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First-Year Global Programs: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between the Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year and the Tufts Civic Semester?
Both Tufts 1+4 and the Tufts Civic Semester share many common elements: an orientation on the Tufts campus, living with a host family, working with a community organization, learning a foreign language, and participating in excursions to other regions of your host country—all alongside a group of Tufts peers. However, the length of time and the focus on these various components varies greatly between programs.

Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year:

  • Program Length: Tufts 1+4 lasts for a full academic year Fellows begin their bridge year with a weeklong orientation on the Tufts campus from August 19-25 before departing for additional training in the country where they’ll live and serve. The bridge year ends between mid-April and end of May, depending on the program you participate in.
  • Service Experience: The program features a full-time internship. By working at an organization for 30 hours a week over an 8-9 month period, 1+4 Fellows become deeply engaged in the work of their placement organization, and are able to implement projects in conjunction with local staff.
  • Academic Coursework: Tufts 1+4 Fellows are enrolled in an online Tufts course designed to offer reflection and support for their internship experience. Through a local, in-country school, they also take language classes that focus on conversation and daily life rather than more traditional academic learning.
  • Excursions: With an entire year to experience their new home, 1+4 Fellows participate in multiple excursions and trainings each semester as part of the program, but also have the opportunity to explore on their own through independent travel with friends and peers.
  • Additional Information: When a student commits to Tufts 1+4 they defer their admission to Tufts until the following fall. This program is perfect for students who are eager to take a break from traditional academics and are looking for an opportunity to discover themselves and the world through a long-term immersion process.

Tufts Civic Semester:

  • Program Length: The Tufts Civic Semester lasts for the fall semester and is focused on the combination of academic coursework and part-time work experience. Students arrive to campus at the beginning of August, engage in coursework, and attend Tufts’ new student orientation before departing for their service site at the end of the month. The semester ends in early December when students return home for winter break.
  • Service Experience: Program participants intern at a community organization for approximately 20 hours per week throughout the semester.
  • Academic Coursework: Students are enrolled in four Tufts courses over the duration of the program. This schedule ensures that students are taking the same amount of credits as a first-year student who starts on campus, and that they are on pace to graduate in four years. On campus in August, students take Introduction to Civic Studies and an area studies course focused on the region in which they’ll live. From September - December students take a language course on site and an online internship reflection seminar.
  • Excursions: The Tufts Civic Semester includes structured excursions to other areas of the host country so students can learn more about their temporary home.
  • Additional Information: The Tufts Civic Semester counts as your first semester as a Tufts undergraduate student.This program is perfect for students who are eager to dive into rigorous college coursework and are eager to put a global spin on their college education.

Who is eligible to apply to these programs?
All students admitted to Tufts University as first year undergraduates are eligible to apply for the Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year. Due to degree restrictions, only students admitted to the School of Arts & Sciences are eligible to apply to the Tufts Civic Semester. BFA and SMFA combined degree students and BLAST Program participants are also ineligible to apply to the Civic Semester.

What is the application process like?
Students can apply through their Tufts online application status page at any point after applying to Tufts. This can happen the day after a student hits "submit" on their Tufts application, after that student has been admitted to Tufts, or any time in between. Finalists will be invited to participate in a brief online interview. Learn more

Can I apply to both programs?
No. Admitted students can only submit one application to a First-Year Global Program and must choose which program best fits their interests and goals.

If I am accepted to Tufts 1+4 or Tufts Civic Semester, is my acceptance binding?
Neither an application nor acceptance to a First-Year Global Program represents a binding commitment, and we invite all interested students to apply!

How much do the programs cost, and is there financial aid?
Tufts is committed to making both First-Year Global Programs accessible to all students. Need-based financial support is available to any Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year applicant who needs help defraying the costs of the program, including full funding to all students who qualify for Tufts financial aid. The Tufts Civic Semester is a student’s first semester of college, and as such all costs are covered by tuition and fees. Applicants to the program are eligible to utilize their Tufts financial aid package. Learn More

Is there a language requirement to apply?
No! In both programs, participants will take language classes that are tailored to their level of knowledge. Any relevant foreign language skills that you already possess will be very useful as you acclimate to your new surroundings and get to know your host family, internship supervisor, and other members of your community.

What are homestays like?
Most homestays are in modest dwellings in rural, semi-rural, or urban areas. They provide a safe, clean, and supportive living environment while allowing the fellow to have an immersive cultural experience with a host family. Homestay families and locations are carefully selected and vetted by placement organizations, and host families receive training and support throughout the year.

What supports are in place for student health and safety?
The health and safety of our students is our first priority, and every First-Year Global Program opportunity is structured with multiple levels of support for student participants. Tufts University works with a collaborating organization in each location that has 24-hour on-site staff who are available for any and all student emergencies or concerns. As part of orientation, students are given health, safety, and risk management advice and information, and briefed on emergency protocols. On-site staff work closely with students through any health concern, including accompanying students on doctor’s visits and appointment.

Can I travel independently during the program?
Tufts 1+4 fellows are able to participate in independent travel within the country they are living in, subject to program specific independent travel policies and guidelines. Due to the brief program duration of the Tufts Civic Semester, students may not participate in independent travel. Those who are interested in traveling may choose to do so after the conclusion of the program in December.

