Develop or Renew a Faculty-Led Embedded Program

A faculty-led embedded program is a short-term education abroad experience that is offered as a component or supplement to an academic course taught in residence on a Penn State campus or online.  The international component is typically scheduled during a semester break or early summer, and it generally lasts 7-14 days.

A faculty-led embedded program can enhance the international offerings within a particular academic department, can support internationalization strategic goals of a college, and can allow for a student to gain valuable education abroad experience within the academic structure of a Penn State course.  The faculty leader assumes a great deal of responsibility for the development, proposal, implementation, and execution of the course - including the academic content, travel logistics, international site visits and activities, budgeting and payments, and health and safety of program participants.  This may seem like an overwhelming list of responsibilities, but there are a number of support resources to help the faculty leader throughout the entire process.  Please visit the embedded courses resource page for additional information.

In order to minimize institutional risk and to ensure compliance with University Policy FN20, Global Programs requires faculty and departments (graduate and undergraduate) organizing and/or sponsoring embedded programs to submit course information and essential documentation to Education Abroad via the online embedded course development and proposal process, which is outlined for review.

Embedded Course Development and Approval

It may be that the course that will have the international travel component built into it is a course that already exists (e.g., ENG 202), and a special section will be offered that includes the education abroad experience.  Or, it may be that the course in mind is a completely new course offering that the faculty leader will design and offer for the first time as an embedded course.  In either case, it is essential that the faculty member communicates with the leadership of his or her academic department, college, and campus concerning the process for course approval.  Please note that in addition to administrative leadership, each college and campus also has a designated representative for education abroad program support.  That representative may be able to provide support during the embedded course development process.

There are many aspects to consider when planning an embedded course.  Travel logistics, budgets, payments, student recruitment, and Penn State policies are all important areas to understand.  Please visit the embedded course resources page for more information and support.

Consult with Education Abroad

The staff in the Education Abroad Office are available to support faculty leaders have throughout the process.  The Assistant Director for Faculty-Led Programs can meet in person or by phone with any prospective faculty leader or program coordinator to review all required steps and troubleshoot unique circumstances.

Academic Guidelines and Timing of Travel

Any student traveling with the group on the course's travel component must be registered for at least one of the associated courses to which the travel is tied.

A spring semester course with travel during spring break is the most common timeframe for an embedded course, but fall (Thanksgiving) break, winter break, or summer term are acceptable travel times as well.  Please note that when travel occurs over winter break, the travel experience is part of the spring semester, and must have spring semester academic credits tied to it in accordance with procedures outlined in the following information.

Penn State courses occasionally involve travel or other activities that cannot take place during the semester boundaries in which the course is offered.  In line with University Faculty Senate policy and in consultation with the Office of the Executive President and Provost, Penn State courses are term-based and therefore must fall wholly within the semester dates established by the university for the fall, spring and summer terms. The LionPATH screen used to create course sections will henceforth require course section begin and end dates with semester begin and end dates.  This will apply to all courses that have previously bridged semesters and will not be limited to those that carry post-semester travel component.

University Faculty Senate Policy 34-81 requires each student to "be registered for the course during the semester in which [its] requirements are completed and the grade or symbol must be assigned at the end of the semester."  Among a variety of considerations, this Senate policy recognizes and is intended to comply with United States Department of Education Title IV regulations.

When coursework, including but not limited to international travel, will occur after the close of a semester, an additional course must be offered during the term in which the extended activity occurs.  Course credit for the initial course and for the subsequent course must reflect the content of each course. An example of such a course would be an Art History class that runs during spring semester for three (3) credit hours.  Immediately after final exams in May, the embedded travel component begins.  Since the travel occurs after the conclusion of the semester in which the course credit is offered, an additional course set for a minimum of 0.25 credits must be established for the travel component in May.  The approval of new courses that cover extended travel or activities, and amendments to existing courses that prepare students for the extended activities, are subject to University Faculty Senate course approval policies and procedures.

Global Programs Embedded Course Proposal Process

There is a two-step online embedded course proposal process managed by the Education Abroad unit of Global Programs.  All faculty-led embedded courses must be proposed by the faculty leader or staff coordinator according to the timelines established by Global Programs and outlined in a subsequent section of this page.

Step 1: "Pre-Decision" Materials Submission

The online system utilized by Global Programs to receive faculty-led embedded course submissions is also used for a number of other purposes.  As such, some of the system terminology might be a bit confusing.  The "pre-decision" phase refers to the idea that the information submitted during this stage will be used in order for Global Programs and other relevant parties, if applicable (e.g., High-Risk Travel Committee, Risk Management, University College International Studies Committee), to make a decision on whether the planned course meets University policies and standards.  Among other brief required readings, the following items are requested during the pre-decision phase.


