Faculty and Staff: Teach Abroad

Teaching and directing abroad is incredibly rewarding but can also be a demanding endeavor. The Education Abroad Office is here to guide you as you plan your course and choose which provider to propose your program with or to help you create your own Murray State Signature Program. 

Contact the Director of Education Abroad at any time to discuss your program in any stage of planning, whether you're in the brainstorm and idea development phase, developing recruitment materials, or anywhere in between.

Step-by-Step to Teaching Abroad

It starts with your course. Imagine that course you always wanted to teach and marry it with a location abroad. Dream, google, and find connections between your course content and locations that interest you and/or you have previous experience in.A study abroad program should always start with the study and not a preset itinerary. Let your academics guide your program development.Do you want to: 

  • Join another MSU program, such as London Spring Break, Regensburg fall semester, Ireland summer, or any others that regularly occur? These programs are directed by someone else - someone who makes the hotel and flight arrangements while you get to focus on your course.

  • Teach with KIIS or CCSA? You propose your course to join a pre-existing program with KIIS or CCSA. They choose the dates, the flights, the logistics, and you get to focus on your course and teaching. 

  • Create your own program from the ground up with an MSU colleague? You choose the location, the course(s) and every piece of the program with frameworks in the Education Abroad Office to guide you through.

  • Use a provider for logistical support for your program? This option lets you propose your course and location with a study abroad provider who does all the logistics while you focus on the course and let someone else deal with housing, flights, tickets, etc.

Trying to figure out what all this means? Keep reading or contact the Director of Education Abroad and have a chat to talk through all of your options.

The Course. Ultimately the overarching question to consider is why offer this course in this location. For students to make a connection between the academic field of study and the international experience will illustrate whether your program was able to make the marriage of content and location work. Avoid simply picking up a course you offer at Murray State and transporting it to the location with the intention of teaching it in exactly the same way. If that is your plan, go back to the drawing board. Don't spend valuable resources to offer the same experience as you would at home. Partner with the location and allow it to transform your course. What can you connect in the location to your course content? Google is your friend as you look for museums, buildings, field work, lectures, and other experiential activities to fill your course itinerary. Which Course? 

  • Infusing new international content into a current course might mean, teaching International Mass Communications with a focus on Britain to be taught in London for the summer. This course might also be a requirement for all of the majors in your area, giving you a large recruitment pool to work with.

  • Create a new course under a Special Topics designation to be offered as an upper-level elective.

  • University Studies courses often work as well. Do not, however, offer a 100-level course. These have not been successful recruiting tools in study abroad.

  • The most appealing option for students is to take a course that is required for their major, minor, or university studies. By and large, the most successful programs are those offering content directly related to a student's major.

Course Content should be that of your academic area and focus. Study abroad is an academic endeavor and should infuse academics with an international experience. Leave the 'travel' pieces to the orientation and use your class time as academic preparation and cultural integration for your students. Mandatory orientation is the appropriate time to inform students and parents of travel demands. 

The Options: 

  • Summer: 1 week to 6 weeks

  • Winter Break: 10 days to 2 weeks

  • Spring Break: 9-14 days

  • Fall Semester: 9 weeks, 2nd half semester

When The Teaching Begins: 

  • Summer Programs that start as second-half semester spring courses (most common option)

    • Students can combine the hours into their full time spring load

    • Allows faculty and students to learn about the location prior to landing abroad

    • The program abroad can take place anytime from finals week through the end of the summer

  • Summer Programs attached to a summer course only

    • This means students will pay summer tuition fees

    • If the program abroad is shorter than 3 weeks it must be attached to a pre-departure teaching component for students, whether online or in-person

  • Winter Programs start as second-half semester courses followed by a program abroad departing in December or January

  • Spring Break Programs include a full spring semester course. Your course will be taught for a full spring semester with the abroad portion in the middle of the class. Many faculty enjoy this option as it gives you both a pre-departure research and readiness component and a post-program debriefing and application component.

