About the Location
India is home to nearly 1.2 billion people and is the world's largest democracy. India continues to rise on the world stage and is becoming an economic superpower and a leader in technology. Hindi is the most widely-spoken of India's 14 official languages, but English is the most important language for business, government, and political communications. Located on the Ganges River in Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is among the holiest of places for Hindus and is also home to a vibrant Muslim population and is located only a few miles away from Sarnath where the Buddha preached his first sermon. Arguably the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Varanasi is a dense, diverse urban center in a close symbiotic relationship with a river that can be simultaneously understood as pure and polluted. A window into the ancient, spiritual, and cultural past of India, Varanasi is an example of the ways in which the ancient and modern coexist.
The Alliance for Global Education program in Varanasi allows students to examine the intersections between religious life, urban studies, and the environment in contemporary India. The program is based near Banaras Hindu University (BHU), one of India’s top research institutions. Founded in 1916, BHU has nearly 20,000 students, including 2,500 research scholars and 650 foreign students from across Asia and around the world. Many of the Alliance faculty members hold appointments within BHU’s various faculties and institutes. The semester curriculum consists of three required courses, Varanasi: City of Confluence (core class), a Hindi or Urdu Language course, and a 'Culture in Practice' field component. Students choose two additional electives. Coursework is complemented by cultural activities and excurions in and around Varanasi, as well as field visits elsewhere in India.
Grades count toward an Elon GPA.
Study abroad courses may not be taken on an audit or pass/fail basis, regardless of the host institution's policy.
To see course listings for this semester program, visit the program website.
Additional information about course equivalents for this program is available through the GEC website (Elon password required).
General Program Dates
Fall program – mid-August to mid-December
Spring semester – mid-January to mid-May
Students live with an Indian host and share a room with another Alliance student. Students will take most meals in their homes, though there may be days when students will be required to eat out on their own.
Students must complete the online Elon University study abroad application by the published deadline. See the Deadline and Events Calendar for the most up-to-date deadline information. Applications are generally accepted one semester in advance.
Initial approval is granted by Elon, and final acceptance is granted by Alliance.
A successful semester abroad is dependent upon adequate preparation. Students will participate in a series of mandatory orientations during the semester prior to studying abroad. These orientations will address issues of academic, cultural, logistical, financial, and personal preparation, as well as health and safety. Failure to participate in the required orientations will result in dismissal from the program. Any financial losses incurred by this dismissal, including program fees and international airfare, are the student's full responsibility.
Click here for the semester programs pre-departure orientation schedule.
Need-based scholarships are available for Elon semester programs through the GEC. For additional information on scholarships or other funding for study abroad, see the Funding for Study Abroad page.
If you qualify for a travel grant through any of the fellows or scholars programs, see the appropriate program director for more information on how to apply the grant to your study abroad program. Visit the Deadlines and Events Calendar for travel grant deadlines.
Students may apply for need-based scholarships for study in India for up to $6,000 for semester-length programs. Visit the Alliance site for more information.
Students who are interested in studying Hindi or Urdu may be eligible to apply for the Boren Scholarship. For more information on the Boren Scholarship, click here or contact the Boren Scholarship Advisor at Elon.
Additional Information and Links
Want to know more? Like the Global Education Center Facebook page
to chat with alumni and prospective students and receive study abroad updates.
Study Abroad Student Ambassadors (SASAs) are GEC student representatives who have participated in one or more study abroad programs, and have been trained to speak about their experiences. You can be in touch with current SASAs
via email, or contact past study abroad participants
who have attended your program. They are looking forward to hearing from you!
Embassy, Consulate, and Visa Resources
Indian Embassy in D.C.
U.S. Embassy in New Delhi
Newspapers and Journals
The Times of India
Manushi: A Journal about Women and Society
Journal of South Asia Women Studies