Course Offerings

Earn college-credit on your gap semester

Current College Credit Offerings as of December 2021

The following academic courses are offered on our Gap Semesters, Independent Spring Experience (ISE) programs, and select summer programs. The optional college credits earned through Portland State University (PSU) are available to students on any Gap Semester or ISE. We also offer academic credit for Mandarin, Nepali, and Spanish language courses through Naropa University on select Gap Semesters and select summer programs.


ASIA/GLOS 330: Regional Seminar; Diversity in the Himalayas (Naropa – Select Summer Only)

This course explores the myriad communities of people and religious traditions that constitute Nepal and the surrounding Tibeto-Himalayan region, one of the most ethnically diverse of the world. Students begin their study in this course through an overview of the country’s geographic, historical, cultural, social, and political background. Using lectures, readings, and discussion, this course surveys social issues and vulnerable populations in Nepal related to development, environment, agriculture, public health, education, disaster recovery, human rights, religion, caste, ethnicity, gender, and others. Students also receive an extensive introduction to Hinduism and to Mahayana Buddhism, in particular to the Tibeto-Himalayan tradition. Opportunities are provided for students to engage local experts in discussion through guest lecturers and field trips. In addition, program travels in Nepal take students to communities which are engaged in addressing these issues, providing experiential learning opportunities. 

ANTH 103: Introduction to Anthropology; How Location Affects Culture (PSU – All Semesters & ISE)

In this course, students will better understand the ways populations are impacted by their location – environmentally, historically, culturally, and economically. Students will explore how social divisions occur as well as how divisions can be positively addressed. Students will learn about how the local culture has evolved to its present state, and strive to understand what influences environmentally, historically, culturally, and/or economically have influenced it. Supplemental assignments offer opportunities for research and reflection of experiences.

COMM 215: Introduction to Intercultural Communication; Building Effective Cross-Cultural Communication Skills (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course will provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who participate in study away experiences. It offers students the chance to learn outside of the classroom while building intercultural competencies through global learning and community-based participation. Through immersive experiences and service learning engagements, the course will help students develop stronger communication skills with individuals from a variety different backgrounds including (but not limited to): socio-economic, racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious lived experiences.

CHIN 150: Mandarin I (Naropa – China Gap Semester or Select Summer Only)

This course introduces students to standard Mandarin Chinese language and is designed for students with no or minimal previous background in spoken or written Mandarin. Students in this course focus on learning essential vocabulary, practicing pronunciation, and understanding simple grammatical structures. This knowledge prepares students to effectively communicate in Mandarin on a limited range of topics related to everyday situations. Students practice listening and speaking in real-life situations, learn to read and write Chinese characters, and examine how culture and language interact in China. In-class activities and course assignments aim to assist students as they develop the oral proficiency and confidence necessary to initiate simple conversations. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.

CHIN 250: Mandarin II (Naropa – China Gap Semester or Select Summer Only)

This course introduces students to more challenging standard Mandarin Chinese language material in order to establish a solid foundation for the use of the language. Students in this course focus on building on past language exposure to improve speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Students expand their oral expression abilities by increasing vocabulary, improving understanding of grammar concepts, strengthening pronunciation abilities, focusing on listening comprehension, and building on previously studied Chinese characters. This course introduces new language concepts to allow students to speak about topics pertaining to their daily lives and also focuses on deepening knowledge of Chinese culture and customs. By the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to engage in basic daily conversations, read simple texts, and write for daily needs. In-class activities and course assignments aim to assist students as they develop the ability to appropriately use language and improve proficiency. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.

CHIN 350: Mandarin III (Naropa – China Gap Semester or Select Summer Only)

This course is designed to develop advanced skills in standard Mandarin Chinese language and is intended for students with extensive prior exposure to the language. This course focuses on consolidating linguistic knowledge and development of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Students in this course will develop advanced comprehension of and competence in using spoken Mandarin in a wide-variety of experiences. Grammatical functions will be reviewed and incorporated as they relate to particular communication needs. A mix of communicative and interactive methods are used to develop advanced proficiency and materials are drawn from a variety of media sources and texts. In addition, students develop their understanding of the relationship between the Chinese language and culture. By the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to express sophisticated and nuanced ideas both orally and in writing. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.

ESM 101: Environmental Sustainability (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who participate in study away opportunities. It offers the student a chance to learn outside of the classroom focusing on sustainability and technological issues impacting communities locally, regionally and/or globally. Students will engage with issues of environmental sustainability observed through travel and service learning.

