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  • Locations: Antigua, Guatemala; Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Budget Sheets: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Duration: Short Term Minimum GPA: 2.0
Language Requirement: 0 no minimum language requirement Language of Instruction: English
Class Standing: Graduate, Junior, Senior, Sophomore NC State Students Only: No
Program Type: Group Provider: NC State
High Impact Experiences: Research Opportunities Additional Requirements: prior coursework in anthropology is recommended
Program Coordinator: Anna Hayes College or Unit: College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Program Description:


Guatemala Ethno Field SchoolPROGRAM OVERVIEW
Live and work with an indigenous Guatemalan family in the Lake Atitlán area of the Western Highlands. Learn how to design, carry out, and write-up your own Independent research project in one of the 15 traditional Maya communities on the shores of a lake formed by ancient volcanoes! Students from all majors are encouraged to apply, especially those interested in topics concerning the environment, globalization, health, social justice, tourism, conservation, language, development, poverty, and civil engineering. Service learning opportunities are also possible. Guided by the program leaders, students work closely on their projects with local Maya to understand the key issues arising from globalization and change in Guatemala.

Within the supportive framework of the NC State Guatemala Program, students learn the fundamentals of ethnographic fieldwork, including project design and management, data collection and report writing. English is the language of instruction, but some basic Spanish will be necessary to communicate while in the field.


  • Courses
    • Undergraduates- ANT 419: Ethnographic Field Methods?
    • Graduates- ANT 595: Ethnographic Field Methods
    • Both- ANT 495/595: Maya After War - Heritage, Culture, Politics, and Globalization
  • NC State Program Cost
  • Program Dates
    • May 27 - July 17, 2018
  • Locations
    • Various locations throughout Guatemala including Antigua and Lake Atitlan
  • Contact
    • Dr. Tim Wallace,
  • Eligibility
    • 2.0+ GPA
    • Not on active disciplinary probation
    • Not on Academic Integrity Probation currently or during the prior semester

Lake Atitlán is one of the most majestic and scenic spots in all of Latin America. Ringed by dormant volcanoes and about a mile in elevation, Lake Atitlán was formed out of an ancient volcanic basin. Dotting the shores of the lake are a dozen small villages inhabited by the contemporary descendants of the ancient Maya. Panajachel is the largest town with a population of 11,000 and is the headquarters for the program. The view of the lake from Panajachel is magnificent and attracts many tourists, which in turn has transformed the town into a visitor’s mecca with small hotels, delightful restaurants, and plentiful souvenir stores. Yet, the town and the other communities in the region have retained much of their traditional Maya heritage. In addition to learning how to do research, you will also understand how the Maya have successfully maintained their identity as Maya while struggling against problems of globalization, poverty, and prejudice.  Lake Atitlán is one of the best places in the Central America to learn about this amazingly durable and vibrant Mayan culture.

During the seven weeks of the program, each student will be housed with a Guatemalan family in one of the several communities around Lake Atitlán. Students will receive room, breakfast, lunch, and dinner and laundry services. Families help students learn Spanish and establish networks in the community. During excursions, students will lodge in hotels two to a room and a meal allowance will be provided.

The group will travel to Antigua, the beautifully restored, main colonial capital, and to the Maya ruins of Iximché near Tecpán, the ancient capital of the Kaqchiquel Maya and first capital of colonial Guatemala. There will also be a group excursion to the Indian market of Chichicastenango, to the nationally famous Corpus Christi fiesta in Patzun, Chimaltenango. Optional trips to zip line in a nature reserve, and to the famous shrines and sights of Santiago, Atitlán. In addition, a guided, ecology hike around the volcano-fringed, northern side of the lake is planned.  And all students will visit by boat all the main destinations around Lake Atitlán.

Cost information is shown in the summer budget link above. Financial aid is generally available to help qualified NC State students to meet the expenses of NC State study abroad programs. Students from other institutions should contact their home institution study abroad and financial aid offices for information. For additional funding, NC State students should consider applying for a study abroad scholarship from the Study Abroad Office.

If you would like to contact past participants, let us know. Some of them have written recently to offer their endorsement of the program:

"Before the Guatemala Ethnographic Fieldschool I was rethinking my career choice, but now I'm confident that I can actually be a cultural anthropologist.  The practical experience and knowledge that I gained from my 7 weeks in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala enriched every aspect of my life."  - R. Volk (2012)
 "Not only was the EFS program in Guatemala a phenomenally engaging and enjoyable experience, but it also provided me with the tangible skills that I will use as an anthropologist in any region of the world – absolutely irreplaceable as I apply for a Fulbright to conduct ethnographic research in China next year!"  - B. Reynolds (2012)

“The Ethnographic Field School is a great way to gain practical field experience in anthropology.  Students in the field school come from a variety of backgrounds and by the end of the summer I felt more confident in undertaking a research project and living/traveling independently in a foreign country.  I do not speak fluent Spanish and I was still able to complete a project I could be proud of! - J. Bunch (2010)

“The field school was one of the most rewarding learning experiences in my entire life. Not only did my Spanish improve, but I also learned a lot more about what it takes to do quality ethnographic work. I think this is a must for anyone looking to do graduate or professional work in anthropology but lacks field experience.” - M. Stern (2012)

"Studying anthropology in Guatemala not only allowed me to try something academically outside my comfort zone but my time there also culturally enriched me in a way I wasn't expecting. Living with a host family in a foreign country and culture changed my life forever and I feel like a more well-rounded  and confident individual because of it. No matter your major or your interests there is something that will speak to you in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala and give you an experience that you'll never forget." – T. Wells


guate atitlan town viewguate students in fieldGuate mayan womenguate paintingguate students active learningGuate student w Mayan girls

The University reserves the right to alter the program format and/or costs in case of conditions beyond its control. If the program is canceled or a student withdraws, a refund of program costs may not be available in all cases. Please refer to the Study Abroad Office Refund Policy for details. Contact us:

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2018 02/15/2018
Rolling Admission 05/27/2018 07/17/2018

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be notified of acceptance in 2 to 4 weeks.

Indicates that deadline has passed

This program is currently not accepting applications.