The Semester-A-Trail Program is a unique opportunity for students seeking a learning experience that goes well beyond the classroom. Students in the Program earn college credit while attempting a thru-hike or section of the Appalachian Trail. The experience offers the student a synthesis of academic learning and outdoor adventure in an intensive, goal-oriented journey that will challenge them both physically and intellectually, immersing students in real-world competencies.

During the semester of travel, students are required to take English 328, Nature Writing, a three-credit course, and the student typically enrolls in twelve semester hours of coursework, though twelve hours of coursework are not required. Students will work with the Director of Semester-A-Trail to construct a schedule and select courses that are conducive to the experience. The Semester-A-Trail Program offers students the opportunity to build independent studies and projects with broadened field-based implications. Student hikers have developed imaginative projects across the curriculum in ecotourism, human physiology, water quality, wellness, and photography.

The student considering the experience should consult Jim Harrison, Director of Outdoor Programs.

Candidates for Semester-A-Trail will be required to submit an application and backcountry resume. Additionally, candidates will be required to: 

  • Attend the two-day Semester-A-Trail orientation in October prior to the spring of departure.
  • Hold a current Wilderness First Aid and CPR certificate by date of departure. Certificates must remain current during travel.
  • Complete HHP 164 Hiking/Backpacking with a grade ofB or better or demonstrate equivalent.
  • Successfully complete at least three Outdoor Program backpacking trips or have a backcountry resume that demonstrates equivalent experience/contextual support. *    hold a minimum cumulative GPA of2.5.
  • Complete a four year advising plan (for E&H students).
  • Submit a comprehensive trip plan, containing but not limited to a budget, risk management
    plan, and logistics (resupply/support plan, gear list, etc.)
  • Have required gear, including functioning GPS locater/communication device prior to

Special Admits: Students attending other colleges may participate in the Emory & Henry Semester-A-Trail Program. This special category of student must meet all requirements in order to be considered a candidate for the Semester-A-Trail. The student applies to Emory & Henry as a non-degree-seeking student but continues to be a full­-time student (or otherwise) at their home institution. The student's home institution initiates a consortium agreement with Emory & Henry to indicate that the institution will accept our transcript toward its degree-seeking student's record. It is the student's responsibility to solicit advanced approval from the home institution so that coursework from Emory & Henry College will be accepted in transfer. Students will be awarded financial aid through their school and pay Emory & Henry directly.

The Semester-A-Trail entails specific fee structures and includes costs beyond those involved in on-campus study. As a general rule, the student should expect to incur the costs associated with outfitting or gearing up for the trip and for travel (for example, to and from the terminuses of the Appalachian Trail).

During the spring semester of travel, the student will reside on campus to complete coursework and final trip preparations until the departure goal of March 1.