Dawn patrol - students getting an early start to a day of paddling - Muk Island, Trang.


  • Spring semester: October 12. Early notification deadline September 12. Applications will be processed on a space available basis.

  • Fall semester: March 15, early application deadline February 17.

After the deadline, applications will be accepted on a space available, rolling basis.

Students are encouraged to apply early!


  • Enrolled in accredited US college or university
  • GPA of at least 3.0
  • In good academic standing
  • Not on academic or disciplinary probation

While not required, having taken classes dealing with sustainable development, ecology and ecosystems, development studies, and related fields is helpful. However, what is more important than specific coursework is a desire to be an engaged and active learner!


You should email your applications to admissions@isdsi.org. Hard copies and other supporting material can be sent to:

Mailing address:

PO Box 222
Chiang Mai, 50205

Street address / express mail (DHL/FedEx/UPS):

48/1 Chiang Mai-Lampang Road (Superhighway)
Muang, Chiang Mai, 50300

Office phone # for express mail:


Jump to our Sending Schools page for a list of colleges and universities that have sent students on ISDSI programs.

Are you interested in learning in a new way?

We are looking for students interested in

  • ecology and sustainability
  • challenging experiential coursework
  • engaging in diverse cultural experiences
  • building leadership and expedition skills

This is not a passive classroom-based program. Students will be required to be active learners, engaged with the material, and motivated to learn.

If you are considering applying, email apply@isdsi.org. We can help you sort out what needs to be done at your school to apply to the program, and help answer any questions you might have about the application process.


There are several options for your study at ISDSI, including semester, semester plus internship, and full academic year.


ISDSI runs two semesters a year, Fall and Spring. Each semester is 16 weeks long, plus one week of orientation, for a total of 17 weeks.

Each Semester includes Foundations, Agroecology, Forests and Oceans.

Semester + Internship

Students have the option to stay on after the ISDSI semester to do a supervised internship either at an NGO or in another related project/activity related to the student’s interests.

In the Fall semester this is a 4 week January (J-Term) internship.

In the Spring semester this is an 8 week summer internship.

ISDSI staff will work with the student to develop an appropriate placement and supervision. See our Internship Course page for more information.  Former students have found this internship to be very valuable when applying to graduate school and/or post-graduate jobs.

Full Academic Year

The full academic year at ISDSI combines independent study with a deep immersion into local cultures and ecosystems.  Students doing a full academic year would be able to study and learn in all of the major ethno-ecological areas of Thailand, from remote mountain villages to coastal and island communities, including an internship and an in-depth independent research project in a tribal community.

During the fall semester, a student on the full academic year would take Foundations, Agroecology, Forests and Oceans. Then in January they would do a 4 week  Internship during the first block of the spring semester. They would then have the option for an extended internship placement, or supervised independent study in each of the course areas (Agroecology, Forests and Oceans).

A full academic year at ISDSI prepares you for further graduate study or a career in international work, giving you language skills as well as deep knowledge of a specific region. Even if you work in another region, having the ability to communicate effectively in Thai and understanding the diverse cultures of Thailand is excellent preparation for working and living abroad.


Some schools have formal partnerships with ISDSI.  If so, you may be able to pay through your home institution, depending on their study abroad/tuition policy. Please check with your study abroad office to find out if this is the case at your school.

ISDSI charges a “comprehensive fee” so that students may apply existing financial aid to tuition as well as cost-of-living in Thailand.

Comprehensive fees includes:

  • tuition
  • program related meals
  • housing
  • in-country books/readers
  • program related travel
  • monthly cash stipend for food / local transportation on your own

The fee does not cover the following:

  • roundtrip airfare to Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • pre-departure assigned books (usually two, less than $50)
  • personal gear / expedition clothing ($100 – $400 depending on what you already have)

Direct enroll comprehensive fee for 2014-2015*:

Term Total Fee Tuition Room & Board
Semester $20,549 $14,384 $6,165
Semester + Internship $24,144 $16,901 $7,243
Full Academic Year $41,097 $28,768 $12,329

*In response to the difficulties students are facing with paying for college education, we are not raising our tuition this year to try and help out. Our costs are continuing to go up, but we working to make this as affordable as possible, in addition to our regular financial aid offered.

Financial aid

Many schools will allow you to apply part or all of your financial aid towards study at ISDSI.  Please check with your study abroad office for more details about how to do that.

ISDSI also offers financial aid in the form of a fee reduction, usually from $500 to $3,500 per semester for qualified students.

Another source of information on scholarships is at http://www.iie.org/programs/gilman/resources.html.