Explore how India maintains its vibrant traditional medicine systems while experiencing rapid economic growth and modernization.
Understand and appreciate India’s ancient and vibrant traditional health systems.
Observe and experience traditional healthcare practices including Ayurveda, yoga, traditional Tibetan medicine (Amchi), and naturopathy. Engage with institutions, methodologies, and practitioners of traditional medicine in India.
Examine the social, economic, and cultural paradigms that provide a context for healthcare service delivery among diverse groups in India.
Consider how policy and practice link to support Indian health systems and make them more sustainable. The government of India has created the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) to develop and propogate Indian medicine and healthcare systems.
Visit centers of traditional medicine in Delhi and in rural and urban areas in the Indian Himalaya.
Site visits may include diverse health and healing centers such as the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga and the Himalayan Research Institute of Yoga and Naturopathy in Kayakalp and Nature Cure and Yoga Center, Parmarth Ashram, and the Men-Tsee-Khang Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute in Dharamsala.
Compare and contrast India’s traditional and modern healthcare systems.
Learn from a diversity of practitioners and healers in allopathic and traditional medicine, through lectures and site visits. Understand multidimensional perspectives about healthcare and health delivery systems.
Consider how issues such as climate change, globalization, and development may be impacting health services and healthcare access in mountain communities.
By visiting Himalayan locations — home to some of India’s rich botanical natural resources — you will see how environment and healthcare are linked at state and local levels. See how mountain communities, in general, and health services and healthcare access, in particular, are affected by environmental and social change.
See how marginalization affects the lives and health of India’s indigent populations.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- How traditional health practices in India approach healthcare in holistic ways through mind-body-soul and environmental connections
- Ayurveda, yoga, Tibetan medicine (Amchi), folk medicine, naturopathy, and other traditional health systems
- Ayurveda in philosophy and its practical applications as a healing system
- Yoga as spiritual preventative, curative, and promotive medicine
- How issues such as climate change, globalization, and development may be impacting health services and healthcare access
- The institutions, methodologies, and practitioners of traditional medicine in India
- How marginalization affects the lives and health of India’s indigent populations
- Indigenous health systems in rural communities in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh
- The Himalayas as a repository of medicinal plants and herbs
The India: Traditional Medicine and Healthcare Practices program aims to acquaint students with socioeconomic, cultural, spiritual, and institutional dimensions and paradigms of healthcare in India. By observing and learning about the institutions, methodologies, and practitioners of traditional medicine, students compare and contrast India’s traditional and modern healthcare systems. The structure of the program enhances students’ capacity to critically engage multidimensional perspectives on healthcare and health delivery systems.
Students on this program enroll in two separate seminar courses: Traditional Indian Medicine: Theory and Context and Field Study of Traditional Indian Healthcare Practices.
Lecturers are drawn from institutions such as Ministry of AYUSH, Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, and the Himalayan Research Institute of Yoga and Naturopathy in Kayakalp; Delhi University; and Men-Tsee-Khang Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute, Dharamsala.
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.
- Traditional Indian Medicine: Theory and Context – syllabus
- (ASIA3010 / 5 credits / 75 hours)
- This six-week seminar provides a framework for the investigation of several traditional healthcare systems in India by examining some of the country’s basic social, economic, cultural, and legal paradigms. It considers India’s rich and ancient philosophical traditions pertaining to theories of health, healing, and medicine. These traditional healthcare systems are both widely practiced and receive government support today. The course introduces students to the origins of these wellness theories and systems through lectures, discussions, readings, and field visits designed to facilitate direct observation. The primary focus is on the systems of Ayurveda, yoga, Unani, Siddha, Amchi, folk medicine, and ethnic-traditional healing in the states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
- Field Study of Traditional Indian Healthcare Practices – syllabus
- (ASIA3020 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- This six-week course complements the Traditional Indian Medicine: Theory and Context seminar. The course emphasizes field study methods that give students a foundation for engaging in basic ethnographic approaches to studying and understanding the practice of traditional medicine. Through visits to and interaction with organizations and individuals working in India’s traditional healthcare system, students gain firsthand exposure to the practices and environments social contexts of these alternative methods of wellness. Though observation, note-taking, and interviewing, students gain experience with primary sources, thereby increasing their knowledge of traditional medicine in India.
