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Work Study

Amazing, healing, challenging, joyful, lonely, and exciting was my journey at Esalen.
Michael, work scholar 2011

Transformative Learning: Work Study at Esalen

Live, Work, Seek, Practice, Lead.

We all have powerful capacities for evolving consciousness through self-inquiry, reflection, and relationship. When we take the time to realize and develop these capacities, we can transform our lives, communities, and the world.

The Work Study program is a 28-day immersion in Esalen’s integrative approach to personal and social transformation. It combines a rigorous course of study with the opportunity for deep relationship with the Esalen land and community. Participants must apply and be selected for the program.

Commitment to the Work Study Program begins on 4 pm of the first Sunday to 7:30 pm of the final Sunday. The Work Study Program is a complete program in itself — please do not plan to take regularly scheduled catalog workshops during your stay.


Work Study Program Descriptions

Work Study is an extraordinary way to embody the idea that mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, and social dimensions of the self are inextricably connected.  

The study component. Each program includes coursework in a specific field of transformative practice. Subject areas include Gestalt, massage, yoga, permaculture, and many more.

Work Study program teachers are world-class leaders in their fields, and programs often include sessions with additional visiting teachers.

The work component. As a complement to this work, each work scholar volunteers 32 hours per week in one of Esalen’s operations departments, usually housekeeping or the kitchen. Contemplative and group process practices are woven into all aspects of life at Esalen, so each day there are opportunities for self-inquiry and growth.

Esalen offers two different kinds of Work Study programs — the Work Study Program and Legacy Work Study.

Work Study

This program focuses on core teachings and provides a rigorous schedule of classes.

  • Groups of about 18 participants meet together for core teachings from 8-10 pm, 4 evenings per week plus one all-day class during the month
  • Work scholars complement their course of study with 32 hours per week working in housekeeping or the kitchen
  • Work scholars who have successfully completed their course of study may apply to our Extended Student program provided you have the authorization to work in the United States

Legacy Work Study

This program offers work scholars more flexibility in their schedules, including more time for Esalen’s daily movement classes and other residential education events, and time for independent study during the evenings.

  • Groups of 14 or more participants meet for core teachings twice per week during the afternoon, plus one all-day class during the month
  • Work scholars complement their course of study with 32 hours per week working in housekeeping or the kitchen
  • Each group consists of work scholars, Esalen staff, and extended students

This is the first step in becoming an Extended Student. 


Housing is shared (sometimes co-ed), with up to 4 people per room. Some work scholars live at South Coast Center, a staff complex located 1.5 miles north of Esalen. There is a walking trail between Esalen and South Coast.


Housing and meals are included with your work study fee of $1,500. Applicants must be prepared to make a deposit of $400 to hold their space in the program.


When making travel plans, note that the closest airport to Esalen is in Monterey. With at least 48-hour advance reservations, van service to Esalen is available from San Francisco International Airport (SFO), San Jose International Airport (SJC) and Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY). Please click here for shuttle schedule and pricing. Van reservations for work-study participants can be made by contacting the Work-Study office at

Staying Longer than 28 Days

It is often possible to stay for a second 28-day program after you complete your first Work Study program.

Month-long Esalen Work Scholar/work study program


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