Examine Mongolia’s search for balance between environmental conservation and natural resource development on the doorstep of China and Siberia.

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  • Live in a ger with a nomadic herding family on the steppes of Mongolia.

    You’ll learn about the traditions and livelihood of Mongolia’s nomadic communities and the current challenges for this population. You’ll see up close the international roots of Mongolian culture and examine similarities and differences between contemporary Russian, Chinese, and Central Asian cultures.

  • Experience some of the most pristine natural environments in the world.

    See the East Gobi Desert, vast mountain ranges, and forest steppes of a country both protected and restricted by its dramatic environment. You’ll also visit ancient Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world, in Russia’s East Sibera region.

  • Learn to ride a horse and use horses for transportation.

    Bring your helmet—the program includes horse-riding lessons. You can bring boots, or buy Mongolian riding boots once you arrive.

  • Learn Mongolian.

    You will receive 45 class hours of language instruction beginning shortly after arrival. Classes are conducted by trained Mongolian language instructors and emphasize speaking and comprehension skills. Further practice is available outside of class, on excursions, in your daily interactions with people in your host communities, and during the homestays.

  • Visit Russia’s East Siberia region to study transborder issues.

    Transborder environmental and geopolitical issues of Lake Baikal and the region come to life during the excursion to Siberia. Meet leading academics and national park rangers during the excursion to Siberia’s historic and culturally rich cities of Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude. Visit Lake Baikal, fed in part by the river that flows through Ulaanbaatar. The lake is a UNESCO World Heritage site regarded as the oldest, deepest, and most biodiverse freshwater lake in the world and a site of great cultural significance to peoples of the steppe.

  • Visit sacred sites in Kharkhorin, the ancient Mongolian capital, and East Gobi.

    Witness the morning chanting of the Erdene Zuu lamas in one of the very few temples that survived the purges of the 1930s and experience the revival of religious practices in the land of the Gobi reincarnate lama, Danzanravjaa.

  • Conduct independent research or complete an internship.

    Begin preparing for an Independent Study Project (ISP) or Internship and Seminar from day one of the program. Meet potential advisors to brainstorm ideas, refine topics, and finalize your project proposal or internship plans. With an ISP you’ll conduct fieldwork possible only in Mongolia. With an internship, you’ll get international professional experience in a remarkable setting. ISPs and internships may be conducted in national parks, among nomadic families, or with NGOs in the city. Many students return to Mongolia continue their studies or internship.

  • Discuss current issues with recent members of Mongolia’s democratically elected Parliament.

    As a young democracy sandwiched between the authoritarian systems of Russia and China, Mongolia is going through a process of rapid socio-economic and cultural change. Participate in debates on critical issues presented by members of the Ikh Hural (Parliament) of Mongolia.

Critical Global Issue of Study

Climate | Environment

Climate | Environment

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Key Topics of Study


Key Topics of Study

  • The search for balance between environmental conservation and natural resource development
  • Rapid urbanization and the rise of urban consumption in the context of a dramatic influx of foreign direct investment
  • History, traditions, and livelihood of Mongolia’s nomadic communities and their challenges caused by Mongolia’s political transformations, development policies, and climate change
  • Socioeconomic transformations and political reform
  • Mongolia’s Third Neighbor Policy and diplomatic engagement with major global economies, including the US, and regional relations with China, Russia, and North Korea
  • Transborder natural resource management issues, particularly between Mongolia and the Lake Baikal ecosystem in Siberia
  • Mongolia’s path to political and economic development
  • Mongolia’s development policies and its attempt to address issues of rapid urbanization and growth
  • Climate change and its effects on Mongolia’s nomads
  • Privatization of livestock and pastureland degredation in Mongolia
  • Diversification of national and local economies away from mining
  • The international roots of Mongolian culture and similarities and differences between contemporary Russian, Chinese, and Central Asian cultures




Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.

The program’s excursions offer you a close-up look at life outside the capital city. Excursions vary from semester to semester based on seasonal and climate conditions but may include one of the following:


ErdenetErdenet, Mongolia’s second-largest city, is home to one of the world’s largest copper mines, Erdenet Copper Mine, a key factor in Mongolia’s development. The mining corporation accounts for between one-fifth and one-fourth of Mongolia’s GDP.

