First Year Programs

Cairn University’s First Year Programs give students the opportunity to examine their broad and diverse interests in a cohort setting. First Year Programs are dynamic one-year accredited university experiences perfect as a gap year after high school or to build a foundation for further study.

Cairn offers two different First Year Programs focused on developing community, working to understand the structure and doctrines of the Bible, and developing an overarching biblical worldview. Based at Cairn’s main campus in Langhorne, PA, students in each of the programs will get hands-on experience as they travel the United States, get involved in the communities around them, and receive training and teaching in their field of interest. 

Outdoor Action

GO BEYOND YOUR LIMITS. Experience a year of outdoor adventure and challenge, living life together.

Cairn University’s Outdoor Action Program provides students with a first year experience focused on developing a unique community of students who will learn together through courses, bond together through outdoor excursions, and grow together through shared life responsibilities. 


Explore the outdoors as you travel together for week-long outdoor trips and various weekend activities. Receive outdoor training that can lead to certification. Learn from professors who bring classes to life and connect the classroom to life outside the classroom. Curriculum includes 6 Bible & Theology courses, English Composition, and 5 courses in Recreation and Leadership.


Students in the Outdoor Action program will get a hands-on experience as they embark on trips to enhance their learning. Trips may include backpacking in the Western United States, canoeing on the Boundary Waters, winter sports in the Catskills and Adirondacks, and climbing at High Rocks and Seneca Rocks.

The First Year Program experience has been unlike anything I could ever imagine, different than my wildest expectations. It provided me with a unique way to challenge myself to grow and develop as a man and as a Christian in an environment filled with adventure and critical thinking.

Tim H.
Outdoor Action


Watch an introduction to the Outdoor Action Program

Urban Ministry

GET INVOLVED. Immerse yourself in vibrant urban communities, and interact with ministries that make a difference.

Cairn University’s Urban Ministry Program provides students with a first year experience focused on developing a unique community of students who will learn together through rigorous courses, acclimate to the needs of urban communities, and serve in those same communities with the heart of a developing Christ-centered social ministry to urban residents.


Understand the urban context for life and ministry both in the local and global setting. With a strong biblical basis and an understanding of the historical nature of urban ministry, the cohort delves deeply into urban communities to understand the complex systems, effective ministry strategies, and the core of what God is doing in neighborhoods across the city. Curriculum includes 5-6 Bible & Theology courses, English Composition, and 5-6 courses in Urban Ministry and the Local Church.


The city is the classroom for students in the Urban Ministry Program. Their urban-specific classes take place in the city, engaging with people, ministries and complex systems, gaining firsthand experience of both the issues facing urban communities and the incredible opportunities. The cohort also travels to other urban centers in the United States and overseas to study alongside seasoned practitioners in their context.


Watch an introduction to the Urban Ministry Program

The cohort model that FYP offers is one that cannot be duplicated. Within the cohort of Urban Ministry we depend, learn, and work together in order to reach our full potentials. Learning in a cohort allows us to be exposed to different perspectives and views and to grow in the process. The cohort challenges us to work together and even sacrifice in order to reach a greater goal.

Brianna T.
Urban Ministry

Cohorts & Student Life

A First Year Program cohort at Cairn University is a small community of students who join together for a distinctive educational and relational purpose. The nature and purpose of the cohort provides a significant context for the development of close relationships with peers and faculty. The First Year Program cohorts will help students in developing God-centered skills for learning and living as they grow and explore together. First Year Program students live in community in the Manor Campus residence halls and experience life together with their fellow group members, as well as the larger Cairn community. Living, learning, and going on excursions together allow students the unique opportunity to form close bonds with their peers. Students also have the opportunity to be involved in athletics, arts, student groups, class council leaderships, and any other student activities or events on campus.

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