Students interested in Indian culture have the opportunity to study abroad in India with the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) on its IFSA Study in India: Field Experience Program. This program is designed to pull students into everyday life in modern India—with the extra benefit of an added month for intensive experiential learning.
India is the world’s largest democracy with a rapidly growing economy, vibrant IT industry and service sector, and burgeoning middle class, and it is poised to become an influential world power. Despite its impressive economic growth, social hierarchy, inequity, and poverty remain enormous challenges for this country of more than one billion people. Students examine the diverse factors, internal and global, shaping India’s development strategies and patterns and gain foundational knowledge of India’s past, present, and future development paradigms, economic growth, and development alternatives.
Count on IFSA amazing Pune team to learn about students' goals and interests, and help each student pursue an internship, independent study, or directed research endeavor that will build valuable skills, set student's resume apart, and give student a unique connection with Indian culture. Ideal for students looking for personal challenge and a completely new environment with an interest in public health, international relations, development studies, or social justice.
Please check this video for your reference about the IFSA India program.
- Based in Pune
- Spring or Fall semester
- Pre-requisites: 3.0 GPA; one course with significant South Asia content highly recommended OR another course that directly addresses topics relevant for study in India (see this listing for some potential course options)
- Students must enroll in Hindi language course while on the program
- Live with homestay families
Location Academics Co-Curricular Housing Calendar Orientation Program Contacts
Pune, also called Poona, city, in west-central Maharashtra state, western India, at the junction of the Mula and Mutha rivers. Called “Queen of the Deccan,” Pune is the cultural capital of the Maratha people. The city first gained importance as the capital of the Bhonsle Marathas in the 17th century. It was temporarily captured by the Mughals but again served as the official Maratha capital from 1714 until its fall to the British in 1817. It was the seasonal capital of the Bombay Presidency and is now a popular tourist resort, offering cool weather, historic and religious monuments, museums, parks, hotels, and cultural attractions.
Pune has long been a major educational and cultural center; former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru referred to it as the “Oxford and Cambridge of India.” The city houses some 30 constituent and affiliated colleges of the University of Pune (1948); the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (1917) is renowned for research and instruction in the Sanskrit and Prakrit languages and has more than 20,000 ancient manuscripts.
The program an opportunity to become part of a rich legacy of student-scholars observing, engaging with, and learning from communities in and around Pune. All students will complete an intensive field-based learning experience, conducted during the final month of the semester abroad. In addition to the required class, students choose elective classes taught by local experts in global and public health domains as well as Indian culture, politics, and economics.
Students are required to take 6 courses: three required courses, and three electives. Below is the course credit conversion:
Three Required Courses:
Essential Hindi =0.27 SLU units
Beginning Hindi = 0.83 SLU units
Internship or Directed Research or Independent Study = 0.83 SLU units
Three Elective Courses:
Each elective course = 0.83 SLU units
Students will receive 4.43 SLU units after completing the program.
Three field experience options are available, designed to deepen your engagement with the local community and its culture. You are matched with a project tailored to your personal, academic, and professional interests articulated during the application and prearrival process and developed with the support of IFSA’s on-site staff and community networks.
Internship or Directed Research or Independent Study
Conducted under close academic supervision, each class involves a minimum of 120 contact hours in the field and entail a final paper or project with accompanying presentation. Internships require students to thoughtfully and critically integrate the academic, experiential, and professional within an organizational context, whereas directed research involves a formal research project carried out within an organization, a library, or the field. An independent study allows students to develop their skills in a specific cultural practice, such as classical Indian music or dance, documentary filmmaking methods, or other artistic and artisanal forms. For more detailed information and examples of previous student placements, contact your IFSA Admissions Counselor. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
Because of the immersive field experience you will have, we strongly encourage you to enroll in a full language elective to prepare yourself to make the rich of this incredible opportunity and interact respectfully with the communities hosting you.
Essential Hindi is taught intensively during the first two weeks of the semester for those students without a Hindi language background. It has two focuses: to equip students with essential communication skills, key words, and phrases, to engage in basic conversations, as well as build their ability to read basic signs and request emergency assistance; and to promote students’ understanding of the local environment and culture in contemporary India enhance their language skills in real world settings. (1 U.S. semester credit hour)
Language instruction in colloquial Hindi, emphasizing functional use of the language in contexts that students can be expected to encounter in daily life. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
If you have previous Hindi experience or are interested in studying a different Indic language, contact your IFSA Admissions Counselor about a potential independent study option.
Not all electives may be offered in a given semester depending on enrollment and faculty availability.
The Indian economy serves as a complex, fascinating example of high technology, expanding trade, vibrant entrepreneurship, and a highly skilled workforce, co-existing in sometimes tenuous balance with widespread poverty, social inequality, and critical gaps in health care, education, and infrastructure. This class explores how developing economies seek to address and reconcile these disparities, focusing on technological change, political economy, trade, social entrepreneurship and microfinance, and international aid as they are managed and applied within India and other case studies. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
SLU Course Departmental designation: ECON 236 -- globalization issues. Interested students need to have the pre-requisite -- Econ 100 in order to take this course.
