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Study abroad program policies

When planning a UW faculty-led study abroad program, consider the timing, duration, and staffing of your program. These are often functions of larger university-wide systems, such as financial aid or human resources. The information below is a summary of the requirements and policies for planning a program.

  • For your program to be financial aid-eligible for students, the dates of instruction must conform to the dates of the UW academic calendar. 
  • Academic year programs (autumn, winter, spring quarters) must be 10 weeks in length.
  • Summer quarter-long programs must be 9 weeks in length.
  • Programs must begin and end within +/- 7 days of the quarter in which the program is offered. However, programs cannot overlap into another term. This is especially important for Early Fall programs – they may not start during Summer B.
  • Consult the UW Academic Calendar to establish program dates.
  • The “start date” is the day students arrive in program housing.
  • The “end date” is the day students check out of their program housing (and not the last day/night in program housing).

Additional considerations for short-term programs:

  • Summer A and B term programs must have at least 4.5 weeks of summer instruction, including time abroad and in UW classrooms.
  • Early Fall programs are offered during the period between the end of summer quarter and the beginning of autumn quarter. They must include at least 21 days of early fall instruction, including time abroad and in UW classrooms. They may not start during Summer B term.
  • Spring Break programs must take place between the end of winter quarter and the beginning of spring quarter. They cannot overlap into winter or spring quarters. Consult the official UW Academic Calendar for dates. In order for the program to be eligible for aid, it must be offered for credit. See below for more information. 
Spring Break Term Explanation
Spring Break (W) For programs attached to a winter quarter course. Students will be enrolled for 1 credit of FSTDY for winter quarter.
Spring Break (Sp) For programs attached to a spring quarter course. Students will be enrolled for 1 credit of FSTDY for spring quarter. These programs cannot start during winter quarter finals week.

  • All programs must have two responsible leaders, both of whom must be UW employees (temporary or permanent).
  • The program director is the primary lead and contact for the program and must be UW faculty.
  • The second leader can be UW faculty or staff, or a graduate student with a UW appointment. Undergraduates may not serve as program leaders.
  • Where there are two UW faculty leaders, roles should be clearly defined as either co-directors or primary and secondary leads.
  • Programs housed at the UW Rome Center or UW Leon Center may run with one faculty member because there are UW staff present on-site.
  • Rationale: programs must have two responsible leaders so that if there is an emergency, whether that involves a student or a program director, there is another capable UW employee available to take over the responsibilities of leading the program.


  • All UW program leaders must have an active UW appointment for the duration of the program.
  • Faculty with 9-month appointments who want to lead a summer or early fall program should work with their home department to set up an active appointment for the full program dates.

Unaffiliated (non-UW) program staff

Unaffiliated program staff might include a local coordinator, local faculty or instructors or other types of non-UW staff providing service to the program. Salary payments for unaffiliated program staff cannot be made until services have been rendered. Up to 50% of the agreed salary can be paid as early as halfway through the dates of service. The remaining 50% will be paid upon completion of service. An unaffiliated program staff member does not qualify as a second leader on the program.

If an individual has been previously appointed by the UW, they must always have a UW appointment in order to work for the program. They cannot be paid as an independent contractor. 

  • The following guidelines apply to program leader salaries that are charged to the program budget administered by UW Study Abroad.
  • If program leader salaries are paid by a department (and do not appear on the program budget), program leaders should work with their home department to determine salaries.
  • All salaries should be approved by the program leader’s home department/college.
  • UW will pay salaries within the pay periods that correspond to the program term.
  • If a program does not run or is cancelled, program leader salaries that are charged to the program budget cannot be paid.
Autumn, winter, spring (10 weeks) Summer quarter (8 weeks) Short-term (Sum A, Sum B, Early Fall) Short-Short term (Spring, Winter and Summer Break
UW faculty up to 3 months of salary up to 2.5 months of salary up to 1.5 months of summer salary up to .75 months of salary
UW staff up to 2.5 months of salary up to 2 months of salary up to 1 month of salary up to total number of days of program
Teaching Assistant For all programs, TAs must be paid according to their appointment and union guidelines. Salary schedules here.

