Pitzer in Vietnam Summer Program

HALONG bay in vietnam. UNESCO World Heritage Site. This view from TiTop island and its most popular view for travel in Halong bay.
Halong Bay, Vietnam as viewed from Ti Top Island

The Pitzer in Vietnam Summer Program is done in collaboration with Hue University. On the program students study Vietnamese language, history, culture, political structures, and environmental issues. Preparation for the program begins in Claremont during the spring semester. Students participate in an intensive introduction to Vietnamese language course. The course is offered virtually in the spring semester to provide students with a foundation for the summer program. The program moves to Hue, Vietnam for six weeks in the early summer, from late May through early July. Through intensive Vietnamese language courses, a seminar on key topics, internships, and family stays, students explore this dynamic country while furthering their Vietnamese language skills and gaining an understanding of the life and culture of Vietnam. A study trip to Hanoi and Halong Bay will provide a comparative perspective in [former] North Vietnam. Click here to learn more about the 2023 summer program.

The gates of the Forbidden City at Hue, Vietnam
The Forbidden City at Hue, Vietnam

Hue (Huế), a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a city in central Vietnam and was the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors and the national capital from 1802-1945.  Located just south of the North Vietnamese border (DMZ) during the US-Vietnam War, the Hue region was a key area in the conflict and underwent significant damage. In recent years, many of its extraordinary historical monuments, including its Imperial (“Forbidden”) City have been extensively restored. Situated on the Perfume River and a few miles from the East Sea, its surrounding mountainous hinterlands are home to a large number of minority communities close to the Laotian border.

This is a very structured, intensive program for students willing to work hard; the rewards will be great and commensurate with your efforts. Students earn two course credits in only six weeks, but more importantly, students will experience a very special opportunity to live with families, work in Vietnamese institutions, travel in a beautiful country, and meet people you’ll never forget.

Pitzer in Vietnam 2019 Students and Staff


The Pitzer in Vietnam program is open to Pitzer students and students from Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Pomona College and Scripps College. Students must have a 2.0 or higher GPA on a 4.0 scale.

  • Academics
    Course Credits
    Semester Units
    VIET101 PZ Core Course: Modern Vietnam
                         Intensive Vietnamese Language

    • Students who already speak Vietnamese may also enroll in the summer program and have the opportunity to join a large array of content courses taught in Vietnamese at Hue University.
    • Coursework in Southeast Asia area studies is recommended.
    Grades for this program will be recorded on a Pitzer College transcript and included in the Pitzer GPA. Students are required to participate fully in all program components and are not allowed to withdraw from individual courses. Students must take all courses for a letter grade.
    Program Dates
    Summer: Six weeks in Vietnam from late May to early July

    The Core Course

    Vietnam food vendors
    Vietnamese food vendors

    Modern Vietnam
    The course provides an overview of culture and society in Vietnam.  The course includes lectures by Hue University faculty and specialists from governmental and non-governmental organizations, site visits, and reading and writing assignments that allow students to explore a variety of topics in Vietnam, including but not limited to the legacy of colonialism, war and conflict in Vietnam, health care, minority communities, political structures, women’s issues, and environmental issues. Students complete a capstone research project on a topic of their choice supervised by local experts. This course will satisfy Pitzer’s Social Responsibility Praxis (SRX) requirement. Sample Syllabus

    As part of their core course, all students will participate in an internship of six to eight hours per week for four weeks with a local non-profit organization.  For students with lower levels of Vietnamese, there will be a multitude of possibilities to provide ESL tutoring with local public schools. A final reflective paper on the internship experience is a required part of the course.

    Intensive Language Study
    Intensive Vietnamese is offered at the beginner level through Hue University. With a maximum of six students per teacher, the course employs a highly communicative, interactive curriculum that emphasizes both spoken and written Vietnamese and is closely connected to the  family stay experience, the core course, and other field activities.  Students attend language classes for 12 to 14 hours a week for a total of roughly 60 hours of in-class instruction. Students already fluent in Vietnamese may audit content courses at Hue University or pursue an independent study in Vietnamese on a topic of interest (culture, history, literature, etc.)

  • Family Stays

    An extended family stay for the duration of the program is an important part of the program, providing a human face to the ideas presented in readings and lectures. Students are encouraged to participate fully in family life. Students will have their own bedroom and only one student is placed in each home to maximize use of Vietnamese.

    Oranges on the street market in Hanoi - Vietnam
    Oranges on the street market in Hanoi – Vietnam
  • Study Trips

    To deepen students’ understanding of topics covered in the core course, they participate in several site visits in or near Hue and one major study trip. Study trips may vary each summer but could include visits to the Imperial City of Hue, The Imperial Tombs, minority communities in the mountains west of Hue, the vibrant commercial center of Danang, the beautiful early modern trading town of Hoi An, and the ancient Champa ruins of My Son, one of the foremost Hindu temple complexes in Southeast Asia. Half way through the program, students travel north to the booming city of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. In addition, the program visits the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hạ Long Bay, a region of extraordinary beauty.

    Path leading to the Imperial Citadel, Hue, Vietnam
    Path leading to the Imperial Citadel, Hue, Vietnam