Creating Study Abroad Courses

A Step-by-Step Guide to Developing a Study Abroad Program

Creating a short-term, faculty-led program can be daunting. Even if you are familiar with the country, transporting a group of students there and being responsible for their well-being and education can be intimidating. In order to help you through this process, we’ve created a step-by-step process to help develop short-term study abroad programs and lead them successfully.

  1. Develop the Curriculum
  2. Develop the Program Itinerary and Budget
  3. Submit the Program Information to the Office of Education Abroad
  4. Begin Marketing the Course
  5. List the Course in SIS and Register Students
  6. Coordinate Program Fees and Finances
  7. Attend a Faculty Risk Management Training

Step 1: Develop the Curriculum

The goal of global education is to help participants engage in their learning within the context of the culture they will be in while abroad. Programs should be developed to enhance on-campus curricular offerings, not duplicate them. Programs should have the same rigor and viability as on-campus courses and offer content that is appealing and interesting enough to students to get them to consider participating in it. Courses should be created with specific goals and objectives that can only be met in the other country.

We do not recommend that you choose a program location you are not familiar with yourself. Students will expect you to have a high level of expertise and integrity of the places you visit. Being familiar with your destination’s terrain and customs is essential in keeping your group organized and affords you the ability to offer a quality academic experience. The exception to this is when you are partnering with a local institution which will provide the expertise in the culture that the students expect.

After the program is created, it will need to be submitted to your department’s or school’s curriculum committee for approval. Since each department has a different method of approving courses, you will need to get approval procedures from your department head. We cannot advertise a course until it has been approved by the school.

Step 2: Develop the Program Itinerary and Budget

Once the course itself is approved (or while it is in the process of being approved), it is time to decide when to offer the course, what the itinerary will be, and what the budget will look like. Common times to offer a short-term faculty led course are summer, winter break, or spring break. The advantage to winter break and spring break courses is that the student tuition is folded into the normal semester tuition. The advantage to summer courses is that tuition is half price and faculty-led courses can be longer than 10-14 days.

Program activities should relate to your discipline as well as to the program’s course content. Purely “fun” activities that have no connection to program and course content should be kept to a minimum. In the same spirit, participants should not spend excessive time on buses, planes and trains with the majority of their experience used up trying to get to the “next place.” Also, an abundance of in-country travel can increase program expenses.

Venture beyond the touristy activities to give your students the ability to absorb their new surroundings and relate them to what they are studying. The more you can help your students understand that your program is not a “tour,” “vacation” or “trip,” the better it will be for you in terms of how they may be inclined to behave.

Faculty often partner with someone in the host country to help plan and later organize activities. If you know of someone in-country who would be willing to help, use their expertise.

Once the itinerary is set, it is time to develop a budget. We offer a basic budget worksheet for you to use. Determine what your minimum number of student participants is before starting the worksheet. You should budget as if only the minimum number of students are participating. If more than that number decide to participate, you have some options to add activities, provide an additional meal or keep the extra money for a seed fund for your next education abroad program.

One thing to remember is that faculty are responsible for organizing activities, accommodations and any other required part of the program. This can take up a considerable amount of time, often without direct compensation. While organizing everything yourself is definitely the most economical option for the students, it is not always the most practical for the faculty member.

One option is to outsource the logistical planning. We’ve provided a list of partners who can help with the logistics of organizing a program. Please note that each of the partners will charge a fee which should be worked into the budget.

The Office of Procurement requires that faculty complete W-8-BENE and W-8BEN tax forms as well as the Supplier Form. Faculty need to collect this information from foreign venders, and this usually takes multiple weeks. Both of these forms have extensive instructions on them. If the faculty member or the vendor have any questions, the faculty member should contact Peggy Reda in the Office of Procurement at

The following list includes partners of Case Western Reserve University. Each type offers a different level of service and logistical planning. For more assistance in choosing a partner to support your planning, please contact our office at or stop by the Center for International Affairs in Tomlinson Hall, Room 143.

University Partners: One option is to partner with another department or university that is planning a similar or complementary program to the same location. You can share logistical responsibilities, student numbers (which can help lower costs) and in-country resources.

Travel Agents: Often charge a per-student fee. Most are not always experienced in planning for students, but can arrange flights and hotel stays.

Study Abroad Program Providers: Charge a program fee for all services, excluding tuition. This is a comprehensive solution to logistics. Providers have resources in country who can arrange all lodging, meals, attractions, and excursions. Support is provided in-country, and the faculty just has to think about curriculum. The negative about providers is that it raises the costs for the students.

If you would like to explore any of these options directly, contact our office and we will provide you with more information.

Step 3: Submit the Program Information to the Office of Education Abroad

Once you develop your course and get it approved through the proper university channels, it is time to submit the course to the Office of Education Abroad so we can upload the information into the study abroad application system and begin assisting you with the course.

Steps to take:

  1. Fill out the Program Information Form (a fillable PDF)
  2. Download and sign the Program Agreement Form (a Google doc)
  3. Receive the signatures of your department chair and dean 
  4. Submit these documents plus any other relevant documents (syllabi, full itinerary, marketing photos, etc.) to the Office of Education Abroad via email or direct upload.

From this point on, we’ll work with you closely to make your course successful. Forms are due:

Study Abroad Term: Deadline:
Winter Break March 15
Spring Break and Spring (May Abroad) August 1
May Term and Summer October 15

Step 4: Begin Marketing the Course

Marketing your study abroad course is often intimidating and frustrating, but it is the single-most important aspect in getting enough students to register for your program. While we will market all of the study abroad programs, only you can effectively push your course independent of other programs. The following are some marketing ideas to help you get started.

  • Create a website for the course: Students want to be able to go to a website to get more information. We will gladly link to this website, but the more information that you have for the students online, the better.
  • Create a flier or pamphlet or both: It takes a person an average of three times to see something before they notice it, and they have to see it many more times to actually pay attention. While fliers and pamphlets are not the only marketing tools you should use, they are effective in getting students to notice the course. Make sure you send your flier/pamphlet to the Office of Education Abroad so we put it in our information area.
  • Talk the course up in your classes and in your colleagues’ classes: Promote your course to as many individual students and classes as you can. Ask your fellow faculty members to talk up your course as well.
  • Attend the study abroad fair and short term expos and create an attractive table: Study abroad fairs provide you with the opportunity to learn about other programs and promote your own. Students who go to the fairs are interested in going abroad, so this is a good venue to promote your course
  • Send emails: While it is never good to send out a lot of promotional emails, sending a few doesn’t hurt. Ask your department chair or dean if he or she would be willing to send an email about your course to all of the students in your department or school.
  • Submit to the daily: Write a short article about your program and send it to the Office of Education Abroad to submit to the daily.

Marketing Statement

For information about all study abroad programs offered through and approved by Case Western Reserve University, contact the Office of Education Abroad at or 216.368.2517, or visit the Office of Education Abroad website.

Step 5: List the Course in SIS and Register Students

Once your application has been created in the study abroad system, you will need to submit your course to be listed in the appropriate semester in the Student Information System (SIS). Study abroad courses are sent to the Office of the Registrar in the same way all other courses are submitted. The only difference is that you want to make sure students have your permission before they register for the course. Therefore, you want registration blocked for all students unless they get permission from you. Once the student has completed the application and been accepted to the program, you will be able to give them permission to register.

Step 6: Coordinate Program Fees and Finances

For all study abroad courses, faculty turn into the Office of Education Abroad a Faculty-led Program Information Form (step 3 above). This form requires the following financial elements (in addition to a budget sheet detailing these costs):

  1. The amount the students will pay as their study abroad "program fee"
  2. The account number where the student program fees will be kept or journaled to
  3. The name of an individual in their department who will pay invoices and make reimbursements for the program

All study abroad courses also require at least a $200 non-refundable deposit that is paid to the Office of Education Abroad and journaled back to the department.

For semester study abroad courses (winter break, spring break, or spring may abroad), students pay their study abroad program fee as a course fee in SIS upon registration, and the funds are moved into the account number given on the program information form almost immediately. Reimbursements and invoices for the study abroad program are paid out of that account.

For summer study abroad courses (may term, summer I, or summer II), students pay their study abroad program fee directly to the Office of Education Abroad by at least March 30th. After the program fee due date, the Office of Education Abroad journals these funds and the student deposits back to the department to pay invoices and make reimbursements to fund the study abroad program.

When a department is paying study abroad invoices and reimbursements, note that these cannot be paid until the funds are in the department's account to stay.

Step 7: Attend a Faculty Risk Management Workshop

A top priority is to ensure that faculty and students are safe on all CWRU study abroad programs. As a faculty director taking students abroad, it is important to know how to minimize risks, manage crisis, and keep students safe. To that end, the Office of Education Abroad offers Risk Management trainings for faculty directors and individuals in a leadership or assistantship role on any CWRU study abroad program. Email for more information.