Leading Short-Term Education Abroad Programs: Know the Standards, 2nd Edition (2022)



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This guide for leaders of short-term programs (8 weeks or less) explains what leaders need to know before running a program abroad. It is a framework for conversations between all those involved in the program.

Informed by the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad, this publication features a series of questions for program leaders for each phase of the program:

  • Program Conceptualization and Proposal
  • Planning and Budgeting
  • Student Advising, Recruitment, and Selection
  • Student Preparation and Pre-Departure Orientation
  • During the Program
  • Student Return and Transition

Scroll down for examples of how different institutions and organizations respond to these questions.


Web-Based Resources


Program Conceptualization and Proposal

What is the program proposal process?

Custom Program Request Form (University of Minnesota)
Faculty Proposal Form (UMAIE)
Short-Term Education Abroad Course Proposal (Carlson Global Institute, University of Minnesota)
Travel Study Proposal (University of Delaware)

Who must I collaborate with on my campus to develop this program?

Building Trust and Rapport: Navigating the Intersection of Administrators and Faculty in Short-Term Program Planning (Forum Annual Conference 2016)

What are the learning goals of my program?

Designing Short-Term Courses: Shaping Through Learning Objectives, The Guide to Successful Short-Term Programs Abroad, p. 75-77 (NAFSA)
Travel Study Proposal (University of Delaware, see pages 5 and 6)
Short-Term Education Abroad Course Proposal (Carlson Global Institute, University of Minnesota)

How will my program leverage the unique learning opportunities of the destination?

Course Development Tool (University of Delaware)

How will I support students’ personal and intercultural development?

Assessing Intercultural Learning: Beyond Assessment Tools (True North International)

How will I prompt students to reflect on their learning in and outside of the structured experience?

Assessing Intercultural Learning: Beyond Assessment Tools (True North International)

How will I support the continuity of student learning pre-departure, on-site, and post-program?

How familiar am I with the cultural values, norms and language of the host community?

How will my program respect the values and norms of the host community and avoid imposing an undue burden on its resources?

Sustainable Study Abroad: Partnership Models for Reciprocity (Forum Annual Conference 2014)

Will local infrastructure support a safe and effective program (transportation, housing, healthcare)?

Legal Ruling Helps Identify Strategies for Managing Discretionary Free Time (Lodestone Safety International)

What are the risks associated with this destination? Who determines whether these risks are acceptable?

Risk Assessment Matrix (B.Bull, A. Rubin, J. Friend, adapted from E. Hobson)

What requirements do students need to meet to participate?

Health, Safety and Insurance (Dickinson College)
Policy on Student Judicial Record Review (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
Policies (Dickinson College)
Quarter Abroad Enrollment (University of California, Davis)
Short-Term Policies – Undergraduate Programs (University of St. Thomas)

Planning and Budgeting

Who creates and approves the budget?

Financial Policies for Off-Campus Programs (University of St. Thomas)

How will the program be funded? Will low enrollment affect the program?

Budget Template (University of Delaware)
Business Office Policy Reminders Cheat Sheet (St. Olaf College)
Expense Report Cover Sheet (St. Olaf College)
Interim Financial Keeping – What is Important (St. Olaf College)
Purchase Card Procedures (St. Olaf College)
Short-Term Program Budget Calculator (St. Catherine University)
Travel and Business Expense Policy (St. Olaf College)

What does the program fee include (credits, flights, meals, excursions, transportation, visas)?

Student Cash Disbursement Receipt (University of Delaware)
Working with a Provider: Questions of Cost (FacultyLedInfo.com)

What financial aid or scholarships are available to students?

Is the program prepared to include students with disabilities?

Access Abroad Resources for Program Leaders (University of Minnesota)

How will I pay for goods and services while abroad?

Who arranges appropriate insurance for my program? What is covered, and how is it accessed?

International Travel, Health & Security Insurance (University of Minnesota)

Is my program sufficiently staffed to achieve learning goals and respond to emergencies?

Faculty/Staff Leadership & Participation (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Will I need to hire local experts or service providers? How will they be vetted and arranged?

Ten Quick Tips for Working with Education Abroad Provider Organizations (AIEA)

Have I been trained on emergency plans and protocols, financial policies, student conduct and disciplinary policies?

Have I been trained on incident reporting and requirements of Title IX and the Clery Act?

