UVa Study Abroad Programs in the Himalayas

Recognizing the import of study abroad programs for enhancing globally aware education, the University of Virginia was one of the first American universities to conduct accredited academic programs in Tibet. During the past decade, UVa has offered students a unique opportunity to study abroad in Lhasa at Tibet University.


Currently, we are not offering study abroad at Tibet University, but UVa currently offers students a program to study Bhutanese language, culture, history, and contemplative practices in Bhutan:

The University of Virginia (UVa) is excited to announce its new semester study abroad program for undergraduates in the Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan for autumn 2016.

Location: The Royal Thimphu College, a lovely campus in mountain forests within easy reach of the bustling capital city of Thimphu.

Click here to learn more & apply

The program’s full title is Himalayan Experiential Encounters: Historical, Anthropological, and Contemplative Explorations in Bhutan. This reflects the program’s blend of teaching on classical Bhutanese Buddhist civilization, fieldwork in modern Bhutan from urban to rural environments in a country famous for its rich Buddhist culture, pristine mountain environment, and political agenda of “Gross National Happiness,” and contemplative learning that combines academic study of classical Buddhist contemplation with modern secular practices of enhanced experiential learning for personal and intellectual development. The program will take full advantage of UVa’s famed Tibet Center, which currently runs multiple programs and collaborations in Bhutan  and the UVa Contemplative Sciences Center with its deep expertise in contemplative learning.Thimphu by Bradley Aaron

The program runs from July 28 to December 3, 2016 and will involve no more than 25 students in this first incarnation, and is likely to be significantly smaller.

Students will earn fifteen academic credits from the University of Virginia, 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 lecturers and discussions with the wonderful faculty at Royal Thimphu College, as well as from people of note in the capital. Students will stay on campus at the Royal Thimphu College, where they will intermingle with Bhutanese students. The program will combine on-campus classroom instruction with extensive ethnographic travel to other sites in Bhutan. The language of instruction is English, though there will be an introductory class offered in Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan.

Bhutanese Portrait by Bradley AaronApplication deadlineApril 1, 2016 (Admissions decisions will be made by April 10)

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.

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