About Our Program

Delaney, on her NOLS trip to the Rockies

Reflecting our overall approach, the Duke Gap Year Program process is simple and flexible.

Students entering Duke as full-time first-year students are eligible to apply for the DGYP. Students participating in a gap year, whether through the DGYP or independently, will have their place in the following year’s class held for them as long as they agree to Duke’s conditions of deferral.

The DGYP is a selective program and we are interested in supporting students who participate in a gap year that encourages personal growth, provides opportunities for meaningful service and civic engagement, and allows for an unusually deep exploration of one or more interests.

Financial Support

Important COVID-19 Update

Due to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we regret the Duke Gap Year Program will not be able to distribute funding awards this fall. If current Duke University restrictions on travel are lifted by January 2021 we hope to be able to provide funding for meaningful Spring and Summer 2021 experiences. We encourage you to consider this as you plan and budget for your gap year.

Duke Gap Year Program applicants may request up to $15,000 in funding. Funding is limited, but we hope to make gap years more accessible to those who, financially, may not have been able to consider this opportunity previously.

An applicant’s plans for their gap year, as well as their overall financial need, will be considered during the selection and funding award process. We want to be as flexible as possible in allowing students to explore their interests in creative and personalized ways, but encourage students to include civic engagement and ethical service as a meaningful component of their gap year plans.

There are also some restrictions on how the funding may be used. While the following may comprise a part of your gap year, funding awarded from Duke may not contribute toward:

  • Mandatory military or religious service
  • Paid work
  • Personal business initiatives or start-ups
  • Medical deferrals

Funding will be distributed directly to the student in two payments, one in July and one in January.* The funding can be applied toward program costs, transportation, housing, equipment, and other expenses directly associated with their gap year program.

*The Duke Gap Year Program (DGYP) is pleased to have matching scholarship agreements with Global Citizen Year and Year On, who provide generous deductions from the costs of their programs for members of the DGYP. In order to maintain these agreements, any students who receive a matching scholarship agree to commit their DGYP award to that provider, making the payment directly after receiving funding from Duke. These students will receive their full award in July.

Some students who do not receive or do not request funding may still be admitted into the cohort and participate in other components of the Duke Gap Year Program, depending on the nature of their proposed gap year activities. Students interested in deferring their enrollment outside of the Duke Gap Year Program, should email undergrad-admissions@duke.edu.

Program Expectations

Members of the Duke Gap Year Program will be expected to maintain regular contact with the Duke University Undergraduate Admissions Office, through monthly blog and social media posts, as well as a mid-year and end of year reflection.

Members of the cohort receiving funding may also be asked to provide receipts from their programs, travel and activities, confirming their expenses.

When the DGYP students arrive on campus for their first year, they will be expected to attend a “re-entry” session during orientation. They will also be expected to service as mentors to future cohorts of gap year students, providing advice, speaking about their gap year experience, and helping at admitted student events.

How To Apply

Admitted students may access the application here.

We do not expect students to have their gap year plans confirmed at the time of application, however we do expect students to not only have a solid idea of what they hope to do, but also a budget outline and well-thought out reason for their gap year.

Your completed application will help us understand how you intend to spend all of your gap year, not just the time during which Duke Gap Year Funds are being utilized. Please be sure to tell us your anticipated plans for the entire year before you arrive at Duke.

Deferring Your Enrollment

Students who are accepted onto the Duke Gap Year Program will be ask to confirm their deferral after receiving the funding award and agree to the terms and conditions.

There are five rather simple conditions we ask of all students deferring their enrollment:

  • You agree not to apply for admission to any other college or university during the remainder of this year or during the coming year.
  • You may not enroll at another college or university during your gap year with the expectation of receiving Duke credit for those courses.
  • If you do take any college courses during your gap year, you cannot retake those courses at Duke.
  • You continue to abide by both the Conditions of Application and the conditions mentioned in the next to last paragraph of your letter of admission.
  • You inform the Duke Gap Year Program immediately of any changes to your Gap Year plans, as we reserve the right to alter or revoke funding.

