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Developing a New Program

So you're interested in developing an education abroad program? MSU's international learning opportunities would not exist without our dedicated faculty program directors.

Developing a new program will require a considerable investment of time and energy. From initial planning of your new program, to its first iteration, takes an average of 18-24 months.

Your first steps in program development should be running your program idea by your department chair and meeting with your college's Advisory Council on Education Abroad (ACEA) member to discuss your proposal and talk about how it relates to your college's mission as well as university-wide strategies.

Next you will need to schedule a meeting with the Associate Director of Education Abroad who can help support your efforts and guide you through the proposal process.


Program Types

What type of program would you like to develop?

Faculty-directed program
MSU faculty teach MSU courses at academically suitable locations abroad. Mostly designed for MSU students, but some programs accept students from other universities. Programs range in length from one to eight weeks and take place during spring break, winter break, and summer sessions I and II.

Some faculty opt for embedded programming, defined by the Forum for Education Abroad as "a short study abroad experience that forms an integral part of, or an optional add-on to, a course given on the home campus.

Most commonly, the study abroad portion of the course takes place during a midterm break or after the end of the on-campus term and is just a week or two long."

Direct Enroll program
Students directly enroll in an international partner university (usually for a semester).

Exchange program (in partnership with an international institution)
Consists of a direct-enroll program for outbound MSU students and a direct-enroll program at MSU for students from the exchange partner institution. In addition to the program proposal outlining the learning experience for outbound MSU students, exchange programs also require a general MOU between MSU and the international partner institution as well as an exchange agreement that spells out the terms of the exchange.

Provider program
Most providers offer stand-alone (catalog) programs operated fully by the provider and various levels of customization based on your programming ideas. While some providers offer service around the globe, other focus on specific regions of the world.

Here is a current list of MSU-affiliated providers:

You may of course work with other providers on an ad hoc basis; however, we ask that you check with our office to learn whether we have any previous experience or insights about them.

Important Things to Consider

Maybe you already know exactly what kind of program you would like to develop. Maybe you are just beginning to think about a new program. Either way, we have put together some information designed to assist you with kick-starting your thinking about a new program or with fine-tuning your existing ideas for a new program.

What learning outcomes would you like your students to achieve?

Given the rationale for and contexts of education abroad programming, it is important to consider academic as well as non-academic learning goals. In addition to academic outcomes, program directors should consider what they hope to achieve in terms of students' intercultural, interpersonal, personal, and/or professional learning and development.

Prospective program directors are encouraged to talk about desirable learning outcomes with experienced colleagues as well as with colleagues in the Education Abroad Office.

Some useful frameworks for establishing Education Abroad learning outcomes:

What kind of program experience(s) do you want to include?

  • Study Abroad: programs that are primarily classroom-based; often will include excursions.
  • Global Service-Learning: a type of experiential education that combines and pursues academic learning through addressing assets and needs within a community outside the U.S., and meeting a relevant community-defined need through ethical collaboration. Situated in a global context, the service-learning program employs structured, critically reflective practices that facilitate and support better understanding of common human dignity; self; culture; positionality; socio-economic, political, and environmental issues; power relations; and social responsibility, all in a global context.
  • Undergraduate Research: at MSU, broadly defined, undergraduate research includes scholarly, creative, and artistic activities that lead to new knowledge, improve problem solving capabilities, offer original or historical theory and interpretation, and/or produce art or creative performances. Read more about MSU's definition of undergraduate research.
  • Internships: Working with program providers, MSU connects students with a variety of established internships in multiple disciplines and destinations. Read more about MSU's internship programs.

Visit our page for tips on leading a successful program.

Proposing a New Education Abroad Program

Program Proposal Deadlines

Deadlines for submitting an Education Abroad program proposal are outlined below:

Fall Semester Program | Deadline: October 31 the year prior

Winter Break Program | Deadline: January 31 the year prior

Spring Semester Program | Deadline: January 31 the year prior

Spring Break Program | Deadline: January 31 the year prior

Summer Program | Deadline: August 1 the year prior

Review Process

Review of program proposals takes place on a rolling cycle throughout the year. However, please make sure to familiarize yourself with the proposal submission deadlines as they vary depending on term and program type. All MSU education abroad credit-bearing programs are administered by Education Abroad, in partnership with the sponsoring college(s).

Summer program proposals that are received by August 1 have the best chance of being reviewed and decided upon prior to the Fall Education Abroad Expo so that you can recruit at this key event.

  • Late proposals will be accepted up until September 1.
  • Proposals received after September 1 will be considered for the next cycle.
  • New programs cannot be advertised or marketed to students until final approval is received.

The overall review is coordinated by EA. Those consulted include:

  • Associate Director of the Office for Education Abroad (for overall proposal strength)
  • Relevant EA coordinator (for feasibility of program logistics, cost, and marketing)
  • Office for International Health and Safety (for review of any health or safety concerns)
  • In some cases, relevant MSU faculty and staff (including those familiar with the geographic area and/or subject matter)
  • Dean of International Studies and Programs
  • Assistant Director for Finances and Operational Management (for review of the draft budget)

Review Procedure

1. Academic units and colleges are responsible for review of program and course subject matter and instructional delivery methods. Program proposals must have the written support of the relevant department chair(s) and college dean(s) or the Advisory Council on Education Abroad.

  • Some colleges have their own internal review process for new program proposals. The college-level review must be completed before a proposal can be forwarded to EA for final review and approval.

2. Submit full program proposal to EA for approval. Email proposal and supporting documents to the EA Executive Assistant to the Director.

  • Once a complete program proposal is received by EA, a final decision regarding approval takes an average of one month, depending on reviewers' availability and need for program revisions.

3. Once a new program is approved, the program director will work with the Education Abroad coordinator assigned to his or her college.

Available Grants

The grants below are available to support the establishment of new MSU education abroad programs.

Site Visit Grant

Offered by the Office for Education Abroad, Site Visit Grants are available to MSU faculty and administrators in support of developing a new education abroad program. The grants provide 50 percent of travel funding (up to $2,000) for one traveler for a maximum of 10 days. Visit the Site Visit Grant webpage to find out more details.

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