Semester at Sea


What Is a Semester at Sea?

Semester at Sea is a unique type of study abroad program. Students may take college courses while on board a cruise ship that is traveling around the world. Some students may wish to learn in different ways than sitting in a classroom. These programs are not new, but some organizations have offered them for many years. It is important to know that coronavirus may impact some of these options. The Semester at Sea, or SAS program, may not be the same in 2020 and 2021 compared to prior years. Students should verify all info through the course provider.

Not all schools offer this type of opportunity. Those that do may work through a company that maintains the ships and the coursework. Each program is a bit different. For example, some use their own professors from the country of origin. Others may use international professors.

Some programs typically aim to teach students leadership skills. Others may encourage the exploration of numerous cultures. The goal is often to give students a bigger view of the world around them.

These programs typically aim to provide students with a way to learn while they explore the world. This is beneficial to students who wish to travel and explore the world before they pursue a career. It may also give college students a good benefit to add to their graduate school application.

What Are the Benefits of Doing a Semester at Sea?

Students who choose the SAS model typically benefit in various ways. First, they may be able to visit incredible countries like Costa Rica or Malaysia. They may wish to choose a program that lets them visit a city they wanted to explore, such as Hamburg, Germany, Kobe, Japan, or Ho Ci Mihn City. Students who wish to travel the world and see various cultures may be able to do so on board a cruise ship.

Another benefit is that many students may earn college credit. The cruise ship typically works like a floating campus. The students learn high school or college courses on board. However, not all programs offer college credit.

Students may also benefit from learning at port of calls. Some programs teach students global studies on board the ship. They may then have homework or field work requirements. Students are likely to head out into the ports of call or cities to do this work. It typically allows students to learn first hand. They may also get to learn about various cultures. They may learn key aspects of the world from a different viewpoint than a college textbook. The field classes and course work may range widely. Each program is very different.

Another unique benefit to students in the SAS may be learning to sail. Some programs are a part of the Institute of Shipboard Education, or ISE. This program typically allows students to learn sailing skills. This may include everything from navigating the ship to managing it. Some programs may let students progress in their mastery of this.

How Long Is a Semester at Sea Program?

Some of them typically require students to spend about four months for a full semester program. Some may also offer a full academic year. This may be between 8 and 9 months of study. High school programs tend to be shorter. They often tend to span between 12 days and up to three months. They may work well for students looking to fill in their students during their summer vacation.

Another option for students is to use this program for a full year. Gap year students may benefit from this. The SAS may allow students who just graduated from high school to enroll. They do this instead of heading off to college right away. Some students may then go into college the next year. There is usually a lot of flexibility with this program.


According to, costs could differ year to year. For the 2021 fall program, the program fees in total for an adventure double bunk experience were $26,874.

It is hard to pinpoint a specific price. The length of the program typically plays a role in these costs. The type of program may also matter. College students may pay more than high school students. Where students go may also matter.

The cost of this education ranges by many factors. This includes housing and amenities provided. Some student may choose a more elaborate cabin than others. The space provided likely ranges. Some students may share a cabin. Others may not. There may also be numerous fees to pay. A fuel fee is one example. Other programs may require students to pay a fee for ISE.

Other costs may relate to the travel health insurance students may have to pay. There may also be costs related to field classes. This typically does not include funds that may be necessary for students who are planning to spend money in the cities and ports they visit.

Many programs may provide a breakdown of the costs. Students may wish to compare costs significant. Shorter programs typically are a lower cost. High schools students are not likely to pay as much as college students. Students should also check if there are study abroad scholarships to help offset the program costs.

How Do I Apply for a Semester at Sea?

Students may apply through the program through their college if provided by the school. There may be grade point average requirements. Other programs may require additional education or prerequisites.

High school students may be able to apply to the program directly. It may not be done directly by their school in most cases. The program may provide students with information they need to determine if they are eligible. Some programs are typically just for those over the age of 18. Others may be available for students as young as 14.

Students who are not taking the course through a college should apply to the program directly. They may need to obtain specific permission to do so through the program. Gap year students may find this to be necessary as well. The programs themselves may provide very specific information to help students to apply. If the program is for college credit, there may be some previous year’s graduation requirements for students to meet.

Could I Earn Course Credit for Participating in a Semester at Sea?

Some programs may provide credit. Others may  not. It is important to know there are various options for obtaining this education. Some students may learn through a college or university. That may allow the student to earn credit through that school while they participate in the SAS program. Other times, the program may itself offer credit.

This may apply for both college students and high school students. The sea program provides insight about any credit earned. It also may provide information about which programs provide that credit. Not all are accredited universities. Many are international schools. Students should consider this when they apply for credit or want to use this credit for their future degree. Undergraduate students may want to speak to a counselor at their school to learn about these credits and how well they work for their needs. Some colleges or universities may have limits or restrictions on these credits as they apply to the student’s college degree program.

What Colleges Offer a Semester at Sea?

Colorado State University, Ohio State University, Missouri State University are affiliated with Semester at Sea. If you wish to study on a sea voyage during the pandemic, then you may be able to do so through several other colleges. This is a life changing experience. Take a look at some of the schools that offer this type of opportunity. These programs may be available around the world, including in the United States, South America, South Korea, and numerous other locations.

Sea Mester Program

The Sea Mester program sets off from Australia’s northern territory. Students typically spend their time on board the S/Y Argo following a path from Indonesia through the Indian Ocean. This trip continues to South Africa. The program tends to offer numerous benefits. One of them is likely direct access to some remote areas some would consider paradise.

