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New Study Abroad Program Development

Are you interested in developing a study abroad program? We’re glad to hear it! Some of the basic information you’ll need to plan and implement a new program is contained here, including how to apply for a New Program Development Grant.

It usually takes from 18-24 months to fully develop and implement a new faculty-led study abroad program, so start planning now!

Steps in Developing a New Program

1. Determining Academic Focus

The most important, and the first, step in developing a new study abroad program is determining what the academic focus of the program will be. The proposed academic focus will largely determine where the program might be held, the type of program activities to be included, the length of the program, etc. Programs can be of a fairly broad academic focus (e.g., International Politics in Europe) or a more narrow, discipline-specific focus (eg., Health Care Delivery Systems: A Comparison between Sweden and the U.S.).

There are pros and cons of making the academic focus broad or narrow. If the academic focus is fairly broad, students from a number of disciplines and majors might be interested in the program (meaning you’d have a larger pool of students from which to recruit participants). Courses offered on the program could perhaps be cross-listed, adding to the flexibility for students of different majors. However, if the focus is too broad, the content might be seen as not useful for anyone in terms of fulfilling degree requirements or adding a concrete knowledge or skill-base to participants.

An important part of determining the academic focus is deciding what academic course(s) will be offered. This is a very important step in program planning, and will be discussed below.

2.The Who/What/When/Where/Why of Your Program

  • After determining the general academic focus of your proposed program, you will need to think about the following essential questions related to the program you are developing:

WHO: Program Leadership and Participants

  • What, if any, first-hand experience do you (the faculty leader) have in the region / country and, if applicable, host country language?
  • Which student population are you targeting?

WHAT: Student Learning

  • What courses will be taught on-site (SDSU regular courses or Topics courses)?
  • What is the academic content of this course?
  • What are the proposed program's academic and experiential student learning goals?
  • Do you intend to integrate community engagement, service learning, internships and / or field research for credit?
  • How will this study abroad program enhance the value of students' degrees?

WHERE: Location

  • How will the academic content relate to the chosen country / location?

WHEN: Timing

  • How is the proposed length of the program conducive to achieving the stated learning outcomes?

WHY: Sustainability and Rationale

  • How do the program's learning goals support college / department strategies for student learning/engagement?
  • How does the program contribute to your and/or your department's research agenda (optional)?
  • What other SDSU study abroad programs already exist in the region and in the proposed subject matter area?
  • Tell us what you know at this point and don't worry about the details you haven't worked out yet. This step is to help you connect with resources to support your efforts.

3.Site Visit (optional)

Sometimes laying the groundwork for a new program requires a site visit to the program's proposed location(s) by the program leader. The Office of International Affairs looks forward to helping you through the process and may provide some funding of site visits. If you are interested in securing a Program Development Grant, please see the instructions and application materials.

4.Submit New Program Application

Once you have your plans finalized, have made a site visit to the program location (if applicable), and have secured the approval of your department and college, you are ready to submit a New Program Application. It is assumed that by the time you have reached this stage of program development, you have already thought about and worked out the various academic and logistical details of your proposed program. Therefore, the New Program Application is more a registration of your new program rather than an “application.” The New Program Application allows SDSU to keep a record of all new study abroad programs as well as document department and college support for the program. Please complete the New Program Application and send it electronically via email to Sally Gillman, Study Abroad Coordinator.