Where To Begin? 3 Steps to Creating Your Custom Faculty-Led Program

By Stephanie Keinz, ISA Custom Program Manager for France, Belgium, Czech Republic & Germany

ISA Custom Programs works with university study abroad offices and faculty leaders to develop customized, faculty-led programs in over twenty-five countries. Establishing a faculty-led program is extremely exciting, but it is a process that requires much preparation. We have created this outline to provide faculty leaders and study abroad offices with some guidance in taking the first steps to develop your unique, faculty-led program. Please contact your NAFSA region Custom Programs representative with inquiries about creating new programs.

Step 1: Brainstorm program ideas

Photo by ISA Student Madeline Richards

ISA Custom Programs builds individual programs from the bottom up, allowing each program we develop to be uniquely customized according to each’s academic needs. ISA Custom Program Managers will work closely with faculty to create a proposal that is aligned with their specific program ideas and is realistically feasible.

To get started, faculty should brainstorm an academic subject(s), desired length of program, academic structure, and price point. From there, a Custom Program Manager will assist the faculty member in narrowing down locations and guiding them through the program development process.

Academic subject and structure:
When considering academic subjects, faculty should think about what will generate significant interest from students on their campus. Also, they should consider which subjects could be combined to complement one another to attract students from multiple disciplines. Thinking about this at the beginning will make recruitment efforts much easier down the road.

Other important questions to ponder are:

  • What is the curriculum for the program and how will it be structured?
  • What are the learning outcomes and how will they be measured?
  • Who will be teaching the courses?

Keep in mind that ISA provides a variety of program models that can be explored online or discussed with a Custom Program Manager.

Since ISA has support infrastructures set up in so many iconic locations around the world, this can be one of the most difficult and important decisions when developing a program. Faculty should begin by considering their own experience and familiarity with prospective countries (language, culture, travel, professional contacts).

  • Do you have a particular expertise in the country or city that you are proposing to travel?
  • What are your strengths with regard to leading such a program?

Then, they should consider what location will complement the academic subject and focus of the program.

Because of varying exchange rates and costs of living, programs that have similar program support and lengths may differ significantly by price. Each Custom Program Manager is also happy to provide suggestions of program locations based on preferences and other program criteria.

Resources and resourcefulness:
Starting the process early will ensure that there is enough time to plan and recruit for the program, taking the desired program dates into consideration. ISA recommends having at least 6 months from the end of program development to the program departure date. Planning in advance leaves adequate time for participant recruitment. ISA Custom Programs can provide fantastic resources to help promote each custom program on campus and, in some cases, regionally. Contact a Custom Program Manager to find out more!

Step 2: Talk to your university study abroad office

We highly recommend that faculty speak with their university’s study abroad office before reaching out to an ISA Custom Program Manager so that the faculty is aware of the university’s internal guidelines, protocol, deadlines and other important information. The study abroad office may also be able to answer program questions, academic or otherwise, from the university’s perspective. Keeping the university’s study abroad office informed is helpful during the initial brainstorming, since ISA requests that communication is maintained among all parties throughout the program development process.

Step 3: Contact an ISA Custom Program Manager

Photo by ISA Student Rachel Erdenberger

After some brainstorming and touching base with the home university study abroad office, it is time to reach out to ISA Custom Programs to start developing a proposal! Contact the designated ISA Custom Program Manager for your NAFSA region or for the program site you are interested in to get things rolling. Find a list of all of the Custom Programs team members. If things are still unclear about who to contact, send us a general inquiry at cp@studiesabroad.com or submit a general Interest Form.

A Custom Program Manager will schedule an initial call with the faculty leader and study abroad office coordinator to learn about the initial program ideas. From the information collected during the initial call, the Custom Program Manager will work with ISA’s on-site staff to build a proposal to meet the specific needs of each program.

We look forward to working with you to develop your very own faculty-led program! Still have lots of questions? Learn more about ISA Custom Programs!

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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