Planning a Gap Year

A gap year is a one (or sometimes two) year break between your undergraduate experience and graduate or professional school.

Students might wish to pursue a short-term opportunity as a way to build academic or professional skills required for admission to a graduate program, to test out a particular academic or professional path in more depth, to focus on preparing for standardized tests and applications, to save up some money for graduate school or pay down debt, or to simply take a break from an academic schedule and pursue something personally fulfilling such as volunteer work or travel.

Regardless of your choice, this is a decision that requires planning and advanced thought. If you think this is something that might make sense for you be sure to bring it up with your advisors during your junior year or early in your senior year! If you are a pre-health student or a pre-law student, be sure to check with your advisors in those areas about this option as they may have industry specific recommendations.

Building Experience: Students looking to build experience should follow the same process outlined for a professional job search and keep an eye on CAS360 for post-grad internships and research opportunities  specifically for recent graduates. Students seeking volunteer opportunities related to their field should start here as well since many of the non-profit organizations we work with might also be looking for volunteers (select “nonprofit” as your industry when you search the QUCC directory). Be sure to check the sites for professional organizations in your field who may have opportunities specific to your major, as well as other national databases like,, and, PeaceCorps, Americorps.

Travel: There are many websites out there for students interested in domestic or international travel who are seeking organized experiences. If you’d like to travel and gain experience during a gap year, consider some of these opportunities with QU partners where you can complete an internship abroad and even take a graduate-level course in addition to the internship if one is available for your academic area.

*Please note the pricing on the page linked above for global internships is based on QU undergraduate students spending a semester in a program. If you are interested in one of these opportunities please contact the organization directly and inquire about post-grad opportunities.

Testing and Applications: Some students take a gap year so they can focus on studying for standardized tests and submitting applications when they aren’t worried about the final semesters of their undergraduate work. This is a great strategy for some, especially if you have a packed schedule, capstone project, and internships or other work in your final semesters. If that is your goal, be sure to take a few minutes (ideally in your junior or early senior year) to examine the graduate school process and some of the programs you are interested in and check out their timelines for application, as well as the timelines for any standardized tests you may need to take. You don’t want your gap year to become a gap year-and-a-half because you missed a deadline.