What is experiential learning? It’s when students apply what they are learning by putting 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. In classrooms, labs and studios, in the local community and abroad, and in internships and leadership roles, learning happens everywhere at Elon.

The co-curricular Elon Experiences extend learning beyond the classroom. Students serve others while studying abroad. They learn on the job through internships and tie those experiences to research with faculty mentors. They have transformative experiences while leading organizations and activities. There are so many opportunities for experiential learning at Elon.

The university believes so strongly in the power of the Elon Experiences that it documents the work on transcripts and ensures that all students complete experiential learning requirements.

By the time Elon students graduate, they have a wealth of real-world experiences that support their transition to life after college and ensure they stand out when applying for a first job or graduate school.

Participation in the Elon Experiences:

62%Study Abroad
81%Internships
23%Research
54%Leadership
75%Service

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.

Learn more about the Isabella Cannon Global Education Center.

What is experiential learning at Elon? It's Giavonna Gaw taking in a picturesque view of South Africa during an Elon study abroad experience. Studying in South Africa and experiencing another culture firsthand is one way Gianna is engaging in experiential learning.My study abroad experience was above and beyond what I  expected. My classes and internship provided me with new skills I thought I’d never learn in the classroom.

Giavonna Gaw

Internships: 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.

Two-thirds of Elon graduates report they acquired career networking leads directly through their internships.

Learn more about the Student Professional Development Center.

Elon student Nijah Rollins shares a boat ride with her classmates during a semester studying abroad and completing an Elon internship. Through the five Elon Experiences, the university's signature program, participate in several experiential learning opportunities.I mainly chose to study abroad in London  because of the service internship. I feel like not many people get to say they did an internship in their career field in another country.

Nyjah Rollins

Research: Immersed in inquiry

What is experiential learning? It’s Elon students using smart technology to help older adults improve mobility. It’s them investigating the relationship between mythology and globalization in southern Peru. It’s helping scientists improve paints and plastics, make cheaper rubber or reduce greenhouse gases.

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.

Learn more about the Lumen Prize, the university’s premier student award to support research.

Lumen Scholar Kevin Scott poses for a portrait. By delving into an undergraduate research project, Kevin took advantage of one of the many experiential learning opportunities offered at Elon.

The idea of doing cancer research in a way
that might be able to extend someone’s life,
so someone in a similar situation can have
the chance to meet their own uncle, I think
that’s what makes it all worth it.

Kevin Scott

Leadership: 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. They learn about the stages of group formation and the importance of ethical decision-making.

Learn more about the Center for Leadership.

Elon student JD Grant sits atop a van with two female students during a study abroad experience in Tanzania where he practiced his leadership skills in a wilderness therapy course. It's just one way that students practice experiential learning at Elon.There is no doubt that Elon has given me plenty of opportunity to explore and practice leadership. The opportunity to assist in teaching a wilderness therapy course in Tanzania was an invaluable experience. It was not only because of the unique location, but I learned how to communicate and guide discussions around hardship and trauma. It was easily one of the most influential things I’ve experienced while at Elon.

JD Grant

Service: Preparing global citizens to build 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.

Faculty, staff and community leaders serve as mentors to students in their endeavor to cultivate thoughtful active citizens dedicated to positive social change. Elon graduates are compassionate leaders dedicated to collaborating with communities to create innovative solutions to society’s most pressing problems.

Learn more about the Kernodle Center for Civic Life.

EA portrait of Nicole McGinty. Participating in service learning has made a difference in Nicole's life. She is an example of why Elon's dedication to experiential learning has an impact on the education students receive.I’ve dedicated so much of my time to service at Elon because it has not only positively enriched my life by widening my perspective of the world and a variety of social issues, but volunteering has also connected me with some of the most determined, passionate and inspirational people.

Nicole McGinty