ABOUT THE PROGRAM
The whole point of an EF Gap experience is to learn by doing. We’ve specifically designed this program to get you out in the world, so that you can experience other cultures, people, and ideas firsthand. That said, part of your Language Study module will take place in a teacher-led classroom—though the focus is still very much on active learning. You will also attend select seminars and workshops at the EF Leadership Academy on an academic campus. But this will actually give you a terrific glimpse into college life!
A 12-week EF Gap Semester might be the perfect solution. It’s much less of a time commitment than the 25-week academic year. You also have the additional advantage of choosing whether to begin in September or January.
We try to make our gap programs affordable for everyone by including as much as possible in the program fee—flights, transportation, accommodation, select meals, activities and excursions, mentorship, and global support. Note that most other similarly priced program do not include return travel to your study locations. Given that you may well visit ten or more countries during a typical EF Gap Year or Gap Semester, we are confident our program offers an exceptional value.
Many of your program modules will take place in wifi environments: Orientation, Language Study at your chosen EF International Language Campus, your Internship workplace, EF Leadership Academy and Wrap-up. Most of the hotels and hostels on your cultural Immersions in Europe, Australia and New Zealand will also offer wifi (either free or at a reasonable cost).
Note that in some Service Learning locations wifi may not be as readily available.
Meal plans vary by module and location, but usually include daily breakfast and select dinners. Lunch is most often left up to you (and at your own expense). During your Internship, you are responsible for shopping for and making all of your own meals.
See the Program Guide on this website for more specific detail about each module.
Typically, the food on your meal plan is hearty and nutritious, with an emphasis on local cuisine. In many cases, you will also have American-style options for your main course. If you are a vegetarian, suffer from food allergies, or have other special dietary needs, it's important to make these clear in your program application. We try our best to accommodate dietary restrictions, but your food choices are ultimately your own responsibility. Note that certain dietary restrictions may limit where you can complete your program modules.
Accommodation types vary by module and location. We always aim to provide comfortable and safe places to stay, suitable to the program module. That might mean a hotel during cultural immersions; a homestay with a host family during your Language Study; a student hostel for your Service Learning; a shared apartment for your Internship; and a campus residence at EF Leadership Academy. You will usually share a twin-bedded room with at least one other program participant of the same gender. But in certain locations you may also be housed in triples and quads. In some hostels and residences, the bathroom and shower facilities are not private, but shared with other rooms in a dorm wing or house.
During your language study, you can request to live in an international student residence, rather than host family, for a supplemental weekly fee (subject to availability).
The focus of our program is to help you become a global citizen through a broad range of experiences. We’re the only organization that prepares you for an international career with hands-on language study, service learning, internship, and leadership experience in several countries. If you just want to volunteer or work abroad for a few weeks, there are many other excellent programs specializing in these areas.
The EF Gap Semester lets you customize your focus in two of your four program modules. Neither of these has to be language study. For example, you can create the following program:
Module A: European Immersion
Module B: Service Learning
Module C: Internship
Module D: EF Leadership Academy
We require all EF Gap Year students who are not bilingual to begin their program with six weeks of Language Study. Your Service Learning experience in Latin America will be so much more worthwhile, for example, if you are able to communicate in Spanish. This is also true for any internships you might undertake in Paris, Madrid, Berlin and Milan.
However, if you are indeed already bilingual, it may be possible to substitute the Language Study module with a double volunteer service or internship module. Ask an EF Gap Consultant for details.
Our program allows you to choose the country where you would like to partner with local communities to do some good.
We offer Service Learning modules in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Peru, Tanzania, and Thailand. Our aim is to introduce you to your host country’s culture and give you a broad overview of the social and environmental challenges it faces. So the time you spend there will be a carefully curated set of experiences, led by an EF Service Learning Field Director.
You will visit several different communities, make educational visits to several social enterprises trying to make a difference, and participate in a range of service projects: empowering and educating youth; improving local supplies of food, water and shelter; preserving the surrounding natural environment; or safeguarding endangered species from extinction. We often collaborate with respected, locally based NGOs on long-term projects. That way you’re always making a real impact in ways that are the most needed.
It may be possible to earn college credit for your Internship thanks to our educational partnership with Southern New Hampshire University. Please speak with your EF Gap Consultant for details.
It is not possible to earn a wage for your Internship during our program due to various international visa, taxation, and contractual restrictions. It may, however, be possible to earn college credit for your Internship thanks to our educational partnership with Southern New Hampshire University. Please speak with your EF Gap Consultant for details.
HOW TO ENROLL
To be eligible for our program, you must be at least 18 years old by the date of departure. You must also have a high school diploma or GED. If you are under the age of 18 while you’re applying, a parent or legal guardian must co-sign all of your documents.
The pacing and physical requirements of EF Gap Year programs vary by itinerary. Certain programs require considerable physical exertion. For example, many historic sites are only accessible on foot and involve stairs, rough trails. or inclines. Service Learning may involve lifting, digging, hammering, or other strenuous physical activities and similar accessibility issues.
Overseas, internship host companies, accommodations facilities, and modes of transportation are not bound by the same accessibility laws that apply in the United States, and therefore may not be up to the same standard of accessibility.
However, our philosophy is to accept as many qualified candidates as possible. Your EF Gap Consultant will work with you to determine a program that is suitable to your capabilities, and help you understand the essential program requirements and travel expectations of your planned itinerary.
