Having endured an extremely dark and tumultuous modern era beset with the horrors of genocide, colonization, and civil war, Cambodia has shown remarkable resilience in its efforts to reunite and rebuild as a country.
The Summer Cambodian Studies program helps study abroad students understand Cambodia’s history and culture from ancient times to the present, with particular focus on the Khmer Rouge regime and its aftermath. Students study the challenges of nation building, reconciliation, and democracy in post-conflict countries while exploring Cambodia’s economic and cultural transformation as at it opens up to the world.
Study abroad in Cambodia and you will:
- Learn about justice and reconciliation in a post-conflict country
- Immerse yourself in the culture through a two- to three-week homestay in Phnom Penh with the family of a Cambodian university student from CIEE’s host institution Paññasastra University of Cambodia
- Explore the Angkor Wat World Heritage Site
- Witness the ongoing Khmer Rouge Tribunal and visit Khmer Rouge genocide memorial sites
- Engage and learn from Cambodian people through a service learning project
The CIEE Difference
The CIEE Difference
Enroll in a challenging curriculum headed by international and local scholars affiliated with Cambodian universities and research institutions. Together you will:
- Examine aspects of history and culture in Cambodia, from pre-Angkorean times to the present
- Visit the joint UN and Cambodian war crimes tribunal and a center for documentation of Khmer Rouge war crimes, meet and interview survivors of the Khmer Rouge, and visit non-governmental organizations
- Gain basic proficiency in conversational Khmer, or advance your existing Khmer comprehension and fluency
The Summer Cambodian Studies program includes visits and guided lectures at the Angkor World Heritage Site. You'll visit the ongoing Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal, “Killing Fields” of Choeung Ek and Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison, National Museum, and Royal Palace. You will join Cambodian university students for academic and cultural activities in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The course professors or the resident director leads most excursions.
Through study abroad in Cambodia, you will participate in local NGO service learning projects, sometimes organized through the host school Paññasastra University of Cambodia (PUC). Other projects are possible if there are clear expectations and time commitments between you and the organization. In some cases, projects may be carried out together with Cambodian students. Past students have taught English at an educational NGO, worked with street children living in a Phnom Penh orphanage, interned with an English language newspaper, or found opportunities to volunteer with NGOs working in education, environment, or health.
Dates, Deadlines & Fees
Dates, Deadlines & Fees
We want to make sure you get the most out of your experience when you study abroad with CIEE, which is why we offer the most inclusions in our fees.
- Tuition and housing
- Pre-departure advising and optional on-site airport meet and greet
- Full-time program leadership and support
- Field trips and cultural activities
- CIEE iNext travel card which provides insurance and other travel benefits
Please note, program dates are subject to change. Please contact your CIEE Study Abroad Advisor before purchasing airfare. Click the
button to view more detailed information about dates and fees as well as estimated additional costs. Please talk with your University Study Abroad Advisor about additional fees that may be charged by your home institution when participating in a program abroad.
Program Date Notes
In addition to the items outlined below, the CIEE program fee includes an optional on-site airport meet and greet, full-time leadership and support, orientation, cultural activities, local registration fees, local excursions, field trips, pre-departure advising, and a CIEE iNext travel card which provides insurance and other travel benefits.
Participation Confirmation *
Educational Costs **
This breakdown has been prepared from the program budget for the purpose of calculating eligibility for financial aid. During the course of program operations, actual figures may vary. It should not, therefore, be used as a basis for calculation of refunds. CIEE reserves the right to adjust fees at any time.
Students required to study on CIEE programs through a School of Record will be charged a $340 administrative fee in addition to the Program Fees listed.
** direct cost of education charged uniformly to all students
*** includes one meal per day while in the Phnom Penh homestay portion of the program; no meals included during all other times
Estimated Additional Costs
Meals not included in program fee *
International Airfare **
The estimated additional costs indicated are intended to assist students and parents in budgeting for those additional living and discretionary expenses not included in the program fee. Actual expenses will vary according to student interests and spending habits.
* for all meals other than homestay dinners
** round-trip based on U.S. East Coast departure
*** paid on site
Total recommended credit for the summer program is 6 semester/9 quarter hours.
Course contact hours are 45 hours and recommended credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours per course.
Study abroad students are required to take a non-credit survival Khmer mini-course (if not taking the Khmer language elective), Cambodian History and Culture, and one elective course.
About the City
About The City
Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, lies on banks of the Mekong River. Phnom Penh’s grand French and Khmer architectural monuments, including the Royal Palace and National Museum, remain standing amid recent development, creating a unique atmosphere that combines the ancient and the modern.
