Classes in English - Family Home Stays - Independent Field Research - Extracurricular Opportunities in Dance, Art, Music - Travel in India

South India Term Abroad

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About South India Term Abroad

South India Term Abroad is located in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. SITA students are creative writers, future Fulbright scholars, curious adventurers, dancers, first-time international travelers, activists, social entrepreneurs, and everything in-between. No matter your passions, boldly go and add a unique India-spin, a valuable global-perspective to your repertoire.

Field Research

Produce innovative and rigorous research with the support of SITA faculty. Turn it into a senior thesis, undergraduate research award, published article, or a Fulbright fellowship to return to India. 

Volunteer Experience

Add practical international experience to your resume, and build the knowledge and skills you seek to pursue your career goals through a sustained volunteer experience linked to coursework themes.  

Expressive Culture Training

Not only fun – these optional classes in dance, music, or art will provide you with a unique window into Indian culture, an opportunity to learn deeply, and a chance to forge meaningful connections with members of the local community.

Home Stays

Many SITA alums talk about finding an extension of their family on the complete opposite side of the world. They will make your experience living in Madurai a great one, and you will probably learn the most from each other.

Educational Tours

Travel with knowledgable faculty and staff on week-long and long weekend tours around South India to learn more about this diverse region of the world. 

Engaging Courses

Choose from electives that combine classroom discussions and lectures with experiential learning, field trips, practicums, and research. 


“I’m a different person, a better person.”

SITA alum


The South India Term Abroad Team

There are many people who will help you prepare for your journey to Madurai and make the most of your time in India. Our core team, with a diverse range of skills, will help you transform your creativity, critical thinking, and ideas into valuable local networks of people and communities, tangible pieces of research and creative work, marketable volunteer placements, and new pathways to pursue your educational and career goals.


Dr. Connie Etter, Executive Director


Dr. Ted Samuel, Resident Director


Dr. Arun Raja Selvan, Deputy Director (center)

Ms. Nirmala Christina, Outreach & Operations Manager

Ms. Nirmala Christina, Outreach & Operations Manager




South India Term Abroad Courses

South India Term Abroad students earn a George Washington University transcript (15 credits) at the end of a SITA semester. All students enroll in the Ethnography sequence (6 credits total) and Tamil language (3 credits). You also enroll in 2 electives (3 credits each), offered each semester based on student interest and faculty availability.

ANTH 3531: Ethnographic Methods and Theory and ANTH 3991: Research in Madurai (Required)

Dr. Ted Samuel teaches this series, with the philosophy that your SITA research endeavors can be meaningful and useful — to both the researcher and the research participants. syllabus

ANTH 3791: Tamil Language (Required)

Dr. Arun teaches this course, with an emphasis on developing speaking and listening abilities to equip you to deal with different situations you will encounter in your day-to-day life in Madurai. syllabus

SOC 2181/WMST 3170: India's Diversity (Elective)

Discuss sociological theories of power and marginality, learn about the historical background of caste, politics, and gender in Tamil Nadu, and participate in experiential learning within a local NGO. syllabus

REL 3990: Myth, Religion, and Art (Elective)

Whether you’re in class or on a field visit, Dr. Venkatraman – an engaging story-teller – will help you understand and contextualize the architecture, art, and rituals that surround you in Tamil Nadu. syllabus

ENG 3730: Human Rights Literature (Elective)

Professor Joel teaches this discussion-based course that focuses on the intersection of human rights and literature. Dalit, transgender, and Tamil authors will be featured.  

PSC 3994: Environmental Issues (Elective)

Team taught by two professors from nearby Lady Doak College, this course will introduce you to  environmental issues in Tamil Nadu, with a focus on field visits and Madurai-based case studies. 


Next Application Deadline: September 30, 2016 for the SITA spring 2017 program (January 4 – April 15, 2017)

  1. Submit a Home College Approval Form.

  2. Submit an Application Form. (Please note that you will not be able to save and return to the application. Read through all the questions and prepare documents before beginning to fill out the form.)


Program Calendar

Any college student at an accredited college or university in the US is eligible to apply to South India Term Abroad. We have fall (fall 2016: August 15-November 26) and spring (spring 2017: January 4-April 15) semester programs. Students can also enroll for an academic year, with further opportunities for gaining intercultural experience. Academic year students may apply for a scholarship to serve as a peer mentor during their second semester, live independently in an apartment, and seek further opportunities for elective courses, more in-depth research, and volunteer experience.

Orientation: Week 1

one-week off-site orientation followed by a host family tea, where students meet their host families in Madurai 

Coursework: Weeks 2-9

students take courses at the SITA Center, with interspersed travel in south India 

Research: Weeks 10-15

students are immersed in their research projects, the semester ends with a final seminar to share research


South India Term Abroad Comprehensive Fees

SITA’s comprehensive fees are intended to cover all your expenses once you are in India, with no out-of-pocket expenses. The fall 2016 fees are $19,995 and include all course-related expenses, tours, a living stipend, extracurriculars, and research support.

Students Report on Out-of-Pocket Expenses

“I could have relied only on the stipends given by SITA and have been fine. I used my own money for gifts and more pricey clothes.” – spring 2016 student

Fall 2015 students reported spending $70-$150 beyond the living stipend SITA provides.

Cost Breakdown

See SITA’s cost breakdown for a detailed list of comprehensive fee inclusions and estimated out-of-pocket expenses. 


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