Pune: South Asian Civilization in India

The group poses for a photo at the entrance of a building.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Xhesika Bardhi

Application Deadline:


The University of Chicago’s Autumn quarter program in Pune explores topics in South Asian humanities and social sciences. It is built upon a three-course “civilization” sequence, which examines the literature, religion, political thought, art, music, and society of the South Asian subcontinent through coursework, field studies, and direct experience.

    Pune is a city of approximately four million inhabitants situated on the eastern foothills of the Indian western coastal mountains, or ghats, about 100 miles southeast of Mumbai. Famously labeled by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as “the Oxford and Cambridge of India,” it is a major center for Indian art, religion, and higher education, and an ideal site for cultural immersion.

    The program in Pune offers an introduction to Indian history, politics, and aesthetics from the precolonial to the postcolonial period. The program will be based in Pune for most of the quarter, with field trips to Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra. Materials assigned for the class will range from texts of Indian political thought to graphic novels, from musical recordings to films. The course does not require any prior knowledge of India. It is aimed to provide an understanding of Indian society and culture in the context of the modern world. In addition to the civilization sequence, students take a fourth course in a South Asian language, such as Hindi or Marathi, with a local instructor. For students with no prior experience in South Asian languages, this language course is designed to facilitate their access to local culture and to provide a basis for further study. Advanced sections are held for those students with prior language coursework or experience.

    The Pune program is operated in cooperation with the American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS), an academic organization with an office in Pune and American headquarters at the University of Chicago.

    While in Pune, students will be housed in double rooms in a modest hotel. This accommodation includes breakfast and some dinners. During excursions outside of Pune, participants will stay in hotels and similar residences.

    It is important to recognize the cultural context of student housing in India and understand that the amenities of the rooms may vary. Although some of these differences may take some getting used to, remember that cultural differences extend to all aspects of your experience abroad. Having realistic expectations for your term in Pune will help you approach the study abroad experience with a positive attitude.

    Participants in the Pune program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses: the three courses in the civilization sequence and the South Asian language course. The civilization sequence meets the College’s civilization requirement. Students who have already met this requirement may use these courses as electives. Their use, partial or total, in a program of study (major) must be approved by the undergraduate chair of the respective major. The language course will normally count as an elective. This course is neither keyed to Chicago’s South Asian language sequences nor equivalent to any specific on-campus course.

    Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Pune program during the 2024–2025 year are listed below:

    Autumn tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Pune program fee: $5,960

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • passport/visa fees
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • personal entertainment and travel
    • communications (including cell phone usage)
    • health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • other miscellaneous expenses 

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $50 to $100 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that while the cost of living in Pune is relatively low, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

    Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.

    The Pune program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

    The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing who are beyond their first year in the College. While the program stipulates no minimum grade-point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity. Because the civilization sequence is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite, although students are encouraged to take a South Asian language on campus before the program begins.

    Because of the considerable demand for the Chicago civilization programs abroad, no student may participate in more than one of these programs. Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Pune: South Asian Civilization in India program and the possibility of participating, please contact Xhesika Bardhi.