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Faculty-Led Study Abroad Handbook Overview of UNF Faculty-Led Study aboard process


This handbook provides an overview of the faculty-led study abroad process at the University of North Florida and is a guide for faculty members interested in creating a program. We begin by defining the characteristics of a faculty-led course and potential faculty qualifications. Then we discuss the process of developing, submitting, and implementing a study abroad course. Finally, we cover expectations of the faculty leaders, best practices related to course content and cultural preparation, and select University policies. Throughout the handbook, we also highlight the expectations and obligations of all parties involved in each stage of the process.

1. Defining Faculty-Led Programs

Each faculty-led course is designed and taught by a UNF faculty member (the faculty leader) during a given semester and includes several course meetings throughout the semester. The course typically culminates in a seven- to fourteen-day experience abroad during a University break (Spring, May, August, December). Some faculty-led programs taking place over the summer can include up to six weeks abroad. It all depends on the makeup of the course.


Course meetings prior to travel include - but are not limited to - the following topics:

  • detailed information about an academic topic related to a specific country or region of the world,
  • the culture of the destination country, 
  • and travel preparation. 

The international portion of the course usually includes all or a combination of the following activities: 

  • planned business or academic visits, 
  • interaction with local students, 
  • cultural excursions, 
  • service-learning activities, 
  • and a small amount of free time. 

The faculty leader is the primary instructor for the course and responsible for all course content, travel and visit arrangements, and grading. Some colleges require that all courses have a faculty second or co-leader who attends all course meetings, participates in the travel portion of the course, and assists the faculty leader as needed. 


UNF constituents who provide support for faculty-led programs include department office managers, International Center staff, and Global Engagement faculty and staff.

2. Faculty Leader and Co-Leader Qualifications

To lead a faculty-led study abroad course, a faculty member must check on their department's or college's requirements.  For example, in the Coggin College of Business, faculty leaders must meet the following qualifications:

  • Hold full-time faculty status
  • Have past experience as a faculty co-leader on a study abroad course (preferable), and/or prior international travel experience. 

The faculty co-leader or "second" is expected to attend all course meetings, participate in all course activities, and travel with the class, so it is critical to find the right fit.  When proposing a study abroad, the faculty leader should work with their dean/department chair and/or Global Engagement to select a co-leader strategically.  Items to consider include the following: 

  • How dependable does the co-leader on this study abroad need to be?
  • Is the co-leader expected to assist in delivery of any academic content?
  • Does the co-leader need to have expertise in the destination country(ies)?
  • Will this co-leader be helpful in recruiting students for this program?
  • Does the co-leader bring an interdisciplinary perspective to this study abroad and/or allow for it to be cross-listed in another discipline?
  • Will this co-leader's participation help increase sustainability in our college/department?  (e.g., Will this co-leader become a study abroad leader in the future?)

3. Should I Lead a Program?

Leading a faculty-led study abroad course can be a very rewarding professional experience.  Faculty members are able to connect with students in a different way and encourage an entirely different type of learning than is possible in a traditional classroom setting. Often, these courses have a deep and lasting impression on student participants.

These courses involve close student interaction in a less formal environment, which one may or may not find appealing. Further, there is a great deal of responsibility on the faculty member as the individual responsible for students 24/7 during the international travel portion of the class.

It is important to understand that these courses involve a significant amount of work on the part of the faculty leader. The faculty leader is responsible for all logistical arrangements, which requires a lot of time, energy, effort, and patience. One should consider all these factors when deciding whether or not to lead a study abroad course.

4. Proposing a Faculty-Led Study Abroad Course

A faculty member seriously interested in leading a course should follow the steps outlined in this section. Global Engagement recommends planning at least 18 months in advance for a faculty-led course in order to be most successful. Therefore it is never too early to begin conversations with the dean/department chair and/or Global Engagement about interest in leading a program. This sections explains the different tasks that a faculty leader needs to fulfill in order to successfully execute a study abroad.

5. Faculty-Led Study Abroad Process Timeline

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6. Initial Meetings: Global Engagement and Department Chair

The first step for faculty members interested in leading a faculty-led course is to have a conversation with the Global Engagement director, if desired. At this point, it is fine for the faculty member to be looking for guidance on a course topic and destination or to have a clear program idea in mind. Conversation topics could include potential destinations (faculty international research interests, connections in a specific area of the world, places with prior experience, etc.), course topics related to the faculty member’s discipline, etc. The faculty member should also meet with the department chair to assess how this class is going to be handled by the department, and to obtain the chair’s agreement with regards to their involvement in study abroad.

7. College-Specific Selection Process

If your college has a selection process for faculty-led programs, this is the time to begin.  For example, the following process applies to the Coggin College of Business:


  • Once the faculty member and the International Business (IB) director have started the conversation, the faculty member should complete the Coggin Faculty-Led Study Abroad Preliminary Proposal Form as the first step in formally expressing interest in leading a program. Since this is a preliminary proposal, program details need not be fully developed. However, the faculty member should have a tentative program idea in mind when submitting this form. It is important to note that changes and adjustments to the proposed course may take place after this phase of the process.
  • Once all Preliminary Proposals are received, the IB director will meet with the IB faculty advisory committee and rank the proposals in order of viability. Only those faculty members not leading or co-leading a study abroad program can participate in the ranking of the study abroad programs. The ranking is based on several factors, including student cost, student demand, desirability of location, an overall slate of programs balanced across disciplines, etc. Afterwards, the IB director will communicate the ranking to the dean’s office, and the dean will decide how many programs may be funded as overloads for the upcoming year.

