Building Robust & Inclusive Democracy

Tufts Civic Semester FAQ

Thanks for your interest in Civic Semester. Below we've compiled answers to some of our most frequently asked questions, which we hope will help you as you consider our program. Have additional questions that you don't see here? Please reach out to us.

  • Why should I consider applying to Civic Semester?

    Civic Semester is an incredibly unique opportunity to bridge experiential learning with academics, and to have an entirely different experience at the start of your Tufts education. Students in the program get to learn from passionate leaders making a difference in their communities; expand their perspectives, explore and reflect in a beautiful and new part of the world; connect with a small cohort of other incoming students who are also passionate about community engagement; and experience hands-on education. We know that this type of immersive, transformational experience can have a profound impact on students' time at Tufts and beyond.

    How do I apply for Civic Semester?

    Interested students can apply to Civic Semester by checking the box on their Tufts application, after which they will be asked to select their location preferences and complete a brief short-answer question about their interest in the program. If admitted, their admission to Tufts University is contingent upon their full participation in the Civic Semester program.

    Who can apply?

    Students who have been admitted to Tufts' School of Arts & Sciences are eligible to apply for the program, with the exception of BFA, SMFA and NEC combined degree students and those selected for BLAST due to overlapping summer requirements. We welcome and are proud to have international students in our cohorts each year!

    When should I apply?

    Apply to the program as part of your Tufts Application.

    Who is accepted?

    When evaluating applications, we seek students who are a strong fit for the program and cohort dynamic and who bring openness to new experiences, commitment to civic engagement and social justice, a range of backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives and a desire to step out of their comfort zones and embrace curiosity and humility, among other qualities.

    Do I need to speak Spanish to apply to go to Peru?

    No previous Spanish is required to apply to our Peru program. As part of the program requirements students will take a Tufts Spanish course over the summer, as well as in-person language instruction while in Peru. Those with or without previous Spanish experience are sure to improve!

    Is my admission to the program binding?

    If admitted, your admission to Tufts University is contingent upon your full participation in the Civic Semester program.

  • Does Civic Semester cost more than a semester on campus?

    The cost to participate in the Tufts Civic Semester is equal to the cost of tuition and fees for a student who is spending the semester on campus, and applicants can utilize their Tufts financial aid package.

    What is included in the program?

    Your tuition and fees cover enrollment in five Tufts University courses; on-campus programming; pre-orientation and orientation in August; round trip flight from Boston to Civic Semester location; accommodations and three meals a day for program duration; international health insurance and all program related activities and travel.

  • Will I be behind academically if I participate in the program?

    Students in Civic Semester take a full course load, so they are are on track to graduate in four years along with the rest of their class. Many of the program courses fulfill foundation and distribution areas towards your Tufts degree requirements as well.

    Can I choose what courses I will take?

    Each Civic Semester program has set academic courses that all participants take. Courses have been selected to align with the program themes and to enable students to bridge academic theory with experiential learning. To learn more about the courses students take in each program, visit the page for the program you are interested in.

    How do courses work?

    Civic Semester courses are a mixture of virtual, hybrid and in-person. Students begin two courses in mid-July in a virtual format before coming to campus in August to complete courses in person. Over the traditional fall semester students are enrolled in three classes which are taught through a mixture of virtual, hybrid and in-person modalities. Courses connect students with Tufts faculty and offer unique opportunities to bridge academics with hands-on and experiential learning.

  • When does the program start?

    Civic Semester students begin remote classes from home in mid-July. They come to campus in late August to participate in in-person class sessions and Civic Semester Orientation as well as Pre-Orientation and New Student Orientation programming before departing for their Civic Semester site. Students can apply to participate in any of Tufts' Pre-Orientation programs. For more information, visit the Undergraduate Orientation website.

    When does the program end?

    The program ends at the beginning of December, at which point Civic Semester students travel home to complete any remaining coursework and enjoy an extended winter break. They do not return to the Tufts campus until spring semester move in.

    Where can I go?

    For fall 2024, we are offering Civic Semester programs in two exciting locations: Urubamba, Peru and Chiang Mai, Thailand.

    Where will I live?

    Civic Semester students live in rental homes that can accommodate the full group as well as their 2 instructors. Homes are selected to be comfortable and offer ample outdoor and indoor spaces for class sessions and program activities. Students also spend 4 weeks in homestays to further their cultural immersion.

    What if I have dietary restrictions or preferences?

    We work with students to accommodate their needs on program, including dietary. We've had many students participate in our programs who have a host of dietary preferences and needs.

    Do I need a travel visa?

    U.S. passport holders do not need a visa to participate in our Peru program, however many students traveling on other passports do. For Thailand, U.S. passport holders can obtain a visa through an online process, though the process may vary for other passport holders. In the case that you do need a visa, our colleagues at Where There be Dragons will support you by providing guidelines and instructions on how to obtain your visa.

  • Is it safe?

    The safety of our students and programs is our first priority. We work with Where There be Dragons, a leader in the field of experiential international education, to create programs that emphasize risk management and safety practices, and we aim to empower students with the tools and knowledge to make safe and responsible choices. Program sites are selected carefully with student safety at the forefront. Students live in secure homes with program staff and in vetted homestays, and all students are required to carry local cell phones on them at all times so they can always reach staff in any circumstance.

    In addition, On Call International provides Tufts University travelers with quality health care and medical and security assistance services worldwide 24 hours a day. To learn more please visit Tufts' International Health and Safety website and Where There Be Dragons' information on safety and heath.

  • What is it like coming back to campus for the spring semester?

    Civic Semester students return to campus for spring semester with a closeknit group of peers, new insights and perspectives about the world and their place in it, and energy and enthusiasm to get engaged with social change work on campus and in the Medford Somerville area. We support the transition back to campus through a weekend retreat and ongoing programming centered on student opportunities, connecting with program alumni, and making campus your home.

    What do Civic Semester students major in?

    Our alumni have majored in a broad range of subjects across the School of Arts & Sciences - from anthropology to environmental studies, biology, international relations and more. We believe that Civic Semester is a fantastic foundation for any of Tufts' liberal arts majors. For more information and photos of our alumni, please visit our Alumni page on our website.