Course proposers will be asked to answer detailed questions about the course, travel plans, student group size and demographics, risk management issues, and other pertinent details in the following requirements:

  • Embedded Programming: Program Information
  • Embedded Programming: Risk Management Details
  • Program Proposal: High-Risk Travel Destination (required only if traveling to a country with U.S. State Department Travel Warning and/or a country deemed "dangerous" by University stakeholders)

Your electronic signature is required on the following materials:

  • Emergency Preparedness Session, Agree to Attend

Academic Approval (Recommendation)

Global Programs asks for evidence that the academic unit that is offering the course approves it to be run as planned.  The Associate Dean or the Director of Academic Affairs (DAA) for the sponsoring unit must log in and answer 4-5 very simple questions to indicate approval of academic leadership.  The faculty or staff member proposing the course must enter the Penn State userID of the Associate Dean or DAA which will prompt the system to send the approver a message allowing him or her to log in and approve the course proposal.  The approval will only take a few moments for the Associate Dean or DAA to submit.

Step 2: "Post-Decision" Materials Submission

Once your pre-decision requirements are submitted, reviewed, and approved, the course proposal will be moved into "committed" status which means the initial program information and approval from the unit's academic leadership meet the requirements of the University and Global Programs.  The post-decision phase refers to the time after your proposal has been approved in the system.  During this phase, there are a number of essential items to submit, and this section explains many of them.


In order to best serve the program participants, Global Programs requires essential program information to be submitted in a timely manner.  The requirements to be completed before departure are as follows:

  • Detailed program itinerary (template of acceptable level of detail available within the online system)
  • Program participant roster that includes students, faculty, and staff
  • Program emergency contact information
  • Export compliance form, in accordance with University international travel requirements

The proposal requires electronic signatures on the following materials:

  • Student registration in academic course (confirming understanding that all students must be enrolled in embedded course in LionPATH)
  • Agree to communication responsibilities while abroad
  • Export compliance certification statement

Embedded Course Proposal Deadlines

Please note that the deadlines below are the standard annual deadlines for program development. We have left them unchanged below for reference, but due to COVID-19 and the University's response to the pandemic, these timelines are currently in flux. Please contact for the most up-to-date information and requirements.

For embedded courses with travel during fall semester:

  • September 1 - Phase 1 ("pre-decision") items due, such as general program information, emergency contingency plans, financial considerations, and approval from academic leadership
  • October 1 - Phase 2 ("post-decision") items due such as final roster, detailed itinerary, emergency contact information

For embedded courses with travel over winter break:

  • September 15 - Phase 1 ("pre-decision") items due, such as general program information, emergency contingency plans, financial considerations, and approval from academic leadership
  • October 15 - Phase 2 ("post-decision") items due such as final roster, detailed itinerary, emergency contact information

For embedded courses with travel during spring semester:

  • November 1 - Phase 1 ("pre-decision") items due, such as general program information, emergency contingency plans, financial considerations, and approval from academic leadership
  • December 15 - Phase 2 ("post-decision") items due such as final roster, detailed itinerary, emergency contact information

For embedded courses with travel during Maymester or summer terms:

  • January 15 - Phase 1 ("pre-decision") items due, such as general program information, emergency contingency plans, financial considerations, and approval from academic leadership
  • March 1 - Phase 2 ("post-decision") items due such as final roster, detailed itinerary, emergency contact information

Requirements for Program Leaders

Faculty and staff program leaders maintain a high level of responsibility while planning and running education abroad programs.  There are a number of requirements that all Penn State program leaders must adhere to before departing for the program start, and all are built .  Please review the information for faculty and staff leading programs abroad.

Start or Access Embedded Course Proposal

After reviewing the program proposal process, deadlines, and responsibilities for program leaders, we welcome you to begin the online proposal.  You can also access an existing proposal by utilizing the following link.  Please note that it is possible for one faculty or staff member to propose multiple courses in the system for the same semester.

Please create or access and existing embedded course proposal by logging in to the online proposal for embedded courses.


Commonwealth Campuses Group Travel Grant for Embedded Programs

The Office of the Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses and Global Programs have established a fund to support Commonwealth Campus student group international travel that is part of a residential course and preferably a campus-wide internationalization initiative. 

For new or repeat faculty-led embedded courses being offered by a Commonwealth Campus, the Commonwealth Campuses Group Travel Grant is available to help financially support each Commonwealth Campus student who enrolls in the course.  Please review the application process, selection criteria, campus matching funds requirement, and application deadlines before submitting the online grant application.