Semester at Sea gap year students earn 10-13 college credits while sailing the ocean and visiting 10+ countries. Our ship, the MV World Odyssey, is the most unique floating college in the world, and it’s where you will learn, live, travel, and reflect on your global study abroad experience.
How to Apply
Here’s what you need to apply to SAS as a gap year student.
Write and submit a 300-500 word response to the following question:
Why do you wish to participate in Semester at Sea as a gap year student, and how will your Semester at Sea voyage develop your personal global perspective? Highlight your discussion by focusing on how the overall experience of exploring multiple countries will further develop your awareness.
Pay Application Fee
Once you complete your application, there is a non-refundable application fee of $75 to start the review process.
Request Documents from School
Semester at Sea requires an official copy of your high school transcript. We give preference to students with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher out of 4.0.
For students from schools with grading systems that do not use a 4.0 grading scale, our team will complete a GPA conversion as part of the review process.
Letter of Recommendation
This letter should be from a teacher, counselor, or advisor familiar with your academic work and should focus on your ability to succeed as a member of the SAS academic community.
Disciplinary Clearance Form
Download the SAS disciplinary clearance form, complete the top portion, and send it to your high school’s administration office to complete and return to SAS at the address listed on the form.
Alternatives to TOEFL, PTE, IELTS, or Duolingo may be considered on a case by case basis
Gap Year Academic Program
As a gap year student with Semester at Sea, you will enroll in an academic program designed specifically to support your success, while also participating in college-level courses alongside your undergraduate peers.
IU 172 New Student Seminar (1 credit)
This seminar is exclusively for gap year students and 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.
Lower-Division College Courses
Enroll in two or three courses offered at the 100 or 200 level. Available courses include Astronomy, Cultural Anthropology, Exploring World Music, Oceanography, Reading Without Borders, Sociology, World Literatures, and more.
IE 200 Global Studies Course
All students on the ship enroll in the Global Studies course. This course integrates three core themes — port country discovery, intercultural competence, and oceans and sustainability — and prepares students for life as global citizens.
In addition to in-country Field Classes, you will have the opportunity to explore the port countries through Field Programs or you can plan your own travel. Semester at Sea designs a range of Field Programs available to participants including multi-day explorations of a country, homestays with vetted local families, and service programs. Students have an opportunity to develop their own travel plans in each country with newfound friends and classmates.
The Resident Director for Gap and International Students is responsible for co-teaching the New Student Seminar and providing ongoing assistance and engagement with the gap year students throughout the voyage. Resident directors are professional staff with advanced degrees in higher education, counseling, education, or a related field who help form meaningful communities on board.
There are over 75 student organizations on each voyage for students to join covering a range of interests such as photography, spirituality, theater, intramural sports, and social justice.
An experienced team of professionals including resident directors, academic advisors, mental health counselors, and physicians is aboard the ship to support all voyagers.
Semester at Sea was truly the two most influential semesters of my undergraduate degree. Having sailed the first time as a gap year student, I had no idea what to expect. The hands-on and tangible learning experiences are something that I later found were unmatched on a typical college campus and were one of the things that brought be back for round two. While the itinerary was initially the most attractive part of the program, I can say with certainty the shipboard community is the glue of the program. The connection, friends, and (ship) families that I made during my voyages are something that still sticks with me to this day!
Semester at Sea were the best four months of my life! I met some of my best friends, learned so many new things, and traveled to so many new places. I couldn’t recommend it enough!
SAS was the experience of my life, truly something that made me approach life in a very different way. It broaden my horizons, and as a European citizen, it helped me learn about different cultures all around the world. As I said, a once in a lifetime experience, the experience of my entire life.
Why Choose a Semester at Sea 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 10+ 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 include 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 integrated with the shipboard community with additional support that students can choose to utilize. A designated resident director 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 they wish to continue meeting as a group.
Frequently Asked Questions
Everything you need to know about applying to Semester at Sea as a gap year student
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. 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. Semester at Sea 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 to be considered for admission to the later voyage.
Is the admission application fee refundable?
No, the $75 admission application fee is not refundable.
How long will it take to hear about my admission?
Once the Office of Admission has received your completed application, you will receive a reply in about 7-10 business days. It is advisable to follow up and verify that all components of your application have been received.
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 office if you have a last-minute opportunity to join our program for the semester.
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 voyage. We advise purchasing the largest passport book available. Specific passport requirements are available for confirmed Lifelong Learners via the voyage prep portal.
Visa requirements vary depending on the countries included on the itinerary. Typically, you will need to secure two or three visas individually. Some of the group visas will be obtained by ISE.