Pursuing Academic Credit

Beginning in fall 2024, ARCC will be partnering with a new School of Record to provide our college credit option and we expect to have access to the course syllabi by August. If you are interested in pursuing college credit on our gap programs, please email [email protected] or call 415-332-5075 ext. 2 for more information.

Portland State University Course Credit Options

While on an international gap semester, students have the option to earn up to 16-quarter hours (approx 11-semester credits) of college credit through Portland State University (PSU) and their partnership with the Gap Year Association (GYA). PSU is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities which is widely accepted throughout the country at both public universities and private institutions. PSU has been named one of the nation’s “most innovative” colleges for the last four years by U.S News & World Report in recognition of their leadership in finding new ways for students to succeed.

Portland State University offers a number of courses designed to allow students to earn academic credit for international study or volunteer experience. The courses do not require you to go to Portland and there is no physical classroom. The courses are designed as field-based independent self-studies. The course instructor will correspond with the student and provide written feedback on course assignments via email and other remote communication. Course requirements include maintaining a daily journal and completing required reading while on program. In addition, students will write a 8-10 page final paper post program. There is a high degree of latitude for you in determining what you would like to study within each course – you can focus on the aspects of the region or culture that are of most interest to you, and most of the 16 offered courses fit into the structure of the ARCC Gap Curriculum on any international ARCC Gap Semester.

*College credit is not currently an option for students enrolled on our Western U.S. semester

In this course, students will better understand the ways populations are impacted by their location – environmentally, historically, culturally, and economically. Students will explore how social divisions occur as well as how divisions can be positively addressed. Students will learn about how the local culture has evolved to its present state, and strive to understand what influences environmentally, historically, culturally, and/or economically have influenced it. Supplemental assignments offer opportunities for research and
reflection of experiences.

This course introduces global perspectives, basic concepts and fundamental questions of geography. It focuses on how all locations on Earth are interconnected. It explores how humans use, adapt, and impact their environment through a variety of social constraints. Students will work to understand the growth and distribution of human populations, the complexities and varying systems of land use, geopolitics and colonialism, as well as the geographic impact of selected issues such as land use and urban development.

Students will be exposed to alternative healthcare systems and alternative healthcare practices. They will learn about the pros and cons of the location’s health and healthcare, and chart progressive ways to improve. Possible areas of focus might include: obesity, infant-mortality, domestic-violence, addiction issues, HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention, nutrition, water sanitation, etc.

This course engages students in meaningful work/volunteer experiences while helping them gain understanding, acquire knowledge, and develop the necessary skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world. Students will study the spirituality and religious practices in their region to understand a sense of local spiritual traditions and provide a level of insight into personal belief structures and how they structure daily life during their academic study away.

Students will explore the ways in which human individuality is defined by social contexts, leveraging topics such as identity, intelligence, motivation, coping skills, psychological disorders, and cultural context. By comparing their own experiences, students will learn about the theories, methodologies and research that help frame how humans interact with one another, and thus better contextualize their own cultural norms and biases

It offers the student an opportunity to reflect on the complex relationships within the host culture surrounding a particular event, the cohort of peer-students in which students form a relevant identity, and their own history. Students will have an option to write an ethnology based on living within a foreign culture for two months and use their cohort experience for a detailed study of social systems and self-growth.

It offers students the chance to learn outside of the classroom while building intercultural competencies through global learning and community-based participation. Through immersive experiences and service learning engagements, the course will help students develop stronger communication skills with individuals from a variety different backgrounds including (but not limited to): socio-economic, racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious lived experiences.

In this study of colonialism and the history of Western influences, students will strive to understand the influences that colonialism has had on the host country. Students will explore the ways local cultures have been impacted by the influences of “westernized countries” that might include infrastructure (roads, trains, and transportation), language, gender roles, world-view, social justice issues, sanitation, food, politics, political influences, natural resource management, etc.

This course provides students with an opportunity to learn through work experience and volunteer service concurrent with assignments while on their academic study abroad program. It engages students in meaningful work/volunteer experiences while helping them gain an understanding of a particular issue of their choosing relevant to globalization and its impacts on local populations including international development initiatives.

This course creates an opportunity for students to assess and understand different models of leadership in modern societies. Students will explore varying models of leadership from a host culture perspective, compare them to the student’s home culture, and assess personal leadership strengths. Students will be expected to integrate information from participant observation, research, readings, and interviews to inform conclusions.

It offers the student an opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and affords an opportunity to take advantage of appropriate technology, sustainability issues in the developing world, and to learn first hand about local issues of environmental sustainability observed through travel and service learning.

It offers the student an opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and to learn first-hand about local issues of global citizenship observed through travel. It will provide an introduction to the richness of cultures in the world, drawing on perspectives from the locals themselves, and rooted in the humanities and social sciences. Students will explore the balance between political, economic, environmental, and cultural systems, to cultivate skills and attitudes in support of global citizenship.

It offers the student an opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and affords an opportunity to learn first-hand about how climate change affects local ecosystems and the people that depend on them. Through travel and service-learning, the course will equip students with an awareness about global impacts of climate change; students will be able to identify specific impacts local to their travels that result from rising CO2 emissions; and students will research how multiple issues of climate change can compound for great effect.

This course will provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who participate in study away opportunities. It will introduce students to examples of social entrepreneurship and ask them to reflect and analyze an organization’s ability to drive enduring change. Students will understand a problematic issue in depth and analyze ways social entrepreneurs have attempted to address this issue.

Students will examine issues associated with sustainability in the hospitality and tourism industry. This course will introduce students to the idea of the triple bottom line (economic, social, and environmental) and ask them to analyze sustainability programs in practice with a critical eye toward evaluating their effectiveness.

Students will enhance their understanding of global economics and gain a first hand experience of the ways that international policy impacts local populations and seek an understanding for how the global supply chain works. Students will be asked to trace a particular commodity from production to purchase, with each step along the way understanding where the dollars have passed and what the impacts are from each step.

Tuition & Fees:

The PSU tuition cost is a flat fee of $1,800 which must be paid to ARCC prior to being registered for courses with PSU as a “non-PSU student.” The tuition will be collected by ARCC who will then submit this payment to the Gap Year Association for processing. The enrollment deadline for college credit with PSU is February 1st for Spring semester students and August 25th for Fall semester students. It is possible to use 529 funds to pay for the college credit fee and the ARCC tuition. To do this, we recommend you contact your fund management company to confirm eligibility.


Students will submit their journals and coursework to the course Instructor-of-Record by June 20th (for Spring semester students) or January 20th (for Fall semester students). Grades are submitted to PSU and the student receives an official PSU transcript within 2-6 weeks of the due date. You will be sent detailed instructions on how to order and transfer the transcript. All Instructors of Record are vetted by Portland State University for academic integrity and quality. Each grading instructor holds an advanced degree in relevant subject matter to grade for lower-level courses.

Transferring Credit:

To ensure that PSU travel/study abroad credit will successfully transfer and not interfere with a deferral plan, we encourage students to contact their college or university’s admissions office directly. If students have trouble convincing an institution to accept transfer credits in this way, they can always encourage the receiving institution to call the Education Abroad office at Portland State University to confirm with an administrator at the college that everything is academically sound.

Next Steps:

If you are interested in earning college credit on your gap year, please contact ARCC’s in-office College Credit Liaison, Alex Morton, at [email protected] or at (415) 332-5075 ext. 203. Alex will provide additional information and step-by-step instructions on how to register with Portland State University.