The S/Y Argo is a 112 foot schooler. This comfortable ship typically allows for visits to the Southern Indian Ocean, Cape Town, Mauritius, and Christmas Island. Students may also learn key skills. This includes SCUBA diving training, sailing skill development, and more hands on experiences. Students may earn up to their Master of Yachts 200 Ton certificate. This depends on the student’s skills and development. It is typically earned through the International Yacht Training or IYT program.

Eligibility for the Program: College Students
Length of the Program: Ranges from 20 to 80 days, fall and summer options
Credit Hours: Up to 12 college credits 

Semester at Sea

This program has been in place for 55 years. It is typically a multiple country experience and usually allows students to obtain field experiences. It typically aims to help students become good community leaders. Students may be able to choose from a wide range of program options. There may be between 20 and 25 options available. Experiential and comparative educational opportunities may also be available.

The program typically spans four continents. It includes 10 to 12 destinations. The differences range based on what a student chooses to embark on. This equates to between 20,000 and 25,000 nautical miles. Voyages typically take students from Amsterdam to Cabo Verde, to Mauritius, to South Africa.

 It may also include stops along to India, South Korea, Japan, China, and Vietnam, among others. Students may find more information at

Eligibility for the Program: College level program
Length of the Program: 100 days
Credit Hours: 12 credit hours

GO Overseas

The Go Overseas program is typically designed to help students see the world. This program allows students to choose one of several routes. Students may have the ability to earn credits through the Colorado State University while they see 10 to 12 countries. Field programs may allow students to spend more time in some of these countries.

Students may be able to choose from programs that take them across Europe, Africa, and Asia. This includes leaving from Amsterdam, Netherlands. The itinerary typically moves through Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, India, Vietnam, and other destinations near the Indian Ocean. Other options may include exploring South America.

Eligibility for the Program: College credits through Colorado State University, high school program available
Length of the Program: 1 semester, fall or spring
Credit Hours: Up to 15 credits 

Cabrini University Semester at Sea

Cabrini University typically offers a program for students who wish to learn at sea. Students may embark on a voyage of discovery in this program. The school likely claims it is a life altering learning experience. Students may learn a curriculum onboard that explores various cultures and societies. The onboard professor provides tools and resources. The courses tend to focus on global crisis issues. This may include population, environment, economics, and foreign policy relationships. Students may be able to learn more at

Eligibility for the Program: Students of Cabrini University, GPA requirements must be met
Length of the Program: 1 month
Credit Hours: Early 20 percent of grades towards a degree

Chapman University Semester at Sea

Chapman University provides students with access to the Semester at Sea program. Students may travel across four continents to as many as 12 countries during this experience. It typically spans some 25,000 nautical miles. The destinations may not be typical tourism hotspots but off the beaten path experiences.

There are typically three voyages each year. These generally take place on the MV World Odyssey. Students may be a part of the Institute for Shipboard Education program. There are over 70 courses available to study from at this time. Professors are often internationalists. They may work to integrate the course content with field practice in various countries when possible. The ship offers nine classrooms, computers, outdoor dining, and a student union. Fitness facilities and a pool are available. Interaction with world leaders and TED speakers may occur.

Eligibility for the Program: Student of Chapman University; GPA requirements and application may be necessary
Length of the Program: 108 days, fall or spring voyage
Credit Hours: Depends on the program selected

Action Quest

Action Quest is a program typically designed for teens. It is a part of the Sea Mester program. The program is called BVI Summer Adventures for Teens. It may not provide any educational materials. The program may take students into the British Virgin Islands. They likely spend their time getting experience. Some may earn a certification for what they study. Students develop leadership skills while they learn. They may also learn how to SCUBA dive and sail. Students who wish to learn marine biology and water sports may benefit from this program. It also teaches marine navigation skills. The program likely aims to attract high school students before they go to college.

Eligibility for the Program: Ages 14 and over
Length of the Program: 17 to 21 days
Credit Hours: Not provided

College Afloat

College Afloat is based out of Canada. It allows international students. This program has provided this educational experience to students since 1980. The classroom learning is typically completed at the various ports of all. There may be shipboard programs and activities as well. The program aims to be hands on and engaging.

Semester options offer a variety of voyages. This may include traveling to the Netherlands, Portugal, Madeira, Morocco, Senegal, Brazil, Argentina, UK, and South Africa during the first semester. The second semester likely involves travel to South Africa, Namibia, St. Helena in the UK, Ascension Island, in the UK, Suriname, Antigua, Dominican Republic, Bermuda, Azores, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

Eligibility for the Program: High school juniors and seniors, as well as college and gap year students
Length of the Program: Four months or up to 8.5 months for a full academic year program
Credit Hours: Depends on selected program and length

A+ World Academy

This program typically aims to provides opportunities for high schoolers. The A+ World Academy allows students to learn with a group of classmates as they travel the world. The program docks in Norway. Over the course of the year, students visit 20 cities. This spans 14 countries on four continents. This is done on the Norwegian Sorlandet, a fully rigged tall ship.

The course work is AP level. Students likely have free time through shore leave to explore the cities they visit. They may also learn onboard. The courses selected and the countries visited ranges each year.

Eligibility for the Program: Ages 15 to 18
Length of the Program: One academic year
Credit Hours: Yes, for high school

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