Two students binding bails of hay.

LeapYear Gap Year Experience

Freshman & Sophomore Year Study Abroad Alternative

Bringing together international experiential learning with a program of self-inquiry, LeapYear creates a "bridge year" to support students’ conscious transition from high school to college and development from adolescence into adulthood.

LeapYear Gap Year Experience 

The most unique year of college on the planet  

LeapYear combines international travel, experiential learning, and rigorous self-inquiry in a “bridge year” to university readiness and adulthood. Students participate in LeapYear as an alternative university first, second, and/or gap year study abroad experience. 

LeapYear brings together the best of international experiential learning with a contemplative education framework to prepare students for their future college careers.  

leapyear student

Student Highlight

"From LeapYear I have gained a powerful foundation for a life of growth, meaning, clarity, and integrity. With the tools LeapYear has given me, I discover more each day what it means to live a life of learning, loving and ever-returning to myself and my path."

— Kristen
LeapYear Participant

the LEAPYEAR program

Two semesters (Fall-Spring or Spring-Summer) of transformative learning experiences including:

  • 10-12 weeks of group travel in South Asia or Latin America
  • 10-11 weeks of service-learning project in your area of interest- selected through a supportive process
  • 2 (for spring entrants)-3 (for fall entrants) immersive learning intensive retreats, book-ending travel to integrate, reflect and carry forward the learning experiences
  • 21 or 30 college credits towards a bachelor's degree at Naropa University or transferred to your university of choice
  • Full-time enrollment at Naropa University, with full access to federal financial aid (FAFSA) & generous additional scholarships
Group TRAVEL Abroad

During the first semester of a LeapYear, students travel in groups of 8–10 with two experienced  leaders. Students have a choice of traveling to South Asia or Latin America.

The emphasis is on breadth of experience—immersion in the language, sampling of diverse service-learning projects, volunteer work, trekking, work on behalf of the environment, and completion of  short-term yoga or meditation retreats. During these group travel months, students learn the skills they will need to live, travel and work independently.

Learning Intensive Retreats
The learning intensive retreats are held at local retreat centers in Colorado.  These retreats, each approximately 7-8 days, form the backbone of the LeapYear program. Students put aside their phones, iPods, texting and Internet to minimize distraction and virtual engagement, and focus on hearing their unique and guiding inner voice. During this time, students are introduced to the faculty and the  curriculum, Naropa courses designed specifically for LeapYear to develop the whole human being. The daily schedule for each retreat includes five to seven hours of participatory and embodied classes, including one hour of a physical discipline (yoga, t'ai chi, dance), and some free time.
course requirements

LeapYear is a 30-credit program consisting of two 15-credit semesters.

First Semester (15 credits)

LCOR110 Practice & Community (3 credits)

South Asia Group Travel
LCOR120 Cultural Immersion (6 credits)
LCOR125 Wisdom Traditions (6 credits)


Latin America Group Travel
LCOR121 Spanish Language Immersion (6 credits)
LCOR126 Cultural Immersion: Latin America (6 credits)

Second Semester (15 credits)

COR150 Diversity Seminar (3 credits)
LCOR140 The Whole Human Being (6 credits)
LCOR155 The World as Classroom (4 credits)
LCOR160 Being the Change (2 credits)

Total: 30 Credits

Age eligibility
Minimum age is 17 by the start of the program (not negotiable). Maximum age is 24.
  • No previous language proficiency is required.
  • Participants must have completed high school in order to enroll for college credit and financial aid.  Previous college experience, whether from Naropa University or elsewhere, is fine. The program may also be attended for high school completion.
  • You must be able to attend the full program - September to May, or February to August.
  • We don't accept tobacco users, or anyone in the active grip of any other addiction.
  • Anyone in reasonable physical condition should be able to complete the program successfully. 
  • A vegetarian diet can be sustained throughout the program.
Program Dates 

LeapYear Fall 2019: Semester 1

September 20-28: First retreat @ YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park CO
September 28 - December 13: Group travel (South Asia or Latin America)
December 14-21: Second retreat @ Peaceful Meadow, Boulder CO
December 21, 2019 - January 22, 2020: Return home; curriculum continues

LeapYear Spring 2020: Semester 2

January 23 - April 12: Individual service-learning project
April 13-20: Third retreat @ Peaceful Meadow, Boulder CO
April 19-20: Rite of passage with family


how to apply 

  1. Complete our online application. Applications are submitted through Naropa University and are accepted on a rolling basis. 
  2. Once your application is received, we will contact you to arrange an interview.  
  3. Applicants are notified of acceptance shortly after interviewing. 
  4. Work with Naropa University’s admissions counselors and LeapYear staff to get prepared for the most unique year of your life!