When planning an OSU faculty-led study abroad program, it is important to consider certain factors that will impact the success and sustainability of your program.  These guidelines are intended to support students and faculty and the numerous campus units that are instrumental to a program’s success. The information below is a summary of the key requirements and policies that you need to know at the program planning stage.

Important Considerations


A significant amount of time and effort goes into an OSU faculty-led program, especially the first year of implementation.  As a result, we encourage faculty and their departments/ colleges to design a program that will have a ‘lifespan’ of at least 3-5 years and that involves 2-3 faculty program leaders who may rotate responsibilities over time.  Beginning Summer 2021, a newly re-designed OSU GO faculty-led program model now places program budget and fiscal oversight in OSU GO where all program expenses, including program leader compensation will be managed. 

Program Leadership

OSU GO recommends that all programs have two responsible leaders, with the Primary Leader being an OSU employee. The Secondary Leader can be OSU faculty, staff, or a graduate student with an OSU appointment.  Individuals who are neither a program leader nor a student must be vetted as an Official OSU Volunteer and complete the Office of Risk Management Volunteer Service Form and a criminal background check with HR. 

Self-sustaining Programs

OSU Faculty-led Programs are self-sustaining and must generate enough revenue to cover the projected expenses of offering the program. If the program does not meet minimum enrollment as defined by the program budget, the program may be cancelled due to financial insolvency. The decision to cancel a program due to low enrollment will be made in consultation with the Office of Global Opportunities, the Program Leaders and the Home Academic College.

How It Works

Program Budgets


Appointments and Compensation

All OSU program leaders must have an active OSU appointment for the duration of the program. Faculty with a 9-month appointment who want to lead a summer or early fall program will work with OSU GO to ensure that they have an active appointment. 

Program Leader Travel Expenses

The travel costs of the program leader(s) are included in the overall program budget, and are borne/shared by the student participants, either through dividing costs by the minimum number of students expected to enroll or factored into the proposal if working with a program provider.  Typical program leader travel expenses include:

  • Airfare - economy, round trip airfare from Portland to the program site for the approximate program dates
  • Housing - reasonable in-country accommodations for the duration of the program, comparable in comfort and quality to student housing. Program leadership housing should be relatively close to the student housing, or easily accessible by public transportation.
  • In-country Travel Expenses - in-country travel expenses and activities relating to the program (e.g. participation in organized program field trips and excursions) in the program budget.
  • Meals and Incidentals - calculate modest meals and incidentals estimates, not unlike the cost estimates established for students.

Program Providers

Program Leaders are encouraged to work with an in-country program provider who can help manage logistics, assist in the event of an emergency and facilitate enhanced learning opportunities based on their local knowledge and networks.  For Program Leaders who have an existing network of contacts and/or colleagues who are willing and able to assist with the planning and execution, a program provider may not be needed.  Oregon State University's IE3 Global study abroad centers and network is also a valuable resource and can assist with building an itinerary and managing in-country logistics.

Payments and Billing

Programs that are contracting with a Program Provider will be able to pay for the majority of costs in one lump payment, thus simplifying the process.  Other programs may plan to 'pay as they go' which will require a 'game plan' for how payments will be made while in country as acceptable methods of payment will vary.  For most programs, a service contract or program agreement will be required prior to the sponsoring department sending any payments. In addition to the itinerary and deliverables and cost per participant, the contract will include terms and conditions such as the need for general commercial and foreign liability insurance, and a refund policy in the event of a cancellation.  The OSU GO Faculty-led Team will liaise between the Procurement, Contracts and Materials Management (PCMM) in these instances.

Program Leaders will need to consult with their OSU GO FLP Coordinator several months prior to departure and familiarize themselves with OSU's policies and procedures regarding travel advances, travel reimbursement, use of procurement credit cards, and use of contingency funds, etc.

Program Design

A well designed program will better attract a critical mass of students which will determine whether the program runs or not.  Here are a few tips and advice that you may want to consider as you develop your program concept:

  • Time of Year: Programs that align with (or are embedded within) Summer session sessions or that occur during pre-Fall course extension (14 days) often attract more students, compared to programs running during pre-Winter course extension (14 days) or pre-Spring course extension (8 days). 
  • Program Length: The majority of faculty-led programs tend to be 2-3 weeks in length; short-term programs are especially attractive to first time travelers and students with family or job commitments; however, scholarships for short-term programs tend to be limited*.  Programs that are at least 21 days in length can enable students to apply for and receive a national Gilman Scholarship, designed for underrepresented students and/or underrepresented destinations.
    • *Beginning Summer 2021, OSU GO will administer a new Faculty-led Program Fee Remission for qualifying need-based students.
  • Credits: Students may be awarded one credit for each 10 academic contact hours they spend on the program. Academic contact hours can include visits to museums, tours, lectures from guests, etc.  A basic rule of thumb is to think of contact hours as the time in which students are required to engage with the class. The intensity of these programs can mean that students are with group for upwards of 6 hours per day. In general, a two-week / 15 day program will consist of 3-4 credits and a 4-week / 30 day program will allow students to earn 6-9 credits; however, the actual allotment is determined and approved by the sponsoring academic unit.  Keep in mind that programs with courses involving 3 or more credits have a greater likelihood of fulfilling a degree requirement than 1 or 2 credit courses.

  • Courses: Programs with courses that fulfill baccalaureate core requirements are especially attractive to a large and diverse applicant pool.  In many instances, faculty-led programs involve courses that fall under "Special Topics" with a subject code followed by "299|399|499|599" as the designator.  These courses do not need to go through the regular curriculum review process.  It is possible to propose a dual level course for both undergraduate and graduate students, however evidence must be shown that the graduate students will complete a higher level of work while on the program to justify their registration in a higher level course.

  • Context: Consider ways to incorporate unique learning opportunities based on your location that go beyond just 'seeing and doing'.     
  • For example: Site visits/ excursions; discussions/ debriefs; students take turns preparing, introducing, thanking guest lecturer/host; field observations & reports; academic journaling (describe, interpret, evaluate/make meaning); intentional interactions with the host culture; interviews, photo/video documenting, oral presentations; unstructured time

There are many program types and approaches to designing a faculty-led program.  Below are just a few examples:

  • Classroom-Based Programs: Programs based at a study center or university in one city with visits to surrounding areas
  • Field Study Programs: Programs in which students are exploring a theme via experiential activities outside of a classroom
  • Academic Study Tours: Comparative programs investigating a topic or theme that travel to several cities or countries
  • Service Learning Trips: Programs organized around intensive hands-on service projects that are coupled with focused reflection exercises
  • Bi-national Learning Communities: Programs that involve cohorts of students from the partner institution who spend time in both countries, often with a collaborative project.

Regardless of a program's primary academic focus, all study abroad programs offer students and faculty tremendous learning opportunities that, in addition to being intellectually stimulating, are entirely experiential (tapping the psychological, emotional, physiological and physical) and are often transformative in terms of self identities and worldviews.

Global Opportunities