Experience a Semester at Sea

These days, higher education can take place beyond just the traditional classroom on campus. Students are traveling abroad in foreign countries, while others are spending a semester at sea. How does going to class while sailing the sea and watching the sunset over the Indian Ocean sound to you? Many people find it a rewarding, once-in-a-lifetime experience that is refreshingly unique and full of culture.

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few promising options if you are seeking a special experience taking classes on the open sea while exploring the ports along the way:

Semester at Sea

One of the most well-known school-at-sea education programs is Semester at Sea. The floating university accepts more than 600 students every fall and spring semester, and takes them on a voyage around the world on board a seven deck, 590-foot ship that is equipped with classrooms, a student union, dining rooms, a computer lab, a fitness center, and even a swimming pool. It’s got everything a student needs to thrive!

Semester at Sea’s 100+ day voyage on the MV World Odyssey provides students with the opportunity to explore at least 10 countries and 4 continents, and to earn 12-15 academic credits from Colorado State University. Credits are transferable to your home school, and are held daily while the ship is at sea. When in port, people can participate in various activities like homestays with local families, and visits to historic sites. Program fees at Semester at Sea range from about $26,000 to $32,000 for tuition, room, and board. Add personal programs, visas, airfare, books, and immunizations, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $35,000 to $41,000.


If you are interested in furthering your studies while focusing on marine science, oceanography, practical seamanship, and developing your leadership and communication skills, Sea-mester of Sarasota, Florida may be a great program to consider. Sea-mester prides itself for providing students unique opportunities to travel the world, discover new cultures, and truly interact with their education. It offers 80- to 90-day semester voyages, as well as 40- and 20-day voyages in summer. Program fees range from about $6,000 to $28,000 depending on the time of year you choose to study at sea, and which location you select.


Another option for experiencing college on the open sea is SEA, a 12-week, 17-credit undergraduate semester program based in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. For the first six weeks, students stay on land to study marine-related science classes and start a research project that they eventually take on the boat with them. Once at sea, students actively participate in onboard clases, labs, and shipboard activities like maintaining and navigating equipment. Program fees range from $15,000 to $31,900 depending on whether you study in the fall, spring, or summer, and which program you select.

Financial Aid

Similar to traditional college and study abroad tuition, there is financial assistance available to those who wish to experience a semester at sea. For example, SEA awards over $1 million per year in financial aid and scholarships! Before applying, it’s smart to go through financial aid options and try to get as much as you can. These programs are not cheap, but can be worthwhile experiences for many students. The last thing you want to worry about while you’re studying at sea is finances.

Transferring Credits

Some students are fine with taking classes for pleasure or a pure learning experience, but others prioritize earning credits and staying on track with graduating on time. Figuring out your personal academic priorities before enrolling will save you time, confusion, and trouble later on!

As with all study abroad programs, you’ll want to double-check to make sure the classes you’ve chosen to take at sea transfer over to your home school. If you aren’t totally sure which classes transfer, we advise checking in with your campus academic advisor, who should be able to provide you with further insight before you commit to anything.

Final Thoughts: The World is Our Classroom

If you’re looking for an alternative to a traditional study abroad experience in a foreign country, look no further than spending a semester at sea! It could be your most life-changing college semester. Earn college credits while traveling, learning, enjoying new cultures, making lifelong friendships, and sharing a world of experiences with others!