Two semesters, a full year of college credit, and an experience of a lifetime!

Group Semester + Solo Focused Volunteer Placement

“I feel a lot more mature and equipped to handle life's consistent spontaneity (if it is in fact spontaneity) than my fellow students at college now. Having travelled I know the value of education - I feel like I know what matters to me, and that I can go about being a student of the world outside my institution in a sustainable way. I'm able to see through things that aren't as worthwhile. In short - if I can survive the jungle, if only for three months, I'm not afraid of anything. I'm also probably more sensitive to cultural identities than I was before.”-Benjamin Burns, Latitudes Student 2011-2012. Group Semester in India. Focused Volunteer Placement working in Permaculture in the Amazon of Peru.


The Latitudes program offers a unique opportunity to take part in a second semester Focused Volunteer Placement (FVP) following participation in the first group semester. Gain valuable experiences as you volunteer your time and focus on personal goals through immersion at a local NGO, non-profit, or another organization during the second semester. Engage with a local community and acquire practical skills, all while having fun, learning more about yourself, and honing in on what is that you want to do in the future.

Latitudes students will work one-on-one with the Latitudes director to personalize a second semester FVP in a region of the world that interests them and supports what it is they are passionate about. The intention is to provide students with an experience that will benefit their own personal growth as well as the organization that they volunteer with. The FVP typically lasts 3 months, but can be longer depending on the organization and the student’s preferences.

We’ve sent students to 6 out of seven continents! Here are some examples of past Focused Volunteer Placements:

Scuba Diving in Honduras
  • Permaculture and reforestation
  • Teach English
  • Work with kids with mental disabilities
  • Mentor at-risk youth
  • Animal conservation
  • Outdoor Education
  • Support victims of sex-trafficking
  • Work in an HIV clinic

To read firsthand stories from Latitudes students in the field and get a better idea of the different placements available, visit our Latitudes Blog





Before the students depart on their group semester they will all meet in Portland, Oregon for a super fun 2-3 day Latitudes Orientation! Explore the coffee shops, parks, food carts, and public transportation of Portland while also meeting Latitudes alumni, Dancing in Jaipur a professor from PSU, and the many faces at Carpe Diem. Students will form a community with one another, share their intentions for the year, take a basic first aid workshop, and get to know the expectations and requirements of the Latitudes program. Also, at this time students will have one-on-one meetings with the Latitudes director where they will share their goals and interests, and begin to determine the type of volunteer project they are looking to accomplish for their second semester.

Group Semester

The group semesters for Latitudes are done in conjunction with one of our tried and true group programs going to either Central America, South America, India, East Africa, Fiji/Australia/New Zealand, Indigenous Americas, or Southeast Asia. Please click on a link to the individual semester that most appeals to you for further details.

Throughout the group semester the Latitudes director will be plugging away back in Portland finding each student a customized FVP. Students will continue to communicate with the Latitudes director via email and phone calls every 2 weeks to narrow down their FVP options. About 2 months into the group semester the students will have decided upon a final choice for their FVP!

Many students doing a Latitudes year choose a program that provides them with a progression of difficulty such that they start on a group semester they feel comfortable with, and progress to somewhere more personally challenging for their FVP. Other students jump right into the deep end and choose a group semester they know will be exceptionally challenging, to be followed by something way out there such as teaching English on a remote atoll in Micronesia.

Mid-Program Break

Once the group semester is over students can either return home or continue traveling. Students typically use this time to catch their breath, complete their college credit courses, rest, and take time to integrate all of the experiences from their group semester. This is also the time to get needed immunizations, re-pack their bags for the solo FVP, and make any other needed preparations. They will also connect with the Latitudes director to check in and solidify last minute details.

Solo Focused Volunteer Placement (FVP) (Minimum of 12 weeks)

Following the mid-program break, students travel on their own to begin their FVP. This builds on the group semester, and allows students to focus in on a skill or interest they are passionate about, a career goal, and other avenues like language inquisition or personal hobbies. Traveling solo to another country and working in a new situation follows naturally on the heels of the guided group semester. We typically are able to arrange for our students to be met at the airport by an in-country contact, who then gives the student an orientation to their work and living situation.

New Zealand

While on their FVP, Latitudes students stay at homestays, guesthouses, or other situations arranged by the director. They generally live as the locals do or slightly better—typically simple, but not primitive; most of the time we have a bed to sleep in and running water. Food is basic, and the primary challenges are homesickness, culture shock, cold, heat, rain and bugs. Some other things to watch out for while on your FVP are: close bonds within your community, reaching new heights within your self, and feeling a deep sense of purpose and joy.




