What is a gap year?

Whether you are not quite ready to commit to your career or graduate school, or simply seek to try something new and gain new skills, there are a variety of short-term options, “gap years” available for you to consider.  A gap year is typically a short-term job, internship, volunteer or other learning opportunity. It could be in another country or in the United States and it could be paid, offer a stipend or require you to pay an application fee. Despite the name, gap years can be shorter or longer than a year in duration. Many Terps explore gap year opportunities after graduation.

Why would someone decide to choose a gap year?

Graduating Terps choose gap years for a variety of reasons. Some are still not quite sure what they want to do and use the gap year to test out a new opportunity. Others use the experience to build their resumes in preparation for graduate school or a full-time, permanent job. Finally, others see a gap year as a chance to give back and support a community- either local or international- through service.

What are some options?

Some popular examples of gap years include: Peace Corps, Teach for America, Americorps and prestigious fellowships such as the Fulbright Program, among many others. The links to some popular gap year options are below:

What about the Peace Corps?

The Peace Corps is an opportunity for American citizens to serve overseas in a community in need for a 27 month commitment. The University of Maryland has an on-campus Peace Corps Recruiter that can provide information to you about this opportunity and work with you to make it through the competitive application process. Information at go.umd.edu/peacecorps

Tips on Selecting and Applying for Gap Years

  • Often, these opportunities have deadlines early in the fall semester of your senior year. Be sure to research programs ahead of time

  • Look for opportunities to connect with visiting recruiters.

  • The National Scholarships Office is another great resource, particularly for help with applications for competitive fellowship programs.

  • Not sure where to start? Set up an appointment with a career advisor to discuss which gap year programs might interest you.


The total number of UMD alumni to serve as volunteers

President Obama Encourages Americans to Serve as Peace Corps Volunteers