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Tufts Civic Semester

The Tufts Civic Semester program, administered by Tisch College, allows incoming Tufts undergraduates in the School of Arts & Sciences to spend a transformative first term abroad, combining for-credit academic coursework with a part-time internship at a community organization to create a unique experiential learning opportunity and a global kickstart to the Tufts college experience. We currently offer programs in Urubamba, Peru, and Thies, Senegal, and a variety of internship opportunities in areas like education, sustainability, community health, entrepreneurship, and more. All costs are covered by tuition and fees and applicants to the program can utilize their Tufts financial aid package.

Tufts University is carefully monitoring the worldwide COVID-19 health crisis and will make decisions about the viability of international programming with the health and safety of our students, partner agency staff, host families and communities as our first priority. While we have made the difficult decision to cancel Tufts 1+4 for the 2021-2022 academic year, we are exploring opportunities for Civic Semester in fall 2021. Our application for incoming Tufts students will go live in April. Please check back for further announcements and updates.  

Program Overview

The Tufts Civic Semester has been designed to provide an educational experience in which coursework and internship work build on and complement each other. Students are supported every step of the way so that their time before, during, and after their term abroad is meaningful and rewarding. During the Tufts Civic Semester, you will:

  • Prepare - Participants spend the month of August taking two courses taught by Tufts faculty: a Civic Studies course which prepares them for ethical and effective engagement with diverse communities, and a class about the region where they will spend their semester. Additional orientation programming will bond the cohort and further prepare students for their upcoming experience.
  • Serve - A part-time (20 hours a week) placement at a non-profit organization is the foundation of the Tufts Civic Semester experience. Students learn while doing, sharpen their skills, and support important work around an issue they care about.
  • Learn - While abroad, students take an in-country language course and an online class focused on reflections about their internship work. Combined with the pre-departure coursework on campus, participants receive a full semester's worth of credit, keeping them on track to graduate in four years.
  • Immerse - Students live with a host family and truly become a part of their new communities. Alongside family members, colleagues, and supervisors—as well as with the other Tufts Civic Semester participants at their location—they participate in excursions, cultural events, local holidays, and other group activities that make their service location feel like a second home.
  • Reflect - In addition to their internship course, program participants have ample opportunities to reflect on their experiences, both individually and alongside their peers. Reflections are designed to help students grapple with their challenges, celebrate their accomplishments, and foster personal growth.
  • Return - When they return to the Tufts campus for the second semester of their first year, students come together for a short retreat to reconnect with Tufts and with each other before the start of classes. They also enroll in a spring semester advising course focused on academic and co-curricular campus resources, finding community at Tufts, and connecting their overseas experience to their Tufts education. Students will also live together in the same residence hall so they can continue enjoying and strengthening the bonds formed abroad.

Explore Civic Semester Locations

We are excited to offer two vastly different but equally captivating locations for students to spend their Tufts Civic Semester. Urubamba, Peru, located among the mountains in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, offers breathtaking natural scenery and a close connection to indigenous history, arts, and culture. Students can work on sustainability, economic development, support for local artisans, community health for indigenous populations, and more.

Students in bustling Thiès, Senegal will experience life off the tourist trail and learn about Senegalese culture, life in a small African city, and the city's rich connection to politics and the arts. Students can work on community & business development, community health, education, and more.

Learn more about the locations and service opportunities:

  • Urubamba, Peru

    Support local communities and hone your Spanish skills in a place where indigenous food, arts, and culture are still part of daily life.
    Urubamba, Peru
  • Thiès, Senegal

    Experience life in a small but vibrant African city, learn French, and support local community organizations.
    A street in Thies, Senegal

Meet the Civic Semester Fellows

The inaugural group of participants in our Civic Semester program had a transformative experience in fall 2019 in Peru!

Tufts Civic Semester Blog

The best way to learn about the Civic Semester program is to hear from the students themselves! Check out our program blog to read their stories.