Guidelines for Global Collaborations and International Agreements

International collaborations are typically initiated by faculty members at Penn State academic colleges and campuses. A faculty champion serves as a facilitator of collaborative activities and a point of contact responsible for communication with the collaborating international institution. If an agreement is required or considered, the faculty member works with the Global Collaborations team in the Office of Global Programs throughout the proposal, drafting, review and approval, and signing stages of the process. For additional information on factors and criteria to consider when starting up an international collaboration, please see Pre-Contract Planning.

To process requests for agreements (new or renewals), Global Collaborations utilizes a proposal mechanism based on a two-pronged approach for agreements initiation:

  • Faculty champions requesting an international agreement must fill out and submit the Intent to Submit an International Agreement Proposal (IS-IAP) form. The form will ask for basic information about the intended partner’s institution, contact information, and the nature of anticipated collaborative activities.
  • No Letter of Support is needed at this time; however, evidence of communication (such as email) with the Dean's/Chancellor's office or your international programs office is required to demonstrate their awareness and support of the proposed collaboration.
  • Global Collaborations will review the request and determine whether additional details are needed.

For standard, Penn State template-based agreements, the decision to proceed with drafting may be made based on the information contained in this Intent to Submit application and the submission of the full proposal may not be required.

For program-specific, custom agreements, or when non-Penn State templates are used, a faculty champion will be invited to submit the more detailed International Agreement Proposal (IAP) application. The full IAP requests a Letter of Support (“reference letter”) from academic leadership (Dean, Chancellor, or their designees) as part of the submission.

In either case, upon the Global Programs assessment of the received application, an international agreements administrator will contact the applicant regarding the next steps in the draft preparation, review, and approval process.

Upon acceptance of the IAP, Global Collaborations will prepare a draft, share it with the faculty champion, negotiate it with the international institution, and coordinate its review and approval by the appropriate Penn State regulatory offices. Once all approvals have been gathered, Global Collaborations will initiate the e-signing flow using Adobe Sign. Review the Approval and Signing Process for more details.

Concluding an agreement can take a considerable amount of time, depending on the complexity of any legal or academic issues arising out of the planned activity. 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 that are updated regularly. Colleges and campuses are strongly encouraged to use drafts provided by Global Collaborations based on approved templates. Deviations from approved templates, use of out-of-date Penn State templates, and/or processing drafts provided by an international partner may prolong the approval process.

Types of Agreements

Penn State uses three types of agreements for international collaborations- a Letter of Intent (LOI), a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

Pre-Contract Planning

Penn State's reputation in the international community depends in part on the nature and strength of our international partnerships. Before discussing collaboration with a foreign institution, it is recommended that faculty members review the following factors and criteria that reflect Global Programs’ strategic vision for global engagement and collect information that will help assess feasibility of their proposal.

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.

Active Agreements/Partnerships

Explore the list of active agreements between Penn State and our international partners.