ESM 102: Global Perspectives (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who undertake study away opportunities. It offers the student an opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and to learn first-hand about local issues of global citizenship observed through travel. It will provide an introduction to the richness of cultures in the world, drawing on perspectives from the locals themselves, and rooted in the humanities and social sciences. Students will explore the balance between political, economic, environmental, and cultural systems, to cultivate skills and attitudes in support of global citizenship.

ESM 199: Climate Change and Its Impacts (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course will provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who undertake study away opportunities. It offers the student an opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and affords an opportunity to learn first-hand about how climate change affects local ecosystems and the people that depend on them. Through travel and service-learning, the course will equip students with an awareness about global impacts of climate change; students will be able to identify specific impacts local to their travels that result from rising CO2 emissions; and students will research how multiple issues of climate change can compound for great effect.

GEOG 230: Environment and Society; Geography of Global Issues (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who undertake study away opportunities. This course introduces global perspectives, basic concepts and fundamental questions of geography. It focuses on how all locations on Earth are interconnected. It explores how humans use, adapt, and impact their environment through a variety of social constraints. Students will work to understand the growth and distribution of human populations, the complexities and varying systems of land use, geopolitics and colonialism, as well as the geographic impact of selected issues such as land use and urban development.

HIST 199: Colonialization and Western Influences (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who undertake study away opportunities. In this study of colonialism and the history of Western influences, students will strive to understand the influences that colonialism has had on the host-country. Students will explore the ways local cultures have been impacted by the influences of “westernized countries” that might include infrastructure (roads, trains, and transportation), language, gender roles, world-view, social justice issues, sanitation, food, politics, political influences, natural resource management, etc.

INTL 199: Globalization Awareness and Community Development (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course provides students with an opportunity to learn through work experience and volunteer service concurrent with assignments while on their academic study away program. It engages students in meaningful work/volunteer experiences while helping them gain an understanding of a particular issue of their choosing relevant to globalization and its impacts on local populations including international development initiatives.

INTL 299: Leadership Across Borders (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who undertake study away opportunities. This course creates a chance for students to assess and understand differing models of leadership in modern societies. Students will explore varying models of leadership from a host culture perspective, compare them to the student’s home culture, and assess personal leadership strengths. Students will be expected to integrate information from participant observation, research, readings and interviews to inform conclusions.

MGMT 199: Social Entrepreneurship – Creating Impact Through Innovative Action (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course will provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who participate in study away opportunities. It will introduce students to examples of social entrepreneurship and ask them to reflect and analyze an organization’s ability to drive enduring change. Students will understand a problematic issue in depth and analyze ways social entrepreneurs have attempted to address this issue.

MGMT 199: Sustainable Hospitality and Tourism in Practice (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course will provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who participate in study away opportunities. Students will examine issues associated with sustainability in the hospitality and tourism industry. This course will introduce students to the idea of the triple bottom line (economic, social, and environmental) and ask them to analyze sustainability programs in practice with a critical eye toward evaluating their effectiveness.

MGMT 299: Principles of Economics; International Economics (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

Students will enhance their understanding of global economics and gain a first-hand experience of the ways that international policy impacts local populations and seek an understanding for how the global supply chain works. Students will be asked to trace a particular commodity from production to purchase, with each step along the way understanding where the dollars have passed and what the impacts are from each step.

NPL: 150 Nepali I (Naropa – Nepal and India Gap Semesters Only)

This course introduces students to the Nepali language and is designed for students with no or minimal previous background in spoken or written Nepali. Students in this course focus on learning essential vocabulary, practicing pronunciation, and understanding simple grammatical structures. This knowledge prepares students to effectively communicate in Nepali on a limited range of topics related to everyday situations. Students practice listening and speaking in real-life situations, learn to read and write Nepali script (Devanagari script), and examine how culture and language interact in Nepal. In-class activities and course assignments aim to assist students as they develop the oral proficiency and confidence necessary to initiate simple conversations. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.

NPL: 250 Nepali II (Naropa – Nepal and India Gap Semesters Only)

This course introduces students to more challenging linguistic Nepali language material in order to establish a solid foundation for the use of the language. Students in this course focus on building on past language exposure to improve speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Students expand their oral expression abilities by increasing vocabulary, improving understanding of grammar concepts, strengthening pronunciation abilities, focusing on listening comprehension, and building on previously studied Nepali script (Devanagari script). This course introduces new language concepts to allow students to speak about topics pertaining to their daily lives and also focuses on deepening knowledge of Nepali culture and customs. By the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to engage in basic daily conversations, read simple texts, and write for daily needs. In-class activities and course assignments aim to assist students as they develop the ability to appropriately use language and improve proficiency. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.

