South India Term Abroad

Apply Now Read Our Blog

About South India Term Abroad

Find the right balance of challenge, support, and independence with South India Term Abroad as you learn about South India and apply that knowledge to complete an independent research project, a service-learning project with a human rights organization, or a case study about a current environmental issue in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. SITA started in 1990 and draws on a strong, experienced network of professors, non-profit leaders, activists, social entrepreneurs, business owners, families, religious leaders, dancers, artists, musicians, yogis, and cooks to offer fall and spring semester programs with diverse and creative opportunities for academic engagement and cultural immersion.

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 

See SITA through the eyes of one of our amazing students. Thank you Hayley Nicholas (Bowdoin, Class of 2017) for sharing your experience in such a fun and meaningful way!

Wondering what it’s like to live with a host family? Caleigh Ryan (Grinnell, Class of 2017) and her host sisters, Aafreen and Afshan, formed a lifelong bond that will span continents.

There are some parts of the world that, once visited, get into your heart and won’t go. For me, India is such a place. – Keith Bellows, the late editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveller

Temple Complexes

Temple Complexes

The road to the SITA Center

and Elephant Visits



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.

Need a copy of your transcript? If you attended SITA Fall 2014 or later: Fill out this form and submit as instructed. Please contact the executive director for your GWID. If you attended SITA Spring 2014 or earlier: Please contact the executive director for a copy of your SITA grade report (no transcripts available).

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/WSTU 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. 

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. syllabus new for spring 2017! 

PSC 2994: Environmental Issues (Elective)

Local experts, activists, and professors will introduce you to environmental issues of South India and the complexity of responses to those issues, with particular reference to Madurai District. 


The SITA 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. A. Ted Samuel, Resident Director

Dr. Arun Raja Selvan, Deputy Director & Tamil Language Professor

Ms. Nirmala Christina, Outreach & Operations Manager

Ms. Nisha Felicita, Community Advisor

Mr. K. Ramesh Mani, Office Attendant


Mrs. Chellapandi, Cook


Mrs. M. Vijaya, Housekeeper


Mrs. L. Vethanayaha Mary, Cleaner


Program Calendar

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

Orientation: Week 1

SITA staff will greet you at the Madurai airport when you land, kicking off orientation week

Coursework: Weeks 2-9

you’ll take courses at the SITA Center, with interspersed travel in south India 

Research: Weeks 10-15

 you’ll be immersed in your research, sharing your findings and analyses during a final seminar


Application Deadline

Any undergraduate student at an accredited college or university in the US is eligible to apply to South India Term Abroad. You can enroll for fall semester, spring semester, or the academic year.

Spring Semester 2018

Application Deadline

October 13, 2017

Required Documents

Submit a Home Institution Approval Form and an Application Form

Program Dates

January 4 – April 14, 2017

Fall Semester 2018

Application Deadline

April 20, 2018

Required Documents

Submit a Home Institution Approval Form and an Application Form.

Program Dates

mid-August – late November


Comprehensive Tuition and Fees

Living Stipend

SITA’s comprehensive fees are intended to cover all your expenses once you are in India, with very little out-of-pocket expenses. 2015-16 students reported spending $70-$150 beyond the living stipend SITA provides. One student commented, “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 2017 comprehensive fees are $19,995 and include all course-related expenses, room & board, in-country travel, and more. You can review a more detailed cost breakdown.


T here are many financial resources available to students who want to study abroad. Be sure to ask your study abroad office about scholarships and awards available at your home institution, as well as any outside resources they can recommend. You can also begin your on-line search with this list of scholarships compiled by SITA. 

Spring 2017 fees for academic-year program SITA students are reduced to $19,495. So if you’re a fall semester SITA student (or planning to become a fall semester SITA student), consider staying in India for the academic year. In your second semester, you can transition from your host family to an apartment for an independent living experience (or continue living with your host family, or a new host family), continue your research, improve your Tamil language skills, find even more meaningful ways to engage with local communities, and also serve as a peer mentor to incoming SITA students just starting to explore Madurai and dive into the complexities of south Indian culture, politics, and history.

A  ll fees must be paid to SITA before arrival. Invoices will be issued via email to you as a student shortly after your confirmation deadline. If your college/university is one of our partner institutions, SITA may have an agreement to invoice your school directly. To confirm this, please contact the executive director. Payments may be made by ACH (electronic) payment (instructions for ACH payments are included on the invoice) or by check. 

Check Payment

If an electronic transfer is not possible, a check can be made payable to South India Term Abroad and sent to:

South India Term Abroad
Attn: Connie Etter
1079 South 300 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

withdrawal and refund policy

Please note that withdrawing from the program within 6 weeks of the US departure date will have financial consequences. The SITA refund policy regarding withdrawals, with dates specific to spring 2017 semester students, is as follows:

  • If you withdraw on or before June 30, 2017: 100% refund of the total program cost, except the non-refundable program deposit of $500.
  • If you withdraw July 1 – July 14, 2017: 90% refund of the total program cost, except the non-refundable program deposit of $500.
  • If you withdraw July 15 – July 28, 2017: 75% refund of the total program cost, except the non-refundable program deposit of $500.
  • If you withdraw July 29 – Aug. 11, 2017: 50% refund of the total program cost, except the non-refundable program deposit of $500.
  • If you withdraw on or after Aug. 12, 2017: no refund will be issued.

You have the option to appeal when withdrawing for extenuating circumstances. See the Refund Appeal Form and Refund Appeal Medical Supplement (if relevant) for instructions.


If you would like to defer your participation from one semester to another, please contact the executive director to discuss your options. Requests will be managed on a case-by-case basis. You cannot defer to another term to avoid cancellation fees.