  • Fall Semester: This is the Semester in Regensburg, Germany program, offered every fall semester. Faculty teach 2 courses on location as second-half semester fall courses, starting in October through December.

Your time is valuable and there are many considerations for you personally in determining when to offer your course abroad.

  • If you are teaching new classes, which require new course preparation, then you may not want to add a study abroad to that semester or even the following one.

  • If you are a parent you will want to consider the best time of year to secure child-care, the length of time for which you feel comfortable doing so, and any events coming up in your child's year that you don't want to miss.

  • If you are taking a sabbatical or will be on leave for any reason from the institution, that will adversely affect your ability to recruit. As such you should not plan to apply to teach abroad in a sabbatical/leave year.

  • Talk to your Chair about departmental requirements and your tenure clock to make sure you will be supported in teaching abroad.

  • Be open and honest about your own ability to juggle all of the requirements you already shoulder along with study abroad. Many faculty choose to incorporate a 2-3 year rotation in order to have the incredibly rewarding experiences of study abroad but also balance the demands of study abroad and work/home life in the process.

  • Murray State University Programs - New or Existing: Submit online using the Faculty-Led Program Proposal for the year you wish to teach. Deadline is January 15th annually for programs the following year. This application includes Semester in Regensburg, Spring Break London, and any other MSU program existing or a new one you wish to create. Follow this link for a step-by-step guide on the Via application process.

  • KIIS: Submit online. November and March deadlines for summer and winter programs.

  • CCSA: Submit online. October and February deadlines for summer and winter programs.

Application Requirements for any teach abroad experience generally include an updated CV, course syllabus and/or course description, recruitment ideas or complete plan, details on how the course will count toward degree requirements for students, and proposed budget (if you are responsible for the budget). Affiliate programs require more than one course description and may require up to 5. Do not be scared off by the application requirements. Contact the Director of Education Abroad and/or the affiliate program reps for guidance as needed. For Murray State Signature Program applications, you'll be notified via email from the Murray State Education Abroad Office by February 13th. See the Review Guidelines under "I. Study Abroad Program Proposal Review and Selection" for details on how applications are reviewed by the Program Review Committee. Faculty applying with KIIS or CCSA programs will be notified on the schedules of these affiliates by their program representatives.

After your application is approved or conditionally approved, you will be asked to attend mandatory group meetings with other Faculty and Program Directors. These are set throughout the year prior to your program and are designed to:

  • Teach you how students apply for your program

  • Give you details on student scholarships scholarships and financial aid

  • Support and create your recruitment efforts

  • Create a more cohesive leadership team for everyone on your program

  • More fully understand the student experience on study abroad

  • Design programs that are academically and experientially centered learning programs and not a tour or trip

  • Ensure that each course is designed to meet required credit hours and faculty understand how students enroll and are billed

  • Guide you in budgeting your program, if you are the Program Director

  • Provide you with the Murray State crisis management preparedness and response protocols

  • Guide you in creating the student orientation for your program abroad

Dates and Deadlines: You will be provided with a Dates and Deadlines sheet after acceptance. This will include meeting dates for the entire year, including student orientations and deadlines.

Cultural Content. Though it is our responsibility to teach about culture, we most often shy away from this because of our lack of knowledge. Don't be afraid to admit that you have some learning to do about the location and take this opportunity to do so in conjunction with your students. Utilize Google! It's your friend! Also our Google Sheet of Culture Learning Resources (make sure you're signed in with your MSU google account to access) will help you start to think about the local culture and activities to learn about culture. Also consider requiring your students to obtain a language phrasebook and learn basic history and foreign relations between the U.S. and the location. 

Course Texts. No matter the academic content of your course, you might also consider these opportunities for students to learn more about the location as part of your course. Incorporating the location is the only way your study abroad program will be successful. Consider adding one or more of these as requirements for your students:

  • Location-Specific: Above all, you must include texts, readings, or fine arts that are about, by, or originate in the location of your program. Do not solely utilize U.S.-centered sources. 