Siem Reap, Cambodia’s third largest city with a population of 100,000, lies adjacent to the Angkor World Heritage Site, the ruins of a massive temple city that was the center of the ancient Khmer empire. Steeped in Cambodian history and Khmer culture, Siem Reap is a favored destination for both scholars and tourists.
Meet The Staff
Meet The Staff
Dr. David Streckfuss is the Resident Director for the Cambodian Studies program and has been the Resident Director for the CIEE Programs in Thailand since 1994. He received his Ph.D. in Southeast Asian History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is particularly interested in economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights. As an independent scholar, he wrote Truth on Trial in Thailand: Defamation, Treason, and Lèse-Majesté, published by Routledge. He is a frequent contributor to publications such as The Bangkok Post and The Asian Wall Street Journal.
The tragic events of Cambodia’s past continue to haunt it today. Many Cambodians and international observers are eager to see leaders of the Khmer Rouge, a brutal regime responsible for the deaths of millions from 1975 to 1979, finally brought to justice in an ongoing UN and Cambodian tribunal. Although most agree this is a necessary step to help put this traumatic past behind them, the path to reconciliation is not an easy one, especially since only a handful of top Khmer Rouge leaders are standing trial.
At the same time, Cambodians are looking ahead to a bright future. Despite ongoing problems, Cambodia has a multiparty democracy, and its economy, not long ago ravaged by war and isolation, is growing at an astounding pace as the country integrates with the global community. Unfortunately, the country is still slow in developing the institutions needed to help handle the shocks of rapid transformation and growth. Globalization has brought the hope of prosperity, along with new threats, for Cambodia’s impoverished, mostly rural population.
Studying abroad in Cambodia will give you the chance to learn about life in a rapidly developing post-conflict country, explore a culture that is likely very different from your own, and also discover much about yourself in the process. On behalf of CIEE, I invite you to challenge yourself and join what will be an incredible learning and life experience.
— Dr. David Streckfuss Resident Director
Where You'll Study
Where You'll Study
The Cambodian Studies summer study abroad program is hosted by the prestigious Paññasastra University of Cambodia (PUC), which offers degrees in the fields of business, economics, international relations, and law. The modest campus consists of classrooms, library, and administrative offices. All courses are hosted by PUC, the country’s premier English-language higher education institution.
CIEE students participate in a cultural immersion experience studying alongside and joining activities with local students, and have access to campus facilities.
Housing & Meals
Housing & Meals
Housing is included in the program fee. For seven days in Siem Reap, students live in a guest house with air conditioning, hot water, private bathroom, and refrigerator. Meals are not included in the program fee and are the responsibility of the student. Studentswill find a wide range of food in Siem Reap, from inexpensive food stalls and Khmer restaurants to trendy international pizza joints, cafés, and bistros.
For the first two to three weeks in Phnom Penh, students live in an urban homestay with the family of a Cambodian university student attending Paññasastra University of Cambodia. This is an opportunity to experience Cambodian culture and everyday life, as well as make lasting friendships. Homestay families provide a bedroom, sometimes shared with a Cambodian student. During the last three weeks of the program in Phnom Penh, students stay in a hotel near the PUC campus.
Meals are not included in the study abroad program fee, except during the homestay, when students are invited to join the family for dinner. Students are responsible for all other meals, which can be eaten at the University canteen, the program guest houses, or nearby restaurants. Vegetarian food is available in many restaurants throughout the country.
A three-day on-site orientation session, conducted by the resident director,will introduce you to the country, culture, and academic program, and provide practical information about living in Cambodia. You'll explore Siem Reap and learn where they can find Khmer and international food, banks, shops, and pharmacies. The resident director holds regular sessions throughout the program for ongoing orientation to Cambodian culture.
The orientation also includes, for those who have never learned Khmer language, a mandatory 16-hour non-credit intensive Khmer mini-course which will introduce you to useful conversational words and phrases.
You are encouraged to bring a wireless-enabled laptop. Wireless internet access is available at most guesthouses and hotels, on the Paññasastra University campus, as well as in many local cafés throughout both cities. Wireless hotspots also cover many areas of downtown Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Cultural Reimbursement Program
To provide you with opportunities to enrich your study abroad experience, CIEE offers a Cultural Reimbursement Program. You will be reimbursed for the cost to participate in variety of cultural events including passes to Angkor and other heritage sites, local movies, theater and concert performances, and visits to local museums.
The Cambodian Studies program offers students the opportunity to explore Cambodian culture, history, and contemporary political and social issues through coursework, cultural exchange with Cambodian students, and a variety of field visits.
The program begins with seven days in Siem Reap, where students explore the Angkor World Heritage Site and begin classes in history, language, and culture. The bulk of the program is in the capital, Phnom Penh, where students have opportunities to interact with local NGOs, develop and implement a short service learning project, and explore topics in reconciliation and development.
Classes are held four days a week, Monday through Wednesday and Saturday mornings, with a number of excursions. Most classes are similar in style and structure to American university classes, but students should be flexible in adapting to new teaching styles and ways of organizing academic material. The class format typically includes lectures, discussions, and individual projects.
Over a four-week period, Thursdays and Fridays are reserved for a service learning project. In the first week, students will visit each of the service learning sites. After negotiating a joint project, students will design materials and carry out the project over the next three weeks.
Nature of Classes
Classes are composed of CIEE study abroad students and some Cambodian students of PUC (when possible).
Students are graded on participation in classes and field visits, class discussions and presentations, projects, essays, and exams. Letter grades of A-F are given with pluses or minuses.
Language of Instruction
Courses are taught by international and local scholars affiliated with Cambodian universities and research institutions. Below are faculty bios of current and past faculty.
Dr. Sedara Kim received his B.A. in archaeology from the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh, and has done graduate work at the University of Hawaii and with a Fulbright Scholarship studies at Stanford and Northern Illinois University. He recently finished his Ph.D. in Political Science/Development at Gothenburg University in Sweden. As a senior research fellow at the Cambodia Development Resource Institution (CDRI), Dr. Kim has done extensive research on development, civil society, gender, and democratic governance. Latest publications include “Transforming Local Politics in Rural Cambodia: In Search for Accountability in Natural Resource Management” (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2011) and the forthcoming, “Gender Power Analysis: The Case of Decentralization Reforms in Cambodia.”
Dr. Damian Evans is on faculty in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sydney, Australia, and is the Director of the University's Research Centre in Siem Reap-Angkor. A specialist in using new technologies to uncover, map, and analyse cultural landscapes, he has degrees in both archaeology and social anthropology, and has participated in a wide range of projects in Cambodia over the last 15 years. His current work focuses on using airborne laser imaging to find and map early Khmer cities hidden beneath the forests of northern Cambodia, and putting the finishing touches on a book about the archaeology of Angkor.
Note: This course listing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a contract between CIEE and any applicant, student, institution, or other party. The courses, as described, may be subject to change as a result of ongoing curricular revisions, assignment of lecturers and teaching staff, and program development. Courses may be cancelled due to insufficient enrollment.
CIEE Study Center Syllabi
To view the most recent syllabi for courses taught by CIEE at our Study Centers, visit our syllabi site.
Required CIEE Course
HIST 3001 SRPU
Cambodian History and Culture
This course examines aspects of history and culture in Cambodia from pre-Angkorean times to the present. Chief topics include the Angkorean Empire, French colonialism, nationalist and communist movements, the American secret bombing, the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge, the Vietnamese-backed regime and international embargo, and the UN peacekeeping mission. Site visits include the Angkor temple complex, genocide memorial sites near Phnom Penh, and a tour of architectural sites.
Elective CIEE Courses
POLI 3002 SRPU/SOCI 3002 SRPU
Nation Building after the Khmer Rouge
This course examines the efforts to rebuild Cambodia following decades of war and isolation, drawing on approaches from economics, political science, and sociology. Chief topics include the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal, reconciliation between former Khmer Rouge and their victims, building democratic institutions and civil society, sustainable economic development, and environmental, human rights, and public health crises including HIV/AIDS and human trafficking. Students visit the joint UN and Cambodian war crimes tribunal and a center for documentation of Khmer Rouge war crimes, meet and interview survivors of the Khmer Rouge, and visit non-governmental organizations. Faculty: Dr. Sedara Kim
KHMR 1001 SRPU
Beginning Khmer Language 1
This course gives students the opportunity to gain basic proficiency in conversational Khmer. Students learn to conduct conversations on common topics like greetings, eating and drinking, giving and asking directions, and talking about family life.
KHMR 2001 SRPU
Intermediate Khmer Language 1
This course is designed for students who have basic Khmer language skills, but are not yet able to read, comprehend, or converse fluently. It brings students to a higher level of fluency in comprehension, speaking, and reading non-specialized materials. Class work consists of readings, listening comprehension exercises, and guided conversations.
KHMR 2002 SRPU
Intermediate Khmer Language 2
This course continues instruction in intermediate Khmer language.