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Field School


The Seoul Field School is a team-based research program that focuses on understanding the social and cultural dynamics in Seoul, South Korea through cultural immersion. The Program Director, Dr. Greg Thompson, has directed field schools in Seoul in 2016 and 2018. The 2020 field school is based on faculty-mentored, student-driven research. The field school will provide opportunities to conduct research in elementary school classrooms if desired, but students can also conduct research on other topics of their choosing.

This study abroad program will provide students with the opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research on theoretically innovative and relevant topics. Students will be trained in ethnographic research and use these skills to conduct fieldwork on topics of their choosing. This program is based in the Department of Anthropology but is relevant to a wide variety of research interests including: education, Asian studies, linguistics, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religious studies, and sociology. This is an excellent opportunity for students to build their resume by gaining research skills that will be extremely valuable when applying to graduate schools (whether MA, PhD, MPA, MBA, JD, etc.) or when going on the job market.

We are currently seeking applicants for student members of the research team. We will be spending approximately nine weeks conducting fieldwork in Seoul. This is an excellent opportunity to get course credit while learning research skills.

The program is run through the Department of Anthropology at Brigham Young University, and students will get course credit through BYU. The aim of this program is for students to learn how to conduct research in an international setting. This program will include students from multiple disciplines who are interested in gaining research skills and conducting original fieldwork in a mentored environment.

What is a field school?

A field school is a particular type of study abroad program that focuses on a mentored research experience in the communities where the field school is held. While all study abroad programs seek to integrate classroom learning with the resources available in the host country, field schools develop students' research skills by providing them with the opportunity to conduct original first-hand research in a mentored setting. Rather than just mastering a body of knowledge, the emphasis in a field school is on conducting research with people in another culture and learning first-hand about that culture.

By doing their own first-hand research, students come out of the field school with real practical evidence of their skill and ability to conduct their own original research. For students looking to conduct original fieldwork for a thesis, this program offers an immersive fieldwork experience in a closely mentored environment. For students looking to learn about research methods and/or about Seoul and Korean culture, the field school offers a unique opportunity of an immersive experience through which to learn about Korean culture.

Program details

This program will last 10 weeks. Students will be based in elementary schools around Seoul and will have the option to live with Korean host families or to live in an apartment shared with other students. The immersive experience living with families will facilitate the ethnographic research by providing additional means for understanding Korean culture. Regular lectures and discussion will provide the basis of the in-field training, but most of your time will be spent doing participant observation in classrooms.


All student-members who are accepted into the program are expected to attend a pre-departure preparation class during the preceding semester. Coursework in Korean language and culture is highly recommended (courses offered through the Korean program at BYU).

In-field coursework

During the program students will typically take 9 credits. The courses offered during the program include Ethnographic Field Project (typically 6 credits), History and Culture of Schooling in Korea, and related theoretical coursework. Academic Internship courses and graduate credit can be arranged as well, and we try to customize course offerings to fit the curricular needs of each student as much as possible. Critically, all coursework in the program is centered around the research training and gaining theoretical, methodological, practical, and cultural knowledge that pushes the research forward. Participants will be registered as BYU students, and will receive BYU course credit. Students will be responsible for transferring credit to their home institutions, but the director can assist by providing syllabi or other course materials and justifications for students to arrange the transfer.

Where do students live?

Housing will be arranged as part of the program, and will include either staying with Korean families or in an apartment with other students.

How much does this program cost?

  • Approximately $5,600 - $6,400 (final cost will be partially determined by the number of students)
  • The program fee INCLUDES the following expenses: TUITION for coursework; lodging and a meal stipend for the duration of the program; international health insurance; local research consultants, research assistants, and interpreters to help students in their research (those not fluent in Korean) with their interviews and other dimensions of their data collection; group outing in Seoul.
  • The program fee DOES NOT include: Airfare to and from Seoul; vaccinations; lunch every day; personal travel; any additional research expenses not covered by the program.

Application process

The application deadline is November 15. In order to apply, start an application (for non-BYU students this link includes instructions on setting up a BYU NetID). Select the Korea Field School program.The application steps include:1) Submit the supporting documents online.2) Include a short description of the following in your letter of intent: Why you are interested in this program, the topics that you may be interested in researching, language skills, experience related to your major, international experience.3) Pay the application fee (the fee is collected by the Kennedy Center, which administers the application database).4) Once the online application is complete, applicants will be formally interviewed by the program director. Students will be notified via email if they are accepted to the program.

Further information can be found at the above site or by contacting the student coordinator, Christopher Han, at