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UNC Faculty! Proposing a new FLSA

UNC Education Abroad encourages all academic departments to identify compelling education abroad options that can be integrated into their undergraduate majors and/or minors. We already offer hundreds of programs across all continents, and are happy to meet with departmental representatives to identify existing opportunities in a particular subject area.

When planning a UNC Abroad program, it is important to consider certain factors that will impact the success and sustainability of your course abroad.  As you conceptualize your ideal program, and think through the questions we've provided below, please keep the following guidelines in mind. They are intended to support students and faculty, in addition to the numerous campus units that are instrumental to a program’s success.

  • Investment: A significant amount of time and effort goes into an UNC faculty-led study abroad program, especially the first year of implementation.  As a result, we encourage faculty and their departments/colleges to design a program that will have a ‘lifespan’ of at least 3-5 years and that involves a department with 2-3 faculty program leaders who may rotate responsibilities over time. 
  • Self-Sustaining Programs: Beginning Summer 2022, a newly redesigned UNC faculty-led program model now places (fiscal and risk) management of these programs under the oversight of the Center for International Education. UNC Faculty-Led Programs must be self-sustaining and must generate enough revenue to cover the projected expenses of offering the program. If the program does not meet minimum enrollment as defined by the program budget, the program may be cancelled.

Getting Started

Thank you for exploring the possibility of leading a program abroad!

The information on this page was written to help potential faculty directors think through the planning and proposal process. If you don't know much about leading a program, we encourage you to read the information that follows and to talk to Education Abroad staff and colleagues who have led programs in the past.

If you’re wondering how study abroad can have such a profound and positive impact on student learning, read an inspiring article on 
The Seven Cardinal Virtues of Study Abroad.

Proposals for new programs are due approximately 14 months in advance (i.e. April 1st the year prior for summer programs, and October 1st the year prior for Interim programs), though most faculty start considering their curriculum and locations much earlier. We look forward to working with you during this early phase of your program, and throughout the steps involved in planning, pre-departure, while abroad and, reentry. To best understand who does what and when, we've provided A Typical Faculty-Led Program Timeline (Summer Programs) for you to download and reference during our work together.

Before you design your course, please refer to guidelines issued by the Forum on Education Abroad: Leading Short-Term Education Abroad Programs: Know the Standards. In addition, discuss your plan first with your department chairperson and dean to ensure that your proposal aligns with your department's/college's internationalization goals, as well as to determine if support funding is available.

Is leading a short-term international program right for you?

  • Are you adventurous, flexible, adaptable? Will you be able to maintain your composure and improvise if things don't go as planned? Remember that travel is full of unexpected events.
  • Do you enjoy spending time with students in a non-academic setting and helping them with non-academic matters? You may have to deal with homesickness, lost passports, conduct issues [excessive drinking, lateness], family emergencies, roommate or host family issues, and more.
  • Do you have a sense of humor? 
  • Are you a good organizer and bookkeeper? You will need to understand an academic budget (with our help), and stick to it. You may be entrusted with university funds and will have to properly account for how you spend them. At the same time, you will have to teach your course(s) and grade assignments.
  • Do you have the time (for preparation, program, and wrap-up)? Will other obligations permit you to recruit students, attend several pre-departure meetings, invest time in program planning, go abroad, and come home to submit an expense report? 

Where should you go?

Where in the world have you lived and traveled? Where might you feel comfortable leading a group of students? You should have a certain level of logistical expertise at your program site, and academic expertise will be necessary for sound and rigorous courses.

Which sites relate best to your discipline area? What sites might appeal to students? Remember that students may be less interested in the courses or area of study than they are in the site. Don't force a fit; the site and the course material should logically connect.

Where do you have professional contacts? Where does the university have an infrastructure or contacts? If you haven't traveled much and have few or no leads of your own, you may want to consider building on what UNC already has.

Where is the university under-represented geographically? Broadly-speaking, we are under-represented everywhere outside of Europe. We strongly encourage faculty with ties and expertise in other regions to develop new programs.

When should you go, summer or winter?

In addition to accounting for a 14-month planning timeline (see above for a typical timeline), departments should think carefully about how best to embed such a program into a major and/or minor in order to ensure healthy enrollments. Short-term programs can be offered either as a "freestanding" program during the summer or Interim terms, or as an "embedded" program during fall or spring semester (imagine a campus-based semester course with a May, January or Spring Break "travel lab").

Is your site more pleasant in winter or summer? Do you have other obligations during either term? Think about research, teaching, conferences, child care, family events. When can your host(s) best accommodate the group? Maybe they have other groups coming in January or June, or the locals are away on holiday during all or part of the month. 

Which course(s) should you offer? 

Do any of your usual course offerings lend themselves to being taught at a particular site? Think about what advantages the site lends to your course material. Try to choose a course that will allow you to get the students out of the classroom and incorporate things like attendance at performances, visits to companies or museums, city walkabouts, interviews, observations (data collection), interaction with locals, etc.

Will you be able to cover necessary course material abroad? Remember that, as a rule of thumb, a 3-credit course has 45 contact hours; courses abroad need to hold to similar standards. Although instruction abroad often takes place outside of the classroom, it is often not the case that each hour of a course-related excursion is as content-rich as each hour of traditional classroom instruction. Tours are meant to enhance instruction, not replace it. A rule of thumb is that two hours of out-of-class instruction count as one hour of traditional instruction. However this will necessarily depend on the nature of the excursion and the individual who delivers the content. For example a superficial museum tour typically booked by tourist groups cannot be considered the academic equivalent of an in-depth lecture given especially to your students by a local art historian.

Should the program be co-sponsored (one course taught by a co-leader from a different academic department)? Think about which disciplines go well together. Is there a colleague in another department with whom you might like to teach and travel? Co-sponsored arrangements work best when both faculty recruit from different pools of students (for example Engineering and Business) and when they are equally committed to the program.

Try to choose courses that fulfill requirements for your target audience - such as degree requirements, major/minor requirements, and/or the LAC International Studies requirement.

Who is your target audience and how will you recruit them?

Is the program relevant only to a specific major or other group? If so, can the program attract enough students from this group to remain solvent over time? Can you target feeder courses?

Is the program targeted to too wide an audience? If the program appeals to everyone but is not targeted at any specific group, then where do you recruit? You have to rely on the attractiveness of the site.

How will you recruit? We will post your program on our website, advertise your interest meetings, and can produce a flyer if necessary. We highly recommend that you e-mail students in target majors and/or target courses. Classroom visits can also be very effective. If colleagues don't permit class visits, ask them if they would be willing to distribute handouts and mention the program to their students. 

Where should you go for excursions?

Most excursions should be directly related to your academic courses; others should focus on the history or culture of the host site. Activities that are essentially tourism or that have nothing more than recreational value should not be included in the official itinerary; students may choose to engage in such activities during their free time and with their own funds.

What excursions make sense from an academic standpoint? One of the reasons for your program is to enable them to engage in learning that they would not likely be exposed to if they went abroad themselves as tourists. Giving students a more authentic experience, with as much in-depth contact with the host culture and environment as possible, will provide a more fulfilling, memorable, and educational program.

Consider distance, time, and expense. Is this excursion going to be worth the time and money? Is it relevant enough to the program's core component -- the courses --that it's worth the investment of limited resources (time and money)? What would you gain if you didn't visit a particular site? (A lower program fee? More free time? A slower-paced program?) What would you gain if you did go?

What is the ideal group size?

Enrollment is an important consideration: a program with a single faculty leader must enroll a minimum of 10 students; a co-led program should enroll a minimum of 16 students.

How many students can your host site handle (housing, site visits, buses)? Can you trek through the wilderness (or stroll through a museum or visit a local school) with 25 students? With 30?

How many students can your courses handle? Think about time for discussion, presentations, field work, and access to facilities. What are the typical enrollment limits for such a course on campus? How might this need to be changed abroad?

How many students can you handle? This answer will be determined in part by your level of comfort with the host site, your support system at the host site, and your ability to handle multiple students' problems.

Which program model works best for your site and courses?

In keeping with best practices, we recommend that faculty design programs around one (or perhaps two) primary location(s) which are closely linked to the program's academic content, with short, class-related excursions originating from those locations as necessary. Programs which involve multiple in-country or intra-country flights and/or long bus rides are often more expensive than more stationary programs and do not grant students the same opportunities to become well-acquainted with a particular site and its inhabitants. In addition, extensive travel increases the risk of serious disruptions in the program itinerary (for example due to weather or strikes), as well as unduly complicates the management of student crises (because the group must be prepared to move on to the next location). If it is safe to do so, faculty directors may build a small number of free days into their program itinerary (typically 2-3) during which students and faculty may choose to travel on their own and at their own expense if they wish.

Can everyone afford it - faculty, students, UNC?

Will the program fee be reasonable? Students on UNC's programs pay tuition and a program fee which will differ from program to program (consisting of airfare, housing, excursions, meals, ground transportation, insurance, site-specific fees, etc.). You have no control over tuition, nor do you have much control over costs at your host site, but keep in mind that many of the choices you make about your program will impact the program fee. For example, extra travel (particularly intra-country flights) increases program costs. Not including meals or local ground transportation (subway pass) in the program fee will help keep the fee low, but students may not appreciate paying these "hidden costs" in addition to the program fee.

How do I submit a proposal?