HAVERHILL —  For high school students looking to study abroad, the cost can be prohibitive while taking an entire semester off is often a big commitment. 

But what if students could spend just 10 days overseas, over their summer vacation, and earn college credits at a reduced cost? 

For the first time this summer, Northern Essex Community College will offer a study abroad course in Ireland for high school students looking to earn college credits. 

"We did our best to coordinate the trip dates with all of the regional school district end dates," said Marcy Yeager, executive director of PK-12 partnerships and international studies.

This pilot program is modeled after the short-term study abroad courses the college currently offers for its students.

For example, this spring NECC will be sending traditional college students to Greece for two weeks, and while they are there, in addition to exploring Greece as a cultural site, they will also be earning credit in a public speaking course.

"A short course is where you couple travel with course content," Yeager said. 

This English composition course in Ireland will run from June 24 to July 5 and will include surfing and kayaking on the Irish coast, a visit to Derry City in Northern Ireland, tours of ancient castles, and more. 

The course, which offers three college credits, will explore ancient Ireland, Celtic arts and mythology, sustainability and ecology, and famine and emigration, among other themes.

"It's the same course that every college freshman must take," she said. "It does require some pre- and post-work, and the assumption is, after they return they will be completing their research papers."

Classes meet at an educational facility in Bundoran, Ireland, that NECC has used for its study abroad programs in the past.

“Northern Essex has a well-established study abroad program and many programming options for high school students who want to earn college credits," Yeager said. “We decided to combine these two resources and create a study abroad program specifically for high school students.”

The cost of the Ireland Study Abroad Program is $3,650 which includes round trip airfare and all transportation, housing and meals, and all activities and excursions. Tuition for the course is an additional $330 for Massachusetts residents – which Yeager said is a big savings over the normal tuition cost. 

She said NECC waives all student fees for high school students attending early college and also offers a set tuition rate of $110 per credit, for Massachusetts residents, and $123 for New Hampshire residents.

"We have a maximum of 16 students spaces, and we have one NECC staff person as a chaperone and one NECC English professor, who will be with the students at all times," Yeager said. "And we're bringing a regional high school teacher or staff member appointed by one of our high schools."

She said NECC's high school partners include high schools in Lawrence, Haverhill, Amesbury, Newburyport, Triton, Andover, North Andover, Methuen, Greater Lawrence Tech and Whittier Tech, as well as Sanborn and Windham high schools. 

"The program is also open to other high schools throughout the region," she said.

For more information, send email to studyabroad@necc.mass.edu or call 978-556-3332.