Policy and Procedure Guidelines for Faculty-Led Study Abroad Courses

Policy and Procedure Guidelines for Faculty-Led Study Abroad Courses

These guidelines are for faculty who wish to teach a short-term study abroad course at St. Catherine University.  


For the purposes of this document, a short-term study abroad course is a class taught by a faculty member, or two faculty members, in a defined time frame, either abroad or at a site in the United States. Given the diverse needs of graduate and undergraduate students and faculty, as well as a variety of learning objectives for global learning, faculty have some choice to develop courses with varying amounts of time on campus vs. time abroad during a term.

 For example, with one model, the faculty leader holds pre-departure classes and orientation on campus before and after the study abroad experience, but the course itself is held off campus.  Another model is one where most of the class takes place during a regular term (January, semester, or summer) and includes a short program of a week to 12 days abroad embedded into the course.

Faculty eligibility

To propose a global studies course, faculty must be full- or part-time ranked faculty, or may be ranked faculty who have retired from the university within two years of proposing a course.

Credits and time abroad

  • All participants must be registered for and enrolled in the course for credit.
  • For a four-credit course taught fully abroad, there will be a minimum of 20 days of educational activities built into the course. 
  • Courses may have other amounts of credits attached to them, e.g., 1 credit, 2 credits, etc.
  • When developing a course, follow the guidelines below for determining how much time abroad is necessary to achieve the course learning objectives.
    • For a four-credit course abroad, there must be approximately 6-8 hours of academic time/activities per day during a 20 day-long course (a typical January term).  In other words, Another way to structure this time is to think about each day divided into three sections—morning, afternoon, and evening—and devoting two of the three sections to class time and/or academic activities.  More than that will tax students’ ability to absorb material, will stretch their attentiveness as well as their energy levels, while less cheats students of a rich experience and lowers our academic standards. 
    • When developing a short-term course worth fewer than 4 credits, the standard is one week being equivalent to one credit, again filling approximately 6-8 hours or two of the three parts of the day with academic activities.
    • “Academic activities” is defined as class time, excursions, site visits, guided tours, guest lectures—in short, any activities that help you achieve the learning goals of the course.
  • The programming abroad must take place within the on-campus term dates and cannot take place either before the term begins or after the term ends. 

Integration of syllabus and on-site resources

  • The course will have a clear, explicit link to the site(s) abroad.
  • Contact time for the course will include a strong experiential component, as well as classroom time.
  • The course will include a strong cultural component.
  • For GSJ courses, the course will include at least one orientation session and two substantial class sessions before departure and two class sessions after return.  Other courses must include one orientation session before departure.

Evaluation and assignments

  • Faculty may assign pre-departure and post-course homework and papers, as well as other assignments during the course abroad.  However, faculty will want to be careful about assigning pre-departure readings and papers while students are in other courses.
  • Students need time for debriefing, reflection, and homework during the course abroad.

Student enrollment/course size

  • The student enrollment will be a maximum of 16 - 18 students for one faculty member or 20 - 26 students for two faculty members, depending on the nature of the course.
  • In most cases, there will be two faculty leaders, or one faculty and one staff, particularly for courses with multiple sites.
  • Students will complete evaluations for the course, as they would for any on-campus class.

 Travel arrangements/program provider

  • There will be an established on-site organization to provide the logistics needed for the course.
  • Travel arrangements will be made either by an established travel organization, e.g., Seminars International, or by the faculty leader(s).


  • The personal safety of our students is of utmost importance. The place of destination will be carefully considered for safety, using all available expertise, including in-country and US-based resources. The US Department of State International Travel Information is one such resource.
  • A destination under an official Department of State Travel Warning is not a viable location for an SCU course.

Faculty requirements

  • At least one leader must travel with the group to and from the study abroad destination .
  • The academic integrity and the quality of a course for every student taking that course are equally important. Therefore,
    • A student taking an SCU course can expect to have the full attention of the faculty leader(s) during the course.
    • St. Catherine University does not support anything that compromises the faculty leaders' ability to fulfill their responsibility to the students and the course.

Accompanying spouses and children

  • St. Catherine University does not encourage, but will consider requests for minor children of faculty to accompany a course. In principle, a minor is under the age of 18.  Requests are subject to the  Policies and Guidelines on Accompanying Spouses/Partners and Children.
  • St. Catherine University allows faculty teaching abroad to invite their spouse, partner and/or minor children to accompany them on their course abroad, subject to the Policies and Guidelines on Accompanying Spouses/Partners and Children.   Other accompanying adults are not permitted to accompany an off-campus program.
  • Requests for accompanying spouses, partners and/or children must be made when you submit a course proposal to the Global Studies Advisory Committee. Please consult these policies carefully for information on responsibilities, requirements, and making requests.

Tuition and program charges

  • Students will pay from 1 – 4 credits of their program tuition (see details below), a $150 administrative fee, plus the program fee. The program fee may or may not include the faculty stipends.
  • All global studies courses charge tuition based on time on campus. **
    • 0-15 hours of class time on campus = 1 credit tuition charged
    • 16-30 hours of class time on campus = 2 credits tuition charged
    • 31-45 hours of class time on campus = 3 credits of tuition charged
    • 46-60 hours of class time on campus = 4 credits of tuition charged
  • All students on all Global Studies programs will be charged an administrative fee. 
  • All students on all Global Studies programs will continue to be charged a “program fee.”
    • This amount will vary by program and typically includes travel, room & board, insurance and other costs associated with the programming abroad.

 **Courses will charge at least 1 credit of tuition, and all courses will have a tuition charge.  No course will have fees that are less than the amount equal to the number of credits assigned to the course plus the administrative fee and insurance, e.g., in 2012-2013 a 4-credit course will not cost less than $4262.


  • The lead time to propose, prepare, and promote a short-term study abroad course is usually 18 - 24 months before the departure date.
  • Course proposals are due to the Office of Global Studies on October 1 for a J-term or any course taking place during spring semester or February 1 for summer or fall courses.
  • Visit the section on “Course Proposal Review Process and Timelines” for more information and the course proposal form.

The Office of Global Studies is the primary campus office that works with faculty preparing a study abroad course.