If you are not accepted or do not apply to the Duke Gap Year Program, but still wish to take a gap year, you may request to do so by emailing undergrad-admissions@duke.edu.


While we do not sponsor or oversee a specific gap year program, some established gap year providers have generously offered to provide further financial assistance to Duke students:

Amigos de las Américas: Accredited by the Gap Year Association, AMIGOS is a nonprofit that provides authentic cultural immersion and leadership experiences. During a Gap Semester or Year, you will live with a host family, complete an internship, implement a sustainable service project, and go on excursions to must-see local spots! Internship themes include Environmental Sustainability & Biodiversity, Graphic Design, Engineering & Technology, Entrepreneurship, and more. For the 2019-2020 academic year, choose between a 4-month semester or 9-month gap year in Cuenca, Ecuador or Montevideo, Uruguay. More details are available on our website. Applicants from Duke will be considered for additional financial assistance.

Global Citizen Year: An 8-month global immersion and leadership development program, Global Citizen Year Fellows live with a host family and apprentice with a community organization – working on health, education, or the environment – in Brazil, Ecuador, India or Senegal.  If you are selected, Global Citizen Year will match the gap year funding awarded by Duke and will consider you for additional financial aid based on demonstrated need. Interested students should apply to Global Citizen Year here by May 15th, and indicate on the application that you have been admitted to Duke University. (Given this deadline, students should consider applying to Global Citizen Year in parallel to applying for the Duke Gap Year Program.)

Thinking Beyond Borders: Are you ready to shape your future and build your global community?  Our 7-month Global gap program empowers students to address critical global issues through deep cultural immersion opportunities which include host family living, language instruction and authentic engagement with members of the community.  Our students partner and learn alongside local school teachers, farmers and public health workers while participating in a group seminar space to process their experiences. The program culminates in Washington DC, visiting with leaders of global movements for change and your political rep on Capitol Hill. If accepted by May 15th, Duke students are eligible to receive a $5,000 discount off of their program tuition for our Global Gap Year program. Interested students should apply here, and indicate on the application that you have been admitted to Duke University.

United Planet: United Planet offers Duke University students scholarships up to $500 for Gap Year programs ranging from 6 months to one year. United Planet’s Gap Year program, celebrating its 70th anniversary, is one of the longest standing gap year programs in the world, established in 1949, and offered in over 30 countries worldwide. United Planet also offers all Duke University students scholarships up to $250 on its Short and Mid-term (1-16 week) programs for students wishing to combine two or more Short or Mid-term programs into a longer term gap year experience.

Where There Be Dragons: Dragons offers educational travel programs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Our students develop an understanding of critical global issues through immersive travel, meaningful engagement, and empowered student leadership. Each program is custom-crafted with a dynamic itinerary and a 4:1 student-to-instructor ratio. We believe that future leaders will be required to think beyond borders in order to cultivate a more inclusive, collaborative, and just future. We strive to help students develop the self-awareness and cross-cultural competencies to be more active participants in the world. For Duke Gap Year students, Dragons will provide a tuition reduction of $2000 for students receiving a Duke Gap Year stipend. Duke Gap Year students are also eligible to apply for additional financial aid. For more on How We Travel or program information, please visit our websitedigital catalog. or contact our Admissions Director, Eva Vanek: eva@wheretherebedragons.com.

Year OnDo you want to learn more about yourself and what you want to do in college? With both a semester and an 8 month program, Year On fellows work with a coach while they volunteer abroad in Tanzania, Mexico, India, Indonesia, or Peru and build their portfolio in San Francisco. A stepping stone to college, Year On fellows live in a student dormitory and take experiential workshops as they work with their coach to prepare for life in college. We’re looking for students who want to invest in themselves. Interested students should apply here by May 5th, and indicate on the application that you have been admitted to Duke University. (Given the deadline, students should consider applying to Year On in parallel to applying to the Duke Gap Year Program.)  Year On will match gap year funding awarded by Duke, not to exceed the cost of the program.

Students should also explore the Gap Year Association website for further resources on planning their gap year.