Semester at Sea

Semester at Sea


Semester at Sea is a unique, ship-based, multi-country study abroad experience academically partnered with Colorado State University. In one semester, students will get exposure to 10-14 countries across multiple continents while earning college credit and transiting over 20,000 nautical miles. Our mission is to educate individuals with the global understanding necessary to address the challenges of our interdependent world. Since 1963, more than 73,000 individuals from 1,700 institutions have traveled to more than 60 countries on Semester at Sea and its predecessor programs.


Semester at Sea Scholarships

Semester at Sea Scholarships & Financial Aid

We at Semester at Sea are committed to our students and understand the financial burdens placed on students to earn the best education possible. This is why Semester at Sea awards $5 million in scholarships and grants annually.

$500 - $10,000


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Yes, I recommend this program

World Campus Afloat / Semester at Sea

I was a student aboard the old World Campus Afloat program Spring 1975 voyage prior to the renaming to Semester at Sea. SP75 traveled east from Florida and ended in Los Angeles after voyaging for about 25,500 miles, for 107 days and visiting 13 different counties and stopping in 13 different ports. I had one outstanding professor, two very good professors and one who should have never been teaching. Overall, the academics, environment and experience were top notch with the one exception. Accommodations aboard the Ship were not much different than living in the Dorms. As we all learned during the 1st week aboard, tolerance, respect and patience for your fellow shipmates or you didn't survive.

After being off the ship and completing the experience 47 years ago, the experience of this semester still remains a life changing event. It indirectly changed my path for employment, it certainly changed my perspective on how the rest of the world views America and Americans, and it allowed me to view America from the outside looking in with hopes and intent of making America and the World a little better. And I am still in touch / communicate with fellow students from SP75.

  • Academics
  • Multi-cultural exposures
  • Life Changing Experience
  • None
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Yes, I recommend this program

Best cultural and educational experience of my life!

Taking college courses on a ship was unlike any experience I've had and taught me how to be a global citizen.
During my time on Semester at Sea, we traveled to 13 countries and experienced 13 different cultures. During in-country days I participated in organized field classes that allowed me to apply concepts from my courses to actual interactions with local experts and organizations. The information I learned during these in-country experiences will forever have an impact on me and my learning.
Voyage 129 taught me how to be flexible, open-minded, resilient, and globally aware. I am grateful to have been a part of an incredible program and I recommend it to any college student!

  • Multiple countries visited
  • Ship life is the best
  • Meet people from all over the world
  • N/A
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Voyage of Discovery

Semester at Sea had a profound impact on my life. By the time I boarded the MV Explorer, I had been to 15 countries and participated in three study abroad programs, but SAS impressed an intrepid traveler like me. Few programs can compare with SAS: a dozen or so ports of call, 100+ days of sailing and exploring the world, a multitude of classes in a variety of subject areas, a floating campus complete with extracurricular activities, and a global community like no other. While the price is steep, this is an investment in your future that you can't afford to skip. For some, the cost is comparable and, in some cases, less than a semester at some colleges. For others, scholarships, financial aid, and careful budgeting may help as they did for me. It may have taken me a decade to pay off my SAS student loan, but the memories, knowledge, perspective, and friendships I gained are priceless.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The most surprising thing is that we left India on the day the US initiated war with Iraq. Our departure from India was the beginning of 14 days at sea with no clear destination due to the spread of SARS. We ultimately skipped Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, and Cambodia and added an extra stop in Japan and Seward, Alaska instead. Taking a helicopter ride to hike on a remote glacier was a highlight for me! No matter what is happening in the world, SAS is able to pivot and plan voyages that are safe, responsible, and fun!
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Yes, I recommend this program

The journey is the destination

In 2016, I took the journey of a lifetime. I was able to visit 12 countries and 26 different cities that all made a lasting impact on my education and future endeavors.

