Gap Year Expeditions

Credit: Cass Coleman

Take Time for Your Future

You’re ready to take the lead and take time for your future. To connect to the outdoors and yourself. To stand out from your peers and make the most of your gap year. The extended and immersive lessons of a NOLS gap year are life-changing. Wherever in the world you travel with NOLS, you will emerge with confidence, competence, direction, courage, and perspective.


Learn From the Best

NOLS sets the standard for instructor excellence. Our instructors are wilderness experts and compassionate mentors committed to student well-being and success. This vibrant group of field-based educators brings passion for the outdoors and specific training in leadership, risk management, and cultural competence to every course.

Academic Credit

More than 400 colleges and universities nationwide accept college and high school credit earned on a NOLS course—up to 27 hours for an academic year. Qualifying subject areas include: cultural studies, first aid, risk management, leadership techniques, and environmental studies.

Learn More about Earning Academic Credit

Financial Aid

NOLS welcomes all students and supports dreams by providing more financial aid than any organization in the industry—we award nearly $1.9 million in need-based scholarships each year. Additional financial aid opportunities include veterans benefits, 529 savings plans, and AmeriCorps education awards.

See all Financial Aid Options

Global Perspective

Head into the most thrilling and immersive classroom you’ve ever known. A NOLS gap year can take you from the Himalaya to Kilimanjaro, from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the waterways of the Adirondacks. Many locations include options for homestays, cultural engagement, and service learning that will broaden and deepen your perspective.

Gain Global Perspective

NOLS Diploma: A Recognized Credential

A NOLS diploma represents your cumulative course accomplishments to universities, employers, and others. Some expeditions offer additional industry-recognized certifications and certificates of completion:

Diploma_Eryn_Pierce (1 of 1)


  • Wilderness First Aid
  • Wilderness First Responder
  • Wilderness EMT

NOLS Certificates of Completion

  • Leave No Trace Trainer
  • Leave No Trace Master Educator
  • Level 1 Avalanche Training
  • Avalanche Awareness
  • Rock Climbing Training
  • Rock Rescue Training
  • Swiftwater Rescue Training

Send More Gap Year Information

Develop Enduring Skills

Leadership is central to a NOLS gap year. Practice skills like decision-making and communication in a multitude of real-life settings and roles. Through your course’s leadership progression, learn to act with confidence and competence, understand strengths and areas for growth, support your group, and graduate with leadership skills valuable for college, careers, and beyond.

Explore Gap Year Skills

Take time for your future


Gap Year: An Incredible Opportunity

"While taking a gap year is not a normal thing to do in the U.S. after graduating from high school, it was hands down the best experience that I could have had before entering college..."... Read More


A Second Family: My Home Stay in Patagonia

"My group-mates and I had been together since October; the ten of us had crossed icy rivers and hunkered through snowstorms, tackled windy peaks and windier glaciers..."... Read More


Pursuing A Passion: Choosing An Outdoor Gap Year

Gap year parent Eugene Buchanan writes about his daughter's surprising decision to take a gap year... Read More