Leading a Study Abroad Course

A Step-by-Step Guide for Faculty

The Office of Education Abroad works closely with faculty to develop and implement credit-bearing study abroad courses for CWRU students. Creating a new short-term, faculty-led program is both rewarding and time-intensive. Even if you are familiar with the country, transporting a group of students abroad and being responsible for their well-being and learning can be intimidating. In order to help you successfully navigate this process, the Office of Education Abroad has created a step-by-step process to help faculty develop short-term study abroad programs and lead them successfully. Reach out to Valerie Rambin, Assistant Director of Education Abroad, with questions.

  1. Create the Course - Submit Course Action and Intent to Lead Forms
  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: Create the Course

Global education helps participants engage in learning within the context of the culture they will be in while abroad. Programs should enhance on-campus curricular offerings with the same rigor and viability, but with specific goals and objectives that can only be met in the other country.

Faculty are encouraged to choose a program location with which they are familiar. Students will expect a high level of expertise in the locations, and being familiar with the destination will mitigate risks while allowing more energy to be dedicated to the academic experience. 

When to offer the course? What will the itinerary be? Consider partnering with an organization to help plan and organize activities. Program activities should relate to the program’s course content, but do venture beyond typical touristy activities to give students the ability to absorb their new surroundings and relate them to what they are studying. Purely “fun” or tourist activities should be kept to a minimum and participants should not spend excessive time on buses, planes, and trains. Faculty-led study abroad courses must adhere to CWRU course governance, including credit and contact hour definitions, as approved by the Faculty Senate. Student attendance at all course meetings is critical to meet the number of contact hours required between time abroad and meetings on campus.

After the course is developed and approved by the department chair and dean, faculty will submit a/an 1) Course Action Form via their department’s or school’s regular procedures and 2) Intent to Lead Form to the Office of Education Abroad.

Step 2: Develop the Program Itinerary and Budget

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 or W-8BEN tax form, as well as the Supplier Information Form. Faculty need to collect this information from foreign vendors early in the course development process. Both of these forms have extensive instructions on them. If the faculty member or the vendor have any questions, the faculty member should contact the Office of Procurement at customercareteam-pds@case.edu.

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 reach out to Valerie Rambin, Assistant Director of Education Abroad, for support.

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. CWRU regularly works with two local travel agencies for air travel and group travel.

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 Proposal Form and receive the signatures of your department chair and dean 
  2. Review and sign the Faculty Roles and Responsibilities Form
  3. Complete the Program Budget
  4. Submit these documents plus any other relevant materials (syllabi, full itinerary, marketing photos, etc.) to Valerie Rambin, Assistant Director of Education Abroad

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

Study Abroad Term: Deadline:
Winter Break April 1
Spring Break and Spring (May Abroad) August 1
May Term and Summer November 1

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 studyabroad@case.edu 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 $250 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 or Summer term), 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 leaders and individuals in a leadership or assistantship role on any CWRU study abroad program. Reach out to Valerie Rambin for more information.