An ISLE semester lasts 15 to 16 weeks. The semester consists of three distinct sessions, in which students take both required and elective courses, and undertake a final Independent Field Study Project. The full course load for the ISLE Program is 16 semester-hour credits, as described in detail below.
During Session I, students begin learning the local language, Sinhala, and become familiar with important aspects of Sri Lankan culture and society in the Sri Lankan Studies Seminar. During Session II, students continue their language study with Sinhala II and take two elective courses of their choice.
Throughout the semester, readings, field trips and other activities are assigned as part of the Sri Lankan Studies Seminar, which culminates in a final Independent Field Study Project. During the final four weeks of the semester (Session III), students draw on what they have studied throughout the program to devote themselves entirely to the Field Study Project. Projects must be approved in advance by the Faculty Director and culminate in a final report of approximately 5000 words, as well as an oral presentation.
Independent Field Study Projects completed by previous ISLE students are as varied and fascinating as the academic interests of the students themselves. In the past, student projects have focused on agricultural development programs, the gem trade, archeological excavations, Kandyan dance, orphanages, fishing camps, and public health issues, to name only a few. You can read the titles of independent field study projects by previous ISLE students by clicking on the link titled "Independent Field Study Projects" at the upper left of this page.
Sinhala I and II are each worth 4 semester course credits. The Sri Lanka Studies Seminar, which includes the Independent Field Study project, is worth 4 semester course credits. Archaeology and the elective courses are each worth 2 semester course credits, resulting in a total course load for the ISLE program of 18 semester-hour credits. ISLE member colleges grant academic credit for satisfactory completion of program coursework. Each institution individually determines the total number of credits to be awarded, and the manner in which credits and grades are recorded on student transcripts. Allocation of credits to departments, or to major or minor requirements, must be negotiated by the student with the home college.
ISLE is formally affiliated with the University of Peradeniya (see University photos), one of the leading institutions of higher learning in South Asia. Peradeniya faculty offer a range of core and elective courses tailored to the needs of ISLE students. Interested students may also take advantage of extracurricular instruction in music, dance, and other art forms, as well as meditation.
Classroom study is supplemented by archaeological tours and other field trips on the island. The archaeological tour surveys Sri Lanka’s historical civilizations, with field study of archaeological and religious sites at the ancient capitals of Anuradhapura, Sigiriya, and Polonnaruva. The field tours are part of the course field trips, designed by students in consultation with the director, the ISLE staff, and faculty, to visit various places of personal as well as academic interest.
The Fall semester runs from the end of August to mid-December, while the spring semester begins at the end of January and runs until the end of May.
The Early Decision Deadline for both semesters is December 1st. Applicants are encouraged to apply by this deadline to ensure a space in the program. Thereafter, applications are accepted on a rolling admissions basis until March 1st for the Fall Program and October 7th for the Spring Program.