*Where salary is included in the program budget, the appropriate Benefits Load should be included corresponding to the appointment.

Salary notes:

  • In many cases, sponsoring departments support programs by allowing the program director to remain on salary during the term abroad. This can cut down immensely on instructional costs, which are borne by students.
  • Your department administrator will be responsible for setting up payroll. However, UW Study Abroad can provide the program budget number once the salary has been determined.
  • All salaries incorporated into the program budget must include a line item for the correct Benefits Load for your UW appointment. This line item is already included in the spending plan.

Arts & Sciences salary policy

Arts & Sciences study abroad programs are now required to add a “replacement teaching fee” (RTF) into most quarter-long faculty-led study abroad programs, so that Departments receive some funds to hire replacement instructors while their faculty are teaching abroad. 

  • A “replacement teaching fee” will be required for faculty who lead study abroad programs and remain on their salary for the period of time that they are abroad. This is primarily tenure-track faculty, and senior lecturers who remain on salary for the quarter that they are teaching abroad. It would not apply to faculty leading study abroad programs who are NOT on departmental salary and who are already paid from student fees collected by UWSA.
  • UWSA will pay a minimum of $7,000 per quarter and quarter-long benefits (approximately $1800) using study abroad program student fees as a contribution to a faculty member’s normal salary. This amount would be deducted by the department from the usual quarterly salary the department pays out to the instructor; the department can then use this savings of approximately $9k to hire a part-time lecturer to teach on campus. The result is that the tenure-track faculty member would be remunerated the same as if they were teaching on campus. (See below for the amount paid as RTF for Teaching Assistants).
  • Quarter-long faculty-led study abroad program costs will increase, to extent that the replacement teaching fee is not already factored in to the program costs. The RTF will be added to the overall costs of the program, and count as instructional costs that are borne by the student participants.
  • Teaching Assistants (graduate students with the appropriate appointment) on quarter-long study abroad programs would likewise receive the same compensation as if they were on campus for the quarter. UWSA would work with the academic department so that study abroad program student fees pay this amount, thereby freeing the department to hire another TA to teach on campus during this period.
  • If a faculty member wanted to teach 2 study abroad classes on a quarter-long study abroad program and have this count toward more than 1 of their on-campus teaching load, this would need to be approved in advance by the department chair.
  • Please note that only program staff salaries should be charged to the program budget. Replacement instructors’ salaries should be charged to a departmental budget. See an example here.

As long as these expenses can be sustained by the program budget, program leaders are eligible for the following forms of compensation in addition to salary:


You must book the lowest economy, round trip airfare from Seattle to the program site for +/- 7 of the program dates.


  • The program can pay for reasonable in-country accommodations, comparable in comfort and quality to student housing.
  • It should be relatively close to the student housing, or easily accessible by public transportation.
  • Long-term (quarter-long) program leaders can include up to 7 days of additional housing to the program budget for pre/post program work, if the budget allows.
  • Short-term (summer A, summer B, early fall, and spring break) program leaders can include up to 3 days of additional housing to the program budget for pre/post program work, if the budget allows.

In-country travel expenses

  • In-country travel expenses and program-related activities (e.g. field trips and excursions) may be included in the program budget.

Per diem

  • You may budget a daily per diem of up to 40% of the posted State Department ‘Meals & Incidentals’ Per Diem for the program site.
  • Long-term (quarter-long) program leaders can include up to 7 days of additional per diem to the program budget for pre/post program work, if the budget allows.
  • Short-term (summer A, summer B, early fall, and spring break) program leaders can include up to 3 days of additional per diem to the program budget for pre/post program work, if the budget allows.
  • The per diem is paid out of student program fees, so we expect program leaders be as frugal as possible with dining choices.
  • In the event of low enrollment, your program manager may first look to reduce per diem expenses before cutting elements of the program that are key to student learning.

