Study Abroad

Standards, roles & responsibilities

Program standards

We have listed below the features of a strong program to be transparent about our program proposal selection criteria. We encourage you to meet with us to discuss your proposal in the early draft phase. Given advanced notice, we can review your proposal with you to hone your ideas and troubleshoot any issues.


  • Clear and thoroughly laid-out academic goals that are tied to and enhanced by the program site(s).
  • A plan to assess the academic goals of the program.
  • Program activities and field trips that take advantage of the program location and compliment the academic goals of the curriculum.
  • Program activities that provide opportunities for students to interact with people of different backgrounds, cultures, and abilities.
  • Courses that generally mirror courses taught on campus with regard to academic rigor. Elements of tourism are inevitable in study abroad programs, but UW Study Abroad is committed to facilitate academic international programming.
  • Program goals fit that with departmental goals/priorities and coursework that has been vetted and approved.


  • Program directors with strong ties to the program site.
  • At least one of the program directors speaks the local language(s).
  • Program staff maintain a consistent on-site presence with the students.
  • A clear relationship to the sponsoring department. Program directors have an appointment in the sponsoring department (or an associated discipline), the program aims fit with departmental goals/priorities, and the coursework has been vetted and approved.
  • Programs that will be offered on a continuous basis and led by multiple faculty within the department.


  • Programs aligned with the UW’s Race and Equity Initiative, potentially offering courses that meet the UW’s Diversity Requirement.
  • Unique and specific opportunities not available elsewhere in the world of student and study abroad programming at UW.
  • Programs that are designed to be accessible to students of all abilities.


  • A detailed program spending plan that covers the estimated costs of the program and maps accurately to the program itinerary.
  • Both the spending plan and the proposal should include solidly identified housing vendors, classroom spaces and field trips.

Logistics & safety

  • A thorough assessment of the risks involved associated with the country/countries visited and the specific program activities.
  • A thorough and comprehensive pre-departure orientation plan that informs students of academic requirements, behavioral expectations, health and safety considerations, and living and travel arrangements. Programs must provide at least 3 pre-departure orientation sessions.

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. If you have more questions feel free to contact any member of the Faculty-led team.

Proposing a program

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.

Sponsoring department responsibilities

All UW study abroad programs are reviewed by the chair and dean of the sponsoring department and school/college. Chairs are asked to sign off on the program based on the department’s responsibilities listed below. UW Study Abroad also shares the proposal with the department’s administrator(s) to include them in the planning process from the start.

Please also read the Faculty-led Program Policies page for more information about program requirements.


  • Ensure the program’s courses meet the department’s educational and learning goals
  • Award departmental credit for the courses taught on the program
  • Ensure that the credits offered are correctly designated for areas of knowledge or major/minor requirements
  • Ensure the number of credits are appropriate given the curriculum and duration of the study abroad program
  • Verify that the curriculum offered meets the standards of rigor and content of other courses taught by the department on campus

Program leadership and appointments

  • Verify that the faculty and staff listed are qualified to lead the program
  • Review and verify that the faculty and staff monthly salaries are correct
  • Set up appointments for all program faculty and staff. If faculty and staff already have appointments, verify that these appointments will be active during the duration of the program and that the employees can receive salary during this time.
  • Enter salary payments for all faculty and staff from the department leading the study abroad program
  • Ensure that replacement teaching funds are used towards salaries for those faculty teaching on the study abroad program


  • Potentially cover a study abroad program deficit. If a program runs a deficit of more than $5,000, it may be suspended until there is a clear and effective plan in place agreed upon by the chair/dean and the Office of Global Affairs to eliminate the deficit. Programs with deficits that are not renewed are required to have a plan to cover deficits. The plan will be agreed upon by the chair/dean and the Office of Global Affairs.