Diversity Statement

DA Member_blue (2)Semester at Sea is committed to fostering a shipboard community inclusive of all identities. The foundation and primary focus of every SAS voyage is the diversity of people, perspectives, and places. A welcoming and inclusive shipboard culture will help facilitate a unified, compassionate community that is considerate of all people and perspectives, resulting in a collaborative and progressive experience for all throughout the voyage.



Connect with a Diversity Mentor

Pre-Voyage Diversity Mentors

It’s never too early to start preparing for your upcoming voyage! We want voyagers of all backgrounds, included those form underrepresented identities to feel supported before, during and after their Semester at Sea voyage. If you identify with an underrepresented identity (Low-Income, LGBTQ, First Generation, Veteran, Physical Disability or limited mobility, learning disability, African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, Multiracial, or if you identify with a specific religion) and you have concerns about sailing on an upcoming voyage, get connected with a Diversity Peer Mentor! Please be advised, while we will do our best to connect you with a mentor from your background, we cannot guarantee the availability of mentors.


Voyage Demographics

By the Numbers Per Voyage

3-Year Average Shipboard Demographics

Racial/Ethnicity Statistics | 3- Year Average

Not Reported/Unknown
American Indian
Black or African American
Hispanic or Latino
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander

Male/Female Gender Statistics |  3-Year Average




International Student Enrollment (Non-U.S. Passport Holders)

Non-U.S. Passport Holders
Total Student Enrollment
% of International Students

How We Compare to Open Doors

Open Doors® is a comprehensive information resource on international students and scholars studying or teaching at higher education institutions in the United States, and U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit at their home colleges or universities. http://www.iie.org/Research-and-Publications/Open-Doors

Racial/Ethnicity Statistics | 3- Year Average


*Semester at Sea did not collect data for students identifying as multiracial prior to Summer 2013.
*An average of 8.39% of Semester at Sea students did not self-report racial/ethnicity information during data period.

Male/Female Gender Statistics |  3-Year Average

International Student Enrollment (Non-U.S. Passport Holders)

Diversity & Inclusion Scholarships

Inclusive Engagement Scholarship

We are pleased to launch the Inclusive Engagement Scholarship as a means for student leaders to get involved in diversity and inclusion initiatives during and after their voyages, and to inspire prospective students from their communities to sail with Semester at Sea in the future.

Recipients will be expected to lead and foster inclusive practices and events within the shipboard community. Selected scholars will be required to post on social media 5 times during their voyage (public Instagram account required) and choose two tasks from the below menu to complete during their voyage.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Scholarship

This scholarship is open to current full-time students enrolled at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) or Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI), and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) that are members of the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU). SAS will select one HBCU/PBI scholar and one HSI/HACU scholar for each voyage to receive a $10,000 grant to be used towards SAS program fees. Scholars will be required to video blog after each port throughout their voyage to share their in-port and shipboard experiences with future voyagers and the SAS community!

Spring 2016 HBCU Scholar – Austin Joseph – Morehouse College
Click here to follow Austin’s Voyage Blog! 

Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Scholarship

This scholarship is open to current full-time students enrolled at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) or Predominantly Black Institutions (PBI), and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) that are members of the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU). SAS will select one HBCU/PBI scholar and one HSI/HACU scholar for each voyage to receive a $10,000 grant to be used towards SAS program fees. Scholars will be required to video blog after each port throughout their voyage to share their in-port and shipboard experiences with future voyagers and the SAS community!

Fall 2015 HACU Scholar – Paulyn Baens – California Lutheran University
Click here to follow Paulyn’s Voyage Blog!!

International Student Advancement Award

International student advancement

This scholarship ($1,500 – $10,000) is intended to help international students who study outside of the U.S. This aid is awarded based on academic achievement, leadership experience, and financial need. Students are asked how they will participate in the shipboard community in order to help bypass barriers between cultures and to facilitate a respectful and inclusive environment.

Alumni Support Scholarship

These awards are made possible by the generosity of gifts from our alumni and some donors have provided funding specifically for students from underrepresented identities. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA, demonstrated need, have exhibited personal leadership, and have strong writing skills. Scholars will be expected to correspond with their donor throughout the voyage.

Pell Grant Match

Semester at Sea is pleased to offer aid match for Pell Grant recipients wishing to sail around the world on a Fall or Spring semester voyage.

We are passionate about making this once-in-a-lifetime experience more accessible and more affordable for students of all backgrounds, including low-income students who may not otherwise pursue a term abroad. The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students to promote access to post-secondary education.

Semester at Sea will match one semester of your Pell grant. Eligibility is restricted to confirmed students currently receiving a Pell grant at their home school. To apply for the Pell Grant Match, please create an account on our scholarships portal once you have been admitted and deposited to the voyage of your choice.  You will be asked to submit your home school award letter for the year you intend to sail as proof of Pell Grant eligibility.

Visit our scholarships page

Diversity at Sea

Diversity and Inclusion Clubs and Organizations

While most shipboard clubs and activities are developed and facilitated by participants, we have several traditional affinity groups on every voyage. Each of the groups  below will work directly with a Resident Director to organize initial meetings, however most groups are facilitated by students.

Race/Ethnicity at Sea
  • People of Color at Sea
  • Asian/Pacific Islander Student Union
  • Black Student Union
  • Hispanic/Latino Student Union
  • International Student Union
LGBTQIA++ at Sea

Voyagers who identify as LGBTQI++ or Ally are welcome and supported  on every Semester at Sea voyage.  Each voyage organizes a LGBTQ/Ally affinity group to support participants. Voyagers may also choose to start more specific identity groups.