Eligibility for per diem and lodging
A program director’s eligibility for lodging and meal per diem depends on their ‘duty station’ as defined by the UW Travel Office. For the purposes of UW Study Abroad, a ‘duty station’ is defined as a program director’s place of residence. For most program directors this is Seattle, in which case they are eligible for both lodging and meal per diem while they are leading a program abroad because they are ‘relocating’ to run the program. If a program director maintains a residence abroad, then they are eligible for lodging and meal per diem only if the program is located more than fifty miles from that residence. If in doubt, program directors should consult with UW Study Abroad Finance and Administration before claiming lodging and meal per diem on their spending plans.

  • UW Study Abroad offers an online Program Director Workshop course that covers important information necessary for running a successful and safe program.
  • You are required to take this course and complete an assessment based on the content. You can access the course through your program proposal once your program is approved.
  • These workshops explain the UW resources and support available to you while overseas, specifically: planning pre-departure orientation, managing the program budget and finances, and handling emergency situations.
  • Please note programs will not be confirmed until the online Program Director Workshop and assessment it completed.
  • UW Study Abroad offers an in-person session to discussion the online course content and run case scenarios. For more information about the in-person sessions, visit our website.

Student selection

  • Program directors will have discretion to select the students who are the best fit for their program.
  • Factors that can be included in considering a student’s application: class standing, GPA, major, and content of the written application. We strongly encourage program directors to interview candidates.
  • Selection of program participants must be in line with UW Non-discrimination policy.
  • Non-matriculated students (students from other universities or outside the UW community) may be considered to participate in a program under the following conditions:
    1. UW students are given priority for admission
    2. There is space available on the program
  • If the program has a waitlist of UW students, these students must be accepted before a non-matriculated student can be considered or admitted to the program.

On the ground participation

  • Students are expected to participate in every course, activity, and field trip outlined in the program syllabus and articulated by the program directors per the Study Abroad Standards of Conduct. 
  • Unexcused absences should affect a student’s grade.
  • Students are not permitted to opt out of aspects of the program.

General information

Students must stay in the student housing arranged by the program. Exceptions related to housing:

  • Students with special housing needs due to physical differences or abilities.
  • Students who plan to stay with family who already live at the site of the study abroad program.

Students who wish to petition to opt out of the designated program housing should request this in writing to the program director and UW Study Abroad. The request must be approved by both the program director and UW Study Abroad. Requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Opting out of housing on Short-term programs is not an option for reasons other than the need for special housing due to physical differences or abilities.

Gender inclusivity

We encourage faculty to provide options that support students of all genders when assigning housing on programs. In housing applications, you may want to give students the option to choose between housing that is assigned with students who share the same gender, or if they have a different preference that better supports their identity (e.g. gender-inclusive, mixed-gender, or living with a particular roommate). We acknowledge that there may be limitations on offering certain housing assignments based on host country norms/laws, landlord contracts, and/or housing rules and we encourage you to be up front with students about this. Consult your program manager as needed to accommodate student requests.

Sample Housing Survey

As you make housing arrangements, we suggest you send out a housing survey to students that asks their gender and how they would prefer their housing be assigned (e.g.with others of the same gender, or a different set-up that better supports their identity). You can inform students that you will do your best to provide housing options that support all students on the program, given space availability. You can also provide free-from space in the survey for students to explain things further, if they would like, and also clarify that if they want to room with a particular roommate, both students need to list each other.

Sample roommate survey

Bringing family members

  • In very limited cases, students may be permitted to bring family members on programs with permission from their program director(s), UW Study Abroad, and the local provider (e.g. the UW Rome Center). 
  • The deadline to submit this request to bring family members on a program is within 10 days of acceptance to the program. 
  • Family members are not permitted to stay in housing with other program participants. If a student wishes to live with their family members, they will be responsible for any housing costs above and beyond what is included in the program fee. There will be no reduction in program fees if a student decides to live outside of program housing to accommodate accompanying family members. 
  • Additionally, the program may not be able to find accommodations on their behalf. 
  • Family members are not permitted to participate in any group activities and program funds may not be spent on a student’s family members. 
  • Students bringing children are responsible for securing and paying for local childcare. 

  • Depending on the length, timing, and format of the program, there are multiple options for the number of credits a program can offer.
  • The sponsoring academic department and college should ultimately determine and approve final allotments for the number of credits.

