SEA Semester Gap Year Programs

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About Program

SEA is based in the world-renowned oceanographic research village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Since 1971, we have educated more than 10,000 students about the global oceans through preparatory studies on shore followed by a tall ship sailing research voyage at sea.

Modeled after our Boston University accredited SEA Semester undergraduate program, SEA gap programs offer any student interested in the oceans the opportunity to study the marine environment through the disciplines of science, maritime history & culture, policy, and leadership.

Choose between an academic, credit-bearing program or an experiential not-for-credit program - either way, no sailing experience is required!

Upcoming Programs
Pacific Odyssey (Spring 2021, non-credit bearing)
Atlantic Odyssey (Fall 2021, non-credit bearing)
Ocean Exploration (Fall 2021, credit-bearing)

Program Highlights
  • Build self-confidence and self-reliance on near shore ocean voyage!
  • Develop lifelong skills in leadership, teamwork, communication, and critical thinking.
  • Conduct environmental research on marine debris and coral reefs.
  • Gain the skills needed to help address one of the defining issues of the 21st Century: human impact on the marine and coastal environment.
  • Stand out from the crowd through this experiential learning adventure!

Related Programs

Program Reviews

10 Rating
based on 6 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 100%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
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  • Housing 9.7
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.8
  • Value 10
  • Safety 9.7
Showing 1 - 6 of 6
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Shelley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best choice I ever made

SEASemester is a unique experience to challenge yourself while receiving a lot of support for your growth. You’ll make best friends for the rest of your life, learn how to lead, and thrive when facing a challenge. You also see beautiful sunsets and beaches, have hilarious days with shipmates, and learn life skills like cooking and research. It was interesting keeping watch at various hours of the night and morning, learning celestial navigation, exploring islands. There are times that are scary or miserable, whether you’re too cold, too hot, far from land when something unexpected happens and unable to use wifi/phones, but it’s all more than worth it for what you gain. And we made our own fun: created music with ukuleles and singing, made up games, turned cleaning days into dance parties. There is no better study abroad program!

2 people found this review helpful.
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Daniel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best at-sea study abroad program out there.

Sea Semester is the most epic, challenging, and life changing at-sea study abroad program out there. It has opened many professional doors to me, as many environmental agencies know how demanding the programs are. I am now starting a new job working on NOAA research vessels, and there is no doubt Sea Semester was one of the main reasons I got accepted. I cannot encourage you enough to apply. Through the program, I have made life-long friends and developed a passion for life at sea. Watch-out, you'll get hooked!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I got to see a water spout in the middle of the Atlantic.
2 people found this review helpful.
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Oliver
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Formative experience

I did this program in 1988. I can clearly say that this was one of the experiences that shaped me into the person I am today.
The program forced me to accept a new level of maturity & responsibility, from simple student to responsible crew member working in a team. Along the way I made friends for life and learned important lessons about life, myself, how I react to difficult situations and depending on others.
Both shore and sea component were amazing. I can‘t recommend it highly enough .... but it‘s not a holiday/vacation!

What was your funniest moment?
Blowing off steam in Barbados with my watch-mates after not having seen land for 18 days. ... and then having to get up for the next watch and get back to work.
2 people found this review helpful.
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Harrison
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best experience of my life!

When I found sea semester a while back I was immediately drawn in by how unique of a program it is. I also thought that going to sea for 40 days sounded like a blast. However there are so many more aspects of this program that I didn’t account for. The shore portion was amazing and it’s where you get build connections with so many great people. Then you test your connection with these people by learning how to sail a boat together (so much harder than it sounds). You laugh together, you cry together, but most importantly you learn together. All you have on the boat is yourself and your shipmates and everyone works hard for each other. Most of the bonding comes from these moments when you are in a challenging situation and you all have to work together to figure it out. I met some of my closest friends on this trip and everyone there was an amazing shipmate. I think that’s a credit to SEA as they bring in wonderful people from all different backgrounds each of whom have left a lasting impact on my life. For me, and I think I can also speak for a lot of people from my trip, doing Sea Semester was the best decision I have ever made and has given me a new outlook on life that I appreciate so much.

