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College Credit Available

The below description has been provided by our implementing program administrator and is subject to change.

Program Overview

Hanoi…a blend of cultures in Vietnam’s charming capital city

Spend a semester in Hanoi earning college credit and studying Vietnamese culture, language, and society at Hanoi University. You’ll live in student housing at the Center for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS) and engage in volunteer service for 12-15 hours per week. Your volunteer service will immerse you in the culture and deepen your understanding of Vietnamese society as well as contribute to your knowledge and practice of the language.

As the capital of Vietnam for almost a thousand years, Hanoi is considered one of the main cultural centers of Southeast Asia. A city between rivers, built from lowland, Hanoi has many scenic lakes and is sometimes called the “City of Lakes.” Among its lakes, the most famous are Ho Tay, West Lake, Halais Lake and Bay Mau Lake. The charming Vietnamese capital has aged well, preserving the Old Quarter, monuments and colonial architecture, while making room for modern developments. Hanoi may have shrugged off several former names, including Thang Long, or “ascending dragon,” but it hasn’t forgotten its past, as sites such as Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Hoa Lo Prison attest. Lakes, parks, shady boulevards and more than 600 temples and pagodas add to the appeal of this city.

The Old Quarters, near Ho Tay (West Lake) have the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi. At the beginning of the 20th century, the city consisted of only about 36 streets, most of which are now part of the Old Quarter. Each street then had merchants and households specialized in a particular trade, such as silk traders, jewelry makers, etc. Today, the street names still reflect these specializations, although few of them remain exclusively in their original commerce. The area is famous for its small artisans and merchants, including many silk shops. Local cuisine specialties as well as several clubs can be found here too.

Vietnam’s determination to remain independent has created a culture of self-reliance, discipline and solidarity that is still visible today in public life. Conversations with Vietnamese people about the past and future of their nation will help students understand the culture in a deeper, more meaningful way.

Where you’ll stay

Students live in modern dorm/student housing at the Center for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS). The dorms accommodate both international and Vietnamese students and volunteers, and are situated very close to the campus of Hanoi University (about 5 kilometers). There are also many services on the college campus that students can utilize. Partial board is included.

Program Director: Don Tuan Phuong


The program welcomes students of any nation who have a high school diploma or equivalent credential. TOEFL equivalent 550.
Waterfront in Hanoi, Vietnam


Learn first-hand about Sustainable Development in Vietnam

This program is based at Hanoi University, a fully accredited university providing courses ranging from 19 foreign languages to business administration, international studies, tourism, computer science, finance, Vietnamese language and culture, and CSDS (The Center for Sustainable Development Studies). At CSDS, you’ll take COSA in Vietnam, Institutions in Vietnamese Society, and a Vietnamese Language Course. At Hanoi University, you’ll join with other Vietnamese students in taking elective courses (all taught in English) in varied subjects such as language, politics, human rights, international law, government, and philosophy for a total of 16 credits per semester. An official transcript is issued through Hanoi University as well as the school of record in the United States upon successful completion of the program. Unless otherwise noted, courses are at the 300 level or above except for any foreign language course.

*Please note that each credit hour corresponds to 15 hours of instruction. A 3.0 credit course involves 45 hours of instruction and a 2.0 credit course involves 30 hours of instruction.

Required courses

Vietnamese Language

This course is an introduction to spoken and written Vietnamese. The emphasis is on conversational competency as it relates to daily life: pronunciation and listening comprehension with additional skills in elementary reading and writing. The curriculum is designed for students with no prior knowledge of Vietnamese language. Upon completion of this course, students will be able to communicate effectively, utilizing everyday spoken Vietnamese, and should be able to read simple words and short sentences.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

Community Organizing and Social Activism (COSA) in Vietnam

The focus of this course is to explore community organizing and social activism in Vietnam with the goal of developing a practical tool set and a personal ethic of advocacy that can be applied across cultures. The course starts with an overview of social change institutions, explores the history and ethics of international service, and moves to the examination of social movements and advocacy efforts in Vietnam. Students will learn the theories and practical realities of intercultural service-learning in a Vietnamese context. This course complements community service placements and helps students develop their global competence. Topics are examined through the prism of hands-on community service in Vietnamese NGOs and other non-profits and include intercultural communication, the mechanics of Vietnamese non-profits/NGOs, local civic engagement/advocacy efforts, and the exploration of civil society.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

Reflections Practicum Seminar (Offered ONLINE)

This course is delivered virtually and begins before departure and completes after returning. The content includes both pre-departure and post-departure information, discussion and reflection and serves to compliment the COSA course. The course explores the theories and practical realities of intercultural service-learning to help make sense of the international experience. One credit will be awarded for 15 hours of academic reflections work and 2 credits for hands-on volunteering.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

POSSIBLE Elective Courses Offered

Choose up to three electives from the following choices. These may vary depending on term. It is best to choose 6-8 electives from the following list and get approval from your home school in advance.