Each Latitudes student is enrolled in courses through Portland State University, and upon successful completion of the program can earn up to a total of 36 quarter-credits. These are lower-division credits, the equivalent of a semester in a B.A.-level program. PSU is fully accredited by the Northwestern Association of Schools and Colleges (NWASC).

Everything that is studied and learned is directly relevant to the program activities. Daily journal writing is a integral part of the curriculum. Please visit our PSU page for more information on the 25+ course we offer, transferring credits, and our partnership with Portland State University


Portland State University Carpe Diem Gap Year Partnership




Program Dates:

Fall 2014 - Spring 2015:
September 13 – 16, 2014 - Latitudes Orientation in Portland, Oregon
September 17- December 10, 2014 - Group Semester
December 10, 2014- *February 2015 Mid-Semester Break
*February-May 2015 – Focused Volunteer Placement

*Note that the dates for the Mid-Semester Break and FVP are typically around these times, though the final dates are based on the individual student’s preferences as long as they are in accordance with the PSU class schedule.


Ages 17 and Up

University Credit & Federal Financial Aid:

FAFSA & Up to 36 credits available through Portland State University:

Language Requirement:



No deadline - applications accepted on a rolling basis until 2 weeks prior to start date.

Upon acceptance into the program, students will receive a detailed preparation packet and an account login for the Carpe Diem Student webpage. The packet and regularly-updated semester web page covers program details, transportation, packing list, health & immunization info, communication during the program, climate & living conditions, college credit and financial aid, detailed trip itinerary with contact info, required documents & paperwork, financial details & tuition agreement.

Program Fee:

Central America Group Semester & Latitudes- $17,900

Fiji, Australia, New Zealand Group Semester & Latitudes- $18,900

South America Group Semester & Latitudes- $17,900

India Group Semester & Latitudes- $17,900

Southeast Asia Group Semester & Latitudes- $17,900

Africa Group Semester & Latitudes- $17,900

Indigenous Americas Group Semester & Latitudes - $17,900

The cost of the program includes:


• A 2-3 day orientation in Portland, Oregon

• College credit through Portland State University (up to 36 quarter-credits)

• Travel costs from Portland, Oregon to the departure airport for the group semester

• All scheduled program activities

• Room and food during the group semester

• All in-country travel during group semester

• One-on-One guidance and mentorship from the Latitudes Director

• Customized Focused Volunteer Placement (FVP) costs up to $2,500

• International Medical, Medical Evacuation, and Lost/Stolen Item Insurance

The cost of the program does NOT include:

• The cost of any required books

• The cost of one-way transportation to Portland, Oregon for the Latitudes orientation

• The cost of one-way transportation at the completion of your group semester back to your home

• Group Semester International airfare - usually runs between $1000 and $3000, depending on the semester

• Individual FVP airfare - this cost will vary depending on where each FVP is located

• Personal spending money

Each student's family signs a payment agreement that spaces payments out over the first three months of the program. For information on Financial Aid click here.

Health, Safety, and Communication

The safety and well-being of our students is our first priority. We have safely sent over 1000 students all over the world during the past decade. The current world situation raises questions for our students, their families and friends, and it is very important that you feel confident and secure as you embark on a program involving international study and travel. We constantly monitor the world situation through the U.S. State Department, and through a network of individual and organizational contacts in 33 countries that function as our eyes and ears on the ground. We design and modify our group semesters to avoid hot spots, health risks & political trouble, and the Focused Volunteer Placements are arranged with safety as a primary consideration. All of our Overseas Educators and office staff are at a minimum certified in Wilderness First Aid and trained in our own comprehensive emergency response protocol and evacuation procedures. While on their FVP the Latitudes director will continue in communication with the students, parents, and local contacts. The purpose of this is to check in with the mental, emotional, and physical health and safety of our students.

Program Policies:

For a detailed description of our Program Rules and Expectations - The Sacred 6 & FVP Policies - please click this link. The Sacred 6 applies during your Group Semester and the FVP Policies apply during your Focused Volunteer Placement. These are the rules that we expect of all of our students for their overall safety and to provide the best possible program.



The Latitudes program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and into the world at large. We've learned through experience that group travel followed by a solo focused volunteer placement forms a natural progression that leads to the personal development of the individual. Both experiences provide a full palette of physical, mental, social, spiritual, and cultural challenges.

The first group semester creates a cooperative learning environment and teaches students the skills they need to both live as a part of a community and to travel conscientiously and safely.

The second semester FVP inevitably asks students to confront themselves, their own culture, their preconceived perceptions, and finally a new and foreign culture. Independently, the students will use the hard and soft tools they will have acquired in their first group semester to make a positive impact on a community they believe in, and develop a greater sense of their own purpose.



Indian Train