UVA in Bhutan Study Abroad

The University of Virginia (UVA) is excited to announce its new semester study abroad program for autumn 2017, focusing on the culture, history, language, and contemplative practices in the Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan.


Thimphu by Bradley Aaron

Thimphu Valley looking south

Location: The Royal Thimphu College, a lovely campus in mountain forests within easy reach of the bustling capital city of Thimphu. Students will stay on campus at the Royal Thimphu College, where they will intermingle with Bhutanese students.

Program dates: July 31 to December 3, 2017

Participation limit: 25 students

Apply now!

Bhutan is famous for its rich Buddhist culture, pristine mountain environment, and political agenda of “Gross National Happiness.” The program, UVA in Bhutan: Himalayan Buddhism, Culture and Contemplation, is a blend of teaching on Bhutanese history and culture, anthropological inquiry, contemplative studies, Buddhist civilization, fieldwork, and an optional course in Dzongkha, the Bhutanese language.

Students will experience multiple facets of modern Bhutan, from the dynamic urban setting of Thimphu to more rural environments farther afield, providing a range of encounters that complement and augment traditional classroom studies. Fieldwork will include excursions to sites of historic and contemporary significance throughout the Thimphu Valley and the wider region, including Buddhist temples and monasteries, places of artistic and cultural production, and natural settings such as parks and

Students will earn fifteen academic credits from the University of Virginia College of Arts and Sciences, with classes taught directly by Doctors James Gentry and Ana Cristina Lopes, both well known experts in Himalayan culture and Buddhism with years of experience living and teaching in the Himalayas. Instruction will thus be of the highest quality, while also drawing upon guest lectures and discussions with the wonderful faculty at Royal Thimphu College, as well as from noteworthy local residents.  The program will combine on-campus classroom instruction with extensive ethnographic travel to other sites around Bhutan. The language of instruction is English, though there will be an opportunity to learn introductory Dzongkha, the national language.

The program will also take full advantage of UVA’s renowned Tibet Center, which currently runs multiple programs and collaborations in Bhutan, as well as the UVA Contemplative Sciences Center, with its deep expertise in contemplative learning.

Admission decisions will be made on a rolling basis. Accepted students must commit by April 15, 2017. 

This program is open to all undergraduates with at least a 2.5 GPA enrolled at any US or Canadian institution of higher learning (including community colleges), regardless of their citizenship. Unfortunately we cannot accept high school students or others not enrolled in a college or university.


Program Costs: see the program website and click on the “Budget Sheets: Fall Semester” link at the top of the page.

Note that Virginia residents who are UVA degree-seeking students are offered special financial assistance from UVA in the form of a $3,000 credit. Before opening an application, all UVA students must go through the online Education Abroad Workshop here. Some additional funding sources available to both UVA and non-UVA students are compiled here.

Click here to learn more & apply

If you have questions not answered on the application site, please send an email to: bhutanstudy@collab.itc.virginia.edu