Gender Identity at Sea

Although we recognize voyagers who identify as transgender, intersex, genderqueer/androgynous or genderless,  for customs and immigration purposes, passenger identification cards and all shipboard and in-country program manifests must match the gender listed on participant passports. Additionally, as we do not own our current vessel, public restrooms around the ship are gender specific. However, private restrooms are available in all passenger cabins and are not far from public areas.

Religion at Sea

Voyagers from all religious backgrounds are welcome and supported on all Semester at Sea voyages. Each voyage in coordination with a Resident Director in charge of Religion and Spirituality, organizes a non-denominational religious club. Students may also choose to start a specific religious group of their choice. Our floating campus does not have a Mass, Chapel or Temple on board, or any ordained religious officials. However, student groups may reserve public spaces as needed throughout the voyage.

Previous student generated religious groups have included:

  • Young Life Bible Study
  • Jews on a Cruise
  • Muslim Student Association
  • Christian Fellowship

Students with Disabilities

Educational Disabilities

Semester at Sea provides academic accommodations for students with diagnosed learning disabilities. If a participant wishes to request accommodations, the student should request that the appropriate office at their institution email a letter of approved accommodations to the contact listed in the Course Registration Packet on a specific voyage’s Courses and Field Classes page.

Participants should submit these materials as soon as possible, but no later than the deadline reflected in the Packet. Requests for accommodations submitted after this deadline will be reviewed, but may be declined if found unreasonable due to time constraints–some accommodations require more lead time to provide on the ship than they would on a land-based campus.

Physical Disabilities

Students and other passengers in the past with a variety of disabilities have negotiated the challenges of Semester at Sea, including those in wheelchairs. To be sure, it is a challenge, but it is very doable.

Flexibility is the watchword on our voyages. In the past, students using wheelchairs have been accompanied by caretakers who assist them physically, carrying them up and down the gangway, carrying the wheelchair or other equipment, etc., and negotiating similar variables in-port as well.

Participants with physical challenges (crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, etc.) need to provide documentation from their physician indicating the level of functioning independence. Please contact ISE for further specific information.

Voyager Reflections

Past voyagers with physical challenges have shared their experiences sailing with Semester at Sea.

Destiny Yarbro, a Hard-of-Hearing student on the Spring 2012 voyage, explores a language barrier with Jackson, from Manaus, as they count from 1 to 30 in both ASL and Libras.


Diversity and Inclusion Programming

Every voyage offers unique programs to help promote an inclusive environment for all community members. Programming is developed and implemented by students, lifelong learners, faculty and staff. Below are a few of the diversity programming we’ve held on recent voyages.

  • Men and Masculinity
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Devils dressed in angels’ robes”: African-American Perspectives on Christianity in America
  • Reflections on Our Encounters with Buddhism
  • Pink Dot Ally Campaign: Understanding & Supporting LGBTQA Communities
  • Women of the World: Myths and Reality
  • Intervening as an Ally: Addressing Hate Crimes and Incidents
  • The Privileged: Race and Class in a Global Context
  • Interventions to help Women Worldwide

Diversity in Port

Underrepresented voyagers from varied backgrounds (Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality, Religion, Disabilities) may experience more challenges than others in certain ports of call. The shipboard leadership team makes every effort to help inform and empower participants from underrepresented backgrounds prior to arriving in a  new port of call. However, experiences will vary for each individual, and while some participants may have a challenging experience in one port, another student of a similar background may have an overwhelming positive experience.

If participants have any negative and/or overwhelming experiences in port, we encourage communication with Resident Directors, involvement in post-port reflections, and/or scheduling an appointment with the shipboard mental health center to help address your concerns.

Our Diverse Crew

The diversity of our shipboard crew is an integral part of our shipboard community. The MV World Odyssey is managed by our 20-year partnership with maritime management company V.ships.

Many of our crew-members sail with us year-after-year and they support the welcoming environment of our floating campus. Crew members hail from 13-15 countries each voyage, with Philippines being the home for more than half of our crew.


Crew Talent Showcrew2


ISE’s Diversity Advisory Committee

Who We Are

In February 2015, ISE launched a cross-departmental Diversity Advisory Committee. The ISE Diversity Advisory Committee or IDAC, comprises of ISE staff members across multiple departments, where each member leads a specific focus area. IDAC members commit to work together with committee members, but more importantly, with all ISE staff to help meet our goals to increase enrollment, resources, and support systems for underrepresented voyagers, before, during and after their voyage.

We commit to strengthen our perception as leaders in diversity in the International Education field by increasing collaboration with key organizations, university partners, and international field operators. We also commit to find ways to increase diversity and inclusion in the Fort Collins, CO office. Since IDAC’s launch, we have developed an ISE Diversity Statement, finalized three new scholarship opportunities to support students from underrepresented groups, and finalized a faculty recruitment brochure in partnership with the Diversity Network.

Our Purpose

  • Increase enrollment of underrepresented groups amongst students, faculty and staff
  • Enhance support systems/resources for underrepresented groups pre-voyage, during the voyage and within alumni communities
  • Build and/or strengthen relationships with key university partners regarding diversity initiatives
  • Promote Diversity & Inclusion in the ISE home Office

Target Audience

Our Goals is to increase enrollment and support services for voyagers identifying with underrepresented groups. Underrepresented groups can be specific to:

  • Ethnic/Racial Groups
  • Gender
  • Citizenship
  • Religion
  • Disabilities
  • First Generation
  • Low-Income



Alumni Engagement

Do you want to get involved with the diversity initiative at ISE? IDAC is seeking support from alumni, parents, and other interested members of our community to help with diversity recruitment, serve as pre-voyage mentors, help provide funding opportunities for underrepresented students, serve on alumni and/or parent councils, and help facilitate key partnerships with external organizations focused on diversity.

Complete the form below to share your interests.

SAS Alumni Diversity Volunteer Interest Form

Voyager Reflections