UW in India: Varanasi

One City. Countless Perspectives.

Choose your own research topic.
Contribute to the local community.
Learn about India’s languages, traditions, and cultures.
  • Directed Field Study 
  • Tutorial
  • Core courses about India, taught in English
  • Hindi language
  • Flexibility to steer the program towards your interests 
  • Academic year option 

Directed Field Study

The Directed Field Study is the centerpiece of your semester—and the topic is your choice. Examine the relationship between Hindi, Urdu, and Muslim identity. Investigate cultural attitudes towards the Indian transgender community, or learn about the economic and social conditions of street sweepers in Banaras. Whatever your interests, faculty and local experts help you refine your proposal, integrate your methods, and provide feedback throughout. Whether you’re conducting interviews at the Bharat Mata Mandir temple or observing how people from different socioeconomic classes interact in a neighborhood, you’ll learn to conduct research ethically and with professionalism. And when you complete that 20-page final paper—perfect for a grad school application or résumé—you’ll know that your hard work paid off.

Learning When You Least Expect It

This program is all about absorbing the culture and history of India…in unexpected ways. Head to the market with your host mom to learn how to buy a sari for the upcoming holiday. Sample foods in the old city with your host brother. Visit Goddess Shrines along the ghats. Volunteer with an organization helping children with disabilities. Each day in Varanasi changes you in ways you’ll remember…for years to come.

Ready to begin your experience abroad?Apply Now

Don't Just Read About It...DO It

Learn to play the sitar. Try your hand at Banarasi weaving. Study Urdu. The tutorial is a chance to do something new…no matter what your major is. Never danced a step in your life? It’s all about the experience of learning from a local guru, and engaging with your local community. You’ll choose from three types of tutorials—language, studio & performing arts, or community-based learning. No matter the path you choose, you’ll go home with new knowledge, incredible memories, and refined skills. 

Hindi & Urdu Language

Since language skills and immersion go hand-in-hand, Hindi language classes are a part of your curriculum. Are you an absolute beginner? A seasoned Hindi learner? We’ve got a class for you. Want to try out Urdu or Bengali? Or maybe you’re interested in an intensive level of Hindi. Choose a language as your tutorial for even more language gains.

Curriculum & Syllabi

Are you a CET student from Fall 2018 or prior? Your syllabi can be found here.

Spring or Fall Semester

Hindi Language

You are placed into a Hindi language class that corresponds to your level:

Want even more? Double up on language by choosing Hindi as your Tutorial.

Directed Field Study

You complete a formal research project under close academic supervision:

Directed Field Study
3 credits


You choose one of these tutorials:
3 credits/semester

  • Additional Language: (4 credits/semester at Beginning & Intermediate levels)
  • Community-Based Learning

Get your questions answered.Learn More

Academic Year

Two Core Courses

You enroll in one core course each semester:

Gender, Caste, Community: Urban Geography in Context
Fall, 3 credits

Ritual, Pilgrimage, and Pluralism: the Practice of Religion in India
Spring, 3 credits

Hindi Language

You are placed into Hindi language classes that correspond to your level.
3 or 4 credits per semester

Directed Field Study

You complete a formal research project under close academic supervision. Two semesters provide time for in-depth investigation.

Directed Field Study
3 credits/semester


Choose two tutorials from different categories each semester.
3 credits/semester

    • Additional Language: (4 credits/semester at Beginning & Intermediate levels)
  • Community-Based Learning


Faculty Advisory Committee

CET maintains a faculty advisory committee of US-based scholars that provides guidance and expertise, and helps shape program development.

Emilia Bachrach, Ph.D.

Oberlin College

Assistant Professor of Religion and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Anthony Cerulli, Ph.D.

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Culture

Elaine Craddock, Ph.D.

Southwestern University

Professor of Religion

Ellen Gough, Ph.D.

Emory University

Assistant Professor, Department of Religion

Sungok Hong, Ph.D.

University of Minnesota

Assistant Professor, Asian Languages and Literatures

Shuchi Kapila, Ph.D.

Grinnell College

Professor of English and Assistant Vice President for Global Education and Senior Global Officer

Philip Lutgendorf, Ph.D.

University of Iowa

Professor of Hindi and Modern Indian Studies

Andy Rotman, Ph.D.

Smith College

Professor of Religion, Buddhist Studies Concentration, South Asian Concentration

Harleen Singh, Ph.D.

Brandeis University

Associate Professor of Literature and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies

Lesley Jo Weaver, Ph.D.

University of Oregon

Assistant Professor, International Studies