Chiang Mai
Area Studies and Culture

Summer ~ Semester ~ Academic Year

The Thai Area Studies Seminar is designed to introduce students to a variety of topics in Thai history, art, architecture, politics, society, and economics. Chiang Mai offers a distinct culture that draws on its close proximity to Burma. The Lanna Thai capital from the 13th to the 18th centuries, Chiang Mai is divided into an inner city surrounded by a moat and remnants of an ancient wall, and an outer city that sprawls in all directions. The city retains the feel of a large village, with abundant street craft markets and shops, a vibrant riverboat culture, and many active temples, or wats, filled with monks eager to meet visitors. As a more livable and manageable place to explore than the chaotic Bangkok to the south, Chiang Mai gives Lexia students the chance to independently engage the cultural complexities of Thailand.

The program strongly supports interaction and dialogue between Lexia participants and Thai faculty and students. To this end, local students and faculty are involved with the program from the very beginning, giving the participants immediate and direct access to the culture. No prior knowledge of Thai is required, as all courses are taught in English. However, intensive language training is provided, thereby helping students to develop the skills and confidence to live, study and conduct research in the Thai setting. Social and academic encounters with local students, as well as organized field trips, contribute to a greater understanding of Thailand.


"The excursions were the best part of this trip. There is nothing like learning about a culture first hand; how people live, and their social and economical issues."


Program Options

Students on the Lexia Chiang Mai Area Studies and Culture program can choose whether to study abroad for a five-week summer term, a semester, or the academic year. When deciding how long to study abroad, students should consult their academic advisor, financial aid counselor, study abroad office and their family. Lexia staff can assist students with this decision. A list of courses and course descriptions can be found below:


Summer Program

Students on the Lexia Chiang Mai Area Studies and Culture summer program take two courses for a total of 8 semester credits or 12 quarter credits. 

  • Thai Area Studies and Culture Seminar
  • Thai Language Course


Semester Program

Students on the Lexia Chiang Mai Area Studies and Culture semester program take four courses for a total of 16 semester credits or 24 quarter credits. 

  • Thai Area Studies and Culture Seminar
  • Thai Language Course
  • Research Methods Seminar
  • Field Research Project 


Academic Year

Students on the Lexia Chiang Mai Area Studies and Culture academic year program take eight courses during two semesters for a total of 32 semester credits or 48 quarter credits. 

Students on academic year programs complete the regular semester program described above during the first semester. In the second semester, students continue language training and their Field Research Project and choose two Elective Courses to complete their academic program. Key to a second semester in Chiang Mai is designing a program of study that immerses the student in the local culture via language study, internship or volunteer experiences, course work, and independent study and projects. Students are also encouraged to consider spending the spring semester at a different Lexia site, conducting a comparative or complementary Field Research Project. 

Semester 1

  • Thai Area Studies and Culture Seminar
  • Thai Language Course
  • Research Methods Seminar
  • Field Research Project

Semester 2

  • Field Research Project
  • Thai Language Course
  • Elective Course 1
  • Elective Course 2



Thai Area Studies and Culture Seminar (Four semester/six quarter credits)

The Thai Area Studies and Culture Seminar is designed to introduce students to a variety of topics in Thai history, art, architecture, politics, society, and economics.  Class format ranges from lectures and discussions to the close reading of documents and art works, and incorporates several excursions within the city of Chiang Mai. Grades are determined on the basis of class discussion, participation in the excursions, and written work, including a midterm and a final examination consisting of extended essay questions. Classroom time totals approximately 60 hours, including instruction during excursions.


Thai Language Course (Four semester/six quarter credits)

Thai language courses are taught at the elementary, intermediate, or advanced levels at the Payap University with other international students.


Research Methods Seminar (Four semester/six quarter credits)

This seminar teaches a range of methods for engaging in sustained, original inquiry in the field and sets the framework for developing rigorous, individual projects. By exposing the students to the diverse environments of Chiang Mai and Thailand, this course encourages students to examine and revise their ideas of Thai culture. By extension, students begin to question their own sense of self and to explore the culturally embedded nature of identities in general.

The course introduces a variety of research skills, methodologies and techniques including reading, listening, observing, choosing, questioning, summarizing, organizing, writing, presenting, and reflecting. A variety of techniques for collecting and analyzing data will also be examined.

Chiang Mai offers students a myriad of visual and cultural encounters, from architecture to the collections of images housed in museums, to the fascinating, often fleeting exchanges on every street corner and subway ride. Through a series of visual and writing exercises, students explore language ability, visual skills, ethical issues, theorizing about experience, and how to synthesize field knowledge into original work and/or formal academic writing.