Can my family visit me during the program?
Families of Tufts 1+4 Fellows are encouraged to visit their students when possible. The best times to visit are when students have time off for local holidays, including over winter break. We encourage families to plan visits between mid-December to mid-March in accordance with program guidelines, and to contact the program before planning any visits to ensure that dates do not overlap with program excursions or trainings. While Tufts Civic Semester students may not have visitors during the semester, families who are interested in visiting are encouraged to do so at the conclusion of the program in December.

Can I study abroad while at Tufts after participating in one of these programs?
Yes! Participating in either the Tufts Civic Semester or the Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year does not impact your ability to study abroad. In fact, many of our alumni are so excited about their international experiences on our programs that they study abroad for a full year, and take advantage of other Tufts summer and short-term opportunities to study, intern and learn in other locations around the globe.

About Tufts Civic Semester

What courses will I take as a part of this program and how will they fit into my Tufts academic requirements?
All Tufts Civic Semester Fellows take four Tufts courses during the program. In August, students are enrolled in Introduction to Civic Studies and an area studies course about the region they will be traveling to. During their time abroad, students take an intensive language course in Spanish or Mandarin and an online reflection seminar focused on their internship experience. These four courses make up a student’s first semester at Tufts and go toward graduation requirements. Upon returning to campus for the spring semester, students will meet with an advisor to help them choose spring classes that build on their experience abroad and continue to meet distribution requirements.

Where will I live when I am on campus over the summer, and when I return in the spring?
Civic Semester Fellows will live together in Tufts on-campus housing for the month of August and when they return to campus for the spring semester.

What will it be like starting on campus in the spring term?
The Civic Semester is designed to support students in building a strong cohort with their fellow program participants, as well as integrating into the broader Tufts community. At the end of August, Fellows students on campus for Tufts New Student Orientation along with their entire incoming class. This essential programming welcomes students to Tufts, provides critical information about the University, and allows students to participate in traditions that mark the beginning of their journey as a Jumbo. In January, Civic Semester Fellows are welcomed back to campus before returning students to participate in programming to facilitate their reintegration to campus life, academics, extracurricular activities, and more. At the same time, program participants will be housed in a dorm together so they can continue to enjoy their bond as a Civic Semester cohort while acclimating to campus life.

About Tufts 1+4

What is the difference between Tufts 1+4 and a traditional gap year?
Traditionally, a gap year is conceived as a “break” between high school and college. Tufts 1+4 is a bridge year, spanning and connecting the high school experience with the academic and career goals of college. It also builds upon the developmental growth in that time frame: supporting personal reflection, exploring potential as an active citizen in society, and building connections between academic learning and real-world impact. While gap years predominantly focus on travel and may also include some volunteer service, the Tufts 1+4 Bridge Year is a full-time service experience, with international placements that will both challenge Fellows and provide them with support that allows for optimal growth and impact. Finally, Tufts 1+4 Fellows have the unique opportunity to spend their bridge-year connected to a group of peers with whom they will also share their undergraduate career.

By completing a bridge year through Tufts, Tufts 1+4 Fellows receive additional layers of support, including dedicated Tufts 1+4 staff at Tisch College. In addition to their site-specific orientation, Fellows also attend an on-campus orientation before departure that will serve as a foundation for best practices while abroad, build a bond among all 1+4 participants, and connect them to the values of Tufts University. During the fall of their first year back on the Tufts campus, fellows participate in a retreat to reconnect in person, share experiences, and discuss ways to build upon their bridge year now that they have matriculated at Tufts. As they progress through their undergraduate careers, there are multiple opportunities for fellows to scaffold their experiences, serve as leaders, and continue involvement with Tisch College.

What’s the impact of deferring traditional academics for a year?
A comprehensive article from the Gap Year Association has collected studies and data on gap year participants from around the world which demonstrate myriad academic and personal benefits. This research has shown that a well-structured gap or bridge year actually increases academic performance in college, as well as a student’s motivation to learn and sense of purpose and direction. Through this program, Tufts 1+4 Fellows can gain maturity, confidence, and problem solving skills as well as experience that will help them succeed in college and beyond including working well with others, foreign language skills, and hands-on community work.

Our own program evaluations, as well as parent and student testimonials, show that the Tufts 1+4 program has had multiple positive impacts on fellows. We encourage you to review the research and literature on gap years to learn more about what these experiences can offer.

Do all Tufts 1+4 programs/service sites follow the same structure?
All of the sites are share features including pre-departure orientation, ongoing support from the Tufts 1+4 staff, enrollment in a Tufts University course, and a post-service retreat. However, each program is unique, reflecting the distinctive character and specific community needs of that location. Please read each site and placement description carefully to understand the structure of each opportunity, including the service calendar which varies between programs.

Can I go home over winter break?
Fellows in Brazil and India do not have the option to return home at any point during the bridge year. We support this policy, and strongly encourage all fellows to continue their immersive experience for the duration of the bridge year. However, fellows in Ecuador and Uruguay may submit a written request to return home over winter break should they have specific circumstances that support this decision.

How does the Tufts 1+4 experience continue after the year of service?
During the fall of their first semester as Tufts students, fellows will participate in a weekend retreat where they will reflect upon their experiences and the transition to college. Regular meetings, workshops, social gatherings and other events will equip participants to build on their service year, become campus leaders and continue their connection to a 1+4 community that includes dozens of program alumni on campus!

Jiyoon Chon, A21

School of Arts and Sciences
Every day, I gain a broader world view and difference in perspective. Undoubtedly, choosing 1+4 has been the best decision of my life! I've never been more appreciative, inspired, and happy."