Over three to four days, you’ll explore the city with Mongolian students, if university schedules allow, and learn about Mongolia’s manufacturing and mining industries while contemplating the country’s past, present, and future. If travel conditions permit, you’ll also visit Amarbayasgalant Monastery, one of the largest and most beautiful Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia. You will meet the monastery’s small but thriving Buddhist community and attend morning or evening ritual chanting, and you may have the chance to play soccer with the lamas.

East Gobi

This three- to four-day excursion takes you to Dornogobi Province, site of Khamryn Hiid. The province is connected with Danzan Ravjaa (1803–1853), officially known as the Fifth Reincarnate Lama of the Gobi. You will learn about the life of this enlightened master, a distinguished Buddhist thinker and outstanding figure of the Mongolian Buddhist reformist movement of the 19th century.

mountainsYou’ll also see the recently re-established Khamar Monastery. The original, like many monasteries across the country, was destroyed during political and religious purges of the 1930s. You will interview people who have devoted their lives to Khamryn Khiid restoration endeavors and explore the monastery’s meditation caves, used by lamas of the monastery for tantric meditations and retreats 150 years ago.

You will also get to see religious and cultural practices at Khan Bayanzurkh, the most famous Gobi mountain associated with Mongolian religious beliefs and rituals, and the circumambulation, prostration, and puja practices of northern Shambala land.

In the provincial town Sainshand, you’ll see how the expanding mineral industry is changing the local landscape. You’ll meet officials from the provincial government to talk about local geopolitical and environmental issues and learn about the opportunities, attainments, and challenges of East Gobi development.

East Siberia and Lake Baikal

Deepen your understanding of geographic and political factors influencing the development process in East Siberia and Northern Asia, learn about research projects of the Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences highlighting the management of natural resources in transborder ecosystems of Lake Baikal, get involved in discussions over management of transborder waters including monitoring of the Selenge River basin, and understand challenges of the region in guaranteeing food safety and security in the face of sanctions.

At Lake Baikal, you’ll witness an increase in economic activities by the local people as a result of tourism industry development and critically analyze cons and pros of ecotourism and the growing scope of environmental problems in connection with the latter. The excursion gives you the opportunity to compare and contrast Mongolia’s and Russia’s environmental systems and national and transnational environment policies.

You will visit higher educational and research institutes in both cities of Ulan-Ude and Irkutsk, meet students in Russia, visit natural resource sites in national parks around Lake Baikal, and meet staff from national parks and engage in discussions about their achievement and challenges in preservation of the unique ecosystem of the lake. Possible site visits include East Siberian Institute of Culture, Baikal Institute of Natural Resource Management, Baikal Institute of Nature Management, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (BINM SB RAS), and Irkutsk State University of Agriculture.

Additional Religious Sites

Mahayana Buddhism is increasing in popularity alongside Islam, Christianity, and Shamanic practices. Onsite lectures and guided exploration of religious centers and sites will help you understand the re-emergence of religion in Mongolia following the transition from Communist government to democracy in the early 1990s.

Nature Sites

Field excursions to Mongolian natural sites, combined with lectures and seminars, will help you understand the environmental challenges and threats Mongolia faces in an era of increased globalization. You will meet policymakers, environmental NGO activists, and leaders of grassroots movements opposing destructive mining operations.




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The program’s coursework provides an essential foundation in Mongolian language, history, and culture, from which to springboard into in-depth discussions of Mongolia’s most pressing development issues. Key issues of examination include Mongolia’s nomadic and rural society, the country’s young market economy, systematizing social support and providing for those in need, and the strengthening of governmental structures and oversight. Coursework is based on SIT’s experiential, field-based program model.

The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.

