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VIETNAM - ISEP Vietnam National - International University

Study at Vietnam’s premier English language university in the fast-paced, cosmopolitan city of Ho Chi Minh. International University (IU), established in 2003, is one of six member universities of Vietnam National University HCMC. IU’s small but growing size allows international students to play an active role in the student community. Local Vietnamese students are eager to befriend international students, teach them about Vietnamese culture, and practice their English. International students have many opportunities to get involved in community service projects, explore the street life of HCMC, learn about Saigonese history, and immerse themselves in modern Vietnamese culture!

International University, one of the six member universities of Vietnam National University HCMC, is the first public university in Vietnam to use English as the primary language in teaching and research. IU is located in the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh.Check out this cool video about Ho Chi Minh City traffic!

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus 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.  

Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.


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 junior 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 2.75.  

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 (see a financial section for more information).


Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is the largest city in Vietnam and is the country’s economic, cultural and educational center. According to Lonely Planet, HCMC is “a high-octane city of commerce and culture that has driven the whole country forward with its pulsating energy.” International University is located in University City, just on the outskirts of HCMC, about 45 minutes from downtown. See a map of IU to get a feel for its location.

To learn more about the visa process for this country, please visit the ISEP Country Handbook for Vietnam. 


Students must enroll in at least 12 and no more than 24 credit points per semester. The typical student takes 5 courses per term which equate to three hours of class time per week. A term runs for 18 weeks. 

Students’ knowledge and progress are assessed in three main forms. Class assignments, which may be individual or group-based, are worth 20-40% of the grade. The mid-term exam is worth 20-30% and the strongest factor, the final exam, is worth 40-60% of the overall grade. Mid-term and final exams may be oral or written tests.

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.  The teaching style is teacher-oriented, meaning mostly lectures with few class discussions. Students are expected to be self-disciplined and do a lot of reading/learning on their own.

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.

Business and Biotechnology are particularly strong fields.  Course descriptions can be found by clicking on the various faculty websites provided above. Alternatively, you can go to Schools and Departments and click on the link for each undergraduate and graduate program.

The measurement of credit is determined by the class’s contact hours. 

To Earn 4 Lake Forest credits, students must take 168 total contact hours, or 672 hours of in- and out-of-class time.

To Earn 3 Lake Forest credits, students must take 126 total contact hours, or 504 hours of in- and out-of-class time.

The number of credits listed here is estimated, and GEO will work with you, your advisor, and the registrar to ensure you are earning enough credits to keep you on track for graduation.

Student Life

The one-day orientation program covers a wide range of information including the student email account activation, opening a bank account, student health care, student union activities, preparing for study, safety, and general information. Students will also be introduced to Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnamese culture by visiting some historic sites throughout the city. Orientation is a great opportunity to meet new people and settle into life in Vietnam! 

The Office of Student Services, the Youth Union, and the Student Union organize many activities in order to create a healthy playground for IU students.

  • Social activities: Green summer, blood donation day, musical performance for charity, a bookcase for children, English teaching for youth and workers, building charitable houses, charity center visits, donation for flood victims, etc.
  • Cultural and sports activities: “Mr. and Miss IU”, “IU Singer”, “BA singer contest”, “IU New Eve”, Student Sports Assembly
  • Traditional history education activities: Education of politics for freshmen at the Cu Chi tunnels, IU camping trips, studying the four topics of Ho Chi Minh thought, storytelling contest about Ho Chi Minh’s moral example, etc.
  • Vocational guidance and academic activities: scientific research, skill building, management experience seminars, “BA ideas”, “BT ideas”, “egg drop”, “autonomous car race” and “IU Master Mind contest”, international student exchange and academic clubs.
Housing and Meals

IU is located in University City, about 45 minutes from downtown Ho Chi Minh City. A housing stipend is provided to cover off-campus housing. The most popular option among international students is a guesthouse within walking distance from IU. The guesthouse offers single bedrooms with private bathrooms. Students who prefer to live closer to downtown can do so. Keep in mind that rent prices increase as you get closer to downtown, so students might have to cover the difference with their own money. IU provides bus service between campus and downtown HCMC for students who live downtown or want to explore the city. 

Students receive a meal stipend which can be used to purchase food in restaurants or in the campus canteen. The canteen offers various cuisine- check out the menus

Financial Information

For guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester includes provider/university fees, housing, and most include meals

As of Fall 2019, Program Fee = $5785 (with meal plan/stipend), $5000 (without meal plan/stipend).

Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year.

$750 airfare reimbursement for ISEP Exchange programs.

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

Non-refundable deposits that are applied to tuition for other programs, if required, are paid by the College, but will be billed to the student’s account if they withdraw from the program. 

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. 

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

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office