St. Lawrence University offers students the opportunity to study for a semester in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Students will enroll at the Institute of South East Asian Affairs at Chiang Mai University, which collaborates with IPSL.

Students spend a fall or spring semester in Chiang Mai, studying Thai culture, language and society at the Institute of South East Asian Affairs at Chiang Mai University and engaging in substantive volunteer service in a wide range of community development agencies and NGOs. Students in Chiang Mai can study Thai, gender and sexuality, human rights, and other courses focused on social justice and refugee rights. And the volunteer service immerses you in the culture and deepens your understanding of Thai society that goes well beyond that experienced in traditional study abroad programs. Students have the opportunities to study the Thai language and to live with a Thailand roommate, study with other international students, as well as to experience a short homestay with a Thai family during the program excursions which makes for a multicultural experience.

  • Based in Chiang Mai
  • Fall or Spring semester
  • Pre-requisites: 2.8 GPA; One Asian Studies course OR another course that specifically prepares for study on this academic program.
  • Must take Thai language while in Thailand
  • Live with Thai roommate

Click here to apply to the Thailand program

Location     Academics     Co-curricular     Housing     

Calendar     Orientation      Program Contacts


Chiang Mai

Located in the north of Thailand and founded in 1296 as the second capital of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai or "New City" is the cultural capital of Thailand and second most important city in the country after Bangkok. Nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains that form the foothills of the Himalayas, Chiang Mai is a cultural and natural wonderland bustling with ethnic diversity, a fabulous food scene and welcoming hospitality. 


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Required Courses:

Thai Language  3 credits

Service Learning Institutions in Thai Society  3 credits

IPSL Reflections / SL Practicum Seminar  3 credits

Elective Courses: (3 credits each)

*Courses offered vary by semester (must select 2 courses) 

Selected Topics-Seminar on LAO PDR: The History, Politics and Challenges Facing Communist Authoritarianism in Transition

Buddhism in Thai Society | Credits: 3

Business in SE Asia | Credits: 3

Socially Engaged Buddhism | Credits: 3

Religions of SE Asia | Credits: 3

The Government and Politics of Thailand | Credits: 3

Government and Politics of Thailand | Credits: 3

Self-Exploration through Visual Art and Culture of Thailand | Credits: 3

International Relations of Mainland SE Asia | Credits: 3

The Buddhist Meditative Traditions | Credits: 3

As a reference, you may check the syllabi for Spring 2014


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IPSL Service-Learning

Collaborated with the Institute of South East Asian Affairs at Chiang Mai University, IPSL service-learning™ will provide SLU students service learning opportunities in Chiang Mai.  Placements are determined, in part, by student interests and skills (and, in some cases, language abilities), but primarily by community needs. Central to the philosophy of service-learning™ is the notion of service. The service in service-learning™ may or may not be career-related, the service – is as important as the student’s learning.

Travel and Excursions

Guided academic excursions, accompanied by Chiang Mai University professors and staff members, occur throughout the semester and may include visits to famous monasteries in the Chiang Mai area, hill tribe villages, and other sites of interest in the mountainous region of the north. Class-related work includes some day trips to nearby sites and overnight excursions to Bangkok (spring semester) or Sukhothai, the former capital (fall semester), and to a lowland and upland village in Northern Thailand. Visits to an elephant rescue camp as well as a multi-day excursion to Mae Sot, the border area with the Burmese refugee camps.

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Chiang Mai University

Founded in 1964 as northern Thailand’s first institution of higher education and the country's first provincial university, Chiang Mai University (CMU) offers students the opportunity to study at one of the top academic centers in Thailand. CMU is rated among the top 5 universities in the country and CMU is proud to have produced national political leaders (including one Prime Minister) and prominent business executives among its graduates. Nestled amongst the northern hills of Thailand and in the cultural heart of the country, CMU is located minutes from Chiang Mai’s city center. CMU has four campuses and SLU students will study at the main campus (Suan Sak Campus).CMU is a large, research institution with over 36,000 students.

Students live in modern apartments very close to the campus of Chiang Mai University with a Thai student roommate. The apartments accommodate both international and Thai students, and are situated near plentiful inexpensive cafes and open-air eateries that are plentiful (and delicious) in Thailand. There are also many services on campus and in the dorms including a post office, banks, cafes, fitness rooms, a pool, hair salons, stores, laundry service and much more. 

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Please click here to find the calendar

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Pre-departure: The CIIS office organizes in-depth orientation sessions on-campus prior to the students' participation in the program. This includes a program specific session(s) in which the students will learn more about the program, local culture, academic expectations, and any other important information. There is also an orientation session lead by the CIIS office on culture shock, and what to expect, as well as safety and security while abroad.

On-site: Orientation takes place the first week of the semester in Chiang Mai University and includes the following:

Students arrive on Wednesday-Thursday before the first week of the semester (Thai roommates pick students up at the Chiang Mai airport).

Friday-Saturday: Thai Massage & Visit to Elephant Park (fun "soft landing" activities).

Sunday: Welcome activities on campus led by Thai students at Chiang Mai University (campus tour, etc) and dorm orientation in the afternoon led by ISEAA (meet ISEAA Director and Program Officers).

Monday-On campus ISEAA program orientation (e.g, go over class schedule, registration, program policies); meet professors, library tour, etc. 

Tuesday-Saturday: Northern Thai Village Home Stay Excursion (learn about rural life in Thailand)

Following Monday (Week 2): CLASSES START

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Program Contacts

If you are interested in learning more about the Thailand program please contact one of the following people.

CIIS OfficeHelen Huang, Director of Asian Studies - Questions about eligibility, program logistics, and other off-campus opportunities.

Faculty CoordinatorDr. David Henderson - Questions about program academics.

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Click here to apply to the Thailand program