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What Is the Disney College Program?
The Walt Disney College Program is a national paid internship program that the Walt Disney Corporation offers. In it, students gain experience, earn money, and oftentimes earn college credit while working at their resorts. Students in the program will spend five to seven months working in California or Florida.
For students looking into a future Disney career and/or a career in hospitality and theme parks, this can be a great opportunity. Some schools have partnership programs with Disney to allow students to earn college credit while completing the program, but it might be more complicated for others. Let’s see if the Disney College Program is a good fit for you:
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To be eligible for a Disney College Program, you must be over the age of 18, meet the Disney Look requirements, possess authorization to work in the United States, and either have been enrolled in an accredited educational institution for at least one semester, or have graduated from one in the past 24 months. All majors can apply for the program.
Meeting these criteria does not guarantee entry, however. You’ll have to submit an extensive application and pass through three rounds of interviews to gain a spot. Although they receive about 50,000 applications per year, Disney only ends up taking on about 12,000. So, you’ll need to show strong people skills, teamwork abilities, leadership, and dedication to the Disney corporation to land a spot.
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What does a Disney College Program education entail?
Students enrolled in a Disney College Program will live on or nearby the resort at which they work. They will also take classes at nearby campuses. The program’s courses range from covering the business operations behind Disney, the history and brand identity of the corporation, and the essentials of hospitality and resort management. They can also cover marketing, the entertainment industry, costuming, and really anything adjacent to the brand’s mission.
These formal classes will all be complemented by a paid position at Disney World or DisneyLand. Positions can range widely, but are typically customer-facing roles like ticket salesperson, tour guide, ride operator, or actor.
Earning college credit
One of the ways in which the Disney College Program can become feasible for its students is to transfer the semester’s work over into credits at their home university. Schools across the country have partnered with Disney to make this a possibility. However, not every school holds this agreement, so you’ll have to check with your school administrators before you can be sure that your credits will transfer. Here are a few schools that do have partnerships with the Disney College Program:
- Clark University
- Monroe Community College
- University of Arizona
- Hudson Valley Community College
- Aquinas College
- East Carolina University
- Marshall University
- Stockton University
- Woodbury University
Is Disney University an accredited university?
Disney University is not an accredited school. It has not gone through the federal or state regulations to become an accredited educational institution. That being said, it can transfer over into credits at your accredited university if the two have a partnership.
Disney College Program vs. regular jobs at Disney parks
For the most part, your job as a Disney College student will be very similar to other front-line workers at the park. You’ll be handling day-to-day operations and assisting customers. Your pay will also be comparable to theirs and you’ll have the same supervisors and work environment. However, your position will have a few important differences.
The classes you take during your Disney College Program are meant to serve as a leg-up into furthering a career at Disney or in a relevant field. If you apply to work for Disney after completing the program, they will know that you are devoted to their mission and that you have knowledge of their operations from the inside-out. This will be a great advantage in the application process and could help fast-track you to a position that you’re excited about in the company.
The Disney College Program offers a starting salary of $14/hour, but a substantial part of this money will be put towards your tuition, room, and board. So, it will not be an especially lucrative position. That being said, students will typically manage to break even. Given the career boost it can provide, this is oftentimes well worth it.
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Future opportunities for “Ductorate” degree holders
When they receive their “Ductorate,” graduates of the Disney College Program have a significant advantage in applying for future Disney jobs or jobs in their field of study. This can vary widely based on what course the student pursued over their Disney education. Whether it is marketing, hospitality, business management, or something related to the entertainment industry, they can go on to use this credential to help their chances of landing a position.
Because of its long hours and rigorous programming, the program is highly regarded among those who know it. It’s hard to say whether its influence will go far beyond Disney employees, but it is definitely a great asset for positions at one of the world’s greatest entertainment empires.
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Summing it up
- The Disney College Program allows students to gain real-world experience at front-line positions at their theme parks while earning a stipend and taking classes
- Some partner colleges allow students to convert these classes into college credits towards graduation
- The starting pay is $14 an hour, you’ll use much of this to pay for your tuition and housing
- Students can pursue a wide range of Disney-adjacent fields of study, including entertainment, hospitality, business, and marketing