants experience multiple points of view.
  • In partnership with Colorado State University,  participants attend classes on ship and complete in-country assignments for a full semester’s credit.
  • Working with our network of international scholars, tour operators, and business executives, we provide a in-country program of micro- and macro-level excursions, service projects, and university exchanges in each port of call, allowing participants to select the cross-cultural forays most suitable to their academic pursuits.
  • Throughout our history, participants have met with world leaders and dignitaries, traveled to the world’s most historic wonders, and enjoyed person-to-person cross-cultural connections that have left them indelibly transformed.
  • Semester at Sea provides the opportunity to get a taste of the world and develop a framework for future discovery. Our 68,000 alumni continually report that Semester at Sea inspired a career path, led to positive life changes, and perhaps most importantly, awakened a desire to better understand and contribute to the world we share.
  • Compared to other study abroad options, Semester at Sea stands out as the global leader. Studying abroad while sailing the globe is the unique invention of Semester at Sea and its predecessor programs. Since 1963, we’ve stayed true to our original mission: the development of global understanding through life-changing international experiences. We have safely sailed on more than 110 voyages, educated more than 63,000 students from 1,700 institutions, and traveled to more than 60 countries.

Special Nature of Semester at Sea as a Non-Profit

Semester at Sea is administered by a 501c3 non-profit organization – the Institute for Shipboard Education – that is dedicated to enhancing a traditional academic experience with a global perspective and greater intercultural understanding.

The Semester at Sea program is distinctive among study aboard programs for its widely respected adherence to its original mission: the development of global understanding through life-changing international experiences to assist young people in the development of a world view and intellectual curiosity about the peoples and cultures of all lands.

Over its 50+ year history, the program has been supported by countless alumni, parents of alumni, current parents, and various foundations whose generosity in annual fund gifts have made possible the exceptional nature of the program. Annual fund revenues support faculty initiatives on the voyage, special field and travel opportunities that arise during the semester, and special student awards and student leadership experiences while on board.

How Can I Afford It?

For thousands of students, financial aid has helped to make their Semester at Sea voyage a reality. About 60% of Semester at Sea participants receive some type of financial aid.

Careful cabin category selection and strategic choices with the International In-country Program options can help students keep costs down and maximize program affordability.