Program Spotlight: Leap Semester

Published on Oct 18, 2016

Over the past year, we’ve heard from you that there’s a need to gain more real-world experience alongside your classroom learning. All throughout Higher Education, there’s a growing discussion about “Gap Years” or “Gap Semesters,” but students are unsure when or how to structure those off-campus times and they don’t want to lose pace. So we’ve looked at opportunities for your college experience to include time working in industries around the world.

After a few months of discussion, we’ve co-created a new semester-long program called Leap Semester, and we’d like to invite you to be part of the Founding Class at Columbia. Here are the details:

What is Leap Semester?
Leap Semester is a chance for students of all majors to Leap away from campus with the support of Columbia College Chicago. The program is a full semester, fully accredited program focused on travel and work experiences around the globe. You’ll meet in Chicago for a week-long series of classes & workshops. Then you’ll be placed in a startup in Chicago or in one of select cities around the world. You’ll work full time while taking an online course in focused on how businesses are launched and operated – making you better prepared for the marketplace after college.

In addition to your internship experience and course, you will attend tech conferences, networking events, investor pitches, and a speaker series held at larger companies. Best of all, you can receive 15 college credits and financial aid applies for all qualified students.

Think of this as the best components of internships & study abroad merged into one, awesome semester.

When does it start?
You’ll participate in Leap Semester during your entire Fall Semester and the dates align with Columbia’s Calendar.

Who is it for?
Sophomores - Seniors at Columbia. This is open to any department.

What kind of work experiences will I have?
Companies will invite you into projects focused on Writing, Marketing, Data Science/Analytics, Product Design & Development, Sales, Design, & Software Development. If you’re unsure of where you best fit, we’ll help you define your potential role at a company.

What kinds of work have students done in the past?
Marketing: Social Media Strategy/content development, Blogging, Advertising
Data Analytics: Data science, Market research, Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Product Development: Software design and development, Web/mobile design and development, various computer programming functions, Hardware Product design, development and prototyping

Sales/Business Development: Spark strategic partnerships, Use of customer relationship management (CRM) tools to track/analyze sales leads, Market research, Customer outreach.

Where can I go?
Locations you can go include: Amsterdam, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Hong Kong, New York, Paris, Santiago, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney/Melbourne. We also have a wide network of companies right here in Chicago, in case you don’t want to travel.

What will I gain?
You’ll earn a full semester of credit, you’re eligible to be paid a stipend for your work, and you’ll gain a better understanding of yourself and how you should spend the rest of your time at Columbia (and beyond).

How much will it cost?
The program tuition is included in your Columbia Tuition. However, you’ll need to cover extra expenses for travel and housing, which will vary depending on which city you hope to work. The average for travel is $1,000 & the average for housing is $3,500 for the duration of the program.

When & How do I apply for the Founding Class?

  1. Go ahead and register for any fall classes you'd like to take.
  2. Then, submit your application to Leap Semester at: before April 28th
  3. Interview with our Leap Semester Team.
  4. Then, you'll interview with 1-3 companies.
  5. You'll be matched with a company!
  6. Academic Advisors will help you move your classes to future semesters.