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Off-Campus Study

ISEP at Sichuan University - Pacific Lutheran University


China has long captivated the imagination of the world. Whether one explores China for its rich and vast history or is intrigued by its foray into the international arena, there is something for everyone.

Considered one of China’s most prestigious universities, Sichuan University attracts students from around the world. Known for its spicy cuisine and panda reserves, Chengdu offers students an authentic experience of China. Courses include all levels of Mandarin language study and a variety of area studies classes. ISEP’s program at Sichuan University is run by Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus and comfortable with the local language to thrive in this location. Please be aware that there may not be the same access to internet or amenities to which you may be accustomed.  Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust. 

Learn more about Sichuan University here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.

Program Type

Direct-Enroll ONLY


Chengdu, China

Languages of Instruction


Program Dates

Fall 2018: Late August to December

Spring 2019: Late February to Late May

All dates are tentative and may change.  ISEP will alert all accepted students of final dates.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have second-semester sophomore status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0.  


Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up.  Direct options may have an additional cost.

THIS PROGRAM DOES NOT ANTICIPATE OFFERING EXCHANGE FOR 2017-2018, ONLY DIRECT. The chance of placement for Direct is Excellent.  Good Exchange options may be the programs at JUFE or Hong Kong.  You may also want to consider the Asian Studies Institute at Beijing.



Nestled in a rich agricultural basin near the foothills of Tibet, Sichuan Province is China’s most populous. Within the mixture of modern cities and rural villages are Chengdu, the provincial capital – home to Western China’s best universities and hospitals, and a major site for foreign and domestic investment, including global industry leaders like Microsoft, Boeing, and Intel.


Sichuan University, with a history dating back to 1896, offers the widest scope of disciplines offered at a university in the West of China. Sichuan University boasts over 70,000 students. It is widely considered one of China’s most prestigious universities and falls directly under the State Ministry of Education. 

Courses include all levels of Mandarin language study and a variety of area studies classes. ISEP’s program at Sichuan University is run by Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.

Other than language courses, all courses are taught in English.

In the Fall program, a Pacific Lutheran University faculty will serve as the Site Director. It is recommended that ISEP students take Chinese Culture and Society with the PLU students; the 2-credit Western China course is also available and has additional fees to cover the required Study Tour. Any combination of the courses listed under SM1, plus the PLU faculty course may be taken for a total of 17 credits. 

In the Spring, on-site support is provided by the Overseas Office through Sichuan University. Any combination of the courses listed under SM2 may be taken for a total of 17 credits. 

Students will receive U.S. academic credit from Pacific Lutheran University upon completing the program. Transcripts will show that coursework was completed while at Sichuan University.  Lake Forest students must take the equivalent of 15-semester credits to earn 4 Lake Forest credits.


* Full Year or Semester 2 students have the option to enroll in an additional month of language classes at no additional TUITION cost but must pay the additional housing cost directly to Sichuan University.

For more information regarding courses: click here.

Pacific Lutheran University homepage link.

Sichuan University homepage link.


Academic Environment and Teaching Style

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.

Can review the country handbooks for ISEP here as well:



ISEP Placement info: http://www.isep.org/Coordinators/us_placement_notes_english.asp


Please review country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette.

Course Approvals

Check to see if your department has pre-approved courses here. If not, don’t worry. You can work with your advisor.

Experiential Opportunities

A service learning program component will allow students to teach English at a variety of locations within Sichuan University and Chengdu.

Student Life

The large and bustling campus attracts students from around the world. The surrounding area is fun and convenient, offering Internet cafes, restaurants, banking, and shopping.  


Included in the program fee for Full Year and Fall semester students is an exciting 10-day pre-session China orientation tour starting from Beijing to Xi’an and finally Chengdu.

Spring semester students will have a standard orientation where they will be introduced to Sichuan University campus, staff, course registration, the banking system, and other essential information.


The host will provide arrival directions with acceptance packet.


Students will have the opportunity to visit the International Panda Breeding Research Center and the Leshan Great Buddha outside of Chengdu. Additionally, students will be provided the opportunity to participate in an optional mid semester study tour. Locations may include rural sites in Sichuan Province, Tibet, and Shanghai. 

Additional fees are not included in the program fee. Cost and travel information for these optional tours will be announced prior to placement.

Housing and Meals

Students are housed in double-occupancy rooms at the international residence hall. The cost of accommodations is included in the program fee. Meals are not included. Because most full-year students prefer to travel during the break between semesters, housing between semesters is not included in the program fee. Students who wish to stay on campus can make arrangements with the on-campus coordinator to pay Sichuan University directly. 

Financial Information


Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 semester:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)


College Deposit (credit)


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Fee due on Stage 2 Application


College Deposit due on Acceptance (non-refundable, but shows as credit on bill for off-campus term)


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance ($90/mo estimated)

Note: Some countries require national insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance, if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of February 2018. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

Do check your student account on My.Lakeforest for your aid awards, as much of this will go with you. If you want to compare your program to the cost of being on campus, those numbers can be found here: https://www.lakeforest.edu/admissions/tuition/fees.php

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.