There are a limited number of scholarships, university-based financial aid, and private funding opportunities available to gap year students nationwide.
EF Gap Year also has up to $20,000 available in grants. You’ll find a few of these options, as well as instructions on how to apply for EF Gap Year scholarships, on our Fundraising page.
Another great resource is the Gap Year Association.
We also offer flexible payment plans allowing you to pay your program fee in installments (see below).
It is possible to pay the entire program fee at once via credit card or personal check, or to set up a monthly direct debit payment schedule from one of your current bank accounts. Ask your EF Gap Consultant for a full list of payment options. And please see our official Terms & Conditions for further details.
You can withdraw your application on our program at any time before you are officially accepted into the program. We will simply refund your $500 deposit. (Please allow at least 60 days for processing.) Once you officially enroll in the program, you will thereafter be subject to our Standard Cancellation Policy. Please see our official Terms & Conditions for full details.
EF Gap Year offers a specially designed Global Travel Protection Plan that meets all of the program’s requirements and recommendations at a very competitive price of $800 for Gap Year and $400 for Gap Semester. This cost is not included in your base price, but in addition to it, and non-refundable after the 10 day review period.
Note that all EF Gap Year participants are required to maintain adequate medical and accident insurance throughout the term of their program.
Learn more at efgapyear.com/protection
PREPARING TO GO
Our program is primarily designed for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact an EF Gap Year Consultant about your eligibility for the program.
U.S. citizens do not, in general, need any special visas to visit any of the European countries we offer on this program unless you plan to do an Internship in Berlin.
Based on your itinerary, however, you may need to obtain appropriate visas for countries outside of Europe to complete your Language Study, Service Learning, Internship, or Immersion in Australia & New Zealand.
If you do require a visa, you can apply for it in one of two ways:
Through Visa Central
Visa Central is an agency that can help you obtain any visas you will need for a reasonable service fee. One of their representatives can take you step-by-step through the application process and tell you what type of documentation the country’s embassy or consulate will need from you. Visa Central then applies for the correct type of visa you will need on your behalf. Some of the required application documentation you will need to gather up and supply Visa Central yourself. Some documentation (like your flight itinerary and letter of invitation) EF will need to supply.
Directly from the country’s nearest embassy or consulate
You can also apply for any visa(s) you will need directly from the country’s nearest embassy or consulate in the United States. Before doing so, we strongly recommend that you first contact the embassy or consulate to verify what sort of documentation they will need from you, as well the length of processing time they require. (Note that this can vary from consulate location to consulate location.) Again, some of the required application documentation you will need to gather up and supply the embassy or consulate yourself. Some documentation (like your flight itinerary and letter of invitation) EF will need to supply. Note: Not supplying the right documentation with your application can cause serious delays in processing and even result in denial of your visa application. If you have any doubts about the process of applying yourself, consider engaging Visa Central instead.
Please note that it is ultimately your responsibility to obtain any travel documents necessary to complete your program. Any fees for visas you may require are also your responsibility and are not included in your program fee.
It’s always wise to verify the entry requirements for each country of travel on your program, including any required vaccinations. For more information on countries requiring visas for U.S. persons, please refer to the U.S. Department of State website: travel.state.gov.
A great deal of your basic daily needs are covered by your program fee.
You will, however, need to budget additional spending money for some of your meals. That's typically lunch in most Language Study and Service Learning locations, select lunches and dinners whenever you're on an Immersion module in Europe, Australia & New Zealand, and all your meals during your Internship as you will be living on your own in an apartment with a kitchen. You should also budget for laundry, toiletries, snacks, coffee and beverages, and any other customary travel incidentals.
You'll probably want to budget extra money for souvenirs and gifts, and any personal shopping you may wish to do.
Once you enroll, we'll send you detailed pre-departure information with our recommendations for how much extra money you may wish to budget for your program.
What you pack will greatly depend on how you customize your experience. All EF Gap students begin their adventure with a two-week European Immersion in London, Amsterdam, Paris and Barelona. Whether you start in September or January, the weather can be quite variable—from hot and sunny to cool and wet—so plan to bring both summer and winter weight clothing that can be worn in layers. If you're studying or doing service in Latin America, you won't want to forget to bring shorts, sturdy hiking boots, and swimwear. Gap Year students traveling to Australia in Term 2 should also remember that it will be summer at that time of year. And anyone planning an internship should pack suitable business casual office wear.
Though it is not a requirement, many students bring a laptop or tablet with them. It can be quite useful for the language study module of your program. Most students also bring their cell phones, but they usually avoid expensive international calling and data fees by either pre-buying international plans through their carriers, or purchasing prepaid cards.
There are no set rules. In fact, this tends to be a highly individual decision. It all depends on how independent you want your EF Gap experience to be. Most participants decide to limit contact with their families to a weekly email, Skype or phone call. (In fact, we recommend a scheduled weekly check-in as a way of avoiding any needless worry.) The rest of the time, our students usually try to immerse themselves in the local culture, navigate their new life on their own, and make all their own decisions. Remember: you're never alone. EF staff are always nearby to offer advice and support.
We discourage visits from family members while you're on our program. To get the most out of your experience, it's always best to immerse yourself in it completely. Plus every module of your program is thoughtfully planned to maximize the time you're studying or serving or interning. So there's very little time when a family visit might make sense. It's far better for gap year students to use their winter break for catching up with family and friends.