Program development process



Developing a new education abroad program is relatively straightforward, but it can often be a lengthy process that requires much preparation. It is important to get started early and work closely with the various stakeholders on your campus.

Start with the international programs office at your institution.  It is important to first familiarize yourself with the various protocols, regulations, and support that is in place for faculty-directed programs before speaking with your home academic department.  Acknowledge the international goals and directions of your home department and how an education abroad program can complement the existing curriculum.


         Keep in Mind:

  1. Many institutions offer financial assistance with program development, including international site visit grants.
  2. Programs that are developed and designed with input from the academic department are more likely to remain viable over time.



Most institutions will require a formal proposal development and review process. Such proposals generally require a description of the program, a statement of program objectives, proposed dates, information on the academic program, program activities, logistical arrangements, student requirements, and more.

Remember the foundation of every education abroad program is an emphasis on student learning. As opposed to course objectives which outline the subject matter that the faculty member intends to teach, a student learning outcome describes the abilities or knowledge the student should possess upon successful completion of the education abroad program, of which courses are one aspect of the total learning. All education abroad programs must have clearly articulated learning outcomes, along with strategies for achieving and measuring those outcomes.


         Keep in Mind:

  1. Offer credit-bearing courses that are attractive to students and fulfill major-specific course credit.
  2. Consider how your program will appeal to students that are traditionally underrepresented in education abroad programming at your institution.
  3. Consider adding a Spanish language component to your program, whether as a regular credit-bearing course or simple survival Spanish tutorials.



Once you have a basic program proposal drafted, IEA can assist you in the program development process.  IEA can help you to further develop the proposal and build out the program for internal review and approval.  We can simply start with an initial call to get started. Once we have a better sense of what services and support you need, we’ll develop a full program proposal with cost, dates, and so on.


         Keep in Mind:

  1. Let IEA assist you with arrange housing for you and your students, organize co-curricular learning activities, and provide comprehensive student orientation support.
  2. Most institutions also require an independent curriculum committee to review the academic course(s) that are to be taught abroad.
  3. If your institution does not work directly with international providers, our US-based partner is Sol Education Abroad. For more information, contact



Once your program has been approved, IEA will work closely with your education abroad office to develop a program contract that specifies the terms of agreement and protocols for communication and enrollment management.  Your home institution will generally have an application and enrollment management system in place and protocols to promote the program.


         Keep in Mind:

  1. When developing your program, consider how you will encourage pre-departure, while abroad, and post-program learning. How will students continue to build on their learning once they’ve returned to campus?
  2. How will you assess students learning? Consider conducting a pre- and post-test study of student learning and change over time.