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Semester in South India

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:



Mysore, India




Good academic and non-academic standing

Application Due:


Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

Program Update

This program is currently not being offered. Please see our other India options and schedule an appointment with the Study Abroad advisor for India by calling 319-335-0353.

Immersion in Gender, Environment, Health and Development

Located in Mysore, a lovely mid-sized city in the southern state of Karnataka, the University of Iowa's Semester in South India program allows students to explore India's rich classical heritage and the contemporary forces that are rapidly reshaping this powerful nation today. Through classes, fieldtrips and independent study, students learn firsthand the depth of India's past, the issues faced by its society, and the questions it faces for the future.


The University of Iowa’s Semester in South India Program is open to UI and other U.S. undergraduate students. Faculty involved in the UI’s South Asian Studies Program developed the program in 1998 and provide academic oversight.


Faculty and guest lecturers are drawn from a variety of educational institutions in Mysore and Bangalore. Courses are conducted in a module format and are complemented by weekly visits to sites such as local NGOs, health clinics, women's organizations, village government centers, and organic farms. Throughout their coursework, students participate in service-learning projects and internships to gain hands-on experience with the topics discussed in the classroom.

Kumkum Powder Shop, Mysore

Kumkum Powder Shop, Mysore

The program includes the following required courses:

PDFIndian Culture and Civilization (4 s.h. may be petitioned as International and Global Issues for CLAS general education)

PDFGender in Indian Society (3 s.h. may be petitioned as Values, Society and Diversity for CLAS general education)

PDFSustainable Development (3 s.h. approved as 152:191)

PDFEnvironment and Health in Modern India (3 s.h. approved as 152:192)

Conversational Kannada Language (1 s.h.)

Instruction in Hindi or Sanskrit is available as a 3 s.h. elective for an additional fee (click the Application tab for cost information).

Students also have a choice of 1 s.h. elective courses including yoga, mridangam (drum), sitar, bharatanatyam (dance), and Carnatic vocal music. Students may also take an Indian cooking class offered not for credit.

The academic program is conducted entirely in English, which is spoken throughout India.

Cultural Activities

Accompanying the program director, students visit places they learn about in the classroom. One trip includes a visit to the Gomateshvara statue, one of the oldest and most important Jain pilgrimage centers in India, and two Hoysala temples at Halebid and Belur.

The week long fieldtrip throughout northern Karnataka covers the rock-cut architecture of Badami; Pattadakal and Aihole, both developing grounds for South Indian temple architecture; the Islamic architecture of Bijapur; and the magnificent ruins of the medieval Hindu empire of Vijayanagar at Hampi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lotus Mahal, Hampi

Lotus Mahal, Hampi

Travel and Break

Time for travel is built into the program so that students are able to explore India on their own. Three-day weekends allow for travel to places around Mysore and the rest of South India. There is also a one week break for extended travel.

During the vacation period students may travel to other parts of India on their own. Past participants have traveled north to places such as the Himalaya Mountains, Rajasthan or Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Others prefer to explore South India, visiting the backwaters of Kerala, for example, or staying in an ashram at Pondicherry.


The program runs from approximately August 15th to December 15th. Exact dates will be announced during the spring semester.

For More Information

Perfume Shop, Mysore Market

Perfume Shop, Mysore Market

If you are ready to learn more, please call 319-335-0353 and ask the receptionist to schedule an appointment with study abroad advisor Fran Boyken. Students should also discuss their study abroad plans with their academic advisor and other appropriate faculty.

If you are not a University of Iowa student and cannot attend an in person meeting, please email Fran Boyken for more information.


Mysore Palace at Night

Mysore Palace at Night

Mysore and Bangalore are the two major cities in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Mysore, the home base of the program, is one of the loveliest mid-sized cities in India (pop. 900,000).

This important cultural center is nestled against a hillside on top of which is one of the largest and best known temples to the Hindu goddess Chamundi. The city has an extraordinary palace complex built by the Wodeyars, the local rulers from 1875 to 1950. Mysore is also famous as an educational center, housing the University of Mysore, several institutions specializing in traditional knowledge, and other private research institutions.


Bangalore is the capital of Karnataka, located about 80 miles northeast of Mysore. Though now a bustling city of approximately seven million people, and widely acclaimed as the most “modern” city in India, it still retains a well-deserved reputation as the Garden City of India because of its many parks. It is often called the Indian Silicon Valley as it is the center of India’s burgeoning computer and software industry.

Taken together, Mysore and Bangalore are within close proximity to many of the most important cultural and historical sites of South India, contain one of the most vibrant literary and artistic cultures in India, and easily combine the classical and modern.

Local Mysorean

Local Mysorean


Fall is the most pleasant time of the year in India, and Bangalore and Mysore are no exceptions. After the monsoon rains end in September, the weather is pleasantly warm, not unbearably hot.

Throughout the program the high temperatures will be in the 80s with lows in the 60s and 70s, though by December the lows will be in the 50s. On the whole the humidity is quite low.


Ganga River Scene, Varanasi

Ganga River Scene, Varanasi

The world’s largest democracy and second most populous country, India is a land of diversity with great variety in food, language, and religion represented even within a single region. It has major cultural influence around the world, a rich and varied history, and a fast-growing and powerful economy.

Living Arrangements

This program takes place at the Vivekananda Institute of Indian Studies (VIIS), an undertaking of the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM). A state-of-the-art facility, VIIS has spacious classrooms, a well-organized resource center, library, and a computer lab. Students live in furnished, double rooms which include closets and work tables. Breakfast and lunch are catered with kitchen facilities and a dining area available for student use. For other meals, there are excellent restaurants in Mysore, and there is a nearby grocery store and produce market close to VIIS.

