(photo of faculty led program – ideally with a faculty member)

Leading a course abroad can be one of the most rewarding faculty experiences of your career. Witnessing experiential learning with students abroad brings many faculty members back to the leader process time and again throughout their career. Here are some basic details on leading a course abroad.

  • What is a faculty-led program?
  • Steps to creating a program
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Health and Safety Abroad


  • A Faculty-led Study Abroad Program is a course or activity organized by one or more OSU faculty members, or between an OSU faculty member and faculty at another university, who serve as instructors of record for a course or courses conducted away from the Stillwater campus, usually outside the United States but not always. This includes service learning programs as well (i.e. Engineers Without Borders, Student Teaching, CHS Clinic Volunteering in Uganda, etc.)
  • All OSU faculty-led study abroad programs are coordinated by the faculty member’s College Outreach Office. Any program involving students and conducted under the auspices of OSU must have the approval of the department chair(s), dean(s) and are subject to review and the approval of the Associate Vice President for International Studies and Outreach.
  • Due to student safety, academic rigor, and institutional liability considerations, all faculty-led programs (including on-campus courses with mandatory or optional integrated travel components) are subject to:
    • The OSU Policy for International Travel (for programs traveling outside the U.S.)
    • All university-wide, study abroad policies and procedures which are established through a collaboration between the Study Abroad/NSE Office, International Studies and Outreach, and the Office of Risk Management.
    • Individual college policies and procedures for programs that include student involvement and travel, including how faculty will be compensated for each course.
  • All participants accepted for an OSU faculty-led program must be registered with the Study Abroad Office through the online program portal. This includes any students traveling with faculty members for non-credit bearing activities (research, conference presentation, etc.).

    Note: Study Abroad is an academically rigorous program designed to allow students the opportunity to gain skills and experiences not found in Stillwater. Student participation is dependent on students having the ability to plan to participate, to apply for scholarships, and to discuss options with their academic advisors, parents/families, and other key individuals. Programs organized at the last minute are never in the best interest of the students and create unnecessary stress for the faculty leader and staff involved. We advise at a minimum planning your program at least one year prior to departure, if not longer.

    1. Contact your Study Abroad Coordinator in your college’s Outreach Office to determine internal processes for creating and requesting program approval. Consider these topics in preparation for that meeting:
      1. Academic content: What is the curriculum? What are the learning outcomes to be measured? How many credits will students receive for this course?
      2. Location: Does OSU have a partner institution to help host the program? Do you have experience in the desired location or do you need to work with a program provider to handle all logistics so that you can focus on the students and academic components? Do you need to conduct a pre-visit prior to students studying at that location?
      3. Resources: Is there time to plan? How many days will the program be overseas? What is the target student population for the course? Is this a sustainable course (often preferred) or a one-time-only offering?
    2. Review all university study abroad policies at: www.studyabroad.okstate.edu
    3. Contact the Study Abroad Office for any questions beyond those addressed by your college outreach office.


    The Faculty Leader’s role extends far beyond the role for a course taught on campus. OSU expects Faculty Leaders to assume greater responsibility when accompanied by students abroad. For this reason, many faculty members prefer to work with a program provider to handle in country logistics and liability concerns. OSU already works with many high quality program providers. Contact the Study Abroad Office for more information.

    A Faculty Leader abroad can assume some or all of the following roles, depending on the particular course:

    • Instructor
    • Country expert
    • Academic Advisor
    • Excursion Coordinator
    • Substitute Parent
    • Counselor
    • Disciplinarian
    • Crisis Manager
    • Diplomat
    • Travel Guide
    • Budget Manager
    • Mentor
    • Role Model

    Again, early planning and working with a partner university and/or program provider can relieve faculty of some of these roles and make the experience more meaningful.


    It cannot be stressed enough that health and safety abroad is a critical role not normally assumed by faculty in an on-campus course. The safety, health and general well-being of the University’s students and faculty must be given the highest consideration during overseas study and travel. This cannot be overstated and should be foremost on the faculty member’s agenda in the planning stages of the program. Please keep in the mind the following:

    • Oklahoma State University adheres to the recommendations provided by the U.S. Department of State through its Consular Information Sheets, Public Announcements and Travel Warnings. The University will not approve programs in locations that are under a U.S. State Department warning. Exceptions to this policy are considered on a program-by-program basis.
    • The Study Abroad Office has fostered the development of travel policies and procedures in accordance with the Forum on Education Abroad’s Standards of Good Practice and guidelines recommended by the Health and Safety Taskforce of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. All faculty leaders should become familiar with the Policy Regarding Student Study and Travel Abroad at Oklahoma State University and the OSU Emergency Response Guidelines.
    • The Study Abroad Office works with each Outreach Office and individual faculty leaders to provide them with training for their expanded role that includes risk management.
    • All students travelling outside the U.S. on a university affiliated activity (including independent internships and other academic related activities) are expected to be registered with the Study Abroad Office and have adequate overseas health insurance, including emergency medical evacuation and repatriation of remains coverage.