  • Autobiographies of U.S. American experiences living or traveling in the location can help inform students of challenges on-site and get students interested in the location in order to experience the program in a deeper, more meaningful way once on-site.

  • Travel Guides/Apps/Site Apps. This helps with location knowledge for free time and for course activities. Requiring a travel guide or a travel guide smart phone app and creating an assignment around designing their free time can assist with their maximizing the program while abroad. 

  • Language Phrasebook/App. Duo Lingo is a popular option

  • Atlast or Mapping activities/Apps will help students visualize where they are going. Let's face it, they don't always know where other countries are. Make sure they know the bordering nations and where the location fits geographically before you stick them on a plane and take them there.

  • Current Events. Find location-specific news sources online and read/listen to them prior to program departure.

  • Basic History. Find a basic history text that your students - or YOU - may use as an overview, informing the experience on-site.

  • Foreign Relations. What is the history of US-location relations? How will this inform your program? Providing context for your students about the relationship between their nation and the foreign nation will further understanding of their possible integration with the locals. Keep any international student participants in mind in this endeavor and allow them to focus on their home nation.

Activities and Itinerary Development.  You likely already have ideas about things that would be relevant and beneficial for your course.

  • Make a long list of sites, activities and excursions along with relevant contacts. You may also find relevant walking/boating/guided tours and companies that would work for your class.

  • Consider company visits or experts in your field that may not be on a usual tour list and think about making personal contact to ask for a visit for your class

  • Consider the proximity of activities to one another and sketch out a lumping of activities that could work.

  • Don't forget to include time for introducing activities and debriefing activities.

  • Don't pack your days so much that you don't get to eat! 

  • Submitting these ideas to a provider or your program director with your top priorities indicated will help determine what ultimately ends up in your itinerary.

  • If you are designing the program on your own, then you can do the planning with the vendors abroad to determine what will work for your program. 

Logistical Arrangements. Program Directors are the ones who take on the logistics and budgeting roles for the program. If you're responsible for locating housing and transport and booking activities abroad, see our Logistical Arrangements Google sheet for tips. (You'll need to be logged in with your MSU Google account to access.)

Budget Development. Program Directors are responsible for setting and keeping the budget. In collaboration with the Education Abroad Office and using our Budget Development Resources (you must be logged in with your MSU Google account to access), PDs will be guided through how to track and maintain the budget for any size program.

Recruiting. Above all, go into your Teach Abroad experience with the knowledge that study abroad is unfortunately not a "build it and they will come" adventure, but instead takes planning and work to get those great students out there to actually submit applications. Create a recruitment plan using our tried and true methods here (make sure you're logged in with your MSU Google account to access). Applications flow into the Education Abroad Office online application system. You'll review your student applications and issue decisions together with other members of leadership on your program and an Advisor from the EAO. 

Application Review Considerations

  • Student fit with the program: You don't have to accept every student. Read each application for review.

  • Essay: Does it address program fit? Academic match?  Is it offensive in any way? Poor essays can result in rejection.

  • Transcript or GPA: There is a minimum for every program of 2.0. Your program may have a higher requirement.

  • Space: If you have limited space on your program and you have an applicant who has studied abroad before, you may consider rejecting that applicant for a student who hasn't had the opportunity to do so yet.

  • Practice selective recruitment: Applicants who present themselves as disruptions to courses on campus now won't get better once you're abroad. Don't be afraid to reject applicants.

  • Don't feel obligated. Students who have already had the course you are offering may be tempting to accommodate, but can also create much more work for you as faculty. Don't feel obligated to create cross-listings to fit students into your program OR if you do so, be sure to consider the amount of work required to accommodate the student(s).

At the close of your program, you will have collected student evaluations. The Education Abroad Office will provide you with a copy for reflection and program improvement.

You'll also complete the Post Program Report in your online application to debrief the program, including how we can better serve you in the future, but also reporting course contact hours and multiple aspects of the program.

Then, start planning your next Teach Abroad!

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