Geopolitics and Development Trends – syllabus
(ASIA3010 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This interdisciplinary course focuses on Mongolia’s path to political and economic development and the country’s current strategies for external relations and internal growth strategies. With special attention to Mongolia’s location between China and the Russia, this course discusses government policies for international investment and the shifting political discourses about domestic investment that form the background of Mongolia’s development trajectory, including food safety and security and academic and economic cooperation with Mongolia. Educational excursions are an integral part of this course, and lecturers are drawn from local universities, research institutes, and NGOs and private entities both in Mongolia and Siberia, Russia.
Pastoralism and Natural Resource Management – syllabus
(ASIA3020 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
This interdisciplinary course, with required readings and relevant educational excursions, focuses on Mongolia's nomadic population and the impact of political, social, and economic transformations and national resource management policies, ranging from wildlife to resource extraction to water quality and conservation, on Mongolia's social, cultural, and physical environments, including ecological zones of Lake Baikal region in East Siberia, environmental challenges facing populations in each zone, and their interrelationship across international borders. Lecturers are drawn from local universities, government agencies, and NGOs and private entities both in Mongolia and Siberia, Russia.
Beginning Mongolian – syllabus
(MONG1003–1503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Intermediate Mongolian – syllabus
(MONG2003–2503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Advanced Mongolian – syllabus
(MONG3003–3503 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Emphasis is on speaking and listening comprehension in Mongolian, plus reading and writing skills, through classroom and field instruction. Classes are conducted by trained Mongolian language instructors. Students are placed in beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing. Language training starts immediately after students arrive in Mongolia and continues during field excursions.
Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
(ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
Through a carefully designed sequence of field projects, workshops, and related lectures, this course prepares students for either an independent research project or an internship. Knowledge will culminate in each student’s successful completion of an individually designed and executed Independent Study Project or internship at the end of the semester.

In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:

Internship and Seminar – syllabus
(ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
This seminar consists of a four-week internship with a local community organization, research organization, business, or international NGO. The aim of the internship is to enable the student to gain valuable experience and to enhance their skills in an international environment. Students will complete an internship and engage in a weekly seminar (typically online), write weekly progress reports, and prepare a final paper and presentation the reflects on the internship learning experience and ties that experience to program’s themes. The internship seminar includes a module titled Internship in the Context of Mongolia, which is designed to help students build a foundation on which to engage in the internship experience.


Independent Study Project – syllabus
(ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
Conducted in an approved location in Mongolia appropriate to the project. Sample topic areas: the concept of national security in Mongolia; nomadic organization in transition; cashmere trade and cultural interaction with China and Russia; Buddhist debate and monastic education; Buddhist painting, sculpture, and architecture; symbols of collectivism and pastoralism in daily life; the shagai tradition; cultural perceptions of Mongolian medicinal plants; commodity production and regional politics; analysis of the environmental impacts of mining; maternal healthcare, motherhood, and birth in Ulaanbaatar; the Mongolians of Kazakh descent and their place in modern Islam.
Program in a minute-ish

Program in a minute-ish

Faculty and Staff


Faculty and Staff

Ulziijargal (Ulzii) Sanjaasuren, PhD Candidate, Academic Director

Ulzi Ulzii graduated from Odessa State University in Ukraine and taught English for 10 years at the University of the Humanities in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. She later was a program coordinator for international development organizations including UNDP, DANIDA, and the Soros Foundation. She identified priority areas for future projects and conducted supervision and evaluation, specializing in education development programs. She joined SIT in 2000 and helped design SIT’s Mongolia program.

Ulzii holds an MA in teaching foreign languages from the Pedagogical University of Mongolia, where she’s completed her PhD coursework and begun her thesis on the application of cognitive language learning principles in course design. Ulzii authored several series of English language textbooks for secondary schools in Mongolia and received the Mongolian President’s Prize for author of the best textbook in 2002. In 2009, Ulzii received an ELTons Award from the British Council, as team leader of the Mongolian Curriculum Development and Textbook Writing team.

Shijir Batchuluun, Program Assistant and Seminar Coordinator

Shijir BatchuluunShijir holds a bachelor’s in business management from Citi Institute of Mongolia. He has lived in Germany and the US and was a translator and safety officer for Major Drilling Mongolia. He joined SIT in 2014 as a program assistant and seminar coordinator. He also acts as office manager and as a translator in the field.

Maral-Erdene (Maralaa) Oktyabri, MA, Language Program and Urban Homestay Coordinator

Maralaa, from Govisumber province, received her BA (2013) and MA (2016) in teaching Mongolian and English languages from the Mongolian State University of Education. She worked at the School of Mongolian Studies for a year and in 2015 joined SIT. She coordinates all language program activities and often teaches language classes. Maralaa also coordinates the Mongolian language textbook writing project and is the program’s library coordinator. Since spring 2018, she has also taken over responsibilities of urban homestay coordinator.

Lecturers for the program typically include:

Badruun Gardi

Badruun GardiBadruun holds a BA with a double major in Psychology and Communication from Stanford University. He is founder and CEO of GerHub and a leader in Mongolia interested in national development. GerHub is a nonprofit seeking to transform the living environments of the urban poor. From 2011 to 2014, Badruun was Executive Director of the Zorig Foundation, an NGO focusing on good governance, youth education, and community development. He is also a board member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology. He is an alumnus of the US Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program and the inaugural class of the Asia Foundation Development Fellowship. 

Jon Lyons, MBA

Jon is vice president of Regulatory Affairs and Strategy at Erdene Resource Development, where he is responsible for managing the various government permitting processes required to advance Erdene’s mineral exploration and mining projects. Jon is also responsible for oversight of health, safety, environment, and community areas for the company, especially to ensure compliance and cultivate shared value for all stakeholders. Previously, Jon was with the Global Green Growth Institute as the country representative to Mongolia. Jon has lived and worked intermittently in Mongolia and the region, including a previous posting with Erdene, since 2001. Jon earned an MBA from Maastricht University and the EuroMBA consortium and a BA (summa cum laude) in physics and anthropology from Wheaton College and is fluent in Mongolian and Russian.

Batjaviin Bayartuul, PhD Candidate

Batjaviin BayartuulBatjaviin has taught Mongolian for SIT students since 2009. She graduated from the University of the Humanities as an English teacher and translator and holds an MA in linguistics from the National University of Mongolia, where she is a PhD candidate and a language teacher for international students.  Her research focuses on second language acquisition and lexicology. She published two textbooks on Mongolian grammar and a dictionary of synonyms for foreign learners.

Ganbold Dashlkhagva, PhD

ganbold DashlkhagvaGanbold has taught SIT students Mongolian since 2012. He graduated from the teachers college in Arkhangai, and received another BA in Mongolian language and literature from School of Khovd, the National University of Mongolia. In 2001, he received his PhD in Mongolian language and culture studies from the Institute of Language and Literature at the Mongolian Academy of Science. His research focuses on ancient and religious Mongolian literature, traditional Mongolian script, and Buddhist studies. He has published articles in Mongolian, Russian, and Chinese. He is a Mongolian language teacher at Mongolian State University of Education.

Onon Bayasgalan, MA

Onon BayasgalanOnon is a policy analyst at Wildlife Conservation Society, Mongolia. She holds a BA in environmental economics from Whitman College and a master’s of environmental management in environmental policy from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She is interested in sustainable pasture management, air pollution, global environmental governance, and climate change strategies. Onon has worked in youth education on global problems for primary school students and young adults. She lectures on ecosystem-based climate change in Mongolia and adaptation strategies and water resource management policies.

Oyun Sanjaasuren, PhD, Former Member of Parliament

Oyun SanjaasurenOyun holds a PhD in earth sciences from Cambridge University, and a BA and MS in geochemistry from Charles University, Prague. She is chair of Global Water Partnership, a former member of the Mongolian parliament, former minister of Environment and Green Development, and former minister of Foreign Affairs. She is president of the United Nations Environment Assembly of UNEP. After a career as a geologist, she served five consecutive terms in parliament, and has led reforms in green development and the water sector. She is founder and head of the Zorig Foundation, a leading Mongolian NGO dedicated to the advancement of democracy. She chairs Special Olympics Mongolia and the Mongolia Chapter of Women Corporate Directors.

J. Adiyasuren

Since 2016, Adiyasuren has worked as executive director of the Academy for Political Education, where he focuses on political education for youth and capacity building of newly elected mandate holders. After graduating from the National University of Mongolia’s School of Foreign Service, Adiyasuren worked as a researcher at the Institute for Strategic Studies of the National Security Council of Mongolia. There, his work focused on Mongolia’s third neighbor policy, Mongolia-US relations, and Mongolia’s involvement in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Adiyasuren has participated in programs such as the OSCE’s 17th Summer Academy’s Conflict and Modernization in Central Asia international program and the Daniel K. Inoue Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies’ Advanced Security Cooperation course. 

Nicole Schaefer-McDaniel, PhD

Nicole has taught research methods, ethics, and writing for SIT since 2015. She completed her PhD in environmental psychology at the City University of New York (2007) and postdoctoral training in urban health at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health in Toronto, Canada (2008). Nicole has worked on projects aimed at homeless adults, people with mental health and substance use problems, disadvantaged youth, and HIV/AIDS patients. She co-edited a handbook on urban health research. Nicole teaches at the American University of Mongolia and is a visiting adjunct professor at the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences. She writes about expat life and is an editor for Tales of a Small Planet.

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I chose the SIT Mongolia program because of its exciting and unorthodox take on abroad learning.

I chose the SIT Mongolia program because of its exciting and unorthodox take on abroad learning. I didn’t want to be in a modern city or at a university for my time in a different country. The itinerary of this program was ideal. I wanted to see the land and the people as they are today in the environment they both live and love.

Chimi Lama, Smith College

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The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.

You will live with host families in urban and rural areas to experience the diversity of contemporary Mongolia. You’ll discover the cosmopolitan nature of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital and largest city, and experience the open expanses of the steppe or high mountains and rolling hills through a homestay with nomadic communities.

Other accommodations during the program include apartments, guest houses, educational institutions, or small hotels.


homestay familyDuring a three- to four-week homestay in Ulaanbaatar, you will experience Mongolian middle-class urban life, practice your Mongolian language skills, and test your new cultural skills with a family in Ulaanbaatar. Host families are often excellent sources of contacts and information for your Independent Study Project. All host families live in apartment blocks located in various micro-districts of the city. Students typically form strong connections with their host families.

In Ulaanbaatar, you’ll attend lectures and language classes at the SIT program center and visit important cultural sites.

Rural Homestay with a Nomadic Family

homestayFor one to two weeks, you’ll live with a nomadic community in central or northern Mongolia, depending on the season and travel conditions. These communities regularly move in search of better pastures and water for their livestock. Central Mongolia is the land of the Khalkh people, Mongolia’s largest ethnic group, nomads who move five to ten times a year. The region includes open steppes with rolling hills and a semi-desert area. In northern Mongolia, you’ll be surrounded by pine forests and grassy mountains in a climate similar to Siberia’s.

You’ll live in a ger, a transportable shelter made of felt and wood, and learn about the traditions and livelihood of Mongolia’s nomadic communities and the current challenges for this population. You will be part of daily animal herding and household chores. You’ll receive riding lessons during the semester and then ride horses as a form of transportation. (If possible, you should plan to bring a riding helmet. Riding boots may be purchased in Mongolia.) You’ll also work on your Research Methods and Ethics assignments and language skills, synthesizing new information within the frameworks presented through the thematic seminars.

Highlights of the nomadic homestay include:

  • Seeing herders’ coping strategies with issues of desertification, climate change, and Mongolia’s ongoing socioeconomic transformation
  • Idientifying and interpreting effects of the global capitalist system (and the spread of modern technology in the Mongolian countryside) on the lives of herders
  • Teaching English to Mongolian students at area schools (may not be possible every semester)
  • Gaining insight into the tensions and relationships between rural communities and mining companies
  • Debating how changes in transportation, such as the motorcycle, affect nomadic life and discussing renewable energy technologies
  • Learning centuries-old traditions, including nature conservation practices
  • Learning to cook Mongolian dishes

Independent Study Project


Independent Study Project

In the final month of the program, you can choose to conduct an Independent Study Project (ISP), pursuing original research in Mongolia.

Often students produce publishable papers that are frequently used for further postgraduate and/or Fulbright research. At least four PhD research projects by alumni were based on initial ISP projects. A great number of students have returned to Mongolia with a Fulbright fellowship.

Sample ISP topics:

  • Nomadic organization in transition
  • Cashmere trade and cultural interaction with China and Siberia
  • Buddhist painting, sculpture, and architecture
  • Environmental impacts of mining
  • Symbols of collectivism and pastoralism in daily life
  • Cultural perceptions of Mongolian medicinal plants
  • Commodity production and regional politics
  • Mongolians of Kazakh descent and their place in modern Islam
  • Investment climate for foreign direct investment
  • Mongolia’s Third Neighbor Policy
  • Urbanization of the nomadic nation
  • Community-based pastureland management
  • The concept of national security in Mongolia
  • Nature conservation efforts and natural resource management
  • Spirituality and conservation
  • Understanding the Mongolian tourism supply chain
  • The culture and identity of food
  • Contemporary horse racing practices in Mongolia
  • Environmental justice and herders versus mining




For the last four weeks of this program, you can choose to complete an Independent Study Project or an internship. For the internship, you’ll work with a Mongolian organization where you will gain experience related to the program’s theme and develop professional skills you can use in your career.

SIT academic internships are hands-on and reflective. In addition to completing the internship, weekly seminar sessions, and progress reports, you will submit and present a paper reflecting on your experience and relating it to the program’s themes.

Interning in Mongolia

The internship will deepen your knowledge of a global issue, culture, and language, and enrich your working experience. The Mongolia program offers a wide variety of internship opportunities focused on geopolitics, civil society, environmental and natural sciences, or humanities through its longstanding network of government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private businesses.

Sample internships:

  • Providing children with food, healthcare, clothing, and accommodation, as well as education, counseling, and support to help them break free of the cycle of poverty at Lotus Children’s Centre
  • Developing and applying innovative strategies that will help conserve Mongolia’s most important lands and waters with The Nature Conservancy Mongolia
  • Increasing visitor engagement by teaching at Lake Hovsgol National Park
  • Supporting Nutag Partners’ consultation services in rural development, risk management, natural resource management, land use and livestock management, alternative livelihoods, development of community-based organizations, and social impact assessments
  • Assisting at the Mongolian University of Life Sciences, a research-oriented university focusing on veterinary medicine, animal science, biotechnology, agroecology, engineering, economics, and business
  • Performing public relations and marketing work at Breakthrough Communications
  • Participating in innovate national and international research and consulting projects at Independent Research Institute of Mongolia 
MFR video

Alumni Video

Career Paths


Career Paths

Students on this program represent a wide range of colleges, universities, and majors. Many of them have gone on to pursue academic and professional work that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:

  • PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, WI
  • Vice president at Erdene Resource Development Corp.
  • Post-doctoral researcher and course director at University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  • Researcher and instructor of social and cultural anthropology at University College London, London, UK
  • PhD candidate at Indiana University, Indiana
  • Fulbright fellow in Mongolia




This information is provided to assist you in identifying possible accessibility barriers and preparing for an accessible educational experience with SIT Study Abroad. You should be aware that while in-country conditions and resources vary by site, every effort is made to work collaboratively with qualified individuals to facilitate disability-related accommodation. Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact SIT’s Disability Services at disabilityservices@sit.edu for additional information related to access abroad and to discuss possible accommodations.


During the coursework phase of the program, you will generally be in class five to six days per week for six to eight hours per day. You will have breaks between classes. Learning is typically assessed through take-home assignments, in-class assignments, written assignments/exams, oral presentations/exams, individual assignments, group assignments, in-class quizzes/exams, take-home quizzes/exams, journaling, and teacher/instructor observation. Course readings and in-class materials are typically available in a digital format.

If you have questions about alternate format materials, testing accommodations, or other academic accommodations, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Program Center

The program office is accessed by a set of exterior stairs. The program’s classroom, study/library, student lounge, and restroom are located on the ground level. The building’s pathways/hallways and doorways, including the exterior entrance, are at least 32 in. (82 cm.). Threshold bumps measuring one to five inches high can be found in the doorways leading to the classroom, study/library, and student lounge. The restroom has running water and a raised toilet seat that is approximately 16 in. (40 cm.) from the ground. The program does not have a separate computer space for students.


The program includes single- and multi-day excursions to manufacturing and mining communities, religious and cultural institutions, and nature sites. Rural homestays give you the opportunity to assist a nomadic community with caring for their livestock. Excursions and nomad camp homestays are often located in remote communities, conducted in extreme weather, and physically demanding. You should expect to stand, walk, and be outside for long periods of time. Appropriate trekking gear, including a pair of shoes with sturdy support, is essential. Program excursions may occasionally vary to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities.


The program’s homestay coordinator will be responsible for placing you in your homestays. These placements are made based, first, on health concerns, including any allergies or dietary needs, to the extent possible. Homestays offer regular access to cellular service, electricity to charge devices, and a refrigerator for storing medication. Physically accessible homestay options are currently limited. If you have questions about homestay accessibility, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Dietary Needs

Mongolia is an essentially a meat-eating society. Boiled mutton or beef, noodles, rice, and a lot of milk products are the nutritional staples of nomad life in the country. Fruits and vegetables outside of Ulaanbaatar are almost nonexistent. Therefore, maintaining a vegetarian or vegan diet is often not feasible.

SIT Study Abroad works with students, program staff, homestay families, home colleges and universities, and others to accommodate dietary needs whenever possible. For more information on dietary needs and dietary preferences, please review the Student Support section of the Student Health, Safety, and Support web page.


In Ulaanbaatar, you will typically travel by bus or taxi for the 20 to 40 minutes between your homestay, classes, and/or placement sites. Buses do not have wheelchair lifts or ramps and lack room for standing and stretching. During nomad homestays, horses will probably be one of the main forms of transportation for getting to nearby sites. For excursion travel, the program uses all forms of transportation, including airplanes, trains, vans, jeeps, and horses. You should be prepared to take long car drives in extreme conditions on poor roads. During ISP/internship, you may use relatively inexpensive, long-distance public buses that can be crowded and may take up to two days to reach some remote destinations. The general routes of travel in Ulaanbaatar and the Mongolian countryside consist of dirt roads and rough, uneven sidewalks.


In the program center, a computer with cable internet is available to students for emergencies only. Wireless is available at the center. You are advised to bring your own academic technology, including laptops, recording devices, adapters, and assistive technology. It is also recommended that you fully insure your electronic property against loss or theft.

If you have questions about assistive technology, note-taking accommodations, or other academic accommodations, you are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as early as possible.

Health Resources

Medical centers and hospitals are concentrated in Ulaanbaatar; access to trained medical professionals in rural areas is quite limited. You should keep program staff apprised of your health situation so that staff can assist you in finding necessary care as quickly as possible when needed.

Once admitted, you are encouraged to discuss any questions or concerns about accessing health services or medication while abroad during the health review process. Read more about the health review process and the summary of benefits for student health insurance.

Requesting Disability-Related Accommodations

To request disability-related accommodations once admitted, you should contact the Office of Disability Services. For more information about the accommodation process, documentation guidelines and a link to the accommodation request form, please visit the Office of Disability Services website.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to contact Disability Services at disabilityservices@sit.edu or 802 258-3390 as early as possible for information and support.

Additional Support Resources

MIUSA (Mobility International USA) is a cross-disability organization serving those with cognitive, hearing, learning, mental health, physical, systemic, vision, and other disabilities. It offers numerous resources for persons with disabilities who wish to study abroad and/or engage in international development opportunities.

Abroad with Disabilities (AWD) is a Michigan nonprofit organization founded in 2015 with the goal of promoting the belief that persons with disabilities can and should go abroad. AWD works diligently to empower clients to pursue study, work, volunteer, and/or internship opportunities outside of the United States by creating dialogue, sharing resources, and spreading awareness.

Cost and Scholarships


Cost and Scholarships

SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students. 

SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.

Tuition: $14,901

The tuition fee covers the following program components:

  • Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
    • Geopolitics and Development Trends
    • Pastoralism and Natural Resources Management
  • Research Methods and Ethics course on research methods and Human Subjects Review
  • Language instruction in Mongolian
  • All educational excursions to locations such as Erdenet and historical and cultural sites in rural and urban areas of Mongolia, including all related travel costs
  • Education excursion to East Siberia, Lake Baikal region, including all related travel costs (excluding visa cost)
  • Independent Study Project or Internship and Seminar (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
  • Health insurance throughout the entire program period

Room & Board: $3,283

The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Ulaanbaatar), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project or Internship and Seminar, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
  • All homestays (up to four weeks in Ulaanbaatar and up to two weeks in a nomad camp, depending on local conditions)
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.

Estimated Additional Costs:

Airfare to Program Site

Airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.

Visa Expenses: $160

Immunizations: Varies

Books & Supplies: $120

International Phone: Each student must bring a smart phone that is able to accept a local SIM card with them to their program, or they must purchase a smart phone locally.

Discretionary Expenses

Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.

Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.

In order to make study abroad more accessible, SIT's partner colleges and universities may charge home school tuition fees for their students participating on an SIT Study Abroad program. If your institution has an agreement with SIT and charges fees different from those assessed by SIT, please contact your study abroad advisor for more details. The SIT published price is the cost to direct enroll in the SIT program. Tuition fees may vary for students based on your home college's or university's billing policies with SIT.

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