Crime and Incident Reporting Guidelines for CSAs and Responsible Employees (SUNY Office of General Counsel)
Proposed Clery and Title IX Procedure for International Programs (SUNY Office of General Counsel)
Risk Management Considerations Regarding the Clery Act, VAWA, and Title IX when Students Study Abroad (URMIA)
Sexual Misconduct, Education Abroad, and Title IX/Clary Act (The Forum)

What is my institution’s policy on accompanying partners and family?

Guidelines for Non-Students/Non-Employees Traveling on Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs (Linfield College)
Who can Accompany a Faculty Member on a Faculty-Led Study Abroad Program? (University of Texas at San Antonio)

Student Advising, Recruitment, and Selection

Are recruitment and selection inclusive, fair, ethical, transparent, and accessible to students?

Advising is Sales and Outreach is Marketing: How to Do it Ethically (Forum Annual Conference 2017)
Short-Term Policies – Undergraduate Programs (University of St. Thomas)

What are the policies for academic eligibility, conduct, and health concerns?

Health, Safety and Insurance (Dickinson College)
Policies (Dickinson College)
Quarter Abroad Enrollment (University of California, Davis)

Who makes admissions decisions?

Application (University of Pennsylvania)

Who communicates policies related to evaluation, awarding of credit, research ethics, and academic integrity to students?

Policies (Dickinson College)
Short-Term Policies – Undergraduate Programs (University of St. Thomas)

Are participant costs communicated clearly?

Costs and Financial Aid (University of Pennsylvania)
Sample Budget Sheet (Elon University)

Are potential challenges specific to your destination (LGBTQ+, disabilities, women, faith, race/ethnicity, etc.) discussed with students?

Diversity Abroad Destination Guides (Diversity Abroad)
Diversity and Inclusion (Babson College)
Faculty-Led Study Abroad Programs (Mobility International USA)
Identity-Based Resources for Students (Wofford College)
Inclusiveness Abroad (University of Denver)

Student Preparation and Pre-Departure Orientation


Know Before You Go (University of Delaware)

Are program goals clearly articulated? How will I prepare students to achieve these and their personal goals?

Travel Study Proposal (University of Delaware – see pages 5 and 6)

How are students asked to familiarize themselves with the location, cultural nuances, and local news?

Prepare (Elon University)

How will I communicate expectations, policies, and potential sanctions related to academics, housing, independent travel, drug and alcohol use, culturally-appropriate behavior, and sexual misconduct?

Policy on Student Judicial Record Review (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
Study Abroad Pre-Departure Planning Handbook (University of St. Thomas)

Who prepares students to anticipate health or safety risks?

Health & Safety (Wofford College)
Health & Safety Checklists (Elon University)

Who communicates:

  • Emergency plans and protocols, including crisis communication;

Emergency Protocol (Emory University)

  • Phone numbers for local ambulance, fire, police, U.S. Consulate or Embassy;
  • Required travel documentation (passports, visas, immunization records, prescriptions);
  • Health preparations (international health insurance, immunizations, medications, voluntary disclosure of pre-existing conditions);
  • Healthcare options on-site?

Who will register participants, including yourself, with the U.S. Dept. of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and other risk monitoring services?

Pre-Departure Resources

See your education abroad office for additional resources.

During the Program

What is my role on-site? What is the expected time commitment to fulfill this role?

Overseas Responsibilities: Teaching on the Road (UMAIE)

How will I communicate with students while abroad?

Travel Information Form (University of Delaware)

Who provides on-site orientation?

What opportunities are available that encourage responsible use of non-scheduled time?

Have I communicated to students the risks specific to our location?

Know Before You Go (University of Delaware)

Have I reviewed the emergency communication plan with students?

Know Before You Go (University of Delaware)

Whom do I contact in the event of a hospitalization, death, mental health crisis, disappearance, sexual assault?

Crisis Response Protocols (University of Delaware)

What emergency protocols are in place for situations of civil unrest, acts of terrorism, and natural disasters?

Crisis Response Protocols (University of Delaware)

What is the contingency planning process for scheduled activities and transportation?

How will I support student adjustment and moderate group dynamics? How often do I check in with my students to ensure that I am aware of issues?

Reflection Toolkit (Northwest Service Academy)
Study Abroad Warning Letter (University of Delaware)