International Studies Programs


The Franklin Pierce Study Abroad Program on the Camino de Santiago immerses students in the same journey that eight centuries of pilgrims have experienced.  Approximately 15 students participate in a one semester, long-distance walk through southern France and across northern Spain along the old pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.

Walking as a pilgrim, carrying a backpack, staying in pilgrim hostels, country inns, and monasteries, walking with other Franklin Pierce students and a professor, you travel on foot between 10-15 miles a day. Slowing down to “human speed,” leaving behind the ordinary concerns of your daily life, and unplugging from the internet, your iPod and cell phone brings rich rewards that are rare in today’s world—the intimacy of prolonged solitude, the beauty of the natural world you feel with all your senses, the gratitude from many acts of kindness extended to you, and the joy of sustained conversation with others in your group and with fellow pilgrims from all over the world.


What is “Pierce on the Camino”?

This semester-long international program involves approximately 15 students accompanying a faculty member on a long-distance walk along one of the oldest and best-loved pilgrimage routes in the world—the Camino de Santiago.  The Camino is a sacred path that dates back to ancient Celtic, Roman and Medieval times, and is walked today by thousands of people each year.  The journey is an unforgettable adventure of group travel that engages students 100% in active learning and challenges them to grow on many levels—intellectually, physically and spiritually. 

Travel Logistics

Every week you walk with a different small group of fellow students whom you get to know well through spending time together and taking responsibility for one others’ safety and well-being.  Each student carries a “Pilgrim’s passport,” a document stamped at each hostel, monastery, government and cultural site visited from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela.  You are also free to walk alone, engage with the European locals practicing your French and Spanish language skills or with fellow foot-travelers from around the world, from many religions, different native languages and with differing reasons for undertaking the pilgrimage.  You enjoy the many historical sites and beautiful landscapes along the way.  On occasion, your group is responsible to shop and cook a meal for your entire Franklin Pierce group.  Together you walk across varied terrain and in all kinds of weather until you reach the famous Cathedral of St. James in the city of Santiago de Compostela.

A Life-Changing Experience

Perhaps the most important aspect of walking the Camino is that it grants time for self-reflection as the pilgrimage becomes its own self-creating experience.  Each student keeps a personal journal and participates in regular group meetings along the way.  After the journey is over pilgrims commonly speak of having gained a broader perspective, a deeper love of humanity, a renewed eagerness to learn, a sense of freedom, the satisfaction of accomplishment, personal happiness, focus and confidence.  Once back in the U.S. students participate in a two-day retreat to discuss how they can integrate the lessons of the Camino into their lives at home, and they write a final reflective essay on their overall experience.

Where will we be walking?

We have not yet determined the specifics of the route for the Camino for it varies from year to year, but the route will start in France and conclude in Spain in the city of Santiago de Compostela.

When do we travel?

Camino Study Abroad students take two intensive preparatory courses offered abroad during the first two weeks in August—The Camino Seminar and the Language for Travelers course.  The Camino Pilgrimage itself—the walking part of the program—runs from mid-August to early November. 

Pierce on the Camino Courses and Credits

(Camino participants earn 12-15 course credits)

As part of the semester you may choose from the following options:

Will IC/General Education Course requirement be waived for Camino participants?

For sophomore participants: Experiencing the Arts has been waived
For juniors: Ancient and Medieval World or Science of Society are waived.

For those students who want credit in the new GLE curriculum, the program grants up to 3 credits in either Humanities or the Social Sciences. 



In addition to regular fall tuition, students should expect to pay a program fee of $5,700.  The student’s room and board fees go toward helping to pay for lodging and meals on the Camino.  The program fee covers all travel expenses (air, train, bus, shuttles), special tours and museum visits while abroad, and the two-day retreat upon returning home. Your summer courses are covered by your Fall Tuition cost; you will be responsible for room and board if you stay on campus during the summer session when you are taking your Language for Travelers and the Camino Seminar courses.  Because some of you will commute to school or live off-campus during the summer session, summer housing is not included in the course fee. If you intend to live on campus during the second summer session you must notify the housing office.

Financial Aid

All financial aid (federal, state, private and Franklin Pierce University aid) that students would ordinarily be eligible for also applies to the Camino Study Abroad Program.

How much spending money should I bring?

That’s largely up to you.  You’ll spend some money just on coffee and perhaps that little pastry to go with it.  Even though we eat real well, on the average walking day you’ll take great pleasure in stopping at a café or two, if only to sit and write.  You will also perhaps like to buy some gifts. We suggest $1000.00.  

If I do the Camino, will I graduate on time?

With wise use of the year before the Camino, and taking advantage of independent and/or directed study options built into the Camino semester, most students can (and do) graduate on time.

How to apply


Students must complete an application and submit it by the published deadlines.  Students will be conditionally accepted if they have achieved a 2.67 grade point average or better by the end of the fall semester and maintain their GPA through the spring semester.   After introductory meetings held in the Spring semester prior to departure, the University will set up brief individual interviews with Camino Study Abroad applicants.  A final group is selected with priority given to accepted Seniors, then Juniors, then Sophomores. If there are more applicants than spaces available, the University will establish a prioritized standby list.  This list will be utilized if spaces become available.

A student must complete an application and submit it to the Director of International Study prior to February 18 to receive the highest priority.

Who is leading Pierce on the Camino?

A faculty member, Professor Doug Challenger, will be leading the program.

Do I need to have to have any experience or do I need to be in shape?

Walking often benefits most those who have never done anything like it.  While being in shape is a good idea, some past participants have increased their strength and endurance while walking.  Being in shape before the program will simply mean that your first few weeks of walking will be much more enjoyable.  It is important, however, to be in good health. The most important preparation is to purchase proper gear and footwear, and to get your footwear broken in before the program begins by going on plenty of long “training” walks.  This is not an endurance/outward bound kind of project, but walking approximately 10-15 miles a day with a backpack on the Camino will be challenging. 

Want to know more?

Download an Pierce in Camino program sheet to view on screen or print, or view the College at Rindge Academic Catalog for specific degree requirements and course information.

Program Sheet ThumbnailFor information, on The Camino Study Abroad program contact:

Patti Vorfeld, Director of International Study Initiatives and CAE Operations

Professor Douglas Challenger
, Camino Pilgrimage Faculty Leader