If you want to go on a multi-country study abroad program, I highly recommend you take the opportunity and sign up for a semester at sea right now. This 106-day voyage around the world will allow you to discover the history of each location your visit, dive deep into their rich cultures, and expand your knowledge of the world around you. You truly become a traveler and not a tourist.

I will cherish my memories and friendship for the rest of my life. This is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you WON'T regret it.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Deciding to take the leap and travel independently to join Semester at sea. I was so nervous and didn't know anyone, but the reward was worth the fear! I wouldn't change it for the world!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Semester at Sea Spring 2010 Voyage

Interesting program model and well-facilitated! Such a unique academic experience to learn about a place in your courses then to arrive there by ship to experience it first-hand. Since time at port can vary from a couple days to a week in each country, one must be intentional about how to spend the time. Shipboard community was strong and the alumni community continues to be too.

This was a fun and enriching journey but if you're looking for an immersive cultural experience, it's not what I would recommend.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
This program is fast-paced with a packed travel and educational schedule. It can be tempting to fill port time with an equally intense itinerary. Don't feel pressure to do everything in the tour book! Take time to rest and to be present with the experience and the host cultures.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Robin Allen

Dr. Robin Allen is a small animal veterinarian from St .Charles IL. She currently lives in Houston, Tx. She attended Northern Illinois University as an undergraduate student. She studied veterinary medicine at St. Matthew's University in the Cayman Islands and completed a year of medical and surgical training at the University of Illinois. Additionally, she has earned an M.B.A from Davenport University. She traveled on Semester at Sea in Fall 2002.

Why did you decide to go abroad with your provider?

My interest to travel to Asia was sparked by a course in World Religions. I learned so much about the Ganges River and Varanasi, Shinto shrines, and Buddhist temples that I wanted to see them for myself.

The idea of being able to take a course entitled world religious architecture really grabbed my attention because it was so rooted in the cultures we were going to be exposed to. My family wasn't one for taking trips to countries on the other side of the world. It was a big deal for me to even consider doing something like this.

I didn't want to live with a family abroad and wanted to have my own space / room. One day I saw a flyer outside of my art history class room and knew it was the right program for me. After I researched more about Semester at Sea, there was no way I was going on any other study program.

It gave me the opportunity to see multiple countries on multiple continents. I was able to travel to Japan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, and Cuba. By traveling on a ship and experiencing multiple countries in a short time you can really compare how people live and their cultures around the world. Besides... how cool is it to say you sailed around the world?

If you could do-over one thing, what would it be?

I wish that I would have been more prepared for what I was going to see and witness. I think my experience would have been more meaningful. The program sends you a list of books that are based in each country you are going to visit. I read a few but I wish I would have read at least one involving each country I was going to visit.

I read Catfish and Mandala prior to visiting Vietnam. It is a true story about a young man whose family immigrated to the United States during the post Vietnam War Era. He decided to travel back to Vietnam and explore the country on bike. There are great descriptions about all the sights and smells on his journey. In some ways it prepared me for what I was going to see there.

What is one piece of advice you'd give future students traveling with your program?

Make sure to try everything. Do EVERYTHING. You don't want to look back on your experience and say that you were too scared to journey on your own, you spent all day in your cabin, or you didn't want to spend the extra money to travel to the Great Wall of China. When will you have the opportunity to do these things again? When will you have the opportunity to do these things again while surrounded by a group of friends.

Don't spend the entire time sitting in your room while at sea. Sit on the deck and listen to the waves. Go on shore trips where you have the opportunity to meet students in those countries. Spend time eating lunch with your instructors. It makes the program more valuable if you fully participate and emerge yourself in the ship's community.

Did you run into a language barrier? Did you ever think you knew more/less of the language?

I thought that language was going to be a huge barrier in each country. Surprisingly there were many people in each country who spoke English. We didn't have a hard time getting around on our own or finding someone to chat with or give directions.

How has this experience impacted your future?

I think this experience impacts everyone differently. For me I was impacted the most by really getting a sense that a lot of the danger we believe is out there in the world is heavily impacted by the media.