Please click the "Photos" tab to see a slideshow which includes more photos of the VIIS accommodations, classrooms, and computer lab.

VIIS Library

VIIS Library

VIIS Student Accommodations

VIIS Student Accommodations

Travel Arrangements

A suggested group flight is arranged for students to travel together to India. Students will receive more information about the suggested group flight via email prior to departure. Students also have the option to book flights with different itineraries or preferred airlines as long as they arrive at approximately the same time as the suggested group flight.

Local Transportation

Students and Auto-Rikshaw

Students and Auto-Rikshaw

Bangalore has an international airport, served from London by Air India. It is also connected by all domestic airlines to Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and other major Indian cities. Airline fares are comparable to domestic fares in the U.S. and foreigners must pay in foreign currency.

India has the biggest passenger train system in the world, and the best way to travel throughout the country is by train. There are six passenger trains per day between Mysore and Bangalore (which is also a major rail hub), the quickest taking just over two hours. Although trains offer several levels of accommodation which are priced accordingly, they remain remarkably inexpensive for foreigners.

Travel by bus is still the only way to get to many of the most interesting places. Public buses are usually cheap, slow, and crowded. Bangalore and Mysore, however, have many private bus lines which offer more comfortable seating and are faster.

Bicycles, oxcarts, auto rickshaws, motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses and an occasional cow or elephant all jostle in Mysore’s streets. For local transportation, there is a public bus stop near the VIIS campus which provides very cheap access to the downtown area. There is also a nearby rickshaw stand.

Often the best way to get around is by foot. Program participants should be sure to bring a pair of sturdy, comfortable sandals!


UI Student at Vijayanagar Ruins, Hampi

UI Student at Vijayanagar Ruins, Hampi

This program is intended for undergraduate students. Students must be in good academic and non-academic (disciplinary) standing in order to participate on this program.


The base program fee for Fall 2014 is estimated to be approximately $10,000 for residents. Note that this is an estimate and is subject to change prior to application deadline. Check back regularly to get updated cost information. Additional fees apply for non-UI students.

The base program fee includes tuition, housing, orientation, most meals, and program excursions and activities. Additionally, students pay the UI study abroad administrative fees described here (this is a 12 s.h. semester program) and the required Iowa Regents CISI Insurance described here. There is also a $50 non-refundable application fee.

Students should also be prepared to pay for round trip airfare (approximately $1800), some meals, a pre-departure medical examination, travel-related immunizations and/or prescription medications, passport ($135) and visa ($100) fees, and any personal expenses. Non-UI students must provide original transcripts from all colleges and universities attended and should therefore be prepared to pay the appropriate transcript request fees.

Students who choose to enroll in a Hindi or Sanskrit course will pay an additional course fee of approximately $575.

Financial aid and scholarships received to attend the University of Iowa can often be applied toward the program cost. Eligible program participants are also encouraged to apply for merit, need-based, and/or Diversity Ambassador scholarships awarded by Study Abroad. Application deadlines for these scholarships to be used for a Fall program are typically in March.

How to Apply


If you would like to apply, you should first meet with study abroad advisor Fran Boyken. Please call 319-335-0353 and ask the receptionist to schedule an appointment for you. Students should also discuss their plans with their academic advisor and other appropriate faculty and staff before applying for a study abroad program.

If you are not a University of Iowa student and cannot attend an in person appointment, please email Fran Boyken for more information.

Application Deadline

The application deadline is March 14.

Study Abroad will provide information regarding confirmation and preparation after the application deadline. Please contact program advisor Fran Boyken if you have questions.

Confirmation Materials

Once you've been accepted to the program (after the application deadline) you'll find the forms you should complete and return to Study Abroad in order to confirm your place on the program here. An additional document is required for non-UI or non-degree students.

Please SUBMIT the following items to Study Abroad by the confirmation deadline:

• Confirmation of Participation Form

• Medical Self-Assessment Form

• Transcript Request Form (Non-UI and Non-Degree Applicants ONLY)

Please READ the following items and keep for your records:

• Withdrawal Schedule and Fees

• International Medical Insurance

• UI Financial Aid procedures (UI students only)

Non-UI and Non-Degree Participants

In order to receive a transcript for your participation in the University of Iowa's Semester in South India program, you must submit a Transcript Request Form. One transcript will be issued to you at no additional charge after completion of the course. Be sure to include your name, signature, birth date, university ID, residing address, and the address your transcript should be sent to (check with your home institution's Study Abroad office to confirm this). Please submit the Transcript Request Form with your confirmation documents.

Pre-departure Materials

Participants are encouraged to read through the following web sites to prepare for the program in India. There is also a program handbook which will be distributed to students during preparation for departure.

UI Study Abroad - Prepare for Departure

UI Student Health & Wellness International Travel Clinic

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) - India

Lonely Planet - India

U.S. Dept. of State - U.S. Passports

OSAC - India: Information from the U.S. Department of State on safety and security abroad. Anyone can subscribe for the free OSAC newsletter to receive international safety news and updates via email.

Orientation Information

Fresh Coconut Break

Fresh Coconut Break

All UI students will attend a general TIPS orientation for students studying abroad. Additional individualized meetings address India-specific topics, as well as billing and credit procedures.

On arrival, students will spend the first several days at a program orientation. On-site staff will lead sessions on program information related to such topics as academic expectations, dormitory rules and getting to and from the city center. Other orientation sessions will focus on living in India, cultural adjustment, gender norms, etc. Students will also have chances to explore Mysore as a group.

The following two videos were created by UI student Victoria Harding
while on the Semester in South India program: