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Implementation: Pre-Departure

Now it's time to implement your new or existing Education Abroad program. This page provides information on tasks you will need to complete in preparation for your program, as well as resources designed to help you complete these tasks. Directing an education abroad program can seem overwhelming at times, particularly if you've never directed one before. The Office for Education Abroad will assist you throughout this process. And if you're taking over responsibility for an existing program, the program's previous director can share with you their lessons learned. New program directors are strongly encouraged to attend a New Program Director Orientation in early fall semester. 

Click on any one of the following tabs to learn more about steps to take and tasks to complete pre-departure:



As program director, you need to develop your program itinerary, build your program budget, and make on-site arrangements. The following sections walk you through each of these tasks.

Flesh out your itinerary

Flesh out your itinerary

The frame of your itinerary is provided by your program dates. The start date is defined as the date of arrival in-country; that is, the first day of housing. The end date is the day of departure; that is, the day following the last night of program-provided housing. Students may wish to add personal travel time before the program starts or after the program ends; however, do not include such travel in the formal program dates. As program director, you have three days you can use for program setup before students arrive and/or for tying things up after students leave. These days must be included in the program budget.

Note that MSU policy prohibits program dates from overlapping with on-campus classes or finals. It is not reasonable to expect students to fly out on class/final exam dates. This is especially important to consider for spring break, winter break or May programs that begin immediately after final exams.

In setting your program dates keep in mind student interest, available flight arrangements, and logistical reservations.

Within the frame of your program dates, you will need to determine dates and times for class time, any exams, assignment due dates, program excursions, guest lectures, and other program related activities students are expected to participate in as part of the associated program course.

Your program itinerary is not the same as your course syllabus, but it may make sense to merge the two into one document for students that clearly spells out when they are to be where and for what purpose.

As you build your itinerary, be sure to carefully review MSU's Education Abroad Student Airfare Policy below.

Education Abroad Student Airfare Policy

Michigan State University is currently working to identify the university’s preferred travel agency partner for Education Abroad programs and student travel. In the meantime, the information below provides general guidelines for student airfare as it relates to Education Abroad programs.


"Official Program Start Date": the date of arrival in-country which should be the first night of program-paid housing.

"Official Program End Date": the day following the last night of program-paid housing.

"Group Flight": Education Abroad signs a contract and is financially liable for the deposits and fees for all seats booked if they are not used or canceled by the commitment deadline. Group flights require at least 10 passengers.

"Suggested Itinerary": a useful alternative to group flights, a suggested itinerary gives students guidance and an option to book flights that they know meet program arrival and departure parameters.

"International Flight": refers to travel to and from the program site(s). In most cases, international flights are the responsibility of individual students. Programs that are heavily subscribed by first-time travelers (First-Year Seminars) or are of short duration (Winter Break and Spring Break programs) often include a group flight for the international travel portion in the program fee to ensure that students travel and arrive together. This will be a group flight, booked and paid for by Education Abroad, and included in the program fee.

"Program-Related Flight": refers to travel that takes place within the program and as part of the official program itinerary. Program-related flights are built into the program budget and charged as part of the program fee.

The following rules apply to student airfare on Education Abroad programs:

  • Program directors are not permitted to suggest or require that students arrive prior to the official program start date or stay past the official program end date; they can only require that students be at the education abroad location on the official program start date and remain for the duration of the program
  • Program directors are not permitted to purchase air tickets on behalf of students
  • Program directors are not permitted to offer recommendations or make reservations on students’ behalf for lodging, excursions or flights outside of the official program dates
  • Except through the university’s preferred travel agency partner and a formal suggested itinerary, program directors are not permitted to recommend travel agencies, airlines, or individual flight itineraries to students
  • Students are not required to use a group flight or a suggested itinerary for their travel if the air tickets are not included in the program fee
  • Group flights and suggested itineraries that are not part of the program fee must align with official program dates and locations, although students may independently arrange for deviations as allowed by the airline
  • Group flights that are included in the program fee must align with official program dates and locations 
  • When group flights (both international and program-related) are included in the program fee, students are required to use those tickets. In some cases, students may arrange for deviations on the return trip as allowed by the airline. Any difference in airfare caused by a deviation will be the responsibility of the student to pay directly to the airline / ticketing agent

Build your program budget

Build your program budget

You will be contacted by your Education Abroad Program Coordinator when the time comes to create your program budget, though you may, of course, also initiate this process by contacting the coordinator yourself.

As a team, you and your coordinator will work to keep costs for the students as affordable as possible. Try to provide as much financial detail as possible early on about on-site costs for instructional expenses (e.g., course materials, guest speakers, classroom rental, required A/V equipment, etc.), planned excursions and other program activities, group meals, transportation, and lodging.

On the advice of MSU’s Office of Risk Management, program funds may not be used to pay for high-risk activities (such as, for example, bungee jumping, shark cage diving, sky diving, and similar high-risk activities). Please direct related questions to the Office for Global Health, Safety, and Security.

Once your draft budget is complete and meets your programming needs, it will be routed to the EA Business Office, the Senior EA Assistant Director of Finances and Operational Management, and then to the sponsoring college(s) for final approval.

Do not publicize in writing or share with students your program fee until you have been informed that your budget has been finalized.

Once your budget is final, a complete breakdown of all anticipated costs will be posted on your program webpage and automatically forwarded to the Office of Financial Aid for students who have indicated that they want to use financial aid towards their program costs.

Education Abroad strives to have summer budgets finalized and program fees posted by the Fall Education Abroad Expo. Students are reluctant to apply and commit to a program unless they know the current year's program fee. Additionally, the Office of Financial Aid does not receive program costs from Education Abroad until the program budget has been finalized. Delayed budgets can lead to limited financial aid which leads to student withdrawals. Finalize your budget early!

If you make changes to your itinerary or budget, you must consult the EA Business Office Accountant. Failure to do so will result in your unit being held liable (financially and otherwise) for these changes.

There are two sources of money available for operating your program: tuition and the program fee. Tuition income is based on a formula established by the university and goes toward program expenses related to the delivery of academic content on site. The program fee covers things like student lodging, any included meals, non-academic program activities, student insurance, and a service fee. Importantly, program director travel is also included in the program fee paid by students, unless the sponsoring college(s) agree to move some or all of these costs to the tuition portion of the budget. Note that, on faculty-directed programs, MSU students pay the same tuition and fees that they would on campus. Non-MSU students pay the in-state and out-of-state Lifelong Education tuition rates.

A complete budget will also include information about additional costs students should plan for, such as: airfare, spending money, course materials, local transportation, funds for meals not covered by the program fee, visa fees (if applicable), immunizations (if applicable), etc.  Note: Should students be given course assignments that incur additional cost, include this information in your course syllabus so that students can plan for the additional cost.

A program cannot run a deficit (i.e., a budget be in the red) unless special arrangements have been made with your college and Education Abroad.

Program director salaries are determined by the MSU college that sponsors the program.

Questions regarding payroll procedures should be directed to the Payroll Office (355-5010).

When it comes to making program related payments, it is best practice to have as many program expenses as possible paid in advance by Education Abroad. Items such as student housing, program activities, in-country transportation, etc. are best paid well before departure. You will need to secure an itemized invoice as well as the refund policy from the associated vendor and submit it to your EA coordinator. Please allow two to three weeks for processing. EA can pay via wire, check or, in many cases, credit card. Please ensure that invoices clearly state the preferred method of payment with all the necessary banking information.

Conflict of Interest

Education Abroad is committed to being as transparent as possible with respect to financial arrangements. Financial transactions or business dealings that might pose a conflict of interest should be disclosed pursuant to the Faculty Conflict of Interest Policy. That Policy specifies that "a conflict of interest exists when a faculty member's financial interests or other opportunities for tangible personal benefit may compromise, or reasonably appear to compromise, the independence of judgment with which the faculty member performs his/her responsibilities at the University." Disclosure is especially important in the event of a contract between MSU and an outside company or organization in which you hold a significant financial interest, even when you are not initiating or taking an active role in assessing or negotiating the contract. When the interest meets or exceeds certain standards established by state law, such a contract must be approved by the Board of Trustees.

Make on-site arrangements

Make on-site arrangements

You will need to make arrangements for your own and student lodging; onsite transportation; whatever meals will be included in the program fee (e.g., welcome and/or farewell dinner, breakfasts, etc.); classroom space; program activities/excursions; guest lectures as needed; and any other onsite program features. Consider possible accessibility issues for students with disabilities when selecting housing, classrooms, field trip destinations, etc.

Most program directors make their own arrangements on site, often with the help of existing contacts. If desired, Education Abroad can help to identify an onsite provider or a host institution to assist with setting up your program on site. Consider networking with international MSU alumni to assist with select on-site issues. See International Alumni on the MSU Alumni Association Web site.

The majority of planned excursions and class activities should have academic relevance and not be merely tourism outings. As stated in the section on “Building your Program Budget,” on the advice of MSU’s Office of Risk Management, 

High risk activities cannot be included in your program itinerary. Program funds cannot be used to pay for high-risk activities. Program directors must not endorse, encourage, or facilitate student participation in these activities including when students are on free time. The following is only a partial list of activities MSU considers to be high-risk. Many of these activities are excluded from MSU’s international health insurance policy:

  • Scuba diving
  • Jet, snow, or water skiing
  • Mountain climbing (where ropes or guides are used)
  • Sky diving
  • Amateur Automobile racing
  • Automobile racing or automobile speed contests
  • Bungee jumping
  • Canyoning
  • Shark cage diving

If you have reason to believe that students may participate in high-risk activities on their free time, you must discourage them in writing. Please contact the Office of International Health and Safety and the Office for Education Abroad for support. If you are unsure if an activity you are considering for your program may be considered high-risk, or if you feel that a high-risk activity is an integral part of your academic curriculum, please contact the Office for Global Health, Safety, and Security to discuss.

As you begin to recruit students, special student needs may require your attention in regard to onsite arrangements, such as those of students of color; students with physical disabilities; students who need extra academic support; students who may need assistance with personal, emotional, and educational concerns; LBGTQ+ students; and others. Education Abroad can refer you to relevant experts and resources on campus and help implement any required adjustments.

On-Site Transportation

Due diligence is required when evaluation transportation options for your program. Research the safest modes of transportation for your specific destination and contact the Office of International Health and Safety if you need advice. When evaluating options, ask the questions below. Note that 12-15 passenger vans are not permitted and not reimbursable because of safety concerns.

  1. How long has the company been in business?
  2. What is the reputation of the company?
  3. What is their safety record?
  4. Describe their vehicles including the general condition of the vehicles and their safety features.
  5. Describe their drivers’ experience level.
  6. What kind of clients does this company typically serve?
  7. Provide documentation with respect to their licensing and insurance.

Student Housing

Your Education Abroad Program Coordinators and/or an onsite provider may be able to assist with locating and recommending suitable housing, keeping accessibility in mind. While abroad, take note of existing accessibility accommodations. Although you may not have a student with disabilities on your current program, this information may prove useful in the future.

Important Regulations

  • Room-Sharing (per MSU’s Travel Manager, June 17, 2019) When traveling on Michigan State University business, MSU faculty, academic staff, executive managers, and support staff are prohibited from sharing hotel rooms or bedrooms with a student or a group of students (including MSU graduate and undergraduate students and students from other institutions). Further, MSU faculty, academic staff, executive managers, and support staff in supervisory positions are prohibited from sharing hotel rooms or bedrooms with subordinate employees. Budgetary considerations do not take precedence over this policy, and individual rooms are to be provided without reprisal. 
  • University policy prohibits unmarried students of the opposite sex from sharing the same sleeping quarters. If students live in a flat/apartment with individually locked bedrooms, it is permissible for male and female students to share the apartment, but not the bedrooms.
  • Students of the same sex may share a room, but must each have their own bed.
  • In no case should program directors or their family members share accommodations with students.
  • If students are not allowed to make their own alternative housing arrangements during the program, this requirement MUST be stated in the program flyer and web text.
  • If a student requests assistance with on-site housing arrangements, neither you nor Education Abroad may make specific recommendations or arrangements for students prior to or after the official program dates. Providing services outside of formal program offerings and dates can lead to unacceptable liability risks for MSU.
  • No support will be provided for accompanying non-participants.

Develop an Onsite Emergency Action Plan

Develop an Onsite Emergency Action Plan

Think about how

  • you will mitigate the health and safety risks that could impact your program
  • you will plan to communicate with students in case of emergency 
  • you will gather all students in one location in case of a wide-spread emergency
  • you will be able to account for all your students in case of a wide-spread emergency
  • you will keep the program on-track if you become ill or unavailable or if a student is unable to travel to a program location for medical or other urgent reasons such as lost passport (we recommend having a second program director and/or 24/7 support from an on-site provider)

Things to consider

  • How and when best to share your cell phone number with your students.
  • How and when best to collect students' phone numbers (if applicable).
  • Create an emergency communication tree for students keeping in mind that some students may not have a working cell phone.
  • Designate primary and secondary emergency meeting places.
  • Ensure that students know emergency phone numbers including: 
    • the local equivalent of "911".
    • International SOS 24/7 Assistance Line: 1-215-942-8478 (or the 24/7 Assistance Center nearest you – see the MSU membership card for more information)
    • MSU 24/7 International Emergency Assistance Line: 1-517-353-3784
    • 24/7 phone numbers for on-site provider (if applicable)
    • Your cell phone number



Identify supporting on-site personnel (e.g., Program Assistants, TAs), clearly define  their roles, and refer them to the relevant EA program coordinator for registration in the EA database. The latter will ensure that they will be enrolled in MSU's International SOS insurance, receive important communications from the Office for Education Abroad, and be included in any emergency protocols and messages from the Office for Global Health, Safety, and Security.

Recruit participants

Recruit participants

Recruiting participants is an active and multi-step process.  Click on any of the following tabs to learn more about the different components of recruitment:

Write your online program profile

Write your online program profile

The Office for Education Abroad provides two types of information to students – a flyer and a webpage.

The flyer is a downloadable PDF file printable that provides an overview of your program.

The webpage contains the full details of your program. 

As a program director, you will enter and edit information for both the flyer and webpage via the "Program Profile" option within the EA Faculty Portal.

To access the Program Profile, choose "Program Management" after you've logged into the EA Portal.  Choose the session you wish to update and choose "Edit Program Profile."

For the flyer, provide a brief (200 words) introduction about your program and one horizontal photo (jpg file) for the main image.  One additional photo can be added, but may decrease the font size in the left column of the flyer.  Information displayed in the left column (green section) is generated from the EA Database and is maintained by the program coordinator for your program.  You do not have access to change this information.

For the webpage, provide detailed information in the following categories:

  1. Program Description: A paragraph or two about the program and how it is beneficial for students to participate; can be identical to what is on the flyer, however you are not limited in terms of word count on the Web.
  2. Academics: Include actual courses, number of credits, class information, field trips, etc. (note all IAH and ISS courses must be pre-approved)
  3. Requirements: Include any requirements or recommendations students should have to participate in your program. Minimum eligibility requirements include a 2.0 GPA, good academic standing, and an essay for semester-length programs; you may choose to include requirements above and beyond these minimum qualifications.
  4. Housing: Write a paragraph or two about where the students will be housed throughout the program.
  5. Biography: This is an optional section for you to include information about your background and experience.

The passport/visa and health tabs contain standard language and cannot be changed.

The cost tab is automatically updated when your budget is finalized.

Once you are satisfied with the information, simply click "Request Publishing" and your revisions will be reviewed by the Office for Education Abroad. Upon approval, all information will be posted to your program's webpage.

NOTE: If you are logged in to the faculty portal, a watermark will be displayed (Draft – not for distribution) on your flyer preview as the database assumes you are editing when logged into the portal.  To print a clean copy of your flyer, log out of the faculty portal.  Find your program via the Program Search on our webpage and click the "print flyer" option at the bottom on the main page.

Promote your program

Promote your program

You’ve worked hard to develop and propose your program. Now it’s time to get creative in your efforts to promote your program to students so that it can actually run. Begin promoting your program as early as possible and continue promoting until your program is full or it is no longer feasible logistically to accept additional students (e.g., visa application deadlines, flight contracts, on-site accommodation deadlines, etc.). Here are some tips for you:

  • Talk to colleagues who have directed programs in the past. What recruitment strategies have worked for them?
  • Write a captivating program description that your assigned EA Program Coordinator can post in ViaTRM for you, keeping in mind that your target audience are students, who will be concerned with issues of academic fit, value, uniqueness, as well as personal interests. Highlight the multiple benefits of education abroad such as academic gains, professional development, intercultural learning, and personal development.
  • Make arrangements to hold several information meetings each semester about your program. These are a great way to introduce prospective students to the details of your specific program. The following are items to discuss during the meetings:
    • Academics: What is the focus of your program and what courses offered? Do you have a syllabus you can share?
    • Location: Where does it take place and why?
    • Itinerary: What are the dates of the program and what excursions are planned?
    • Housing: Where will students be staying?
    • Requirements: What are the eligibility requirements to participate?
    • Cost: How much will it cost to participate?  Use your finalized budget as a guide when quoting costs.
    Students with questions about the application process and financial aid should be referred to the EA Advising Center or you can ask for a Peer Adviser to attend your meeting to help with these questions.
    Be sure to contact the Office for Education Abroad when you've scheduled a meeting so we can help you promote it to students. Meetings are publicized on the EA website, ViaTRM, the MSU adviser listserv, the bulletin board outside the Office for Education Abroad, and social media (as time permits). Please email Cheryl Benner (bennerc(at) with the name of your program and the date, time, and location of the meeting(s).
  • Enlist former participants to help with information meetings and with staffing your table at the annual Education Abroad Expo. Their testimonies are one of the most effective marketing tools at your disposal.
  • Develop your own website and/or D2L community for your program. It will be important to make sure that the information on your own site is consistent with the information in ViaTRM.
  • Use Social Media to promote your program.
  • Announce your program in your classes and ask colleagues to help you by doing the same in their classes. Prepare an informative slide to share with colleagues.
  • Inform your department’s and college’s academic advisers so they can help recruit.
  • Make yourself available to students who want to learn more about your program and be responsive to email inquiries.
  • Prepare a slideshow of photos that express what your program is all about, including images that speak to the academic nature of the education abroad experience. Be sure to obtain written permission from students whose images you want to include.
  • Consider creating a display or poster to set up in advising offices, outside your office or on college/department bulletin boards.
  • Use special events to promote your program, such as Fall Welcome, New Student Orientation, etc.
  • Contact student clubs whose membership may have a particular interest in your program.
  • Ask for your program to be featured in your college/department's communications and publications.

Keep students engaged

Keep students engaged

Keep interested students engaged!

  • Reach out to students who have put their names on sign-up sheets at the Education Abroad Expo and other events.
  • Provide timely responses to student inquiries and / or refer them to other offices as appropriate (e.g., academic advisers, Education Abroad, Financial Aid, etc.)
  • Check in with them periodically and encourage them to share with you any concerns they may have about participating in your program so you can address real and perceived barriers.
  • Right before breaks is often a good time to reach out to students.
  • Even after students have applied to your program, keep them engaged and excited by sending them periodic updates about your program.

Review and admit applicants

Review and admit applicants


Compliance with MSU’s Anti-Discrimination Policy

The Office of General Counsel has advised the Office for Education Abroad to reinforce the importance in the administration of education abroad programs of adhering to this and all other university policies.

Specifically, education abroad programming must comply with all MSU policies and regulations, including but not limited to the MSU Anti-Discrimination Policy (ADP).  This policy outlines the types of prohibited discrimination and harassment at Michigan State University.  Under the ADP, University community members are prohibited from engaging in acts which discriminate against or harass any University community member on the basis of age, color, gender, gender identity, disability status, height, marital status, national origin, political persuasion, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, or weight.

Program Directors MUST comply with the ADP and should report any potential bias incidents to the Office of International Health and Safety and the Office of Institutional Equity.

The ADP applies to the entire education abroad program cycle, including advising, admission decisions, on-site programming, and post-program follow-up.

Overview of Application Review

Overview of Application Review

The review of student applications consists of two parts: (1) the student conduct review (carried out by Education Abroad) and (2) the academic review (conducted by the program director/s). In addition to this overview, we recommend you familiarize yourself with the student application process, withdrawal policies and EA’s Refund and Charge Policy. Please refer specific questions from students to the Office for Education Abroad. NOTE: The academic review cannot be conducted in the faculty portal until after the student conduct review is completed.

Student Conduct Review

An applicant's participation may be denied or his/her participation approval may be revoked if his/her conduct before departure raises doubts as to his/her suitability for program participation. Participation may also be denied based on prior disciplinary or criminal action.

Education Abroad works closely with the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution and will inform you, usually within ten days of receiving an application, whether or not the applicant has a record. These are records of violations to MSU's General Student Regulations.

You will be asked to review the record and inform Education Abroad of your admissions decision. If you would like guidance on suggested action steps, contact Education Abroad. According to the Office of the Provost, you cannot deny admissions merely because a student has a conduct report. You are expected to carefully review the record to determine whether or not the violation is sufficiently grievous to deny admission. You are encouraged to schedule an interview with the student to discuss the infraction.

Academic Review

Student applications are reviewed online, in the Education Abroad Faculty Portal. For instructions on how to review program applications see the instructions for using the Faculty Portal. In the case of any non-MSU applicants, you will be able to see that they have applied but will not be able to view their transcripts online. Education Abroad will collect hard copies of their materials and scan them to you for review. If you are expecting additional application items (such as résumés, housing forms, statements of interest, etc.) and they are missing from the student file, please inform an Education Abroad staff member and we will notify the applicant that his/her application is incomplete.

It is advisable to review applications early and regularly so students are not left hanging and lose interest in the program. Students are told that applications will be reviewed on a rolling admissions basis. Of course, rolling admissions does not mean first-come, first-served. If you review an application but are unable to make a decision regarding that student, please let your Education Abroad support specialist know the reason that no action can be taken, and your estimate of when you may be able to make a final decision. We often receive calls from students and, without this information, are unable to determine whether their application has been overlooked, or reviewed and put "on hold."

Review student academic records carefully to verify that the student is in "good academic standing" (i.e., GPA of 2.00 or better and no evidence of current or pending academic probation). All students must have a GPA of 2.00 or higher at the time of application; however, this does not guarantee admission, and you may choose to require a higher GPA for participation in your program. If an applicant has a borderline GPA (barely above a 2.00) and there is an additional semester of grades to be reported before departure of the program, contact Education Abroad for options.

All eligibility criteria should be clearly stated in your program flyer and web text. Please contact the Education Abroad Program Coordinator for your program if you have concerns or feel that a student has not or will not meet the minimum GPA requirement. You may want to require an in-person interview as part of your selection process. Interviews of applicants for semester programs are strongly recommended.

In an effort to promote access, ensure equity and provide education abroad opportunities to the most diverse and exemplary cadre of students possible, consistency is required in the application and selection process, as well as language used in written and oral communication, including the application.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT INTERVIEWS: To help mitigate bias and potential backlash from applicants who exchange notes with one another, a standard set of interview questions should be established and agreed upon. In addition, a decision should be made whether or not to interview every applicant or none at all. Decisions to interview some applicants may be perceived as or indeed be done subjectively which diminishes the integrity of the application and review process, as well as disadvantage and potentially harm some students.

REVIEW APPLICANTS: Accept, deny, or waitlist

REVIEW APPLICANTS: Accept, deny, or waitlist

Log into the faculty portal and choose "Review Applicants." Then choose the session for which you wish to review applications.

This page lists applications that are ready for review. Your options are

  • to email students by clicking the checkbox next to their name(s) and click on "Email."
  • to download the current participant list by clicking on "download."
  • to review an applicant by clicking on "View Application."

Some applications may be marked "Awaiting Judicial Clearance", which means they are pending student conduct clearance as described under the "Overview of Application Review" tab.

The "View Application" button gives you access to information you need to determine whether the student is eligible and qualified for participation in your program: their unofficial MSU transcript and any other materials you requested as part of the application (e.g., an essay, personal statement, etc.).

