The Proposal

Writing the Proposal is the key to a successful program

What Do I need to include?

Creating the program or course proposal is mostly a matter of generating relevant questions specific to your situation and then answering them.  Here we try to deal with general questions that are relevant to most if not all faculty-led study abroad programs.

Basically, you wish to craft a compelling program rationale that articulates the educational value and transformative impact of the study abroad program and align it with other university goals an strategic initiatives.

One key to a successsful program is choosing a destination that students will be interested in!

How many students?

Generally, the number of students is dependent on what you plan on doing.  Your entire budget will come from the students, so the more you have the larger the budget.  But too many students might be too much to handle overseas.  General rule is to have at least 10 students and less than 30.

What about the faculty?

Each faculty-led study abroad program must have two faculty or at least one faculty member and a staff member. At least one of the faculty must have the requisite skills necessary to deal with the issues at the destination (i.e., the language or thorough understanding of the culture). Sometimes faculty in the host country can be used especially if there is a partner institution involved. Guest speakers are also a nice addition

What type of course is it?

There are many questions surrounding the course.  Look at the list to the right. The wider the appeal, the most likely the course will make. Esoteric courses should be add-ons; perhaps independent studies for certain students. When developing the course, you have to consider how you will market it.  

Make sure that somewhere in your proposal you provide details for the pre-trip orientation sessions you will have. You need to get the students acclimated to the new culture as soon as possible

Remember that this experience is a learning opportunity for you as well for the students. Embrace it, enjoy it, and get the most of it.  If you get more out of it, the students will as well!


The syllabus for a study abroad course includes everything that any syllabus includes — and much more. You need to be as specific as possible with regard to dates, times and relevancy of excursions, but you also must build in flexibility. The learning outcomes must indicate why the course MUST be taught overseas. Timing of the assignments is crucial — students must be able to finish them but not spend all their time in a hotel room studying. Simply put, the syllabus is your master plan and your course will live or die on how well it is crafted. Don’t hesitate to ask for help!


You must determine the best time of year to take the trip. You can go any semester, but summer or December are your two best times. The duration (one, two, three weeks) is also crucial in terms of who will be able to attend. Does the trip conflict with sporting events (i.e., the Derby)? Also, be aware of holidays and other scheduled events in the host country. And check to make sure there are no other study abroad programs competing with you.  Think collaboration and interdiscipine if you encounter others wanting to do a similar trip.


Be sure to stress why you chose the destination you chose and tell why you chose it. You must have some familiarilty with it. It must be a destination that will be interesting to students. All roads lead to you, so you must know about the lanugage, laws, customs, medical facilities, dangers, and everything else. Seek out local contacts or institutions.  They can be of trememdous assistance in all phases of your trip


Be honest with yourself.  Think through why you are doing this. There can be many reasons, but you must be a firm believer in the program if you are to convince the powers-that-be it is a good idea. It will enhance your resume, which is a decent reason, and it will give students a global perspective, another good reason. It will improve your instruction abilities.  It may contribute to your research program. You might improve your language skills.  So there are many possible reasons for doing the trip. Grasp ahold of a few and be determined.

Putting it all together

To make your program work you must have a certain set of attributes that are inherent.  Most of you have them, and if you don’t then then you can work on them. First and foremost, you must like working with students outside the classroom. You will spend a great deal of time in non-teaching mode, so be ready for it. The other essential characteristic is that you want to provide students with an educational experience they cannot get on campus or anywhere else excpet for in your course. The trip is a perfect merging of learning, experience, fun, entertainment, and travel.