Study Away in Tacoma

Spring Program

TIES: Tacoma Immersion Experience Semester

Tacoma, the City of Destiny, a location that is rich in culture, history, geography, and population. Find yourself exploring the many neighborhoods of the city as you spend a semester studying, living, and exploring all of the fascinating elements that make Tacoma a thriving location. (PLU News program feature)

Questions? Please contact: Rachel Haxtema –


Open to all majors, focused on developing community engagement/partnership and advocacy. Courses will vary each semester.

Students will take a foundational course on Tacoma, choose from multiple courses taught downtown by PLU faculty and community partners and an internship or academic research project with a community partner.

TIES Program Coursework

  • Foundational Tacoma Course (GLST 301), 4 credits
  • Internship or Research, 4 credits
  • Choose 2 courses from a variety of disciplines
    (taught downtown with unique Tacoma focus), 4 credits each

(16 credits total)

Spring 2018 Courses:

Tacoma: The Power of Place and Identity 
GLST 301 (A – 4 credits)

Students will explore identified challenges facing the city and how those needs are being addressed. Students will also interact with residents and service providers from health, business, educational, environmental, arts and social service sectors. Students will learn about the history of Tacoma, how its geography and waves of migrants and immigrants have influenced the culture and future of this place.

Business Ethics – Dr. Pauline Kaurin
PHIL 225 (PH – 4 credits) 

Examination of the morality of market aims and practices. Students in the course will be introduced to moral theories and consider competing conceptions of corporate social responsibility, truth in advertising, meaningful work, and environmental protection. Special emphasis will be given to some Tacoma businesses.

Buddhism and Asian Immigration in Tacoma (Topics in Comparative Religion)
Dr. Erik Hammerstrom
RELI 393 (RG, A – 4 credits)

Students will learn about Buddhism in East Asia and the adaptation of Buddhism in the United States. Different in emphasis, Zen and Pure Land Buddhist paths to enlightenment are the two most prominent practices of Buddhism in East Asia, and they are well represented in Tacoma. First, students will learn about the historical development of these two forms of Buddhist praxis in Asia. Following this, students will examine the often rocky history of immigration from Asia that brought these traditions to the U.S. and specifically to the Puget Sound region, and examine the intersection of race and Buddhism in America today.

PLU Course Equivalency

Pacific Lutheran University awards all credits earned in this program. Course and study tour offerings are subject to change.

Study Tours

Integral to the culture and society course, group study tours guide students through the cultural, environmental, economic, religious, and artistic diversity that makes up Tacoma. Course lectures and readings come to life as students meet community partners, non-profit, government and business leaders, while visiting locations throughout the city. Students will attend cultural events such as Chinese New Year celebration, arts events including the Annual Wayzgoose celebration and 253 Film Festival, and the business and non-profit South Sound Sustainability Expo.

Wayzgoose 2017 features in our short video:

Local Housing

Students will be housed in a historic Tacoma neighborhood and will have access to public transportation to get to the thriving downtown area, Stadium district, South Tacoma neighborhoods and businesses, and Point Defiance.

PLU TIES program in Tacoma, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. (Photo: John Froschauer/PLU)

PLU TIES program in Tacoma, Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. (Photo: John Froschauer/PLU)

Program Fee

The PLU comprehensive fee for Spring semester covers this academic experience (instruction and academic credit, housing and meal stipend, & study tours). To find the current comprehensive fee for one semester, divide the total full-year cost listed on the Admissions website by two. Please note that the comprehensive fee varies each year, and the cost of this program will be based on the year in which you study away. Financial aid applies.

Out-of-pocket Expenses

Books, personal excursions, and other miscellaneous expenses are not included in program cost.

Global Scholar Award

All PLU Gateway & Featured Programs are Global Scholar Award eligible. This need-based award can cover out-of-pocket expenses up to $2500 on PLU’s TIES Gateway semester program.

Contact Us

Rachel Haxtema

TIES Coordinator
Center for Community Engagement & Service


TIES is open to all students and all majors. Must be a student in good standing. Application and interview process will ensure the program is a good fit.

Application Deadline

Accepting applications for Spring 2018! Priority Deadline: October 25, 2017

A $50 non-refundable fee is due with the application. A $300 non-refundable program payment to confirm participation is required within 10 days of acceptance.

NOTE: Each academic year the current application is made available during International Education Week in November.

Application Components

  • Online application
  • Short essays
  • 2 recommendation forms (1 faculty, 1 professional)
  • Application fee

Why Study Away in Tacoma?

Read this interesting article, “Why a Global Education Doesn’t Have to Mean Going Abroad”

Program Highlights

  • Spring program in 2017 and 2018
  • Courses taught in downtown Tacoma
  • Live in a historic Tacoma neighborhood
  • Experiential learning in local community
  • PLU faculty-taught courses
  • Local study tours related to program focus