When you are ready to record your decision about an applicant, click on the "Make Decision" button. Your options are to "accept," "deny," or "waitlist" students. There is also a text box for comments.

Once you have made your decision on a student in the online system, Education Abroad will notify the student electronically. A student’s status as "accepted,' "denied," or "waitlisted" is not official until the official Education Abroad email has been sent. Please do NOT notify students of your decision yourself.

Manage your participant and class lists

Manage your participant and class lists

You can download your participant list from the Faculty Portal or request one from the Education Abroad student support specialist assigned to your program. This will show your program’s current enrollment status.

Managing your Waitlist

Once you have reached your targeted (= budgeted) enrollment, you should start a waitlist. Based on our experience with student withdrawal, your waitlist should be about 15 percent of your targeted enrollment. Let your Education Abroad student support specialist know how you wish to manage your waitlist. Do you want Education Abroad to 

  • automatically admit the first/next student you put on the waitlist; 
  • admit waitlisted students based on a ranking your provide to Education Abroad (remember that it is NOT permissible to rank students based on any category listed in MSU’s Anti-Discrimination Policy); 
  • consult with you before admitting a student from the waitlist;
  • admit waitlisted students according to some other procedure.

If none of the waitlisted students is ultimately able to participate, the withdrawing student will be financially responsible as described in the Education Abroad withdrawal policy (students should consult the Education Abroad Refund and Charge Policies).

Student Withdrawal

If you learn that a student wishes to withdraw, let them know that they MUST notify the Office for Education Abroad in writing (email is OK), that they no longer intend to participate in your program. Verbal cancellations are not accepted, and program directors cannot withdraw a student from a program. It is very important that you instruct students to inform Education Abroad. Students often end up financially responsible for program fees because they failed to inform our office. They need to understand that is not sufficient to tell you of their decision to withdraw. Should students inquire about Education Abroad’s withdrawal policy, refer them to the Education Abroad Refund and Charge Policies.

Since withdrawals can negatively impact your program budget, be sure to work with your Education Abroad support specialist and coordinator on closely monitoring enrollment in your program. Should you have insufficient enrollment at the time of the application deadline, do not cancel your program unilaterally. Education Abroad monitors budgeted enrollments and will contact you to discuss options. Programs are only cancelled after consultation among Education Abroad, the sponsoring college(s), and the program director(s).

Late Applicants

Students are encouraged to apply as early as possible, and no later than the posted program deadline. Late applications can often be accommodated as long as it is logistically feasible. Ask yourself whether there is sufficient time left for

  • additional housing to be secured (if needed);
  • students to purchase affordable airfare; receive any required immunizations; enroll and register for program courses; obtain a passport and/or visa; attend orientation and receive materials; pay their related bills prior to departure;
  • you as the program director to thoroughly review the application; conduct any required interview; and provide orientation to bring late applicants up to speed;
  • Education Abroad to process the application, including the student conduct review; provide already distributed program materials such as contact addresses, host family assignments, etc.; adjust housing arrangements; enroll students in International SOS health insurance, etc.

Do not accept additional students until it is confirmed that any needed additional housing is available and that onsite transportation arrangements can accommodate an additional person.

Managing your class list

As your program’s departure date approaches, it is very important to check periodically whether the program participant list matches your class list. It is equally important to ensure that all participants are enrolled in the budgeted minimum number of credits. Under-enrolled students impact the tuition income available for your program (see "Build your program budget" under the "Logistics" tab).

Prepare students

Prepare students

To help ensure the best abroad experience possible for your students, it is crucial to prepare them in advance of your group’s departure.  Advise students about textbooks/materials to be purchased before departure. If you will distribute course materials on site, the cost of these materials must be included in the program fee.  

Click on any of the following tabs to learn more about the steps to take to prepare your students:

Online pre-departure orientation program

Online pre-departure orientation program

Encourage participants to complete the Education Abroad General Pre-Departure Orientation, which usually opens in November for Winter Break and Spring semester programs; in February for Spring Break Programs; and in April for Summer, Academic Year and Fall programs.

In-person pre-departure orientation(s)

In-person pre-departure orientation(s)

Plan, schedule and lead at least one program-specific orientation addressing the key program-specific details your students need to know. MSU's Office for Global Health, Safety, and Security has a Pre-Departure Orientation PowerPoint template available on their training and resources website. It should include information (to the best of your ability) on safety; health; legal, environmental, political, cultural and religious conditions in the host country; potential health and safety risks; and appropriate emergency response measures.

Make every attempt to communicate all necessary information to students prior to the completion of the previous semester. For example, be sure to inform students of your mandatory reporting responsibilities per the university’s Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct (RVSM) policy. This should also be included in pre-departure meetings and in the course syllabus. If you plan to email students between or after semesters, alert them so they know to regularly check their MSU email accounts.

If you create a website for your program that is not protected by a password, please refrain from providing identifying details regarding housing, such as street addresses.

You may want to arrange for a get-acquainted event for participating students prior to departure. Please note that any expenses associated with such an event need to be included in your program budget.

Be sure to reinforce the message that education abroad is an academic experience first and foremost, and that academic responsibilities take priority over personal interests. Planting this idea helps to combat the occasional notion that education abroad is a vacation. Refrain from referring to the experience as "a trip," but instead use the word "program."

Below are suggestions for what to include in your pre-departure orientation:

  • Contact Information/Program Itinerary: Inform students that you will be carrying a cell phone during the program and will inform them of the phone number at the on-site orientation.  Explain to students that this is meant to be used in case of an emergency. Consider setting limits on how early or late students can phone or text you for non-emergency purposes. Also, provide students with a complete program itinerary during orientation to help prepare them for the on-site academics. This itinerary should include the full name, address, phone numbers and URLs (if applicable) for any overnight accommodations. Review guidelines.
  • Health Concerns/Immunizations: After students confirm their participation in a program, they are required to submit an online health form. These health forms are sent electronically to the MSU Travel Clinic. Only MSU Travel Clinic staff have access to these forms. The information disclosed on the form is not available to program directors or Education Abroad staff. The MSU Travel Clinic may reach out to individual students to suggest they come in for a consultation. They will not proactively inform students if they need immunizations. Students can consult with the MSU Travel Clinic and/or research those requirements independently. During pre-departure orientation, you may remind students that you do not have access to their health forms and encourage them to disclose any need-to-know medical information, such as allergies, to you. This is strictly voluntary. If students do disclose medical information to you, please be mindful of student privacy and treat that information sensitively. Any students requiring accommodations should contact the MSU Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities.

    You must refrain from providing advice about medications, vaccines, or over-the-counter medications. Even though such advice may be well-intentioned and given out of concern for students, travel recommendations change frequently and any recommendations should be made in the context of a student's personal health history. Therefore, such recommendations must be made by qualified health personnel, or by national or international reputable health agencies such as the CDC, WHO, etc. There is significant liability both to the directors and to the University that can result from giving incorrect medical advice. Practicing medicine without a license is not a good idea. There are links on the MSU Travel Clinic's web site to reliable sources for travel recommendations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Travelers' Health site. For your own sake, and for the sake of the University, please rely on these sources for health and medical recommendations for students.

    A primary care physician may not have knowledge of travel health issues, so you should consult a certified travel health professional. You can find one at the Ingham County Health Department or the MSU Travel Clinic.

    You may also want to consult with International SOS. Their team is available to respond to any travel health concerns that you have. Contact their 24/7 Scholastic Assistance Line at 1-215-942-8478.

    You should visit a travel health professional if:
    • You're visiting a country with significant health risks (e.g. malaria, dengue, tuberculosis, yellow fever).
    • You're not up-to-date on routine immunizations.
    • You'll be taking prescription medication abroad.
    • You have a pre-existing or chronic medical condition that must be managed abroad.
  • U.S. Department of State Resources: Education Abroad's online orientation devotes a significant amount of time to health and safety. It also refers students to a special U.S. Department of State Travel Abroad page for students. As a program director, it is your responsibility to read the relevant Country Information Sheet(s) for each country on your program's itinerary. Using this and other information provided by your on-site contacts, advise students to avoid travel to or through any location where tensions exist and travel may be dangerous. Experience has shown that students may benefit from a security briefing offered at U.S. Embassies abroad. Such briefings help you to reinforce your message to students that travel to dangerous areas should be avoided. Education Abroad also asks students to read a Country Information Sheet for every country/countries your program will visit. You must also periodically review the U.S. State Department web site for updates between the time of orientation and the group's departure. Once your program has started, Education Abroad will notify you of any significant updates while you are abroad. If you believe there are regions of the country/countries to be visited that present undue risks, contact Education Abroad. This includes program-sponsored accommodations, events, excursions, and other activities. Students enrolled in programs located in countries with U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings (and operating under a waiver of the Office for Education Abroad Travel Warning Policy) will be asked to sign an additional release as well as adhere to additional security measures.
  • Travel Registry with the U.S. Department of State: Education Abroad will register you and your students with the U.S. Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) prior to departure (and for all countries on your program itinerary). Students and directors should register themselves with STEP for personal travel before or after the program or for countries not on the program itinerary.
  • Community Building: Seasoned study abroad program directors report their biggest challenges abroad are not emergency situations, public transportation strikes, fluctuating currencies or language barriers, but student behavior problems. Those who have successfully traveled with students for many years advocate discussing appropriate student conduct and behavior-related problems in the pre-departure orientation as well as upon arrival.

Reinforce the concept of students as "cultural ambassadors" and emphasize that their conduct will be seen as representative of the United States, the state of Michigan and this University. Students need to be reminded that while the consequences of poor behavior while on campus or in East Lansing reflect solely on themselves, their misconduct abroad will be attributed to the entire group. In addition, be honest with your students about how their poor behavior reflects poorly on you, as the program director. Most importantly, participants need to understand that the viability of a program rests in their hands. Offensive or indifferent behavior resulting in negative evaluations by colleagues abroad could lead to their refusal to continue hosting your group.

You may want to consider creating a group agreement specifically tailored to your program. These are not legal contracts but are good faith efforts agreements between the students and directors. Ask students to identify acceptable and unacceptable behaviors on which the group can agree. In addition to the expected "don't be late for bus departures," ask students to decide on actions to avoid such situations. For example, students can agree to check that everyone is awake at a certain time, or phone a classmate after their alarm has rung. The students may also agree upon consequences and/or group response to repeated offenses. There is no need for complete agreement - consensus should be the desired goal.

It may be more important to emphasize what the students should do, rather than what they should not do. This applies to bystanders as well. For instance, if one student sees another student displaying inappropriate behavior, that student should step forward to stop it. Encourage this type of response, as well as the peer pressure that students with leadership skills can provide.

If you experience excessive complaining, the group could set specific times during the day when all complaining is allowed. None is allowed throughout the rest of the day. This may seem like an extreme action, but it's proven to work.

Ask students to discuss how personality conflicts can undermine the atmosphere of the program and provide suggestions for dealing with such conflicts. Although it may seem like common sense, you may need to regularly remind students to:

  • be polite and listen to one another;
  • respect each other, directors and local people affiliated with the program;
  • honor diversity and differences within the group;
  • fight fair and attack the problem, not people; and
  • look for compromises.

You may wish to address sex and dating among program participants as well as with locals. Pre-departure discussion regarding the local culture's receptivity to public displays of affection, gays and lesbians, and other issues may help to alleviate misunderstandings.

Furthermore, address your concerns about alcohol misuse and abuse. In addition to posing a health and safety risk, alcohol abuse is the primary source of behavioral problems and personality conflicts between group members. By addressing this issue in advance, you not only inform students of your concerns, but also alert them to possible past problems that have had a negative effect on the program. Many education abroad program directors have commented that this proactive approach has been successful in reducing the number of alcohol-related problems.

To begin this discussion, it is helpful to ask students to discuss the consequences of alcohol misuse, such as the following:

  • tardiness or poor attendance at classes and activities
  • negative student interactions as a result of alcohol-induced "bad" behavior
  • animosity/break down of community among members due to such behavior
  • poor reflection of group to local community/faculty/contacts
  • undue stress on program director/resident director that requires excessive attention and time

Brainstorm with the students about their perception of alcohol use in the host culture, comparing and/or contrasting with alcohol use in the United States. Share your knowledge of alcohol use in the host culture and remind students of the difference between alcohol use and alcohol misuse/abuse. Excessive drunkenness is not tolerated in any country, and is, in fact, considered an illness/addiction in many cultures.

Managing a Family Member Contact

As a program director, you should NOT make direct initial contact with any student's family members without the student's permission. Where possible, the student should communicate with their family members. (NOTE: a parent is not necessarily the student's emergency contact). Education Abroad will encourage all students to keep family informed, but this is ultimately up to the student.

To help decrease parent anxiety and the need/desire to contact you abroad, many program directors use various electronic outlets to provide parents access to program information and updates. Consider creating the following for your program:

  • Blogs (e.g.
  • Webpages
  • Email groups (e.g. Google group -
  • Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress
  • WhatsApp
  • Be sure to post regular updates and encourage your students to do the same so that their family members can see that everyone is alive and well!

If a student is ill or injured, even if it's not an emergency, please call the 24/7 Emergency Assistance Line at (517) 353-3784) so that we are informed in case our office is contacted about the situation.

Connect students to resources

Connect students to resources

The following are helpful resources for students preparing to go abroad:

What’s Up with Culture?

This material was developed to support and enhance a student's ability to make successful cultural adjustments both before going overseas and upon returning home from studying abroad. It was produced primarily for traditional-aged, undergraduate US-American university students. Those preparing to participate in a study abroad program will find the first seven sections useful while those who are about to, or have, returned home from an international program can refer to the final four sections. The focus is generally on the concept of culture and how it impacts one's ability to understand and function in a new and unfamiliar environment. It concentrates on the skills, attitudes, and behaviors which all study abroad students, regardless of their specific destination, will find useful.

MSU Travel Clinic 

The Travel Clinic promotes safe and healthy travel by providing counseling to travelers about appropriate vaccines and preventive medication.

Department of State International Travel Information

Visiting other countries can be a great experience. Whether you are traveling for work or pleasure, solo or in a group, staying for a few days or several years, planning ahead can help ensure your time abroad is both enjoyable and safe. The first step to an international trip is to read our Traveler's Checklist to find out things to consider before you go. Pay special attention to our safety and security information and assess for yourself the risk of traveling to a particular country or region. Some U.S. citizens with special considerations – such as students, women, and LGBTI travelers – may face additional challenges when abroad. If you do decide to travel, make a plan for what to do if something goes wrong overseas.

MSU’s Area and Thematic Studies Centers

These centers are fabulous resources as students prepare for their learning abroad experiences.

Have ideas for additional resources for students? Please contact Dr. Inge Steglitz.

Program Director/Assistant Travel Preparation and Trainings

Program Director/Assistant Travel Preparation and Trainings

As a new program director, you will need to attend a Critical Incident Management Seminar.  These seminars are offered through the Office for Global Health, Safety, and Security and are required prior to your departure. Seminars are offered in person and online.

MSU requires that all study abroad program directors participate in a critical incident management seminar every two years. Seminar presentations are made by the coordinator for international health and safety and cover preparation prior to departure, resources available, and actions to take while abroad when responding to emergencies. Seminars are offered throughout the year and occur at various days and times to accommodate teaching schedules. Program directors will not receive a travel advance until they attend a seminar. Directors will be notified if they are due to attend a seminar.

Also be sure to carefully review Information for Program Directors on the Office for Global Health, Safety, and Security's website, including the EA On-Site Operations Manual.

If your program operates – at any point in time – 90 minutes or more away (by typical mode of transportation) from reliable, emergency medical care, attend mandatory first-aid training.

All onsite staff, including TAs, must go through all required EA trainings, such as the Critical Incident Management Seminars.

Airline Reservations

Airline Reservations

Program directors may book and direct-bill their Education Abroad airfare within six months of departure through Conlin Travel or the, as of January 2021, yet-to-be-determined new designated EA travel agent. It is your responsibility to schedule your own flight arrangements, which should be done as early as possible. You will need to complete a pre-trip authorization prior to booking.

Effective January 2010, MSU will reimburse travelers for the lowest roundtrip airfare. These preferred travel agencies are under contract to find the lowest airfare. They accomplish this through airline and airfare websites, so it should not be an advantage to search on your own. If you wish to fly business class, you must purchase an upgradeable ticket and either use your own frequent flyer miles or personally pay the extra cost for an upgrade. Education Abroad will not reimburse program directors for business class tickets.

When booking your flight, please note that you are allowed up to three days more than the actual program dates for setup and breakdown. These days may fall before and/or after the program and must be included in the program budget. If you plan to add non-program-related travel onto your flight, Education Abroad will reimburse you for the estimated cost of only the program-related roundtrip ticket. Due to our large volume, Education Abroad must rely on program directors to show judiciary responsibility. Even if your initial itinerary is approved by Education Abroad, you cannot use program funds for personal travel. If your non-program travel is approved by another unit, we will share the cost.

According to MSU travel policy, you cannot purchase airfare more than six months before departure. Should you choose not to direct-bill, then you will have to charge the airfare to your personal credit card and will receive reimbursement upon reconciliation of your travel expenses.

In all cases, the passenger receipt and paid invoice statement from the travel agency must be submitted when program expenses are reconciled after your return to campus.

Program Director Housing

Program Director Housing

Education Abroad advises that you keep your personal housing and Meals and Incidentals Expenses (M&IE) funds separate from student program funds.

Lodging expenses are reimbursed according to your actual expense and cannot exceed the most current U.S. Department of State rates. In order to keep costs down for students, you will be expected to keep accommodation costs in major cities below $200 per night. This will be discussed during the budget development stage. Expenses can only be reimbursed for the actual amount up to the U.S. Department of State rate (or $200 in major cities) and are determined by the rate when you were abroad, not by the rate when your budget or worksheet was developed. Due to fluctuations in these rates, keep this in mind when you book your reservations. If your housing costs are based on a "per person" rate, you will be reimbursed for only one person.

IMPORTANT: For audit purposes, you are required to have an original detailed receipt to substantiate your housing expenses.

Although Education Abroad may, at some sites, be able to suggest possible options for your housing, Education Abroad cannot be responsible for arranging or negotiating your international accommodations.

Education Abroad can cover the cost of housing deposits any time prior to departure. You are encouraged to book your housing as early as possible to guarantee lower deposit and housing costs. If you need a deposit paid early in order to secure housing at a favorable rate or a preferred location, contact your Education Abroad Coordinator for payment arrangements.

Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE)

Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE)

Meals and Incidental Expenses (M&IE) are intended for one person only and is based on the most current rate available from the U.S. Department of State rates (unless you agree to accept a lower rate in order to keep program costs low). The rate varies according to geographic location and is based on the actual time in a location abroad.

M&IE is paid in lieu of actual expenses and eliminates the need to keep receipts for every personal transaction. It is intended to cover such things as meals, laundry and dry cleaning, fees, tips to waiters/porters/hotel maids, etc., baths, faxes, telegrams, telephone calls for reserving hotel rooms, transportation between places of lodging and business or where meals are taken.

If you are submitting receipts for group dinners that include yourself, you cannot collect M&IE plus be reimbursed for the group meal. The Travel Office considers this "double dipping" and will reimburse you for whichever is lower.

If you bring family members with you, and they accompany the group on any portion of the program, you will need to inform the students that the program does not cover any travel costs of your family members. Students may have the impression that their program fees are covering what they perceive to be your family vacation. See Guidelines for Accompanying Faculty Family Members below for further details.

Program Director Insurance

Program Director Insurance

Comprehensive information about education abroad leadership related insurance is available on the web site of MSU's Office for Global Health, Safety, and Security.

Guidelines for Accompanying Family Members

Guidelines for Accompanying Family Members

The Office for Education Abroad discourages program directors from having family members accompany their program. MSU/Education Abroad reserves the right to impose limits and/or conditions on the roles, activities and presence of family members or friends who accompany program directors. Such limits or conditions derive from programmatic concerns related to health, safety or security as determined by MSU/Education Abroad. In general, family members cannot serve in an official role on the program, including as an emergency back-up person or secondary support personnel, cannot interfere with or join program activities, and MSU assumes no responsibility for their health and safety. If you feel that your situation is an exception to this rule, please contact your Program Coordinator to discuss.

If you bring family members with you, and they accompany the group on any portion of the program, you may wish to inform the students that the program does not cover expenses for your family members. Students may be under the impression that their program fees cover what they may perceive to be a family vacation.

The following describes the limits or conditions that apply to family members accompanying program directors.

  • Employment: Family members may NOT be hired to perform duties on the education abroad program if the fulfillment of such duties is under the general supervision or direction of the program leader. Such a supervisor/subordinate relationship is against the Conflict of Interest policies as outlined in Section III of the MSU Faculty Handbook. In the case of education abroad programs, "hired" means receiving monetary compensation for services performed or receiving payment of expenses (travel, etc.) in exchange for performance of duties. It is possible, with special permission, for spouses to serve as co-directors of a program, provided that they do not supervise one another. In this case, a Conflict of Interest form, signed by the director's home department, must be submitted to the Education Abroad Business Manager.
  • Liability: It is the responsibility of all family members (including spouse/partner and dependent children) of the program directors to read the U.S. State Department information sheets if they participate in any group travel by land, sea or air. Family members are responsible for their own safety and insurance coverage.
  • Accommodations: Accompanying family members may share accommodations with the program director(s), provided such sharing is allowed by the housing provider. The program directors will receive only the State Department housing allowance for one person, regardless of how many accompanying family members share the accommodation. If housing costs are based on a "per person" rate, the program director will be reimbursed for only one person. In no case should program directors or family members share accommodations with students. In general, they should not share apartments or rooms with program assistants.
  • Excursions/Travel: Accompanying family members may participate in program excursions and field trips, provided that such participation does not inflate the cost of the excursion or negatively affect planned program activities. Program excursions are planned to accommodate all students plus the participating director(s). If there are empty seats on the bus, boat, or other arranged travel, accompanying family members may travel with the group at no extra cost. However, at no time will a bigger or additional bus, boat or other mode of transportation be arranged in order to accommodate accompanying family members.
  • Excursion Expenses: If participating in group excursions, accompanying family members must separately pay all per person expenses (i.e., entrances to parks or museums, theatre tickets, etc.). In no case is program money to be used to fund family member participation in special events. If the cost for the family member is included on the group receipt, it must be deducted before the receipt is submitted for reimbursement.
  • Group Meals: If participating in group meals, the director must reimburse the program for any expenses incurred by accompanying family members if a separate bill cannot be obtained. Program money should not be used to buy meals for accompanying family members. The exception to this policy is entertainment of host institution guests to which a couple is invited for a meal. The program director(s) may bring his/her spouse to such an event and receive reimbursement for the spouse's meal.
  • Minor Children: Minor children accompanying program directors must be adequately supervised at all times. The presence of minor children or other family members must not disrupt or negatively affect the education abroad program in any way.
  • International Medical Insurance: Program leaders and assistants are provided comprehensive international care through International SOS (ISOS). Accompanying family members can obtain similar coverage directly from International SOS.



It is the responsibility of program directors and students participating in a program to inquire about visa requirements for all countries to be visited, including those before and after the education abroad program. For related information, please visit our page on passports and visas. Travelers may be denied entry into, or be deported from, a country for which a required visa has not been obtained. Education Abroad will reimburse you for the cost of any mandatory visas to countries that are part of the program itinerary. Visa requirements may be different for non-US citizens. 

Immunizations and Medications

Immunizations and Medications

Check the MSU Travel Clinic or Center for Disease Control (CDC) for information on immunizations and health issues. Education Abroad will cover the cost of an office visit and any mandatory immunizations for all program directors (including program assistants) to countries that are part of the program itinerary. Covered services received at MSU Travel Clinic can be billed directly to Education Abroad. Please make sure you include the cost in your program budget. Education Abroad will not cover the cost of updated vaccinations or routine immunizations such as tetanus, etc. If you plan to meet with your personal physician regarding your travel health needs, take a copy of the CDC recommendations to your appointment. Carry all prescription drugs in original containers and bring written information on blood type, prescriptions and other special medical conditions.

Cell Phones

Cell Phones

MSU and the Office for Education Abroad require that every education abroad program provide Education Abroad with at least one cell phone number prior to departure. There are many ways to obtain international cell service - from renting a phone to adjusting your personal cell phone's service package. Personal calls made on the phone will be the responsibility of the user.

Options for International Cell Phones:

  • Find your own provider through on-site contacts or on the Web.
  • Add international service to your personal cell phone for the times and locations that you are abroad.
  • Rent or purchase a phone upon arrival (phone purchases must be made with departmental funds).
  • Purchase a local SIM card if your cell phone is compatible

Export Control Issues: Laptops and Equipment

Export Control Issues: Laptops and Equipment

Keep in mind that if you are traveling abroad with controlled equipment or materials (e.g. global positioning systems, encrypted software, or select agents) you may be in violation of federal law. Review the MSU's Office of Export Controls & Trade Sanctions website (click on Export Controls) or contact their office at (517) 432-4500 to discuss federal restrictions or limitations related to your destination. It is also important to consider the kind of student information kept on any laptops you take abroad. If your laptop is lost or stolen you could put students at risk of identity theft. If possible, try not to keep student PIDs on your laptop, or at least only record the last four digits. If you have participants' home addresses, phone numbers and emails, please encrypt or protect the information with passwords.

Emergency Contact Information

Emergency Contact Information

You must submit the on-site emergency contact information for you students and yourself to the Office for Education Abroad one month prior to departure. Education Abroad will email you a template for formatting this information.

In addition, be sure to leave your detailed travel schedule with Education Abroad and your departmental office.

Travel Advance Worksheet

Travel Advance Worksheet

Approximately one month before your program departure date, contact the Education Abroad Business Office so a Travel Advance Worksheet can be prepared. The Travel Advance Worksheet serves as a tool for determining your Travel Advance amount and is based on your program budget and the information you provide. Be sure to provide your finalized flight itinerary to assure accurate dates for travel authorization and per diem amounts calculations. The Worksheet outlines the amount of funds being advanced for each budget category and will be attached to your Travel Authorization Form on file in Education Abroad.

Since the advance is based upon the actual number of students enrolled, includes your actual housing and uses the latest currency exchange rate, there should be little or no deviation in the actual amount spent. The Executive Director of the Office for Education Abroad will carefully review any large discrepancies. Reimbursement for additional expenses cannot be guaranteed.

Whenever possible, invoices for housing, class activities, instruction, etc., should be requested from the provider well before departure and paid by Education Abroad in advance. It is important to allow adequate time, approximately two to three weeks, for payment processing. If you purchase equipment with program funds, it must be included in the budget. If you need to keep that equipment beyond the program end date, Education Abroad must store the equipment for liability reasons. If you should need the equipment for on-campus purposes, Education Abroad will share the cost with your department.

In some cases, it may be necessary to pay guest speakers on site. If you anticipate that invoices will arrive after receiving your advance, discuss this with so that the amount can be deducted from your advance.

A credit card (p-card) is available for program payments and it will supplement your travel advance. It is a MasterCard and works like a debit card, in that the card will be loaded with a specified amount and the card can be used until that amount is spent. The single purchase limit is determined based on your anticipated expenditures, so larger purchases should not pose a problem as they might with a normal MSU purchasing card. Also, unlike the MSU purchasing card, this card can be used for group travel costs such as group accommodations or activities; however, it may not be used for individual program director expenses. If you are interested in getting a card, contact the Education Abroad Business Office Accountant for instructions on submitting the applications in the EBS system. This should be done at least six weeks prior to your departure date. When the card is ready, you will be notified by MSU Purchasing. You will need to attend a brief training session when you pick up the card. The spending limit will be determined during your advance discussions with the Education Abroad Business Office Accountant and will be communicated to MSU Purchasing, who are responsible for all card updates and changes. When your program is over, the card should be returned to the Education Abroad Business Office Manager. Your card will be retained in the Education Abroad Business Office until it is needed again.

Travel Authorization

Travel Authorization

All Travel Authorizations/Vouchers are processed through Education Abroad.

After the Travel Advance Worksheet has been finalized, the Education Abroad Business Office Accountant will refer you to the appropriate Education Abroad Business Office Assistant who will schedule a second meeting to finalize your travel authorization and travel advance. This meeting can take place a week after meeting with the Accountant, but advances cannot be picked up more than 7 days prior to departure date. Please note that you must have attended an Emergency Preparedness and Response Seminar within the past two years and submitted your emergency contact information to receive a travel advance.

Education Abroad is charged by the University with the responsibility of collecting contact information for all education abroad program directors as part of the University's comprehensive crisis management plan. Providing such information on the Faculty Contact Information Form is a vital part of that plan. Failure to provide this information to the appropriate Education Abroad Program Coordinator can delay overall planning and the disbursement of funds for your study abroad program.

COMPLETION OF THIS FORM IS NECESSARY IN ORDER FOR YOU TO SECURE A TRAVEL ADVANCE and must be signed by authorized administrative personnel in International Studies and Programs. Due to the need for multiple signatures on this form, do not wait until the last minute to arrange for completion of this form.

When meeting with an Education Abroad Business Office Assistant to go over you pre-departure paperwork, you will be provided with an EBS e-doc number. Take this number to the Voucher Processing Office (360 Administration Building). They will authorize the advance and send you to the Cashier's Office, 110 Administration Building, to receive funds.

The University Travel Office will ask you to sign a MSU Travel/Petty Cash Advance Note for the amount of the advance. Within 30 days of your return, your reconciled travel voucher must be submitted to the MSU Travel Office.

Contact the Business Office Assistant within five days of your return to schedule an appointment to reconcile your advance. Prior to your appointment, you must complete the Expense Worksheet and email it to the Business Office Assistant. You must account (with the required receipts) for the entire amount of the advance. Should there be funds unaccounted for, you will be asked to write a check for the difference to the University. If unforeseen circumstances arise while you are abroad and you encounter non-budgeted expenses, contact Education Abroad to discuss the matter. If allowable program expenses were higher than the amount advanced, you will receive a check for the difference.

NOTE: Failure to clear a Travel Advance within 30 days of return can result in the amount of the advance being deducted from your paycheck. If this occurs, you will not be allowed to receive travel advances at any time in the future. If you anticipate that you will be turning in your travel reconciliation later than within 30 days of return, you must consult an Education Abroad Business Office Assistant.

Summary of required receipts

For audit purposes, the following receipts are required in order to account for money advanced to you for your personal travel, lodging and per diem, as well as program-related activities:

  • Airline passenger flight itinerary and paid invoice, showing times of arrival and departure
  • Rail receipts
  • Any other transportation receipts, including travel to and from East Lansing except by personal car. If you are flying out of Detroit, you will be expected to use the Michigan Flyer for transportation. Due to the cost, this is preferred over personal car or limo service.
  • Detailed lodging receipts (with address)
  • No receipts are necessary for M&IE expenses. This is the only category where receipts are not required.
  • Program Activities Funds - If you received Program Activities funds as a part of your travel advance, you must account for the expenses with actual receipts. This includes speaker fees, honoraria, group transportation, entrance fees, meals, housing, etc. Receipts for group dinners must be itemized and list the number of students and names and affiliations of guests. You must provide verification that no Education Abroad funds were used to purchase alcohol. In order to do this, you may wish to separate the alcohol charges from the food bill and have the students pay for the alcohol separately. Additionally, if you disburse cash to students, create one sheet indicating the amount, date, and purpose of the payment, and ask each student to sign it, indicating they received those funds.

If Education Abroad paid for services not received (such as meals with accommodations), seek a refund. Education Abroad cannot reimburse you if payment is made twice.

Additional Work Commitments

Additional Work Commitments

Do not take additional work commitments during the in-country portion of the program that could interfere with program-related duties and that take you away from the students during official program time or cause you to miss program activities. This could include but is not limited to leaving the program location to:

  • conduct research or outreach
  • instruct other classes
  • engage in consulting

Exceptions may be made based on program model and instructor appointment. Any such additional work commitments should be discussed with the College Education Abroad liaison and EA prior to departure. 

Course Management

Course Management

Click on any of the following tabs to learn more about administering your Education Abroad course(s). MSU's Faculty Handbook fully applies to your responsibilities related to your teaching on Education Abroad.

Contact Hours and Program Credit Load

Contact Hours and Program Credit Load

The Education Abroad Advisory Council (ACEA) has asked that the Office for Education Abroad monitor credits to ensure that courses have sufficient contact hours for the number of credits offered. Per the Office of the Registrar, courses must offer 14 instructional contact hours for each credit (e.g., 42 contact hours for a three-credit course).

Time spent on course-related excursions and field trips contributes to contact hours as follows: two hours of an excursion or field trip, including travel time, count for one hour of instruction.  For every one hour in class, MSU assumes two hours of study time per day. The university has set a maximum of six contact hours per day.

On average, the standard guide suggests that programs offer 1.5 credits per week on site (e.g., a four-week program should offer around six (6) credits). The sponsoring academic unit will review programs that significantly exceed this guidance.

Mandatory instructional contact hours outside of the on-site dates, should be noted in the program description and must be included in the syllabus. Program directors need to consider how to implement these pre-departure and post-return class sessions for non-MSU students who are unable to travel to East Lansing as well as for students who apply after the sessions have begun.

While the maximum number of credits a program may offer is determined by the considerations above, the minimum number of credits to be offered is driven by the instructional part of your program budget. All students participating in your program must enroll in and maintain enrollment in this minimum number of credits.

You may receive requests for a reduced program course load from graduating seniors. Since reduced course loads affect your instructional budget, program directors are required to consult with the Office of Education Abroad's Business Office and the sponsoring academic college. Programs are not permitted to operate with an instructional deficit due to reduced credit enrollment.

Students who do not maintain enrollment in the minimum number of credits required for a program will be charged the equivalent tuition as an additional program fee. The Education Abroad Advisory Council approved this policy and procedure in summer 2003.

About one month prior to departure, Education Abroad will check student enrollment for your program. However, program directors are encouraged to monitor and compare their class and EA participant lists regularly, especially as your departure date approaches.

Notify EA if your students encounter enrollment problems. "Drop and Add" requests as well as selection of the CR/NC option follow MSU rules and regulations.

Your Education Abroad Course Sections

Your Education Abroad Course Sections

Creating your education abroad course sections

It is your responsibility to initiate the creation of your program’s education abroad course sections. Follow the usual on-campus course section scheduling process. To create the section, contact the colleges/departments that offer courses on your program. When ordering these study abroad sections, you will be asked for the course dates. The course start date should reflect the first class meeting and the end date must reflect the due date of the final assignment. Your program course section dates will likely be different from your program dates. For example, you may require students to attend a pre-departure orientation at the end of spring semester and/or have final assignments due two weeks after the program returns. Your course section dates must reflect this. It is a good idea to ask your college or department scheduling officer to provide the Registrar wording such as: "Study abroad program takes place in CITY, COUNTRY, July 1 - August 15. Final assignments are due by September 15th." This notation will be included in the Schedule of Courses so that students can clearly understand the dates.

Special note on "trans-semester courses"
"Trans-semester courses" are course whose dates span two semesters. They will be assigned to the semester in which the majority of calendar days occur. It is important for the financial and administrative reasons outlined in the section below that the majority of your summer education abroad program course dates fall into summer. For example, a program that is on site from July 1 to August 15 has a due date of September 15 for students to submit final assignments. In this case, the course dates are July 1 - September 15 and the course is considered a summer semester course. If the final assignment were due October 30, the course would be considered a fall semester course.

Special note on Winter Break program courses
Education abroad courses associated with winter break programs are considered spring semester courses and must be scheduled to begin after the last day of fall semester. Final assignments may be scheduled to be due after the program returns.

Special note on Fall and Spring semester program offering MSU courses
Fall and spring semester programs that offer MSU courses also require special consideration. If a fall semester course is shorter than 15 weeks or a spring semester course is shorter than 16 weeks, approval from the Office of the Registrar is required. Courses cannot be scheduled for longer than 16 weeks (17 weeks in the spring, including the week of spring break). The only exceptions are for MSU courses approved for ET grading and MSU courses taught by contracted non-MSU faculty teaching at their home university on that institution's calendar.

Financial and administrative importance of creating education abroad sections

Your program’s instructional budget is driven by tuition income that can only be captured by Education Abroad if your program sections are designated as education abroad sections (Sections 750-779 and Sections 850-879). If the courses are not designated as education abroad sections, tuition income is not marked for education abroad and will not be available to cover instructional expenses, including your salary.

In addition, education abroad course sections ensure that students can be tracked by major and college, which is important when it comes to the end-of-year allocation of Student Credit Hours (SCHs) to each college. The Provost has asked Education Abroad and the colleges to track the number of SCHs generated from education abroad. Education Abroad also uses the special section numbers to track the overall number of students who participate in education abroad each year.


Education Abroad regularly provides the Office of the Registrar (RO) with a list of applicants. The RO codes all EA applicants so that they may enroll in education abroad course sections.  This alleviates the need for overrides, though you may, of course, still require overrides if that helps you manage enrollment based on major, prerequisites, etc. In order to facilitate the override process, you may request a list of participants and PIDs from Education Abroad and provide this list to each sponsoring department. Education Abroad cannot process overrides.

Additional Important Considerations

Additional Important Considerations

Special Considerations When Offering Social Science and Integrative studies in Arts and Humanities (IAH) Courses

Requests for approval to use any social science course number, including Integrative studies in Social Sciences (ISS) courses, in an education abroad program, must request this through the assistant dean for experiential learning in the College Social Science dean's office.

If you would like to include an IAH course in your new or existing program, please remember that the syllabus must be received and approved by the Center for Integrative Studies in Arts and Humanities (CISAH) office prior to opening the section for enrollment. Education Abroad cannot include IAH offerings in any marketing materials unless CISAH approval has been obtained in advance.

Onsite Instructors and Guest Speakers

If you plan to have any courses taught by on-site instructors, be sure to get all the necessary approvals from relevant MSU departments (e.g., approval of syllabi). The Education Abroad business office can provide guidance on hiring and contract processes. When booking on-site guest speakers, be sure you have a Nonresident Alien Professional Services Contract on file that specifies the scope of work to be performed as well as agreed-upon remuneration.

MSU Code of Teaching Responsibility

MSU Code of Teaching Responsibility

All program directors are expected to follow the MSU Code of Teaching Responsibility as described in the Michigan State University Faculty Handbook. This includes informing students of the grading system before the program and courses begin. This is especially important for programs in which non-MSU faculty members teach the courses and students are issued foreign grades. Be sure to provide guidance to on-site, in-country instructors, lecturers, and guides regarding MSU academic policies and values, in particular MSU's Code of Teaching Responsibility, and how their contribution fits into the overall program design. If you are unsure how to interpret international grades, contact Education Abroad or the International Admissions Office.

Program Management

Program Management

Program Management refers to making and keeping your program viable, including

  • Monitoring minimum required enrollment via participant and class lists. Student withdrawals can negatively impact your program budget. Should you have insufficient enrollment at the time of the application deadline, do not cancel your program unilaterally. Talk to your EA program coordinator to discuss options such as cutting some activities, lowering your per diem rate, etc.. Programs are only cancelled after consultation among Education Abroad, the sponsoring college(s), and the program director(s).
  • Having a “Plan B” in case you are unexpectedly unable to direct the program.
  • Staying in close communication with your EA program coordinator, your college, and your department. Any changes to agreed-upon aspects of your program as documented in your program budget and your program’s promotional materials must be jointly discussed by all parties involved.

Importantly, you must not cancel your program for any reason, including safety concerns and under-enrollment, without first consulting with both EA and your college’s representative on the Advisory Council for Education AbroadCancellation and/or suspension of programs for health, safety and security reasons is handled by MSU’s Risk and Security Assessment Committee (RSAC) in consultation with MSU leadership. The provost has final authority to cancel / suspend a program for health, safety and security reasons. Program directors with health, safety and security concerns are encouraged to discuss with EA so that appropriate action may be taken, including initiating a review by RSAC.

For more on “student withdrawals” see the sub-tab "Manage your participant and class lists" under the "Review and admit applicants" tab in the "Implementation: Pre-departure" module.