Explore Our 2024 Guide to Gap Year Programs!

    Gap Year Programs in the United States

    Discover America: A Gap Year Program in the U.S.

    The United States is a diverse country with varied landscapes, cultures, and traditions — a true melting pot shaped by the world’s largest population of immigrants, starting with the earliest permanent settlement established in St. Augustine in 1586. Even if you’ve grown up in the U.S., its states vary widely from one to the other and offer high school graduates a chance for personal growth, experiential learning, and self-discovery in a gap year program.

    Beyond the Tourist Trail

    You could volunteer to support high-needs students in an inner-city school, intern with the USDA’s Forest Service Resource Assistants Program to learn about conservation, natural and cultural resources, or environmental management, or help expand civic engagement. Step outside the traditional classroom to learn through experience. 

    Participate in archaeological digs at Roanoke Island’s Elizabethan Gardens or a paleontology dig at Montana’s Dinosaur Center, an active fossil site. Intern at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. Gap programs in the U.S. often integrate hands-on activities that allow you to apply (and grow) your knowledge in real-world settings and develop practical skills.

    Live in a rural town or bustling city. Volunteer in community gardens, participate in cultural festivals like New Orleans’ Mardi Gras or Albuquerque’s International Balloon Festival, and gain a deeper understanding of America’s social fabric. This immersive experience fosters a sense of connection and challenges any preconceived notions about the country.

    Beyond Academics — Building a Foundation for Your Future

    Many gap programs in the U.S. incorporate outdoor expeditions, wilderness experiences, and service-learning projects. These adventures challenge you to hone your adaptability, problem-solving, and resourcefulness in unfamiliar environments. Embark on a cross-country adventure and experience the patchwork tapestry of the American landscape. Perhaps you’ll hike the majestic peaks of the Rockies, kayak through Everglades National Park, wait for Old Faithful’s regular eruptions in Yellowstone, study the ancient communities in Mesa Verde, or ride a mule on the Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Trail. 

    Interning in different fields — from environmental conservation to social justice advocacy to arts and technology — provides important work experience, allows you to explore potential career paths, and strengthens your resume for future endeavors. This exposure also allows you to uncover new interests and hidden talents and develop a clearer vision for your future academic and career goals.

    Gap Year in the U.S. — More Than Just a Break

    U.S. gap year programs give you an alternative path to take after you’ve graduated from high school. If you’re uncertain about your major or not ready to take the traditional next step in your education, a gap program will lead you on a journey of self-discovery that can become an absolute game-changer. Your understanding of many of America’s complexities will deepen, you’ll develop essential life skills, and perhaps even discover your true passion, all while building a foundation for your future success.

      You can take a gap year or semester here in the United States that includes travel, adventure, academics and even language immersion. You can travel across the country for a gap program, or stay close to home. You can learn about politics through an internship in Washington, D.C.; climb a mountain in the American West.; sail from Virginia to Maine; or brush up on winter sports at Lake Placid, N.Y. Or spend a year or semester doing community service in urban or rural areas of the United States. There are gap programs in the United States to fit all budgets and interests.