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New Program Ideation

New Education Abroad program development is a multi-step process that includes formulating learning goals, designing the new program and proposing it. This page provides information and tools that can be helpful as you begin to think about developing a new EA program.

Note: most successful program leaders start working on program development 18 to 24 months before taking students abroad.  Before you invest too much time and effort, it is a good idea to talk about your program idea to both your department chair and your college’s representative on the Advisory Council for Education Abroad. Education Abroad staff are also available to provide feedback early in the development process.

Click on any of the following tabs to learn more about the different components of new program ideation:

Articulate learning outcomes for your program

Articulate learning outcomes for your program

Given the rationale for and contexts of education abroad programming, it is important to consider academic as well as non-academic learning outcomes. 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. Program directors must also take into account and abide by the MSU Code of Teaching Responsibility.

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

MSU's Learning Outcomes for Education Abroad

MSU's Learning Outcomes for Education Abroad

As evidenced in research on learning abroad1, students learn differently when taught the same subject matter on campus as compared to in an education abroad situation. How will this course overseas be different from the same course taught in East Lansing?

This also reflects MSU's Undergraduate Learning and Global Competency Goals by contextualizing them within education abroad. This is a work in progress and is intended to expand and change as our thinking about student learning on education abroad evolves.

  • Academic development and intellectual growth
  • Personal growth
  • Professional development
  • On-campus internationalization of MSU
  • Skills for engaging with culturally different others

Academic development and intellectual growth

Education abroad can...

  • Provide a new perspective on the major through exposure to coursework based in different cultural frames of reference and/or taught by local instructors
  • Expose students to academic content not available on the home campus
  • Contextualize learning by linking it to local realities (including community engagement and service-learning) and related global dimensions
  • Provide guided reflection on different ways of knowing
  • Provide structured opportunities for comparative analysis, critical and creative thinking, and problem-solving
  • Enhance students' country-, region-, and culture-specific learning through pre-departure, on-site, and post-program interventions focused on geography, history, politics, literature, etc.
  • Motivate students to begin or continue learning another language by exposing them to structured situations, inside and outside of the classroom, which will significantly facilitate the development of language skills in the context of culture
  • Engage students in research projects with local students and faculty
  • Provide opportunities for students to give presentations about their education abroad projects/experiences on the home campus and/or at meetings of professional associations
  • Stimulate students' sense of curiosity through engagement with the local cultures

Personal growth

Students can develop personally by...

  • Forming meaningful relationships and friendships with local people through home stays, local clubs, volunteer opportunities, etc.
  • Reevaluating their values, vocation, and personal ethics, facilitated by reflective journaling assignments and structured reflection sessions
  • Expanding their comfort zone in a context of balanced challenge and support so as to enhance their ability to (inter)act in unfamiliar situations
  • Experiencing a sense of self-sufficiency by mastering and reflecting on difficult situations
  • Reflecting on issues of personal identity and interdependence in a global context
  • Developing a sense of social responsibility through engagement with local communities

Professional development

Study abroad programs can…

  • Provide opportunities to students for meeting professionals in their chosen field of study so they may learn how to relate professionally with culturally different others (in labs, businesses, professional organizations)
  • Integrate internships, service learning, community engagement and other opportunities for experiencing local work life
  • Offer pre-departure and post-program frameworks designed to help students make connections between learning on study abroad and their career paths
  • Provide opportunities on site and post-program for students to reflect on skills learned and knowledge gained
  • Provide a structures for exploring future professional direction

On-campus internationalization of MSU

Our students’ international learning experiences add value to the on-campus experience by…

  • Infusing the classroom with the various cultural perspectives to better prepare students for education abroad and be more receptive to the global or comparative perspectives of returned education abroad students
  • Building on faculty's regional expertise and connections to identify suitable locations and partner institutions, linking education abroad to faculty scholarship and research, and expanding existing institutional links and networks that contribute to the department's research agenda
  • Including student research on education abroad programs
  • Linking faculty and student expertise gained through education abroad with strategic initiatives at the departmental, college, and university levels, thus making education abroad programming sustainable

Skills for engaging with culturally different others

While skills including the ability to deal with ambiguity, be flexible, and take the perspective of a culturally different person, cut across the other three categories of student learning, they also warrant separate treatment as central to learning through education abroad.

Education abroad programs can facilitate intercultural learning by…

  • Enhancing students' self-awareness and understanding of their own culture with opportunities to compare and contrast host country customs, values, and traditions with their own
  • Allowing time for structured and unstructured encounters with local people and customs in a variety of contexts
  • Providing opportunities for exposure to, interaction with, and reflection on everyday aspects of the host culture through taking classes at the local university, engaging in recreational activities with local students, home stays, service-learning opportunities, individual projects, participation in local customs/celebrations, etc.
  • Encouraging students to experience the world through the eyes of the other culture by exposing them to the literature and arts of the local culture
  • Preparing students for intercultural experiences through pre-departure orientation, readings, and other media
  • Helping students realize and articulate their intercultural learning and identity development through post-program reflection
  • Requiring attendance at regularly scheduled on-site reflection sessions during which critical encounters with the host culture are analyzed
  • Helping students make connections between the host country's culture, society, history, politics, and arts


(1) Sutton, R., & Rubin, D. (2004). The GLOSSARI Project: Initial Findings from a System-Wide Research Initiative on Study Abroad Learning Outcomes. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10, 65-82.

Sutton, R. S., & Rubin, D. L. (2010). Documenting the academic impact of study abroad: Final report of the GLOSSARI project. Paper presented at the annual meeting of NAFSA: International Education Association. Kansas City.

MSU's Undergraduate Learning and Global Competency Goals

MSU's Undergraduate Learning and Global Competency Goals

Take time to review MSU's Undergraduate Learning and Global Competency Goals.

Standards for Good Practice in Short-Term Education Abroad

Standards for Good Practice in Short-Term Education Abroad

The Forum on Education Abroad provides a series of Standards of Good Practice and other useful resources.

Design your program

Design your program

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.

Program Models

Program Models

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, others focus on specific regions of the world.

Here is a current list of MSU-approved 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, and to help you vet them.

Program Experiences

Program Experiences

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.


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.

High Impact Practices (HIPs)

High Impact Practices (HIPs)

Under development.  Please check back soon.

Program Sketch

Program Sketch

The program sketch is a way to document your initial idea for a new program. It allows you to let people know about your program idea before you invest a lot of time and energy into a project that your department and/or college may not support. Be sure to initially discuss your program idea with (1) your department chair, (2) your college’s liaison to the Office for Education Abroad, and (3) the associate director of the Office for Education Abroad.

As you develop your ideas, tap into the expertise of those around you, such as experienced program leaders, your departmental and college colleagues, area studies staff, and, of course, the Education Abroad team. Please let us know about your program idea and we can help connect you to people and resources.

Note that most successful program leaders start working on program development 18 to 24 months before taking students abroad.

Here are the topics you should address in your program sketch. Put to paper what you know at this point and don't worry about the details you haven't worked out yet. This step is to help you connect with resources to support your efforts.

WHAT: Student Learning

What learning outcomes do you want to achieve through the program (academic, cultural, personal and professional student development, etc.)?

What is the academic content of this course? What courses will be taught on-site (MSU courses or host institution courses)?

Do you intend to integrate community engagement, service learning, internships and/or field research for credit?

How will this study abroad program enhance the value of students' degrees?

WHO: Program Leadership and Participants

What, if any, experience and possible contacts do you have in the intended host region/country?

What is your level of proficiency in the host country language?

Which student population are you targeting (majors, class standing, etc.)?

WHERE: Location

How is the chosen location relevant to the stated learning goals? How does the academic content relate to the chosen country/location?

WHEN: Timing

How are the proposed timing and duration of the program conducive to achieving the stated learning outcomes?

WHY: Sustainability and Rationale

How do the program's learning goals support college/department strategies for education abroad?

Does the program contribute to your own and/or your department's research agenda?

What other MSU study abroad programs already exist in the region and in the proposed subject matter area?

Program Director Statement of Responsibility

Program Director Statement of Responsibility

The Statement of Responsibility for Faculty-Directed Education Abroad Program Directors outlines expectations for the role of program director and compiles previously dispersed items together into one comprehensive document. It is designed to support program directors by providing a chronological overview of activities associated with leading a program (pre-departure, on-site, and post-return). The Statement of Responsibility is best used as a companion document to Education Abroad’s Guiding Principles and the information you will find in the online Guide to MSU Education Abroad Programming. 

New Program Development Site Visit Grant (optional)

New Program Development Site Visit Grant (optional)

Site Visit Grants, offered by the Office for Education Abroad (EA), are available to MSU faculty and administrators in support of:

  • developing a new education abroad program;
  • enhancing an existing education abroad program; and/or
  • ensuring an existing program’s sustainability.

The grants provide partial funding for one traveler for a maximum of 10 days. EA provides funding for 50% of the estimated travel cost, up to a maximum $2,000 per site visit. The remaining travel expenses must be covered by the academic unit(s) that are expressing support of the proposed site visit.

Site Visit Grant applications are accepted year-round until all grants have been awarded (20 per year).

Application materials and process

To apply, applicants must submit the following three items.

  1. Narrative: 2-3 pages detailing the need for, objectives of, and expected outcomes of the site visit
  2. Budget: Proposed budget for the site visit
  3. Letter of Support: Letter from the sponsoring academic unit(s) that expressly confirms its commitment to support the proposed site visit by covering at least 50% of associated travel expenses (more if the total cost exceeds $4,000). This commitment must be expressed in actual dollar amounts.

To be considered, applications must be received at least one month prior to intended travel and include all three items to be considered. Every effort will be made to keep the turn-around time to no more than a week.

Application materials should be emailed to EA Executive Assistant to the Director or sent via campus mail to:

Dr. Inge Steglitz, Associate Director
Office for Education Abroad
427 N. Shaw Lane, Room 109
International Center

Feel free to contact Dr. Steglitz with any questions.

Faculty-Directed EA Program Innovation Fund

Faculty-Directed EA Program Innovation Fund


Michigan State University has a long history of successful faculty-directed education abroad programming dating back to the 1950s. In an era of Flat Rate Tuition implementation and increased pressure for students to complete their degree in four years, an opportunity exists for MSU to re-envision faculty-directed programming.

Through the new Faculty-Directed Education Abroad Program Innovation Fund, the Office for Education Abroad will provide up to $5,000 for faculty-directed programming that delivers high-quality experiences at affordable costs while facilitating students’ academic degree completion.

The funds will support the development of unique, new faculty-directed education abroad programs or the significant revision/redevelopment of existing faculty-directed programs. Travel to examine a site’s suitability for an innovative program, attendance at a relevant conference to explore creative ideas, implementation of new technologies, etc. will be considered appropriate uses of these funds.

Proposals will be accepted until August 1, 2022.

A maximum of five (5) program development grants will be awarded annually.

Contact the Executive Director of the Office for Education Abroad with questions.

Submitting a proposal

Submitting a proposal

Program proposals should include the following:

  • A narrative description of the proposed or revised program, with a focus on aspects that make the program unique and support students’ personal, professional and intercultural learning and development (maximum 500 words)
  • A budget for the intended activity (site visit, conference attendance, technology, etc.)
  • A brief description of how each item requested in the budget will facilitate program development
  • Letters of support from the sponsoring department’s chair and the college’s lead representative on the MSU Advisory Council on Education Abroad

Completed proposals must be emailed to the Assistant to the Executive Director of Education Abroad and clearly indicate that the application is for the Faculty-Directed Education Abroad Program Innovation Fund initiative.

The proposal deadline is August 1, 2022.

Review process

Review process

A committee with broad cross-college and cross-unit representation will review proposals and focus specifically on those that:

  • Offer new, innovative and exciting ideas for faculty-directed Education Abroad programming that relate directly to MSU’s Learning Design Strategy and the framework of Quality, Inclusivity and Connectivity
  • Foster cross-college and cross-unit collaboration
  • Explicitly address impact on students’ time-to-degree
  • Show potential to increase the number of traditionally underrepresented students participating in Education Abroad
  • Deliver high-quality programming in ways that minimize cost

The Role of EA Program Director

The Role of EA Program Director

In his article "The role of faculty study abroad directors: a case study" (Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, Vol. 15, Winter 2007, pp. 149-172), Goode concludes that education abroad directors, in addition to their familiar academic role, also take on responsibilities not usually encountered while teaching on campus. Examples of additional responsibilities are

  • planning program and travel logistics, including budgeting
  • serving as an (inter)cultural broker in order to help students engage with the host culture
  • dealing with student (mis)behavior, social life, homesickness, and group dynamics

As Steglitz, Roy and Akulli write, "(j)ust as most newly-minted faculty have not been trained as teaching and learning experts, so have many program directors not been trained in how to facilitate EA programs. EA program leadership vastly expands the traditional on-campus role(s) and teaching experience of prospective program directors. (…). Teaching and learning in EA take place in contexts with many variables that are not encountered in the traditional classroom. Program directors enter environments in which they engage students as whole beings (head, heart, and hands) and across their various ways of learning and being in the world--and do so more or less 24/7. In addition, within the EA context, learning occurs before, during, and after the on-site experience, taking place in settings ranging from curricular/academic to co-curricular and extracurricular/social." (Steglitz, I., Roy, P., and Akulli, A. (2017). Preparing Program Directors. In: L. Chieffo and C. Spaeth (Eds.) The Guide to Successful Short-term Programs Abroad (3rd edition). Washington, D.C.: NAFSA: Association of International Educators, pp. 273-286)