8. Requesting University Approval for the Faculty-led Program

Once the faculty member receives confirmation that the proposed course will be supported by the college, the formal University approval process can begin. The Global Engagement director will direct the faculty member to the online application form, which is routed to both Academic Affairs and the Activities Abroad Risk Review Committee (AARRC). Faculty members should submit a tentative syllabus, itinerary and budget. Academic Affairs will review the proposal to ensure that the course meets the University’s standards for academic content. The AARRC will review the proposed travel itinerary to ensure the activity meets the University’s safety and security standards. A faculty-led course must be approved by both Academic Affairs and the AARRC before it is officially approved by the Vice President of International & Diversity. Only after the course is officially approved can recruitment activities begin.

9. Budget Procedures

Each faculty-led program has its own budget, and the faculty leader is responsible for keeping the budget on track. For budget assistance and timelines, faculty should contact the UNF International Center.  Topics to cover with the International Center staff include the following:

  • Budget timeline
  • Budget execution
  • Travel requests and expense reports
  • Methods of payment
  • Budget format
  • Contingency
  • Break-even number of students
  • Exceeding approved budget

10. Expectations of the Faculty Leader and Global Engagement

Leading a faculty-led study abroad course involves a significant amount of faculty responsibility and a significant amount of University support. This section will provide more detail of the expectations of the faculty leader and Global Engagement in regards to different aspects of the program.

Faculty Leader Responsibilities

  • Representation: As a study abroad course faculty leader, the faculty member is a representative of UNF, their college, and Global Engagement. Therefore, faculty leaders are expected to behave in a professional manner and exhibit exemplary conduct throughout the study abroad course, both in country and abroad.
  • Budgeting: The faculty leader is responsible for acquiring cost estimates through research, working with a travel agent, contacts overseas, etc. With that information, the faculty member and the International Center will develop a budget for the entire travel portion of the course.  The faculty leader and International Center will set the per-student program cost.
  • Marketing: Since the faculty leader designs the course, the faculty knows the most about the academics and planned activities. Therefore faculty leaders are the most important marketing tools for a course. When planning to market a study abroad course, it is important to think about how the course content will complement what students learn in the classroom and contribute to their future careers or advanced study. Students considering studying abroad, perhaps for the first time, will likely have lots of questions. faculty leaders should be available to meet with interested students to address these questions.  Consider the following marketing strategies which have been successful in the past:
    • Meet with the Global Engagement short-term study abroad advisor: As the primary student contact for faculty-led study abroad courses, this person must understand the details of the course in order to promote it to students
    • Share information with your college's academic advisors
    • Attend the UNF Programs Study Abroad Fair: Promote the program, invite students, and ask other colleagues to send their students to the fair. 
    • Inform colleagues: Make sure other faculty are aware of the course by announcing in departmental meetings, sending the course information via email, and speaking to colleagues individually so they can help notify students about the study abroad opportunity.
    • Conduct Class Presentations: Talk about the upcoming study abroad course in the courses you are teaching. Consider contacting other faculty members about doing presentations in sections of the study abroad prerequisite course and/or other targeted classes. In order to be the most effective, class presentations should be conducted within the first three weeks of the semester. 

Global Engagement Responsibilities (Marketing)

  • Build and maintain the website for all short-term study abroad programs, if desired 
  • Conduct general class presentations at the start of each semester promoting study abroad opportunities generally.
  • Prepare and distribute general, non-program specific flyers about short-term study abroad programs.
  • Promote study abroad offerings via Global Engagement social media accounts
  • Discuss programs with students in face-to-face (or Zoom) interaction. 
  • Actively promote all short-term programs at the UNF Programs Study Abroad Fair, Week of Welcome events, information sessions, other campus promotional/marketing events, and in 1:1 interactions with students.

11. Faculty-Led Best Practices and Policies

All courses and Faculty Leaders should be aware of the following requirements, best practices, and policies: 


The syllabus must meet all the standard University syllabus requirements. In addition, there are several required syllabus items for study abroad courses. The International Center and/or Global Engagement will provide these to faculty leaders. If the course is a lower-level course (2000-level), the course syllabus should also meet the general education requirements.


Pre-Departure Course Meetings

Faculty leaders need to notify their respective office managers the days and times of their pre-departure meetings, so they can be included in the course schedule for the department. In general, at least 12 hours of pre-departure content presented by the faculty leader and/or guest lecturer for a three-credit-hour course is expected. Topics could include the following:

  • Business/educational visits
  • Guests – exchange students, faculty, etc. from or very familiar with destinations
  • Health & immunization considerations
  • Language, culture, economy 
  • Safety & security
  • Travel logistics (packing, airport plans, travel times, etc.)

Meetings while Abroad

A minimum of eight group visits is expected per three-credit-hour course: at least four discipline-focused visits and four cultural visits.


Post-Travel Course Meeting

At least one three-hour meeting to facilitate reflection is expected per three-credit-hour course.


Student Evaluation

Student evaluation should be built into all phases of the course and include the following:

  • Participation, attendance, and conduct (especially while abroad)
  • Deliverables in all 3 of the following phases:
    • Pre-Departure: e.g., papers or presentations related to a course topic
    • While Abroad: e.g., travel/reflection journal
    • Post-travel: e.g., papers, presentations, or reflections related to the course


If the faculty-led course is a lower-level (2000-level) course, the faculty leader is strongly encouraged to complete face-to-face interviews with applicants. For upper-level or graduate classes, the decision to require an interview is at the discretion of the faculty member. However, Global Engagement strongly encourages all faculty leaders to require an interview as part of the student application process. Interviews should be finalized within one week of the student submitting an application.


For guidelines related to travel requirements, accommodations, and non-UNF travelers, contact the UNF International Center.


Additional UNF Study Abroad Policies

Faculty Leaders should also be aware of and comply with all University policies as they relate to international activities and study abroad, including the following: