Top 5 Essentials for Creating Your Custom Program

Faculty-led programs are becoming increasingly common as a cost-effective way for university students to study abroad. Custom Programs also serve as a shorter alternative study abroad experience for students who may not be ready to commit to a full semester or year-long program. ISA Custom Program Managers work hand in hand with U.S. universities to create unique international academic programs from scratch. It is an exciting, detail-oriented process requiring collaboration and communication.

In this recorded video presentation for Study Abroad Offices and faculty, gain unfettered insight into the process of creating a Custom Program. Courtney Hilton from ISA’s Custom Programs team will disclose five fundamental elements to ensure that you and your ISA Custom Program Manager can work as efficiently and effectively as possible throughout the process to run a successful program.

Essential #1: The Initial Call

The first step in the process of creating your Custom Program is the initial call, in which a Custom Program Manager will work with the study abroad office and/or faculty to collect information and program ideas. We will need to know the program’s academic focus, dates, academic and cultural components, anticipated student enrollment, price point, and more. ISA recommends that we begin this step at least one year prior to the program dates.

Essential #2: The Itinerary

Your Custom Program Manager will utilize information collected in the initial call and work with the on-site staff to develop a unique program itinerary based upon your program goals and academic focus. Most programs incorporate a blend of both academic visits and cultural activities, and your Custom Program Manager will be happy to make recommendations based upon your feedback.

Essential #3: The Formal Proposal

Each program is built line by line with all of the elements our partners wish to include in their programs. Building a program can take between 2 and 6 weeks. Once complete, the proposal will be sent to both the faculty leader(s) and Study Abroad Office to review and make changes if necessary. Once the university is content with the formal program proposal, ISA will draft the program contract.

Essential #4: The Program Contract

The program contract outlines ISA’s and the university’s responsibilities, important deadlines (roster, withdrawals, payment) and program specifics. It is imperative that both the Study Abroad Office and faculty leader(s) review the contract to be aware of these important details.

Essential #5: Program Implementation

Once the contract has been signed by the university and by ISA, the faculty should work in cooperation with the Study Abroad Office to begin recruitment efforts to ensure the program runs at the minimum number of participants. Once the university submits the participant roster by the deadline outlined in the contract, students will begin the ISA registration process. Completing ISA registration and forms is the last step before program departure for what is sure to be a very successful program abroad!

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Are you ready to start developing your ISA Custom Programs? To get started planning your own Custom Program, submit an interest form or contact us at

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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