Student with prayer flags at the summit of Himalayan trek

Youth International & Western Colorado University

Logo for Western Colorado University

Youth International’s college credit courses are designed to enhance the existing experiential learning program through complimentary reading and reflective writing. You do not need to be accepted into a university in order to take advantage of this gap year travel opportunity.

How It Works

Western Colorado University and Youth International have partnered to offer college credit to Youth International participants. Western Colorado University is a four-year liberal arts and sciences university located in Gunnison, Colorado. Credit is awarded upon successful completion of the Youth International program and Western’s academic requirements.

All experiential activities involved in the credit courses are already included within the Youth International gap year travel program. Students enrolled for course credit are required to complete additional reading and written work, as specified in the specific course syllabus.

Current Course Offerings

*Nepal Program: OUTD 189: Principles of Outdoor Recreation (3 credits)

*Ecuador Program: ANTH 297: The Ecuadorian Amazon (3 credits)

*India Program: PHIL 297: Practices of Tibetan Buddhism (3 credits)

*Kenya Program: Course development in progress.

Assessments and Grades

Alexandra Retzleff (PhD), Assistant Director of Youth International, is the instructor for Philosophy, History, and Anthropology credit courses available through this partnership with Western Colorado University. Recreation & Outdoor Education credit courses are graded by a faculty member in the Recreation, Exercise & Sport Science Department (RESS) at the university. The coursework and final paper are due to the instructor within two weeks of the completion of the Youth International program.

Students are graded on an A, B, C, D, F basis. The course instructor will issue the grade and send it, along with a copy of the final paper, to Western Colorado University. Once a grade is available, the Extended Studies Office at Western Colorado University will notify the student by email. Transcripts may be ordered through the university.

Students surround an ancient tree in the rainforestRegistration Process

You must be accepted to a specific Youth International program before submitting registration forms to Western Colorado University. If you are interested in registering for course credit, please contact Youth International to request a Course Credit Registration Packet.

The university course enrollment form and payment for credit must be received by Western Colorado University two weeks prior to the first day of the Youth International program. Registrations received less than five business days before the first day of the gap year travel program are not guaranteed to be processed by the university.

Registrations requiring AmeriCorps or 529 plan funding must be submitted no later than 60 days before the Youth International payment deadline.


The tuition charged by the university is $165.00 per credit. All courses offered in partnership with Youth International are 3 credits (total= $495/course). Tuition is processed separately from Youth International’s program fee, and must be sent directly to the university along with the other documents contained in the Course Credit Registration Packet.

Group poses during a trek in the AndesHow to use 529 Education Savings Plan or AmeriCorps Funding

Enrollment in a college credit course allows students to pay their university course credit fee and their entire Youth International program fee directly from a 529 Education Savings plan. Participants with an AmeriCorps education voucher are also allowed to apply the total amount of their voucher towards the course credit fee and the Youth International gap year travel program fee. The Course Credit Registration Packet contains detailed information on how to use these two particular types of funds.

If you are using 529 Savings or AmeriCorps funding, the Youth International program fee plus the credit cost must be paid together directly to Western Colorado University. The university will deduct the cost of credit and send the balance to Youth International. Youth International is not authorized to handle these funds directly.

Credit Transfer to Other Schools

Students wishing to transfer credit from Western Colorado University to another institution should contact their academic adviser or registrar concerning how these credits may be applied to their course of study. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange for any credit transfer. Youth International and Western Colorado University do not guarantee the transfer or substitution of credit. Ultimately, decisions regarding the transfer of credit are up to the discretion of the other institution.