The Oxbow School Gap Semester

Duration: Spring 2024 (January 19 - May 14)

Applications for Fall 2024 and Spring 2025 will open on September 1st, 2023.


Ages: 17- 19 Any student who has finished high school and not yet attended college may be considered.

Capacity: 8 - 12 This is a special program with limited capacity; please complete your application ASAP.

Cost: Fall 2023 + Spring 2024 tuition, including room & board, all supplies, field trips, mentorships, and much more is $34,000 for the 4-month semester. All-inclusive tuition for the 6-week 2023 Oxbow Summer Art Institute is $16,000. Need and merit-based scholarships are limited for our post-grad program.

Application Process: Gap students should follow Oxbow’s standard application process by filling out our online general application, our part two student and parent questionnaires, submitting their high school transcripts, and submitting a self portrait in any style or medium. Gap students are required to complete the Gap Semester Proposal rather than the standard semester essay prompts.


For a variety of reasons, many students decide to take a gap year after graduating from high school. The Oxbow Gap Semester is designed for those who are interested in an immersive visual arts experience prior to embarking on their next chapter. This unique program allows mature students to collaborate with professional artists and scholars to direct the course of their own learning in a beautiful setting that is conducive to artistic and personal growth.

Oxbow Gap Semester students cohabitate together and are allowed more independence and individualized opportunities. Students may decide to assume a leadership role as a studio assistant, intern with a local organization, or delve deeply in a long-term art project of their design. As part of a small residential cohort, gap semester students have an advisor whom they meet with weekly as a group to discuss their progress and set goals. Students also have many opportunities to meet individually with faculty, advisors, staff, and mentors.

Prior to arrival, students are encouraged to propose a project (or a series of projects) they would like to investigate while at Oxbow. Gap semester students are encouraged to pursue an identified passion further or experiment with new ideas and techniques for a sustained period of time. This program is a true apprenticeship in which students may choose from an array of topics and skills to focus on. Examples include: regenerative agriculture and gardening, the culinary arts, studio techniques, and portfolio development. They work closely with an advisor to map the course of their journey to successfully achieve their goals. The Oxbow faculty guide students from concept to execution.

Focus areas may include: darkroom and/or digital photography, film, painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, performance art, animation, and multimedia installation, fashion, design, illustration, creative writing, political science, food systems & sustainability, art as activism, and any other areas students may have interest in.

Upon completion of the Oxbow Gap Semester students are awarded a certificate of completion, a narrative transcript, and a letter of recommendation.

The Oxbow Gap semester is a wonderful way to spend a semester before college, or to prepare to apply to college. It’s also a great way to develop an independent, disciplined, and self guided studio arts practice that students can carry with them throughout life.


Alex W.

What new skills and habits did you acquired during your semester?

"I’ve learned to write and talk about my art eloquently, which is something that I never assumed would be as important as I have learned it is. Since coming here, I have also been using my sketchbook a lot, either drawing or painting each day, and that has allowed me to craft my skills in a more informal way. The journals provided to us were also something that I heavily used, and keeping a notebook regularly is something that I’ll make a regular habit out of after Oxbow. This is a huge step for me, because I’ve always been so horrible about keeping notebooks."

How did you grown as an artist at Oxbow?

"At Oxbow, my subject matter became more personal as time went on. I think that I was able to use this subject matter and the vulnerability that came with it to explore parts of myself and my life that I previously never had. Prior to Oxbow, I only really worked in photography, but over the course of the semester I was really able to try bigger projects in media that I was not familiar in. Over the course of the semester, I completed big projects in painting, in analog slide projection, in video, and in installation – all new media that I have a newfound love for and will continue to explore beyond Oxbow."

Describe how you grew as a scholar.

"I always sort of avoid writing about myself because of the intense and mentally taxing reflection process that it involves, but the regular personal narrative writing assignments really helped me overcome that pseudo-writer’s block that I experienced. In high school, I was so used to writing analytical papers or fiction pieces. I am now much more comfortable with writing about myself and my life, which I am so grateful for."

Ayla K.

How have you changed since you arrived at Oxbow?

"I feel I have changed immensely in self confidence and what I am capable of accomplishing. I also have realized I need to fight hard for what I want in life and keep going."

What was your greatest success?

"My greatest success was applying and reaching out to several jobs I wanted throughout the semester as well as accomplishing several projects in mediums I was unfamiliar with. In particular, I am very proud of my printed map, as that entire process was completely foreign to me."

What new skills and habits did you acquire at Oxbow?

"I've learned to printmake, how to slaughter a chicken, and how to sculpt with natural materials. I also learned to conceptualize art instead of making it just because of looks. I learned basic farming practices, how to advocate for myself, and how to interact with people I am constantly surrounded by."

Describe how you grew as an artist at Oxbow.

"I am far more confident and exploratory in my art. I also have been able to develop conceptual meaning."

Describe how you have grown has a scholar.

"I have been able to explore things I'm really passionate about and see the importance in that instead of just researching topics the teacher presents to us."