What was your funniest moment?
My funniest moment is one that of course came on dawn watch (1am-7am). They always do. Dawn watch shows everyone’s best and worst traits no matter who you are. I think it’s cause you get to tired to care anymore. For me, everyone got to see my ADHD in full effect and how i get random burst of energy throughout the night. This time, however, my random burst came while I was steering so i couldn’t walk around or did some weird exercises. Instead I decided to sing the first 10 songs of Hamilton word for word with accents, hand motions, and even some dances. I sang it very loudly because it was 5am and i felt like singing loudly. I would point at anyone who walked by and start singing to them and they would rightfully look at me like i was crazy. However, turns out I wasn’t the only one who likes Hamilton as slowly but surely other people on my watch began to join in. 15 minutes later we had a whole musical going on and we thought we were better than the real thing. It was one of my favorite moments of the trip and something that I always laugh at whenever I think about it.
2 people found this review helpful.
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Campbell
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

There are no words

This has been undoubtedly the most magical and happiest time of my life. I made connections to people that were instantly closer and deeper than any I had formed before, and I experienced such amazing experiences they made me wonder if there wasn't some divine entity working in my favor. I learned so much about myself and the world around me, I faced challenges that scared me, but also pushed me to grow, and I learned to really work hard. There is something completely lifechanging to be in an environment where the work you do is necessary for the safety of every person on the boat. It was exhausting work, but for however tired I was I finished my semester ready to spend another six weeks at sea, and wishing I did not have to leave. At the end, we sat on the deck to say our goodbyes and one of the mates told us not to let this be the most amazing thing you do in your life. I wish someday to be able to say that it wasn't, that I found something even more spectacular, but I don't know that I will. There are no words to convey just how spectacular it was, and no words to make anyone who hasn't experienced this know what it was like. If you have the chance to go on this adventure, take it.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I was standing on the deck during a gale in the pouring rain, the boat tipped past 45 degrees, wind blowing me around, standing by a wire with 35,000 lbs of tension on it, trying my best to keep my balance. I was responcible for controlling the speed we brought the Carousel (a piece of heavy, expensive scientific equipment) back onto the boat. Because we had a piece of equipment over the side, and we had no choice to bring it back aboard, we could not maneuver into safer waters, we could not turn into to the wind so the boat wasn't healed over, and we could not go below deck to find refuge. I don't think I realised how scared or stressed I was until well after we had brought it aboard and I'd been relieved of my post. It was we went to sit down to eat after coming off watch and I realized my head was spinning and my heart was racing. I felt like I was coming down off an adrenaline high, like I wasn't in my body. But I sat down and I ate, and then I sat down with my watchmates and told them how I felt, what it felt like manning that wire. I got through it with them, because we'd all gone through it together, and we'd all gotten safely to the other side.
2 people found this review helpful.
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Aileen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

SEA Semester was the best decision I've ever made!

I participated in SEA Semester's Fall 2020 Gap Year program, where we spent 3 weeks on their campus in Woods Hole, MA, and then 6 weeks at sea aboard the Corwith Cramer. Learning to sail the tall ship, working on research in the lab, and getting to know and work with my 35 shipmates (24 students and 12 crew total), taught me so much about myself and helped me to grow immensely. The crew are some of the most inspiring people you will ever meet! I learned so much from the assistant scientists, the mates, and the faculty! All of them are very approachable and always want to make sure that you are having the best experience that you can. When adjusting to the environment of living on the ship, the mates and scientists make you feel very comfortable and make sure that you know that making mistakes is part of the learning process! Living at sea is one of the most special experiences: every moment is a unique adventure! No two individuals experience the exact same moments on the ship, and this makes everyone incredible assets to one another throughout the program. From this program and the special learning environment, I feel even more excited and energized to go to college for Fall 2021 and continue learning about our remarkable world! I could not be more grateful for my time with the Sea Eduaction Association, and you should absolutely consider doing a SEA Semester program!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid to leave your comfort zone! The SEA Semester experience is one where there are opportunities everyday to do something that you haven't done before or that feels a little bit scary, but each of these moments teaches you amazing things about yourself!
2 people found this review helpful.

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