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Considerations for leading a program abroad

The Office of Study Abroad welcomes the opportunity to work with CMU faculty to develop unique academic experiences for CMU students outside the United States. Below is information that will give interested faculty an overview of the initial process. 

Length of program

Faculty-led programs are typically offered in summer for 2-4 weeks.  Some are offered as a spring break field trip to a course or a one week program abroad with pre-departure coursework.  Faculty are welcome to propose programs with a longer time abroad. 

Program credits

Faculty-led programs follow the same rules for the number of credits as any regular campus class. Federal regulations define a credit hour as follows:

Credit hour: Except as provided in 34 CFR 668.8(k) and (l), a credit hour is an amount of student work defined by an institution, as approved by the institution's accrediting agency or State approval agency, that is consistent with commonly accepted practice in postsecondary education and that—

(1) Reasonably approximates not less than—

(i) One hour of classroom or direct faculty instruction and a minimum of two hours of out-of-class student work each week for approximately fifteen weeks for one semester or trimester hour of credit, or ten to twelve weeks for one quarter hour of credit, or the equivalent amount of work over a different period of time; or

(ii) At least an equivalent amount of work as required in paragraph (1)(i) of this definition for other academic activities as established by the institution, including laboratory work, internships, practica, studio work, and other academic work leading to the award of credit hours; and

(2) Permits an institution, in determining the amount of work associated with a credit hour, to take into account a variety of delivery methods, measurements of student work, academic calendars, disciplines, and degree levels. 34CFR 600.2

Faculty-led program types​

Course taught entirely abroad: This is the most common type of program. It is recommended that a few class meetings be scheduled before departure to prepare the students for the academic work.

Combination course: This is typically a summer course that meets on campus for the first part of the course, for one or two weeks, and the second part of the course is offered abroad. 

Field trip for a campus course: This is typically a spring semester course with a required study abroad component that takes place during spring break.​

Faculty-led program models 

Experience living or traveling in the host country(ies) is strongly encouraged when planning to lead CMU students abroad. Contacts at universities or organizations abroad that can help with program planning will be beneficial. 

Typically, faculty-led programs are organized according to the following models:

Faculty leader plans program:  With experience and contacts in the host country, the faculty leader can plan program activities, including housing and transportation. Program costs for students are generally most affordable with this model.

On-site coordinator hired to assist with planning in-country:  Faculty with reliable contacts in the host country who can assist with program planning may request approval from Study Abroad to work with the contacts.

A program organized by a third-party program provider: There are reputable organizations, commonly called "program providers," that can assist faculty leaders with program planning.  Study Abroad works with program providers, and they can reserve housing and transportation, schedule guest lecturers, field trips, etc. Program providers charge a fee that will be built into the student's program fee and will increase the program cost.  

Getting started​

It is strongly recommended that faculty begin planning and collaborating with Study Abroad 18-15 months before the expected start of the program. For example, a faculty leader organizing a program for June should begin planning and meeting with Study Abroad in January of the previous year.  

  • 18 months before program travel: Meet with the Assistant Director for Faculty-led Programs to discuss the proposed program.
  • Obtain initial support from the chair and dean to develop a new program.
  • For new programs: Complete and submit the Program Proposal Application by the published deadline. Study Abroad will provide access and instructions for the online application.
  • Program Proposals will be reviewed for completeness by Study Abroad and forwarded for review and approval by the Chair, Dean, and Provost or Provost's designee.

After the Program Proposal has been approved, the Program Logistics Application must be completed and submitted by the published deadline.  

  • Study Abroad will provide access and instructions for the online proposal and will assist with the program budget development.
  • Program Logistics will be reviewed for completeness by Study Abroad and forwarded for review and approval by the Chair and Dean. Program logistics for new programs will also be reviewed and approved by the Provost or Provost’s designee.

Study Abroad will create a program information page accessible through the Faculty-led Programs page to advertise the program.

Once the program logistics are approved, faculty leaders are encouraged to begin actively promoting the program.

For undergraduate courses, faculty leaders are encouraged to request University Program IV-B approval for the course. Students are interested in courses that fulfill graduation requirements.  Instructions to request UP IV B approval from the General Education Committee can be obtained from the Academic ​Senate Office.​

Repeating programs

Faculty leaders planning to repeat a program whose Program Proposal has been previously approved will be required to complete the Program Logistics Application and submit updated materials (logistics application, itinerary, field trip form, and budget).

The Office of Study Abroad encourages faculty interested in developing and proposing a CMU Faculty-led Study Abroad Program to schedule an initial consultation.

Dr. Carlos Lopez 
Assistant Director of Study Abroad for Faculty-led Programs
Ronan 230 
P: 989-774-4320