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Design Considerations

The Learning Environment

  • The academic rigor of the program must meet UWM standards.
  • A course need not but may be modeled after a course the faculty member normally teaches on campus.
  • The programs should attempt to combine academic learning with cross-cultural experience and be designed to make extensive use of the physical, human, and cultural resources of the host environment. Field trips, site visits, and other cultural activities integrated into the course material should provide an in-depth view of the host country in order to enhance the classroom experience.
  • The credit-granting college or school will determine the number of credit hours to grant each class in the program. However, formal classroom instruction in an overseas setting is based on the same formula used for regular UWM classes: one credit per each 15 hours of formal instruction or 45 contact hours for a three-credit course (a good rule of thumb is no more than 1 credit per week of the program). Credit requirements can include guest lectures and documented, organized experiential activities that support the class work (e.g. excursions, field trips, museum visits, as well as organized language lab or computer lab activities). Time traveling to and from experiential activities is not included in this calculation. The concept of learning by osmosis (living in the overseas location for a period of time) is not a sufficient basis for awarding credit.
  • Assessment of student performance should compares favorably with the assessment of a similar course offered at UWM.
  • Programs should be evaluated regularly by participants, program administrators, instructors, and the appropriate college-based advisory committee to determine the extent to which program objectives are being met. If necessary, changes or adjustments should be made in light of the findings.
  • Specific educational objectives of the program should be clearly stated in the program literature.


  • For security and risk management purposes, faculty members are encouraged to stay in the same housing provided for participants.
  • Accommodation varies widely among faculty-led programs, with certain types lending themselves more to certain program models. Accommodation in hostels or hotels is most convenient for faculty-led programs, with double-occupancy rooms being the norm.
  • CIE works with many provider organizations which are able to arrange housing or recommend a housing provider. This often proves to be simpler and more economical than the faculty leader making arrangements on their own.


  • Programs are not required to provide meals. Including a few group meals, such as a welcome and farewell dinner, can help build cohesiveness in your program.
  • Breakfast is included in the cost of many hotels outside the United States. Making use of lodging that includes some or all meals can help reduce the overall cost of a program to students and ensures they are eating enough and at scheduled intervals.
  • If you opt not to include some or all meals, or are unable to arrange this, be sure you know how/where students will get their meals. Accurate cost estimates for student expenses in this area will also be essential to help students plan.


  • Excursions and field trips are an integral part of a faculty-led program and a description of those you wish to organize should be detailed in the program proposal.
  • Costs for excursions will be budgeted into the program, so it will be important to do some research on transportation, lodging, and admissions costs related to excursions while you are working on the overall proposal.
  • Excursions should be relevant to the purpose of the program, take advantage of the locale, and be realistic in terms of time, distance, and cost.

Program Providers

  • Many faculty-led programs use universities or other provider organizations abroad to provide services ranging from language instruction to housing to tour coordination.
  • Such organizations allow faculty leaders to focus on the academic components of their program while they organize housing, classroom space, and any excursions or activities you may request.
  • Working with such providers simplifies the program development process immensely. This often does come at a higher cost, and may require larger group sizes.
  • CIE serves as the liaison between faulty leader and provider organization to facilitate contracting and payment.

Permits and Visas

  • Many countries now require visas for short-term stays, and some require special permits for field research or group activities. Any requirements of this nature should be investigated during the initial planning for the program and necessary costs for the faculty coordinator can be built into the program budget.
Finally, in an effort to help you in your recruitment efforts and in order to maintain a diverse range of program options for students, CIE recommends you keep the following in mind as you design your new program:
  • New programs should complement, rather than compete with, existing UWM programs.
  • Less-traditional sites should be considered.
  • Program costs should be kept as low as possible, to ensure greater accessibility and participation. Students participating in summer programs for example, are not only paying an additional cost to study during the summer, they are also (in most cases) giving up some if not all potential summer income from full-time work.
  • If students need to maintain eligibility for financial aid, they must earn a minimum of 6 credit hours during the summer. Ideally, programs should either offer the option of earning 6 credits during the program itself, or should be scheduled to fall within one summer session, so that students can take additional courses during the remaining summer session.
  • Carefully consider your program curriculum. Students participating in study abroad programs are usually looking to fulfill major/minor/general education requirements in order to justify (to themselves and their parents) the additional expense of the program.
  • Your program should be designed with student safety in mind.  Traveling to countries on the State Department Travel Warning List is only allowed with prior approval from CIE and UWM's offices of legal affairs and risk management.  Your program should be designed so that you feel you will be able to adequately ensure the safety and security of your group of students.