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Starting a Program Abroad

The University of Georgia and the Office of International Education (OIE) have over 50 years’ experience with faculty-led study abroad programs. OIE engages with academic units and faculty on campus to maintain existing programs and create new ones, in keeping with the experiential learning mission of the university. Our programs are governed by consistent guidelines, policies and procedures that ensure academic rigor, fiduciary responsibility, and judicious risk management. Faculty directors are expected to take a hands-on approach with budgeting as well as instruction. As a customer-service oriented unit, OIE offers regularly-scheduled workshops and individual assistance in all of these areas with the goal of helping faculty and students achieve optimal success.

Proposing a new program is a process requiring the involvement of the Office of International Education, relevant department administration/staff, the Office of Curriculum Systems, and the Dean(s) of the appropriate college(s). The Office of International Education has created an online portal in order to streamline the process. To allow sufficient planning time for a new study abroad program, it is best to start the process at least 18 months prior to the estimated program departure date.

For additional information on running a program, please consult the UGA Study Abroad Program Director's Manual (PDF).

Step 1:

Before following the steps outlined below, faculty who wish to start a new UGA Study Abroad Program should schedule an appointment with Dr. Yana Cornish, Director of Education Abroad, in the Office of International Education. The purpose of this meeting is to: 
  • Discuss rationale for the program and its benefits to the academic unit and the University.
  • Evaluate the viability of the proposed program and how it will fit among existing program offerings at UGA
  • Discuss the academic and financial management of the proposed program.
  • Discuss the long-term sustainability of the program, and how transitions will be handled if the person proposing the program should ever decide to step down as director.
  • Discuss safety and stability of the area in which the proposed program will be located. Please consult the Travel Warnings and Country-Specific Information Section of the State Department website for more information in advance of the meeting.
  • Prior to the meeting, please complete a brief Background Information Form online (available here).
  • Prior to the meeting please review the UGA Credit Hour Policy and performance expectations for UGA program directors, faculty and staff. 
  • If a program is planning to employ local faculty as instructors of record, the program director may want to become familiar with the UGA Instructor of Record Credentialing process.

Step 2:

Program Director(s) or designee work with their college and department administration/staff to secure unit approval for the proposed program.  Unit's approval should be documented using the New Study Abroad Program Proposal Supporting Signatures Form. The form is available online and within the New Study Abroad Program Proposal Portal.  The completed version of the Form will need to be uploaded into the Portal by the program director as a part of the overall application.  Academic unit approval format may vary by college/department, but the information submitted by the program director to the unit should include the following:  
  1. Program Director(s) should compile a proposal narrative, addressing the following aspects:
    1. Program Rationale
    2. Program Leadership Details
    3. General Program Information
    4. Academic Course Information
      • Please note that students are attracted to programs with clearly defined instructional expectations and syllabi. “Directed Readings” courses are strongly discouraged. Instead, Directors should consider offering existing departmental courses or creating new courses designed specifically for the study abroad program.
    5. Financial Information, utilizing the Budget Template
    6. Travel Itinerary, Facilities, and Housing/Meals Details
    7. Health and Safety/Risk Management:
      1. Pre-departure Orientation Plans
      2. Consular/Emergency Service Information
  2. All proposals must be discussed in a faculty meeting and then voted on by a quorum of the faculty, preferably using secret ballots. The Unit Head or Director will then complete the section in the New Study Abroad Program Proposal Supporting Signatures Form indicating the date of the faculty meeting at which the proposal was discussed, and the tally of the votes (approve/not approve).
  3. The proposal should undergo one more review and approval by a college-level Study Abroad Committee (or college-level committees in the case of interdisciplinary programs). This can be a standing or an ad hoc committee. Results of the review should be recorded on the New Study Abroad Program Proposal Supporting Signatures Form by the Committee Chair or the Unit Head/Director.
  4. The unit Head or Director will then send the proposal and the New Study Abroad Program Proposal Supporting Signatures Form to the respective Dean or Associate/Assistant Dean with a cover letter for approval.  Interdisciplinary programs that involve multiple academic units must follow this process in all of the units associated with the program. 

Step 3:

Upon Academic Unit's approval, the Program Director(s) or designee submit the following information to OIE via the GoAbroad Portal: the completed New Study Abroad Program Proposal Supporting Signatures Form, a rationale for the program, a completed budget spreadsheet using the Budget Template and Instructions, completed academic course template, program itinerary, and questionnaires. All submissions to the portal will be reviewed and processed as they are received.

Step 4:

Once your New Program Proposal has been submitted into the Portal, it will be reviewed by the Office of International Education, the Office of Curriculum Systems, your Unit Head/Director of your department, and the Dean of the appropriate college(s). The review process will include a review of your proposed coursework, your program rationale, your proposed financial details, your proposed logistical arrangements, and your risk management plans. Each party will need to give their approval of your proposal. OIE will indicate final approval of your program by sending a letter to you, your Unit Head/Director, and the Dean of your college and other colleges in case of interdisciplinary programs.

Step 5:

If during the course of the planned program, students will not always be accompanied by a UGA faculty member, an International Cooperative Agreement must be signed by a responsible party. Please click here or contact the OIE International Partnerships Unit for more details. 

Step 6:

Anyone traveling from UGA in a position of authority (i.e. faculty/staff/teaching assistants) will be required by the Office of International Education to attend a Risk Management training, which is offered twice per semester by OIE.  Additionally, program directors will need to join the FACSA-L listserv - a communication mechanism through which OIE shares information with those involved in education abroad programs, as well as become familiar with critical policies and procedures that govern education abroad at UGA.  

Step 7:

In preparation for student recruitment, program director(s) will need to work with OIE to establish a program's website within the GoAbroad Portal to allow students to learn about the opportunity, ask questions, and apply. Program directors will be given administrative access to manage their program page along with student enrollments in the Portal.  Training will be provided by OIE staff.  Additionally, exhibiting the program at the annual Education Abroad Fair conducted by OIE is not required, but strongly encouraged.  

Step 8:

Faculty or staff traveling with the program need to sign the Program Staff Expectations Agreement. Also, all faculty and staff who will be directly associated with the Program while it is operational should be issued a letter of offer, using the standard template.
 
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