Student Life

Take a Cruise, Earn College Credit: Semester at Sea

If regular study abroad just doesn’t cut it for you, consider the Semester at Sea program.

Student Contributor, Piper Megellas

February 15, 2023

Take a Cruise, Earn College Credit: Semester at Sea
Under Semester at Sea, you can earn real college credit while sailing around the world on a cruise ship and gaining valuable life experiences.
Picture this: next year, you take college while on a cruise ship. You visit over ten different countries and create amazing, long-lasting memories, all while earning college credit. Sound enticing? If so, you should consider looking into the Semester at Sea program. Semester at sea is a great way for college students to experience the world while also advancing their studies. But what is Semester at Sea anyway?

Study Abroad Semester at Sea

Fundamentally, Semester at Sea is a study abroad program that aims to increase students’ global awareness and understanding by exposing them to several cultures. Students who participate in the program live on a cruise ship for approximately 100 days in cabins shared with a roommate.
They use specially-designed classrooms to study various subjects - most commonly, global studies, international relations, world religions, marketing, and ecology, among others. Courses offer generally vary some from term to term and are impacted by the itinerary of the trip and the faculty aboard. Additionally, students have the opportunity to participate in field programs to dive deeper into the culture of another country. Although semester at sea is generally thought of to be a, well, at-sea program, three-quarters of students who participate in Semester at Sea participate in field programs. Field programs vary depending on the program that you’re participating in, but they generally consist of cultural immersion to help the participant grow with hands-on learning in a country of their choosing. Programs with Semester at Sea are available for undergraduates, recently graduated undergraduates, or as part of a gap year program in between high school and college. Admission requirements for all programs generally include a 3.0 out of 4.0 GPA and English language proficiency, when applicable, but admissions are competitive.
Before applying, make sure you know why you would like to participate in the program. This will help you answer the application questions and ensure your place on the ship.

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Semester at Sea

Additionally, make sure to consider the affordability of the program. All-in, indirect expenses included, a one-semester program generally will run you in between $35,000 and $40,000. You can read more about the costs of the program here.
These costs may seem hefty, but keep in mind that the program does offer financial aid, including scholarships and grants. Both need and merit based aid is available, and the program will match pell awards offered by your institution. Additionally, there are some awards available for student from particular schools, like UCI, UCSD, and UVA, among others. Make sure to check whether or not your college will accept your semester at sea credit when signing up for the program.

Rich Experiences in Semester at Sea

SAS also touts a rich alumni community and aims to change the lives of its students. Notable alumni and contributors to the SAS program include Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and many other famous figures. By joining Semester at Sea, you will be setting yourself up for a lifetime of alumni connections to help you secure your dream job, internship, or grant. With an alumni network of 73,000, joining semester at sea will give you valuable experiences to connect with others in both your professional and personal lives. You’ll gain valuable experience in volunteerism and bolster your resume. Plus, you’ll be left with memories to last a lifetime.

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