Develop a New Exchange Program

An exchange program is an education abroad program where Penn State students enroll in courses at a foreign institution or university, and, in exchange, students from the foreign university enroll in courses at Penn State for one or two semesters.  This type of program often provides broad course offerings that appeal to students from a wide variety of majors.

Consultation and Support from Education Abroad

The staff in the Education Abroad Office are available to support faculty leaders throughout the process.  The first step in proposing a new exchange program is to have a consultation meeting with the director of Education Abroad either in person or by phone if the proposer is not able to meet at the University Park campus.  The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the academic nature of the proposed program, including but not limited to course/s to be taught, faculty sponsors or leaders, departmental and College support, and the marketing of the program.  It is important to explore likely student interest in the program concept and location prior to the meeting.  The meeting should be with the faculty person or persons proposing the program, and the associate director of Education Abroad may also request that the liaison with the proposer’s academic College or campus be present as well.  

If after the consultation meeting, it is agreed that the program concept is likely to enhance existing education abroad program offerings, the next step is to complete the online proposal documents and the two required academic recommendations.  However, the online proposal forms should not be started until the consultation meeting has concluded and the proposal idea is accepted by the director of Education Abroad.  

Special Considerations for Exchange Programs

Responsibilities of the Academic Unit

The following responsibilities will be discussed during the consultation meeting with staff in Education Abroad. The academic unit should:

  • Demonstrate the strategic priority of the exchange
  • Provide evidence of student interest
  • Review existing exchanges in case one is just as, or more appropriate as, a new one
  • Map the curricular pathway for each targeted major so that students know how the experience will count for their degrees
  • Commit to recruiting no less than five outgoing students per semester
  • Show evidence of partner’s ability to recruit and send students in the appropriate numbers
  • If deemed necessary by Global Programs, conduct a site visit at its expense for a health and safety assessment prior to sending students
  • Designate faculty and staff who will be responsible for working with Education Abroad on an ongoing basis
  • Accept the responsibility for the promotion, recruitment, and site-specific orientation of outgoing students in addition to assigning academic advisers for incoming students
  • Designate grant monies in the first two years of the exchange to help students defer expenses (e.g. airfare) and to assist with the promotion of the exchange

Policies Regarding Exchanges After Approval

Academic units and prospective program proposers should be aware of the following policies related to processes after submitting an exchange program proposal:

  • No students can be exchanged until there is a signed Memorandum of Agreement between Penn State and the partner university.
  • Please note that usually a minimum of 12 months is required to implement a new exchange and Memorandum of Agreement, but it can often take longer.
  • As part of the Memorandum of Agreement, both universities must agree that no incoming students will be accepted to Penn State until there are committed outgoing Penn State students.
  • If an exchange program becomes inactive or involves too few students, Global Programs will consult with the academic unit about the future of the exchange. A fee may be charged to the academic unit to defray the cost to Global Programs of maintaining the exchange.
  • The unit of calculation for exchanges is a full semester (fall or spring).  One semester of full-time instruction for an incoming student is equal to one semester of full-time instruction for an outgoing student.  Education Abroad is charged with keeping an accurate record of all exchange balances and therefore cannot accept proposals that balance exchanges by using fractions (for example two or three summer students is equal to one fall or spring semester).  Balances using this type of formula are difficult to manage, and this model has been phased out of the portfolio of approved programs.

Global Programs Proposal Process

There is a two-step online program proposal process managed by the Education Abroad unit of Global Programs.  All new education abroad programs must be proposed by a faculty member or University administrator according to the timelines established by Global Programs.

Program Proposal Deadlines

For education abroad programs to be run during the summer semester, the online proposal is due by June 1 of the previous year.  If the proposed program is to be run at any time of year besides summer, please plan to submit the proposal approximately 12 months in advance.

Program Approval and Implementation

Once the proposal materials have been submitted and reviewed by the director of Education Abroad, the Vice Provost for Global Programs will consult with the Director of Education Abroad concerning the merits of the proposal.  If approved, the faculty proposer will be notified in writing, and a plan to implement the new program will commence thereafter.