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Experiential Learning

students in waders collect creek samples

Through experiential learning, College of Arts and Science students extend the exploration and discovery of the classroom into other areas of campus, the larger Nashville community, and beyond. These diverse experiences don’t just expand our students’ education—they build better citizens; foster independence, empathy, and problem-solving; and support the development of the world’s next generation of leaders.

Experiential learning is available in a variety of formats, from course field trips and living/learning opportunities to community service and study abroad. Many experiences also qualify for AXLE (our core curriculum) credit or help to satisfy the university’s Immersion requirement.

As part of Vanderbilt’s commitment to affordability, both A&S and the university offer a variety of financial support opportunities for experiential learning. Interested students are encouraged to contact the Office of Undergraduate EducationOffice of Immersion Resources, or sponsoring department for more information.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

Immersion Vanderbilt is a university-wide program that provides the opportunity to pursue your passions and cultivate your intellectual interests through experiential learning. Immersion, which is required for graduation, takes place both in and beyond the classroom and culminates in the creation of a final project. Projects focus on one of six pathways: research; study abroad; community and civic engagement; interships; leadership and professonal development; and innovation, arts, and design. Through Immersion, you’ll explore new interests, transform ideas into action, and make a difference in the world.  


Internships give you the opportunity to apply classroom study in the workforce through valuable on-the-job experiences. In many cases, sophomores and above who are in good academic standing may also earn academic credit for internship experiences. Credit-based experienced are available both for interdisciplinary studies and for specific academic departments.

Study Abroad

A&S’s study abroad programs go beyond traditional language learning to encompass a variety of disciplines and research experiences. Some are available as full-semester or full-year programs, while others take place during Maymester or the summer. Roughly 50 percent of Vanderbilt students participate in study abroad, through 120+ programs in more than 40 countries. Students usually study abroad during their sophomore or junior year and can choose from experiences that range from a few weeks to a full year. Vanderbilt financial aid applies to official study-abroad experiences, and additional assistance is available through grants from A&S departments, the college itself, and university programs such as Immersion.

Summer Sessions

Summer programs provide unique learning opportunities and are offered through both A&S and the larger university. They often incorporate study abroad, hands-on research, community service, or other elements of experiential learning. Summer program options include Maymester courses, summer sessions, and summer work elsewhere. Eligibility depends on enrollment status. 

Undergraduate Research

A&S offers a wealth of undergraduate research experiences in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Students may work on established studies or formulate their own projects. Many participants have the opportunity to author published papers or present at academic conferences. A&S also offers financial support to students who present their research at academic conferences.

Service Learning

Many A&S courses incorporate service learning, either on campus or in the larger Nashville community. Students interested in service learning courses should contact the relevant academic department for more information. Service learning opportunities are also available through the Office of Active Citizenship and Service.

Living/Learning Experiences

Several of Vanderbilt’s living/learning experiences are affiliated with A&S departments or have a long history of housing and supporting A&S-affiliated students and projects. These include: