Study Abroad

Program director job description

  • The job of program director is multi-faceted, intensive, challenging and highly rewarding.
  • Leading a program provides unique opportunities for personal and professional growth through teaching outside the classroom and interacting with students on a new level.
  • This page provides prospective program directors with a sense of what the job entails.
  • If you have more questions feel free to contact any member of the Faculty-led team.

Proposing a program

  • Discuss your program idea with your department chair.
  • Consider the feasibility of your program idea, including student interest, in-country contacts, departmental support, potential overlap with existing programs and academic content.
  • Consult with UW Study Abroad to discuss your idea and work on your proposal/renewal, budget and timeline.
  • Develop a preliminary program spending plan using the online Spending Plan Tool. This planning tool will help outline the costs associated with program activities. It will ultimately help identify the program fee and the number of students needed for the program to be sustainable.
  • Contact in-country vendors to get accurate price quotes for the services you will require.
  • Design the program curriculum.
  • Submit your proposal to UW Study Abroad using the online Proposal Tool by the posted deadlines.
  • The Proposal Tool can be accessed via the Proposing a Program page. For more information on using the Spending Plan Tool, see the Creating a Spending Plan page.

Planning activities and budget

  • Work with a UW Study Abroad program manager to further develop your spending plan, identify your ideal number of participants, and set the program’s estimated program fee.

Student recruitment and applications


  • Learn how to use the study abroad online application system.
  • Develop program marketing materials, including a brochure, poster and/or website to advertise your program with the UW community. Marketing materials should include a program and site description, summary of the academic content of the program, the program fee and any prerequisites, requirements or expectations for participation in the program.
  • UW Study Abroad will create a program specific page on this website. Students will use the website to apply to the program.
  • Actively recruit applicants for your program using posters, flyers, info sessions, classroom visits, former participants, student organizations, online networking sites, etc.
  • Due to the high volume of programs that we administer, the marketing and recruitment for your program will be largely your responsibility.

Student applications

  • Review your applicant selection criteria.
  • Review your applications using the study abroad online application system.
  • Interview your applicants to get to know them, to answer their questions, and to determine if they are a good fit for the program.
  • Using the study abroad online application system, inform students of their admission decision. Student contracts are generated and distributed by UW Study Abroad.
  • Finalize student roster via the study abroad online application system. Minimum enrollment needed to run is confirmed when all payment contracts are received in UW Study Abroad.

Preparing to depart

  • Develop course and program syllabi to inform students of course activities and requirements, communicate how students will be evaluated and graded. Communicate your academic and behavioral expectations.
  • Develop a program calendar of your in-country course-related and extracurricular activities.
  • Order any required books or course materials needed for the program.
  • Attend Program Director Workshops annually.
  • Ensure you have a valid passport and visa (if necessary) to travel outside of the U.S. Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the end of the program.

Program logistics, budget and advance payments

  • You must be in good standing with Financial Services and eligible to take out a field advance. If you have an outstanding field advance, you will not be able to take out another.
  • Finalize program logistics: verify reservations, negotiate final prices and secure resources (instructors, guests, classroom, housing, food, tickets, transportation, activities, etc.).
  • Finalize program spending plan and make any needed adjustments based on enrollment, final logistics, etc.
  • Arrange for any advance payments or deposits. Collect invoices from vendors and forward to UW Study Abroad to process payments.
  • Arrange travel for yourself and other program staff. Make a flight reservation with a travel agency and instruct them to contact UW Study Abroad for payment. Make sure that you receive a finalized ticket from the travel agency.
  • Maintain regular contact with UW Study Abroad staff, remain available via email, phone or Skype.

Orient students

  • Plan at least three required in-person student orientations during the quarter prior to travel to go over program details, course requirements and preparations, travel planning, health and safety, etc.
  • Start to build a collaborative group dynamic and learning community among students.
  • Consult the Orientating Students site for Program Directors and cover all the topics as they relate to your program site.
  • Develop and communicate the arrival plan to your student. Where and when should they meet the group, how do they get to the meeting place, and who they should contact in case they are not able to arrive on time (e.g. missed flight connection).
  • Maintain regular contact with students to answer individual questions or communicate any changes to the program or arrival plan. Make sure they know how to contact all program directors and staff.

Final preparations

  • Provide emergency contact information to UW Study Abroad for the duration of your program. Submit this information before your departure.
  • Schedule a field advance meeting with the UW Study Abroad Finance & Administration Team to request your field advance and review management of program funds.
  • Register the trip with the U.S. State Department.

In the field

  • Confirm safe arrival of all program participants with UW Study Abroad.
  • Oversee all academic aspects of the program.
  • Oversee all program logistics.
  • Act as the custodian and manager of UW field advance funds and resources. Track all program expenditures on-site and collect required documentation (receipts, etc.).
  • Act as primary resource for student inquiries and problems.
  • Act as the initial responder to logistical, medical, behavioral, and other crises.
  • Serve as the program’s primary liaison with UW Study Abroad and the University of Washington.

Program wrap-up

  • Submit grades to UW Study Abroad by the UW’s deadlines – the first Monday after finals week. UW Study Abroad will supply the necessary form for you to fill in with the students’ course numbers and grades and report them to the Registrar’s Office.
  • Gather receipts and documentation for your field advance reconciliation. Submit your completed paperwork and field advance ledger to your Study Abroad Finance & Administration contact person.
  • Complete UW Study Abroad’s post-program report survey, including information on what went well, what did not go well, what you would keep or change for future programs. This also the opportunity to officially report any incidents that occurred on your program.
  • Review student evaluations collected and sent by UW Study Abroad.