Passport to Learning

Frequently Asked Questions for Faculty

What is faculty-led study abroad?

Study abroad programs are instructional programs for which students pay fees to the CSU and which are in whole or in part conducted at a site outside of the United States. All CSU study abroad programs must consider the health, safety, and security of students. Short-term faculty led study abroad programs are generally 3-6 weeks in length and are, as the name implies, taught by faculty leaders who develop and deliver the program. Short-term study abroad programs offer students who cannot participate in semester or year-long programs a valuable alternative for international study.

Study abroad is not academic tourism. Faculty-led study abroad programs must promote measurable learning outcomes that address the learning objectives for the course as well as help students develop intercultural competence.

What does self-support mean?

Faculty may develop short-term study abroad programs/courses that are offered through Professional & Continuing Education (PCE) as part of a self-support Special Session. The courses are generally short-term (between three and six weeks in duration) and offered during the Winter Session and Summer Session. Student fees cover all direct and indirect costs associated with delivery of the program, including the cost of instruction and travel. Regular academic approvals (department and college level) are required to offer a travel course. In addition, study abroad programs require the review of the campus Study Abroad Advisory Committee and additional approvals by the Office of International Education, Risk Management, and Professional & Continuing Education.

If I'm interested in developing a self-support study abroad program, how do I get started?

Individual faculty members may initiate new short-term self-support study abroad programs. 

  • Confirm support of your department chair and college dean.
  • Discuss your program concept with the Interim International Associate Vice President Sara Trechter and Study Abroad Coordinator Jennifer Gruber (530-898-5415; or
  • Meet with RCE Program Director William Dantona (530-898-5823;
  • Submit the Preliminary Proposal for International Faculty-led Programs for review by the Study Abroad Advisory Committee. 

The Faculty Checklist for Self-Support Study Abroad will assist you in moving your proposed program forward through the full development and approval process.

Why do I need so many approvals?

The complexities of delivering a course at an international location, maintaining the academic standards established by California State University, Chico and ensuring the safety and security of students while abroad require the support and involvement of many units on campus. The goal of the approval process is not to burden or overly complicate the process, but to assist you to develop a high-quality study abroad program. The stronger the communication and collaboration during the development process and the more detailed the program documentation, the better the overall experience will be for both faculty and students.

The approval process also serves as “checks and balances” to ensure that appropriate provisions are made for the program's implementation. Programs should not be publicized until approval has been secured.

How long does the process take?

Ideally, you should begin planning a year to 18 months in advance to be sure you have adequate time to develop your program, complete the review and approval process, and recruit and prepare students. An overview of the development timeline and details about process are included in the Faculty Resources section of this website. 

Are there any program locations or topics that will not be approved?

Yes. Approval will not be granted for any program taking students to a country or area within a country for which there is a current State Department warning. Please consult the State Department website The study abroad approval committee will look at the location as well as other factors in determining the program's overall fit within the University's curriculum and strategic plan; approval may not be granted for a program that has substantial geographical or topical overlap with another existing program unless sufficient student demand can be demonstrated.

Who can direct a faculty-led study abroad program?

In keeping with university policy for all courses, study abroad faculty leaders must be teaching faculty qualified to be the instructor of record for the courses they will teach abroad. Your college or department may have additional requirements.

Can family or friends travel with me when I teach a study abroad program?

Study abroad courses should be focused on the academic experience, and faculty leaders are responsible for the safety of students while traveling abroad as well as for the quality of the instruction and evaluation of student achievement. As faculty leader of a short-term study abroad program/course, you will wear many hats: professor, travel coordinator, academic advisor, counselor, emergency responder, money manager, and tour guide. The workload for teaching an accelerated course abroad is thus much higher than that of teaching a similar course on campus. Faculty leaders are expected to fully supervise and/or participate in all activities conducted during the travel period. Faculty are also expected to stay in the same location (e.g., hotel, campus housing) as students so they are accessible and available to students at all times.   

For these reasons, PCE's position is that family members or other companions should not accompany faculty on self-support study abroad programs, particularly the first time a program is offered. Family members or companions may join you at the conclusion of the program or accompany you to the international location early, in advance of the start of the program. Remember that your first priority is to be available to students in any potential (or perceived) emergency 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the duration of the program. Non-involved visitors and/or the demands of family responsibilities can be a distraction and an unwelcome source of additional stress for you (and potentially students).

At no time should the program resources (fees, staff time, transportation, meals, etc.) be used for anyone other than faculty and enrolled students.