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
Site visits and excursions are an integral part of the program. You will spend time at Ayurveda hospitals, yoga centers, and academic and research institutes in New Delhi and other areas of North India.
Most program time is designed to help you build a foundation in traditional healthcare systems’ theory and practice and learn how marginalization affects the lives and health of India’s indigent populations. Excursion destinations may include rural and urban Nainital, Rishikesh, Palampur, and Dharamsala.
You will interact with community members and traditional health practitioners and learn firsthand about ongoing struggles to survive and the challenges in acquiring adequate healthcare services in remote locations.
Holistic Health, Yoga, and Meditation in Nainital and Rishikesh
Learn about holistic approaches to healthcare in multiple Indian health systems. Understand the body, mind, and soul connection and the philosophy and principles of yoga, and different yoga postures in the holy town Rishikesh, considered the Mecca for yoga and meditation.
Ayurveda and Naturopathy in Palampur
Take classes on Ayurveda and naturopathy from a specialist, observe various Ayurvedic therapies, and eat organic meals at Kayakalp healing center.
Tibetan Medicine in Dharamsala
Visit McLeod Ganj in Dharamsala, where the Tibetan Government in Exile is headquartered and where His Holiness the Dalai Lama lives. Here, you will receive Tibetan medicine lessons and observe the Amchi clinic associated with Men-Tsee-Khang Medical and Astrology School. You’ll also learn about the concept of life and death in Buddhism and health, disease, diagnosis, and treatment in Tibetan medicine. You’ll also visit a Tibetan clinic, where you’ll observe an Amchi examination of patients and have an interactive Amchi session.
“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to have taken this public health course in India and to have met so many amazing people...
I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to have taken this public health course in India and to have met so many amazing people during my time there. Being able to learn about the issues of gender and caste -- but also see its application in a real-life context -- put everything into perspective. The issues of public health in India are far more complex than meets the eye. Getting to learn about the ways in which traditional medicine complements allopathic medicine was phenomenal. I would not have been able to learn about these topics as in-depth as I did if it were not for this SIT experience. In the short time I was there, I can genuinely say I have grown and learned more than any traditional classroom environment I have been in. Learning to navigate the hectic streets of Delhi, living with a homestay family, taking overnight trains to the Himalayas, and interning at an Ayurveda center really made the experience one of a kind. Azim and the entire SIT India team were incredible. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who is interested.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Azim Khan, PhD, Academic Director
Azim has been an academic director for SIT since 2008. He earned his PhD in health and human rights from Aligarh Muslim University. His thesis focused on sex-selective abortions and effectiveness of prenatal diagnostic techniques legislation in India. He earned an MA in human rights from the University of London and Bachelor of Laws with distinction in constitutional law from the University of Lucknow.
Azim received the Ford Foundation International Fellowship for academic excellence, leadership, and commitment to community. He’s worked with universities in India and the US, teaching human rights, public health, and development. Azim has been a consultant and researcher for NGOs and international organizations, including the UN. He was a facilitator for SIT / World Learning and Ford Foundation’s Leadership for Social Justice Program in Washington, DC. In 2007, he was awarded a Scholar of Peace fellowship by the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for peace initiatives in Gujarat. He hosted a weekly show on contemporary social justice and human rights issues and co-founded several organizations and schools. He has also been a media and political analyst for the US government.
Tsering Thakchoe Drungtso
Tsering is a professor and practitioner of Tibetan medicine and astrology. He has worked as a professor at Men-Tsee-Khang Medical and Astrological Institute in Dharamsala. Currently, he is the director of the Drungtso Tibetan Healing and Astrological Centre, a Dharamsala-based nonprofit organization that promotes and preserves the rich tradition of ancient Tibetan medical and astrological sciences. The center provides consultation services and delivers courses on Tibetan medicine and astrology at an international level. Tsering’s work highlights the importance of Tibetan medicine and astrology from its traditional role within Tibetan Buddhism culture and from a modern perspective.