NPL: 350 Nepali III (Naropa – Nepal and India Gap Semesters Only)

This course is designed to develop advanced skills in the Nepali language and is intended for students with extensive prior exposure to the language. This course focuses on consolidating linguistic knowledge and development of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Students in this course will develop advanced comprehension of and competence in using spoken Nepali in a wide-variety of experiences. Grammatical functions will be reviewed and incorporated as they relate to particular communication needs. A mix of communicative and interactive methods are used to develop advanced proficiency and materials are drawn from a variety of media sources and texts. In addition, students develop their understanding of the relationship between the Nepali language and culture. By the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to express sophisticated and nuanced ideas both orally and in writing. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.

PHE 299: Healthcare Systems and the Affected (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who undertake study away opportunities. Students will be exposed to alternative healthcare systems and alternative healthcare practices. They will learn about the pros and cons of the location’s health and healthcare, and chart progressive ways to improve. Possible areas of focus might include: obesity, infant-mortality, domestic-violence, addiction issues, HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention, nutrition, water sanitation, etc.

PHL 299: Introduction to Spiritual / Religious Studies & Their Roles in Culture (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course engages students in meaningful work/volunteer experiences while helping them gain understanding, acquire knowledge, and develop the necessary skills for living in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world. Students will study the spirituality and religious practices in their region to understand a sense of local spiritual traditions and provide a level of insight into personal belief structures and how they structure daily life during their academic study away.

PSY 204: Psychology as Social Science (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who undertake study away opportunities. Students will explore the ways in which human individuality is defined by social contexts, leveraging topics such as identity, intelligence, motivation, coping skills, psychological disorders, and cultural context. By comparing their own experiences, students will learn about the theories, methodologies and research that help frame how humans interact with one another, and thus better contextualize their own cultural norms and biases.

SOC 199: Self and Community – Culture, Cohort, and Self (PSU – All Gap Semesters & ISE)

This course is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who undertake study away opportunities. It offers the student an opportunity to reflect on the complex relationships within the host culture surrounding a particular event, the cohort of peer-students in which students form a relevant identity, and their own history. Students will have an option to write an ethnology based on living within an unfamiliar culture for a few months and use their cohort experience for a detailed study of social systems and self-growth.

SPAN 150: Spanish I (Naropa – Guatemala and South America Gap Semesters or Select Summer Only)

This course introduces students to the Spanish language and is designed for students with no or minimal previous background in spoken or written Spanish. Students in this course focus on learning essential vocabulary, practicing pronunciation, and understanding simple grammatical structures. This knowledge prepares students to effectively communicate in Spanish on a limited range of topics related to everyday situations. Students practice listening and speaking in real-life situations and examine how culture and language interact in South America. In-class activities and course assignments aim to assist students as they develop the oral proficiency and confidence necessary to initiate simple conversations. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.

SPAN 250: Spanish II (Naropa – Guatemala and South America Gap Semesters or Select Summer Only)

This course introduces students to more challenging linguistic Spanish language material in order to establish a solid foundation for the use of the language. Students in this course focus on building on past language exposure to improve speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Students expand their oral expression abilities by increasing vocabulary, improving understanding of grammar concepts, strengthening pronunciation abilities, and focusing on listening comprehension. This course introduces new language concepts to allow students to speak about topics pertaining to their daily lives and also focuses on deepening knowledge of South American culture and customs. By the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to engage in basic daily conversations, read simple texts, and write for daily needs. In-class activities and course assignments aim to assist students as they develop the ability to appropriately use language and improve proficiency. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.

SPAN 350: Spanish III (Naropa – Guatemala and South America Gap Semesters or Select Summer Only)

This course is designed to develop advanced skills in the Spanish language and is intended for students with extensive prior exposure to the language. This course focuses on consolidating linguistic knowledge and development of speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. Students in this course will develop advanced comprehension of and competence in using spoken Spanish in a wide-variety of experiences. Grammatical functions will be reviewed and incorporated as they relate to particular communication needs. A mix of communicative and interactive methods are used to develop advanced proficiency and materials are drawn from a variety of media sources and texts. In addition, students develop their understanding of the relationship between the Spanish language and culture. By the end of the semester, students are expected to be able to express sophisticated and nuanced ideas both orally and in writing. Out-of-classroom experiences such a field trips and guided interactions with native speakers supplement formal classroom instruction and provide ample opportunities for practical engagement. In addition, language skills gained in this course support students to deepen participation in other program and academic activities such as homestays and the Independent Study Project.

Credit Hours: All PSU courses are 4 quarter-credits and all Naropa courses are 4 semester-credits. 

Syllabi: Please contact us if you are interested in seeing a sample syllabus for any of the courses listed above.


Optional College Credit