Gap Year Independent Learning Program

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At Bennington, learning happens everywhere: in the classroom, the studio, the workshop, and in many other places on and off campus. But Bennington also recognizes that students bring with them rich and diverse learning experiences from their time before college. Bennington's Gap Year Independent Learning Program gives students who defer their enrollment an opportunity to work with a faculty member to conduct independent study, develop reflective practices, and get a head start on their Bennington education. At the end of the year, and after a portfolio presentation on campus, each student is awarded credits that help them on their way towards a Bennington degree. Gap year experiences may include a job at home, travel abroad, a community-based project, or independent study—among other options—but each involves a carefully structured experience that involves planning, rigorous intellectual engagement, and reflection.

All students who are admitted to Bennington and defer enrollment are eligible to apply for the program. Students submit a brief application that outlines how they plan on spending the year. They are then paired with a faculty member, who they work with to determine the best ways to structure their reflection and ongoing engagement. The student meets with the faculty virtually during the year and then—once on campus—presents the results of their gap year reflection and portfolio to an audience of faculty, students, and administrators.  

In recent years, gap year students have worked in various places, including Oregon, New York City, San Antonio, Brazil, Kenya, India and Nepal. Examples of recent gap year projects include a travel journal, a chapbook of poetry, a food diary and cookbook, and work with a variety of domestic and international non-profits. Students who have participated in the program often say that they feel particularly well-equipped to handle the challenge and rigors of a Bennington education, and appreciate the support they receive during their gap year. 

Curious to learn more? Check out the videos below from current Bennington students who have participated in the Gap-Year program.

For more information on Bennington’s Gap Year program, please email Questions on the deferral process itself should be directed to

The deadline to apply to take advantage of this program is August 18.



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Karina González Pérez '25: Psychology / Education

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Morgan Loomis '26: Education/Community Engagement/Music

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Ebony Dalimunthe '25: Literature/Film