As the core science of public health, epidemiology is the study of disease and illness through the lens of social determinants of health, as well as research methods, data management, and subsequent communication. The class is designed to enable students to gain foundational knowledge of epidemiological principles, the basic models for disease occurrence, and skills to design and interpret studies that measure variables both accurately and ethically. Students will explore timely topics such as the impact of socioeconomic factors and lifestyle on disease occurrence, its changing patterns including recent pandemics, and the potential for prevention and intervention on a population basis. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
SLU Course Departmental designation: Public Health 200 Level
From Hindu mythology to the pages of Bollywood gossip magazines, Indian womanhood has been a constantly evolving site for the mapping of cultural norms, desires, and anxieties. The simultaneous exaltation and oppression of femininity is both reinforced and contested in the mass media—a key tool of communication in a diverse and complex democracy. Through critical exploration of gender in Indian film, theatre, television, and advertising, this class addresses timely and relevant questions relating to women's issues in contemporary India. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
SLU Course Departmental designation: Gender Studies 200 Level Elective
For decades, maternal and child health have been critical components of the development agenda. The proportion of population of women in reproductive ages (15-45 years) and children (up to 15 years) makes them the biggest consumers of health services. Thus, preventive aspects of maternal and child health become important to ensure healthy population at present and in the future. This class thus aims at exploring maternal and child health in an Indian context, including important aspects of preventive obstetrics, preventive pediatrics, maternal and child nutrition, growth monitoring and immunization, etc. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
SLU Course Departmental designation: Public Health 200 Level
National Health Policy in India
In India, the health of the society at large is the responsibility of the national government. This class will introduce the formation of the national health policy and examine the design, features, and reach of services governing the health services market. Specialization and alternative treatments create affordable options, while pharmaceutical infrastructure play important role in policy design and implementation. Students will investigate the relationship between health policy and the healthcare system in India, from the challenges generated by implementation to the institutions involved and the ongoing need for skilled healthcare workers. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
SLU Course Departmental designation: Public Health 200 Level
In this class, health will be discussed not only as a biomedical but also as a socio-cultural phenomenon as it relates to Indian society. In addition to many other health determinants, socio-cultural norms and values shape attitudes of people and communities. India is a vast canvas to look for varied responses of its people to various diseases, National Health Programmes, NGOs’ efforts, etc. This class explores facilitators and barriers while responding to health and illness issues, as well as pluralistic health care delivery systems and their outcomes. Despite limited resources, India’s achievements in the health field will be highlighted. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
SLU Course Departmental designation: Public Health 200 Level
Social Justice Theory and Practice
Social justice movements in India may be most widely known through the iconic figures of Mahatma Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar, but there is a rich and diverse tradition of Indian social justice theory and action dating from the British Raj era to modern Dalit, tribal, and women's movements. This class offers students an overview of social justice thought and activism in India, evolving through nationalism and the freedom struggle, 20th century political and social movements, and contemporary economic, caste, and gender disparities. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
India is one of the longest continuously democratic states in the developing world. This class offers an opportunity to understand the various institutions that govern India and the complex, diverse processes of governance—from local to national. Students will examine key concepts that have shaped relationships between the people and the state, as well as between national politics and local governance, and their impact on how social, economic, and cultural paradigms are structured in India. Pune, with its diverse demographics, culture, and landscape, is a perfect location to study how the institutions of modern parliamentary democracy function at different levels. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
SLU Course Departmental designation: Government 200 Level
Understanding India through its Art
This class aims to provide the students with knowledge of Indian culture within the context of art history. The history of the Indian subcontinent since its origins in the Indus Valley Civilization will be evaluated through its paintings, sculptures, pottery, and textile arts—and in a more limited way, its architectural styles. Particular attention will be given to religious influences from the Mughals, Buddhists, and Hindus; the British and other colonizing powers; and the Bombay Progressive Artists’ Group and other post-Independence artistic trends. Students will develop a critical understanding the past and present of the current India in which we live. (3 U.S. semester credit hours)
SLU Course Departmental designation: AAH 3102/ASIA 3067
Students who choose to pursue directed research as their field component are paired with a faculty member appropriate to their academic area of interest, such as performing arts, journalism, tribal, environmental or women's issues, public health, or text-based historical research, and are expected to produce a formal research paper. Research students have regular meetings with faculty guides in their subject area to discuss the formation and execution of their research plans. All directed research projects are subject to the interest and availability of faculty and may require prior relevant coursework.
