Guidelines for Global Collaborations and International Agreements

Collaborations are typically initiated by Penn State academic colleges and campuses. If an agreement is required, an online International Agreement Proposal must be submitted to inform Global Collaborations of the intended activities and necessary information to prepare an appropriate agreement. The dean, chancellor, or other designated college/campus representative must approve the collaboration before Global Programs can start the university-wide agreement drafting, review and approval process. Colleges and campuses are responsible for implementing the agreement in accordance with Penn State policies and applicable laws.

Global Programs’ Global Collaborations unit will coordinate the review and approval of all international collaboration agreements with the necessary offices at Penn State. Once all approvals have been gathered, Global Collaborations will coordinate the signing process.

Concluding an agreement can take a considerable amount of time, depending on the complexity of the planned activity and of any legal or academic issues. Any deadlines, such as grant deadlines or dates for signing ceremonies, should be clearly communicated to Global Collaborations via email or by phone (814) 865-0771 well in advance of deadlines.

Global Collaborations has a variety of agreement templates which are updated regularly. Colleges and campuses are strongly encouraged to use only templates provided by Global Collaborations. The use of out-of-date Penn State templates or non-Penn State templates will significantly prolong the approval process.

Types of Agreements

Penn State uses three types of agreements for international collaborations Letter of Intent (LOI) A Letter of Intent (LOI) is a non-binding statement that acknowledges intent to explore the possibility of collaboration. LOIs are appropriate when a new project is being initiated, upon first meeting new international partners, or in connection with a one-time project. The LOI can serve as a signal of good will or a signal of the willingness to discuss the opportunities to cooperate further.  At this stage, it would generally be premature to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). The LOI must be based on the pre-approved Penn State template because this template requires fewer signatures and approval steps and can usually be completed very quickly. Absolutely no changes to the template may be made.

Pre-Contract Planning

Penn State's reputation in the international community depends in part on the nature and strength of our partnerships. Early attention to these issues helps everyone provide their input on the approval path. Before discussing collaboration with a foreign institution, the following issues should be considered.

Approval and Signing Process

Global Collaborations has established a 5-step review and approval protocol that guides the development of the most common types of agreements, from inception to signing. The purpose of the approval process is to ensure that all interested stakeholders have been provided an opportunity to review, modify, and approve an agreement prior to the signing phase.

Types of Collaborations

There are many kinds of collaborations between Penn State and international counterparts. Some require formal agreements, while others do not. The following is a brief overview of the more common types of collaborations, with links to more detailed explanations.