I met people in each country that were just the same as people from home. I ate at restaurants that were just as great as the ones I had been to in Chicago. Hotels that we stayed at on field excursions were extravagant at times. I was also surprised by the number of expats living abroad that we would run into. It made me realize that we are really in a bubble in the United States.

After this trip, I lived abroad in the Caribbean for 3 years. I couldn't imagine living in only one country for the rest of my life. I have other friends from my semester that moved to England, Aruba, Netherlands, India, Mexico, etc. This trip really changes how you see the world and for many of us where we want to live and what we want to do.

Some really great charities have been created after semester at sea studies. An alum from my semester created The Cook Book Project to bring education about food and its role in health to people around the world.

Tell us about any interesting cultural tidbits you noticed about your country.

There were people in India that were excited to see my friends and I because we had light hair and light eyes. They have never seen someone with these characteristics before.

My friends and I were stopped several times at the Taj Mahal by families wanted a picture with us. It happened in China as well. This experience demonstrated that people are watching you and you are a representation of the U.S. when you are traveling.

The locals were often surprised that you wanted to eat indigenous food and not Pizza Hut. By the way... McDonald's does not taste the same in South Africa or China. It's fun to take a peak at things like that.

What made this experience unique and special?

There are so many things that make this experience special. Sailing around the world on a ship is pretty incredible. I would wake up "early" before the other passengers every morning and go sit out on the deck. There's a peace and quiet about the ocean that you can't recreate. It is one of the things I miss the most.

I didn't feel that way at first of course. I was sea sick like many other students. We were nauseous for the first week or so but the seas were a little rough between Vancouver and Japan. Oh and CUBA!

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Karla Correll

Job Title
Assistant Director of Admission
Karla sailed on Semester at Sea Summer 2010 as a student for University of Colorado - Boulder. In 2012, she started in admissions at the Institute for Shipboard Education.

What is your favorite travel memory?

How do you pick a favorite travel memory???

I have endless stories that I could talk about for days, but I will never forget a homestay in Turkey, where the family I stayed with opened their home to me and taught me all about their lives, customs, and culture. The mother in the house was just learning English and we sat over long dinners telling stories of our lives, families, and travels and we would pause every once in awhile to ask her son to translate a few words for each other. It was an amazing experience that I truly felt I was part of someone's life on the other side of the world from me and is something I will never forget.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

I don't believe in overrated or underrated countries purely because everyone sees places differently, but I do believe that what you put into it is what you get out if it. If you just look at the surface of a country and don't get to know the history, or the culture, or the geography, you are missing out on a huge part of the place you are seeing. Some of the places I enjoyed traveling to the most were the countries I least expected and really had amazing histories, cultures, and friendly people.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Passion and deep institutional knowledge are the biggest factors in the success of Semester at Sea. Most, if not all, of the ISE/Semester at Sea staff are alumni of the program and know how life changing it can be and that passion is put in each day they work there.

Each and every employee believes in the program and the mission of Semester at Sea, and that ships can carry more than cargo, they can carry ideas. They believe that for over 50 years, Semester at Sea has taught students that the world is their classroom and helped students turn into global citizens.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

At any job, just like any opportunity, you have the ability to get out as much as you put in. I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by hard working people that encourage going above and beyond and allowing for creative and new solutions. With the world changing and technology improving every day, it creates unique challenges, but also great opportunities to get more done from other locations or change something to work more efficiently. With easier and faster access to all corners of the world, the opportunities are endless.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Semester at Sea is unique in so many ways, but the employees unwavering passion and dedication to the program are unique to any other company I have ever seen. The ability to travel to the ship for embarkation and disembarkation is also very unique. Many companies you do not get to meet their students or customers.

With Semester at Sea, you get to work with the students from admission, preparation, watch them succeed on the voyage, and see them hold their head high as they walk off the ship at the end of a life changing semester. There is nothing more rewarding than that.

Professional Associations

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