FAQ: Employment

How can I prepare for my health and well-being on the voyage?

A health team (physician, PA/NP, counselors) are available on the ship. The medical capabilities while at sea are focused on urgent care and temporary stabilization of emergency medical and mental health conditions using basic medical supplies and equipment with a limited formulary. Very limited medications may be available; voyagers are expected to bring a sufficient supply of current medications for the duration of the voyage.

Counseling services typically focus on short-term, solution-oriented intervention to address situational issues. Due to the unique semester schedule (divided between port and sea days), counselors cannot meet with voyagers on a week to week basis or its equivalent. Extended psychological or psychiatric services are not available on the ship and are limited in quantity and quality in different ports.

In some regions there may be no access to emergency evacuation. While in port, local health care system resources are utilized, which can vary widely in capabilities.

Is the MV World Odyssey accessible and what accommodations are available?

On the vessel, elevators may not always be accessible. There are a limited number of wheelchair accessible cabins. Some field programs/classes may not be accessible to those with physical disabilities. Depending on the port facilities, tides affecting the gangway, and weather, those with physical disabilities may not be able to always disembark the ship.

My spouse/partner/friend/family member and I are interested in sailing together. Is this possible?

Yes, faculty/staff members may submit requests to bring an adult companion. A fee applies. The companion can be a friend, family member, spouse, or partner aged 25 and older. The companion must share a cabin with the faculty/staff member. More information about voyage specific policies is provided during the onboarding process.

What are the working conditions on the ship?

Working on the ship is unconventional for most faculty and staff. Shipboard life can be stressful for some participants, particularly those who require a longer period of acclimation to highly stimulating and fast-paced environments. The motion of the ship may cause a loss of balance, seasickness, vertigo, nausea and difficulty concentrating. Additionally, there are narrow doorways and tight, enclosed quarters. There may be odors or noise and the temperature can vary.

Faculty and staff members can expect to be in the company of students, Lifelong Learners, and dependent children when in public areas on the ship and therefore, privacy is limited. Finally, it may not be possible for the ship to accommodate certain dietary restrictions and dining is limited to brief windows of time.

What type of cabin will I have?

Faculty and staff members and any adult companions will be placed in a double occupancy cabin with a window. If traveling solo, the faculty/staff member will not be required to have a roommate. Faculty and staff traveling with dependent children will be placed in cabins based on capacity. Types of assignments vary from voyage to voyage. More information on cabin placements for faculty or staff traveling with children will be provided during the onboarding process.

What costs are associated with the program?

There are costs associated with sailing. These include, but are not limited to, visas, passport renewal fees, optional Semester at Sea in-country programs, souvenirs, personal travel and meals off the ship (the ship provides three meals a day during the voyage).

Are faculty and staff allowed time to travel while in port?

Yes. However, some staff positions require the individual remain within a certain proximity of the ship for a portion of time. This individual shares in a rotating duty schedule and is available to the shipboard community in cases of emergency. Faculty members lead in-country field work for each course taught. When scheduled for such field work, faculty are not able to undertake personal travel. Otherwise, personal travel is permitted.

Are there work opportunities for adult companions of faculty/staff members on the voyage?

On each voyage, a few job opportunities exist for the adult companions of faculty and staff members. These opportunities are not available to external applicants. More information about these opportunities is shared once most faculty and staff have been hired.

Does ISE hire couples for the same voyage?

Yes. ISE has hired qualified couples for the same voyage in their respective areas of expertise. A guarantee that couples will be hired for the same voyage cannot be given. There are many dynamic factors that inform the hiring process for any given voyage.

Can I bring my child on the voyage, and is there a babysitter on board?

Faculty and staff members may submit requests to travel with their dependent children. Fees apply. It is important to note that health and safety protocols, as well as capacity limitations, may prevent ISE from granting requests to bring dependent children. Children must also be at least 24 months old in order to sail due to safety protocol.

There is no shipboard “babysitter.” All dependent children must be accompanied by a designated caregiver. This is typically the non-working companion of the faculty or staff member. A Dependent Child Program is conducted daily for dependent children of faculty and staff. This program offers a study hall in the mornings and enrichment activities in the afternoons. It is operated as a parent co-operative.

Please contact Human Resources for information about specific voyage policies and rates.

For which position should I apply?

ISE staff cannot provide direct advice or coaching in regard to positions for which applicants should apply. This poses a conflict of interest, introduces applicant bias, and otherwise suggests favoritism in some form. If following the review of open positions and knowing your own background and experience relative to the qualifications, you have position-specific questions, we are happy to answer these questions.

What benefits are given to voyage faculty and staff?

Certainly sailing around the world is a unique opportunity. Other benefits include:

Travel stipend to help defray the cost of travel to and from the ship (details to be provided during the onboarding process)
Travel with adult companions and dependent children when capacity and protocols allow
Opportunity for free and reduced pricing on ISE in-country field programs (when serving as a Trip Liaison)
Passage, room, and board on the MV World Odyssey for the faculty/staff member
Medical emergency and evacuation insurance coverage

What are the stipends for faculty and staff positions on the voyage?

Generally, faculty members are paid $12,000 for teaching three courses.

Staff members are paid based on their role, and stipends vary across positions. You may find the stipend for staff positions listed on the job description. Note that these stipends are subject to applicable taxes.

How long is the employment term for faculty and staff positions?

Faculty and staff members are considered temporary employees for the duration of the voyage. For fall voyages, this term is September through December and for spring voyages, this term is January through April.

Candidates are typically not hired for consecutive voyage terms.

Can I apply to more than one position and/or voyage?

Yes. Qualified applicants are welcome to apply for any and all positions in which they are interested and for which they qualify. Note, a new and separate application must be submitted for each position on each voyage.

I am not a U.S. citizen; can I still work for Semester at Sea?

Non-US Passport holders are welcome to apply. However, ISE cannot sponsor work visas for voyage positions nor home office positions.

I am interested in a crew member position aboard the ship. How do I apply?

ISE does not hire crew members. We utilize the services of an international ship management company, CMI and CMI Leisure, to staff our crew. Visit their website for more information and to apply for a crew position.

I am an undergraduate student; can I apply to work for Semester at Sea?

Most voyage positions require a minimum of a Master’s Degree and professional work experience. Applicants should only apply for positions for which they qualify.

I submitted an application, but I forgot to attach a document. How do I update or attach documents once my application is submitted?

Please send your document(s) to Human Resources at and ensure to include your name and the position for which you applied. We will attach them to your application for you.

How can I check my application status?

The hiring timeline can vary by position. The hiring process typically occurs 15-6 months prior to each voyage. Human Resources and/or the hiring manager will reach out to applicants when there is a change in status.