Field Research Project (Four semester/six quarter credits)

The Field Research Project offers students the opportunity to pursue an independent, self-designed project in a specialized field of interest. A faculty member, professional, artist, architect, or other mentor serves as advisor for the project, meeting periodically with the student to provide necessary supervision and support. For academic year students, one topic may be explored in-depth throughout the academic year or different topics may be chosen each semester. Students are encouraged to use their language skills and knowledge of the local culture and subject matter to investigate their selected topic(s).

The range of potential projects is wide – from public culture and fine arts to urban life and business. The final product can take a variety of forms, but must express a rigorous, sustained inquiry into the chosen topic and demonstrate the student’s ability to engage with the resources available in Chiang Mai. Projects might range from a 20-25 page paper or summary of laboratory work to a collection of short stories or personal essays, dance performance, photo essay, or other project.

Students spend a minimum of 60 hours per semester conducting research for their project, meeting for a minimum of eight hours with their advisor and/or the Resident Director. A week at the end of each semester is planned for the synthesis of the students’ findings, writing, or other work, followed by the presentation and discussion of the projects in the group.

Grades for the Field Research Project are based on the required paper or project, meetings with the advisor and the final presentation. The faculty advisor and the Resident Director make final grade assessments. The final project must be submitted before departure from Chiang Mai. Late projects are not accepted.

Past projects have included:

  • The Social Role of Thai Dance
  • Attitudes Towards Monarchy in Thailand
  • Thai Festivals: A Study of Songkran
  • Thailand's Economy: An "Asian Tiger"?


Dates & Deadlines

Coming soon!


Dormitories: Lexia participants live with a Thai roommate in the Paradornparp International House (PIH) dormitory at Payap University. Inexpensive eateries and other essential services such a laundry, supermarkets, and internet access are located close by.



The program fee covers all Lexia excursions, which are designed to help students discover areas and aspects of culture that are typically less easily accessible to tourists and give a broad representation of the breadth of Thai culture and its people. Excursions outside of Chiang Mai may include some of the following:

Bangkok: Capital city and urban center of Thailand; Many temples including the Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Lamphun: Ban Hong, a collection of temples in the traditional style

Mae Hong Son: Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu, temple atop Kong Mu hill; Tham Pla, national park

Lampang: The Khun Tan mountain range; Thai Elephants Conservation Center

Chiang Rai: Wat Rong Khun (the White Temple); monument to Mengrai the Great

Phrae: Mae Yom National Park; Phae Mueang Phi


Integrated into some of the courses, excursions in and around Chiang Mai are an essential part of the Lexia program. These field trips can include:

  • Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
  • Night Bazaar
  • Wat Phra Singh
  • Wat Chiang Man
  • Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre
  • Chiang Mai National Museum
  • Bhuping Palace

The Lexia staff regularly informs students of cultural events outside the program and independent travel opportunities available to them.



Semester: $15,950
Tuition: $13,550
Housing: $2,400

Academic Year: $27,950
Tuition: $23,150
Housing: $4,800

Summer: $6,495
Tuition: $5,295
Housing: $1,200


Program Fees Include:

  • On-Site Orientation (2-4 days)
  • All Tuition and Fees
  • All Scheduled Program Excursions
  • Housing Costs
  • Two Meals each day
  • Services of Lexia Resident Director and Program Staff
  • Comprehensive Medical Insurance Policy
  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
  • Official Transcript from Elizabethtown College



Not included in the Program Fee are the following estimated expenses based past students' experiences during the semester-long program:

  • Airfare Ranges from $1000–$1500
  • Meals not Covered $750
  • Books & Supplies $100
  • Personal Expenses $800

Estimated Total Additional Expenses: $2,650 – $3,150

Students should also remember to budget for independent travel during the one-week break within the semester.  If desired, students may choose to remain in their Lexia accommodation in Chiang Mai during the break at no additional cost.


Instructors & Institutions

Hosted at Payap University in Chiang Mai, the Lexia program offers students opportunities to explore this historic region, while confronting the daily challenges of a changing society. Payap University, established in 1974, is a private liberal arts and pre-professional college situated three miles west of downtown Chiang Mai and 350 miles north of Bangkok.  It houses one of the largest archival collections in the world on Northern Thailand and adjacent areas.  For more information on Payap University, go to:

One of the recognized strengths of Lexia programs is the strong supportive faculty and staff. The Lexia Resident Director provides students with the necessary information to live and study in Thailand. The faculty of the Lexia program consists primarily of Thai and foreign faculty based at Payap University, including the Resident Director, with occasional lectures by specialists in the field. These faculty members also teach the academic year Elective Tutorial Courses and offer a link to local students.



The typical course load is four courses per semester. Students who successfully complete Lexia’s program requirements are able to earn the equivalent of one full semester or academic year of college/university level credit, pending approval from their home institution.

It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of the credit transfer policies at his/her home institution and department, including advising appointments, paperwork and pre-departure or re-entry activities. We strongly suggest that students contact their study abroad or other appropriate office early in the planning stage to ensure that they complete all requirements.


© 1994-2023
Lexia International