Duration and credit models currently available for UW study abroad programs:

Term Credits
Aut, Win, Spr, Sum 12-18 credits
Sum A or Sum B 6 credits
Sum A or Sum B Intensive 12 credits
Early Fall 5 credits
Spring Break* 1 credit

*Spring break programs are eligible for 1 credit. The program must be attached to a course taught on campus. That course can take place in either winter or spring quarter. Students participating in the program must also be enrolled in the pre or post program course. UW Study Abroad will enroll the students for 1 credit during the term in which the course on campus is offered. 

Questions? Contact your program manager to discuss options.

  • Following the same schedule used for classes taught on campus, grades are due to UW Study Abroad by the first Monday after the end of the quarter in which the program was offered.
  • Plan your courses and assignments so that you are able to report grades by the deadline.
  • Late grade submission may affect student eligibility for financial aid or graduation.
  • Grades for all summer programs (sum A, sum B and summer quarter-long programs) are due at the end of summer quarter.
  • Grades for Early Fall are due at the end of autumn quarter.
  • Grades for Spring Break programs are due at the end of the quarter of the course on campus. If the program takes place during Spring Break (W), grades are due the first Tuesday of spring quarter.

  • Faculty-led programs are self-sustaining and must generate enough revenue to cover the projected expenses.
  • If the program does not meet minimum enrollment as defined by the program budget, the program may be cancelled due to financial insolvency.
  • The decision to cancel a program due to low enrollment will be made in consultation with UW Study Abroad, the program director, and the sponsoring department.

  • At the end of the current program cycle (after Spring 2021) UW Study Abroad will ‘zero out’ the accumulated balances in all our faculty-led program budgets (deficits as well as surpluses).
  • Total net balances (surpluses minus deficits) will create the initial reserve in a new Study Abroad Program Assistance Fund (SAPAF) that will provide increased protection against financial losses in programs once study abroad resumes.
  • The SAPAF will act as an insurance fund for all faculty-led programs. The fund will be available to assist programs in case of emergency or unforeseen costs, or multiple student withdrawals, which might otherwise make a program unsustainable.
  • Every iteration of a program will generate a contribution to the SAPAF. This contribution, similar to the current program reserve that many of you are familiar with, will be calculated as percentage the of total program costs, but these funds will not be available for program directors to spend.
    • Summer 2022 – Spring 2025 – 7.5%
    • Starting Summer 2025 – the SAPAF will reduce to 5% 
  • If SAPAF funds reach a UW-permitted maximum amount, to be held for emergencies and program deficits, additional contributions will be used for the Global Innovation Fund, student scholarships, and one-time expenses to support UW Study Abroad operations.

Budget balances (surpluses and deficits)

  • All future program iterations (starting with the Summer 2021 programs) will begin and end with a zero balance.
  • Every iteration of a program will have a separate and independent budget, and all program budgets will be ‘zeroed out’ after reconciliation. 
  • There will no longer be any balance transfers or carryovers (deficits or surpluses) between iterations of a program.

Budgeting under the new policy

  • Program directors and program managers will work together to aim for a ‘zero balance’ of expenses and revenues at the end of every program iteration.
  • The goal is to have an approximately zero balance across all programs, with surpluses and deficits netting out, and the 7.5% SAPAF contribution flowing directly into the assistance fund.

  • In order to manage on-site expenses, program directors must be eligible to receive a field advance and should be in good financial standing with the UW.
  • As a custodian of UW funds, program directors will be responsible for accounting for those funds according to UW policies and procedures.
  • Program directors may be held responsible for unapproved or inappropriate expenses or use of funds.
  • Field advance custodians who do not account for funds in a timely manner may not be eligible for future field advances.

If you are planning to lead a program at the UW Rome Center, you must read the UW Rome Center Program Policies page on the UW Rome Center website. Programs based at the UWRC must adhere to these policies in addition to those listed above.

  • Program directors are permitted to bring family members on programs if the site and provider can accommodate them. 
  • Family members are not allowed to participate in program activities, except in limited situations, such as a group dinner or field trip. 
  • If program directors’ family members participate in a group dinner or program activity, they are responsible for the cost. 
  • No program funds may be spent on family members.