Along with a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery degree from Gomantak Ayurveda Mahavidyalya & Research Centre, Goa University, Ashutosh holds a postgraduate certificate in Panchakarma from Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University, Karnataka. He is a Panchakarma expert with a practice of holistic and traditional treatments mentioned in Ayurveda. He has treated patients all over the world. Ashutosh has presented and published scientific papers across India and translated Ayurvedic Anatomy from Marathi to Hindi. He is an avid blogger and writer.
Brought up in the mid-Himalayan city of Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga, Vivek has offered yoga education to Indian and international students for more than 15 years. He runs yoga meditation camps, is a certified yoga teacher, and holds a university degree. He also studied in traditional Indian fashion under the guidance of self-realized saints of the Himalaya. He possesses in-depth knowledge of the Vedantic Upanisadic culture, and his interactive style of teaching creates a positive platform for student learning.
Abid Siraj, MA, Academic Coordinator
Abid holds a master’s degree in social work, specializing in reproductive and child health. He assists the academic director and helps students with Independent Study Project proposals. Abid worked for a USAID-funded project on the role of local self-government in the promotion of reproductive and child health and coordinated the Community-Based Distribution Project of Family Planning Methods. He was part of a team pioneering a public health program for India’s National Rural Health Mission. Abid was involved with UNICEF’s intensive immunization of pulse polio in Uttar Pradesh.
Rajeev Bijalwan, MA
Rajeev holds an undergraduate degree in Ayurveda and a master’s in international health management and development from the University of Birmingham, UK. From the Himalayan state Uttarakhand, he has extensive experience with health programs and is knowledgeable about traditional medicine and global public health issues. He specializes in health policy, planning, and program management. Since 2008, he has been vice president of the Global Education and Health Forum. His primary research interests are traditional healthcare, public health, institutional development, and health policy planning. Rajeev has helped plan interventions under the National Rural Health Mission and for the Urban Health Mission. He works with the Himalayan Institute of Hospital Trust, a graduate medical college and hospital in Uttarakhand.
Bhavna Singh, Homestay and Student Affairs Coordinator
Bhavna holds a BA from Lucknow University and recently completed a postgraduate diploma in rural development with a specialization in public health in India. She has worked with SIT Study Abroad since 2004. Bhavna previously conducted Hindi workshops for Japanese and Canadian students. She is fluent in English, Hindi, Rajasthani, Avadhi, and Nepalese. She is an athlete and Kathak dancer.
Goutam Merh, Faculty and Excursion Coordinator
Goutam earned a master’s degree from Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, in 1989. He has been teaching Hindi for more than 10 years for various American study abroad programs in India. He also has worked with Antioch University’s Buddhist studies program in Bodh Gaya, India, and for On-Site Language Service’s International Language Learning program. Before joining the Health and Human Rights program, Goutam worked with SIT’s India: Sustainable Development and Social Change program in Jaipur, where he was senior Hindi faculty and excursion coordinator for two years. He has a keen sense of humor that keeps the classrooms lively, and he is extraordinarily helpful to students during excursions and field studies. Goutam, who is fluent in Hindi, Bangala, Gujarati, Bhojpuri, Brij, and English, is an expert on Indian culture and development issues.
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 spend approximately 10 days with a host family in rural Nainital. Typically, two or three students are placed with one family. Most families have lived in the same place for generations and, in some cases, for centuries. They are typically lower middle class but vary in size and caste background. A majority of host families have multiple generations living under one roof and are typically in small villages.
In addition to language skill practice, the homestay gives you the chance to participate in the daily life of rural communities in the Himalaya. You may experience religious ceremonies or weddings and share memorable meals.
You will stay in a guest house in Palampur, Rishikesh, and Dharamsala and a hotel in New Delhi during the orientation and concluding periods.
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.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in:
- Field Study of Traditional Indian Healthcare Practices course
- Traditional Indian Medicine: Theory and Context seminar
- All educational excursions associated with the Traditional Indian Medicine: Theory and Context seminar and the Field Study of Traditional Indian Healthcare Practices course
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $2,372
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 (New Delhi), during the homestay, on all excursions to Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and during the evaluation period.
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered by SIT Study Abroad directly or through an appropriate stipend.
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: $125
Books & Supplies: $ 60
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.
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.