What are experiential learning programs?

They are programs that allow you to apply what you are learning and put ideas into action through firsthand experiences.

Elon students are engaged learners who work alone, with peers and alongside faculty mentors to solve problems and master difficult material. They take fewer, more intensive courses that are designed for experiential learning. Through the five Elon Experiences – study abroad, internships, research, leadership and service – learning extends beyond the classroom. As an Elon student, you’ll participate in at least two, but many students complete all five.

Serve others while studying abroad. Learn on the job through internships and tie those experiences to research with faculty mentors. Transform while leading organizations and activities. There are so many opportunities for experiential learning at Elon. By the time you graduate, you’ll have a wealth of real-world experiences that support your transition to life after college and ensure you stand out when applying for a first job or graduate school.

Participation in the
Elon Experiences

76%Global Engagement
23%Undergraduate Research
75%Volunteer Service
A student, engaged through Elon University's experiential learning programs like study abroad, is in a row boat in a water way around Plaza de España in Seville.
Study Abroad

Putting the world within reach

College is a time for learning—but no one said students have to do it all in the same zip code. Or even in the same country. When students study abroad, their perspectives change forever. Elon’s 160+ programs prepare students for a lifetime of global understanding and exploration. In addition to international study opportunities, Elon has an extensive Study USA program that allows students to explore cultures, industries, geography and climate in locations across the United States.

Participating in an MTV internship through one of Elon University's experiential learning programs, Jules Martin stands in front of a MTV Fresh Out Live sign.

Gain real-world experience

Elon’s Student Professional Development Center counselors work with students from their first year to create personal development plans, resumes and strong networking skills. Through internships, students earn academic credit, gain first-hand knowledge of the workplace and gain professional skills that put them a step ahead of other college graduates. Elon partners with an expansive network of employers who actively recruit students for internships and full-time positions.

Anna Altman, a student conducting undergraduate research through Elon University's experiential learning programs, wears goggles and a lab coat as she operates a smoking device she created in a laboratory.
Undergraduate Research

Immersed in inquiry

Working alongside their faculty mentors, many Elon students conduct the kind of sophisticated research usually found in graduate programs. Undergraduate research challenges students to formulate complex questions, review the work of other scholars and conduct serious inquiry to uncover new knowledge and understanding. Elon students and faculty showcase their in-depth research across a broad range of disciplines annually at Elon’s Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF) and at national research conferences and forums.

Elon student standing on dirt in Ghana with elephants drinking from a pond in the background

Study Abroad:
‘Ghana was beyond anything I ever expected’

Name: Avery Johns ’24

Majors: Biomedical Engineering

My experience in Ghana was beyond anything I ever expected. The people I met and talked with, the markets, the landscape – from mud houses to canopy rainforests – and the lessons I learned from professors and the country are memories that will stay with me for a long time.

Student wearing a lab coat and holding Bona floor products in front of a Bona sign.

‘I love working in
the lab and brainstorming’

Name: Genesis Tolbert ’24

Majors: Biochemistry

“I completed an internship with Bona and worked with research and development chemists to produce hardwood floor and all-purpose cleaners. I did efficacy testing such as scrub efficiency and streak comparison. This helped me realize how much I love working in the lab and brainstorming for potential products.

Chris Richardson, who is wearing a green sweater, and student Jordan Wels, who is wearing a cream-colored fisherman's sweater pose in front of a white board covered in writing.

‘All galaxies contain a black hole’

Name: Jordan Wels ’24

Majors: Computer Science, Physics

“We don’t really know how black holes or galaxies evolve. But we know that all galaxies contain a black hole at their center, and we know that as galaxies grow, so do black holes. If we can get an understanding of how black holes transition through different masses, we can also learn how galaxies transition.

Britt Mobley, who as SGA President holds a leadership role as part of Elon University's experiential learning programs, stands at a podium giving a speech.

Putting ideas into action

Through experiential education at Elon, students learn how to work collaboratively within diverse communities of people, gaining the confidence and competence to put innovative ideas into action for positive change. Elon’s Center for Leadership offers leadership development initiatives to all students. Elon students advance their leadership knowledge and skills, attend student leader workshops and learn how social identities and lived experiences inform and shape their ideas around leadership.

Three students participate in service through Elon University's experiential learning programs. They are dressed in maroon and are carrying a board and cleaning up Puerto Rico following Hurricane Fiona.

Building a better world

Students participate in academic service-learning that connects classroom work with the needs in the community. They immerse themselves in service through alternative breaks, address food insecurity through Campus Kitchen initiatives, and participate in Elon Volunteers!

At Elon, we are unafraid to set high expectations, rising to every challenge and working to build a better world. The Kernodle Center for Civic Life partners with local and global communities to advance student learning, leadership and citizenship.


Student giving a speech in front a group of students.

‘I challenged myself upon arriving at Elon to join clubs and find employment on campus’

Name: Bo Dalrymple ’25

Majors: International & Global Studies, Political Science

Elon is the perfect place for students to explore interests, find the issues that drive them, and gain hands-on experience through leadership and experiential opportunities. I challenged myself upon arriving at Elon to join clubs and find employment on campus, which three years later has unlocked unforeseen opportunities and allowed me to experience incredible amounts of growth.

Photo of a student sitting in a brick archway in Morocco.

‘A new opportunity to apply my learning outside of the classroom’

Name: Grace Ackerman ’24

Majors: Human Service Studies

Every week, I have been presented with a new opportunity to apply my learning outside of the classroom and work towards societal change. … I have also been connected to volunteer opportunities through my professors. These experiences enabled me to interact with the Burlington community, developing an understanding of ethical community engagement and the importance of sustainable partnerships.”