Environmental Science and Sustainable Development

This course will provide current basic knowledge of the fundamental features and functions of the natural environment; natural resources; geo-hazards; the human impact on the environment and the role in solving problems related to human activities in hazard adaptation and mitigation, in decision-making policies on sustainable development, resource use and environmental protection. The goals of the course are to improve awareness of (and provide techniques for) the sustainable use of natural resources, environmental protection and sustainable development. Content will emphasize interdisciplinary and integrated approaches.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

Water, Sanitation and the Environment

Description coming soon.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

Sustainable Tourism

This course will cover many of these aspects across a range of topical fields involved in researching or implementing sustainable tourism projects. The major topics to be discussed include general knowledge on tourism and sustainability, operations and marketing for sustainable tourism. Discussions will aim to bring understanding into alternative forms of tourism such as ecotourism and community based tourism approaches.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

Global Health and the Environment

Global health has been defined as an area for study, research, and practice that places priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. This course examines major global health challenges, programs and policies, with practical examples in Vietnam. Students will be introduced to Southeast Asia’s diversity of determinants of health and diseases. Students will explore and analyze current and emerging health priorities, including infectious zoonotic diseases, poverty, environmental pollution, dioxin/Agent Orange and the “American” (Vietnam) War’s legacy. Health inequity, health systems reforms, health policy advocacy, and major initiatives for disease prevention and health promotion in Vietnam will be examined with an eye toward comparative study with health in a “developed” nation.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

Hanoi Rooftops, Vietnam

Volunteer Service

During Orientation, you’ll have an opportunity to work with local staff to learn about the various service opportunities available and select one (or more) that is of interest to you. As you work with the Vietnamese people and care for those in need, you’ll find your experience and understanding of the culture enriched and deepened, your leadership skills enhanced, and your language skills sharpened. You will serve approximately 12-15 hours per week in a local agency.

Volunteer Service Examples

Generally our students serve with projects developed by the CSDS (The Center for Sustainable Development Studies). Other service placements may be available. Your placement will be determined by community and agency needs, as well as your interests, goals, and skills. Service opportunities in Hanoi focus on:

  • English Community Classes
  • Community Development and Education NGO:
  • Child Care/Social Welfare Center
  • Child Care and Education for Mentally Impaired Children
  • Center for Physically Impaired Children
  • Center for Children Affected by Agent Orange + Vietnam/US Relations
  • Early Child Care Education
  • Institution for Scientific Development in Asia NGO
  • Clinic and Center for Vision Health for Children
  • Sustainable Development NGO

Temple grounds near Hanoi

Things to Do

Explore Vietnam while on your program

Travel is an essential part of studying abroad. Taking knowledge from the classroom and applying it through direct observation allows for greater language comprehension and cultural understanding. The Hanoi program offers multiple academic excursions designed to enrich the experience of living abroad and enhance the learning of each student.

City Tour:

The Hanoi program normally includes a city tour of Hanoi included in the arrival orientation. Depending on the time of the year, it may include a visit to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi. The final resting place of the leader’s body is preserved here in a glass case (albeit against his wishes). Ho Chi Minh is the most popular leader of Vietnam and known to his people as ‘Uncle Ho.’

Organized Academic Excursions May Include:

Bat Trang Ceramic Village

The Bat Trang pottery village is one of the most famous of the craft villages in Vietnam. It is known for its fired clay pottery (with a temperature of 1,200 degrees, the ceramics are very difficult to break). Since the 15th century, this village has been producing earthenware and ceramic creations. Visiting Bat Trang village is a chance to experience local traditions and understand the lifestyle of Vietnamese people in the countryside.

Duong Lam Village & Ba Vi National Park

This traditional village preserves various cultural and historical sites such as the worship-house, Mong Phu communal house, the Princess Mia Palace and Temple, the Mia pagoda, and others. Stroll through the village and enjoy local products such as rice wine and rice cakes before heading to Ba Vi National Park. Ba Vi National Park is one of Vietnam’s most famous areas of outstanding natural beauty, and is centered around a three-peaked mountain jutting steeply out of the landscape. The national park offers a great escape from the city with cool, fresh mountain air in a mystical atmosphere of clouds, jungle and rainforest. There is also a spa resort nestled at the foot of the mountain offering a host of natural therapies in an absolutely stunning setting.

Bai-Dinh and Tam Coc

A visit to Bai Dinh opens a window into the multi-faceted history of religion in Vietnam. The Bai Dinh Pagoda is located near the top of a quiet forested area and includes a Buddhist cave, the temple of God Cao Son, and the temple of Nguyen. The pagoda is a significant historical, cultural and religious site. The Tam Coc (“three caves”) portion is a three-hour excursion by small boat along the river, beginning at the village of Van Lam and proceeding through a scenic landscape dominated by rice fields and karst towers. The route includes floating through three natural caves, the largest of which is 125 m long with its ceiling about 2 m high above the water.

Additional Academic Excursions may include:

The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site just in time for Hanoi’s millennial anniversary in 2010, this ancient site was the political center of the country for 13 centuries and served as the capital of Vietnam for eight centuries.

Ha Long Bay

A stunning natural wonder in northern Vietnam near the Chinese border, the bay is dotted with 1,600 limestone islands and islets and covers an area of over 1,500 sq km. This extraordinary area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

Students in Hanoi may also work with program staff at CSDS to arrange (at their own expense) independent travel to other regions of Vietnam and Southeast Asia. As with all travel, weather and other hindrances can affect the exact destinations of excursions. In such cases, program staff make every effort to find suitable replacement itineraries.

Mosaic dragon in Hanoi