In Pune, students have the opportunity to participate in a full-time, four-week internship to fulfill their field component requirement. Interns are placed in Indian, joint-venture, or foreign-owned non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and companies working in the fields of microfinance, business, women's rights, education, environmental protection, public health, and civic engagement. The placement process begins with the submission of the Internship Interest Form upon acceptance into the program. Please consider your interests carefully while filling out this form, as it is not possible for changes in placement to be made in Pune. Placements are typically finalized after students arrive in India.
IFSA offers a list of various internship opportunities. While some of these internship opportunities may be available for upcoming terms, internship placements do vary from term to term. IFSA will work with you individually to identify a placement that meets your unique personal, academic, and professional goals.
Activities and excursions are an important piece of your IFSA experience, designed to pull you into the fabric of the communities you visit and encourage cultural connections of every kind. That said, at times, circumstances beyond our control—including local government regulations and health protocols—could impact our ability to hold these events as planned.
Know that we’ll make every effort to run the activities, trips, and excursions slated for your program. You’ll see detailed examples of previous outings offered during this program below. Keep in mind that the options could look different for your program, and that we cannot guarantee these activities, trips, and excursions.
Activities are optional, but they are included in your total program fee. They vary each term based on availability, but activities may include:
- Expressive Culture Classes: Shake off stress as you try some of the elements that make up India’s rich performing arts heritage. Students are welcome to join the closing ceremony.
- Heritage Indoor Games: Women have long taken part in indoor games as a way for housewives to gather, share their lives, and have fun. These games are also played at festivals for newly married girls where they worship the Hindu goddess Gauri. Take part yourself to experience this important element of local culture.
- Cooking an Indian Meal: Indian food tastes even more amazing when you learn how to make it yourself! Roll up your sleeves with IFSA staff and learn to prepare three basic dishes including chapati bread, a potato vegetable dish, and shira, a sweet dish made with semolina.
- Diwali/Holi Lunch: India is known for its colorful festivals and festive lunches. See what happens behind the scenes as you help prepare one of these special meals, then enjoy the celebration together.
- Know Your City: Take advantage of Saturday sightseeing adventures to share time with Indian peers (your guides) as you visit Parvati Hill, Shaniwar Wada, Agakhan Palace, and more.
IFSA excursions are included in your total program fee and though these are optional, most students choose to participate. They vary each term based on availability, but excursions may include:
- Wai & Mahabaleshwar Trip: On this trip, you’ll see the gloriously lush Sahyadri Mountain range—also called the Western Ghats and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit the small town of Wai, known as Varanasi of the South for its 100-plus architecturally stunning temples. Explore the most worshiped Ganesh temple, the Shri Laxmi Narasimha temple, a rural school, a strawberry farm, and get a new perspective from the water with a boat ride. Next, it’s off to the nearby hill station of Mahabaleshwar, where King Shivaji built Fort Pratap Gad during the Maratha Empire, and where he defeated Afzal Khan. Soak in panoramic views that include the Sahyadri Mountains from Mahabaleshwar’s many hilltop points and enjoy strawberries with cream and wood-oven roasted chickpeas at the local market.
- Village Velhe Visit: Seeing rural India is important to building an understanding of India as a whole. On this day trip, experience village market day, when people from remote villages come to fetch needs for the week ahead. You’ll also a visit to a rural primary health care center and a girl’s hostel run by Jnana Prabodhini — a school in Pune — as its rural development initiative. By playing games with students and meeting female leaders, you’ll learn about challenges for girls’ education and learn about inspiring local empowerment work. Wind up the day with a meal at a small resort where you’ll learn to prepare bhakri, a type of a bread commonly eaten in these villages.
During the program, students will live with an Indian host family. All homestay families undergo an extensive vetting process with special attention to health, safety, and opportunities for cultural exchange. While every student has a different relationship with their host family, students are frequently brought along to religious, cultural and community activities, and introduced widely among their friends and family. Host families may be a large extended family, an older couple with children living abroad, or a nuclear family. They will likely speak Marathi, English, and some Hindi.
All meals will be provided by the host family and/or IFSA program center. Arrangements for host family meals vary among housing placements. Indian cuisine is generally vegetarian, though some meat dishes are available in Pune. Students may choose to eat out at Western-style restaurants at your own expense.
Please check IFSA website for program dates. The spring semester typically begins in early Jan and ends at late April. The fall semester typically begins in late August and ends in mid-December.
Pre-departure: The CIIS office organizes in-depth orientation sessions on-campus prior to the student's 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 led by the CIIS office on culture shock, pre-departure preparations, as well as safety and security while abroad.
On-site: Upon arrival in Pune, students have local orientation led by IFSA staff and learn about cultural norms, practical advice, and navigating the city.
If you are interested in learning more about the India program, please contact one of the following people:
CIIS Office: Dr. Helen Huang, Director of Asia Programs - Questions about eligibility, program logistics, and other off-campus opportunities.
Faculty Coordinator: Dr. Arun Brahmbhatt- Questions about program academics