Montana State University

Policy 2.4

2.4 Policy on Study Abroad Programs

Background. Study abroad can be an important phase of undergraduate and graduate programs in American colleges and universities. Carefully planned and administered, foreign study may add significant dimensions to a student's educational experience. As guidelines for institutions which conduct programs of foreign study or whose students participate in such programs, the Commission on Colleges urges that a study abroad program should:

a. be clearly related to the mission and goals of the sponsoring or participating institution;
b. have a well-defined rationale stating the specific nature and purposes of the program, and be accurately represented in the institution's catalog and all promotional literature;
c. provide educational experiences related to the institution's curriculum;
d. be available to students carefully selected according to ability and interest;
e. have a carefully articulated policy regarding the availability of financial assistance to students for programs required by the institution;
f. have clearly specified language proficiency requirements when appropriate to the program and place of study, and clearly defined methods of testing proficiency prior to acceptance into the program;
g. provide extensive information to intended participants, honestly and specifically describing the program's opportunities and limitations, indicating how and where instruction will be given and the relationship to the foreign institution, describing grading practices, identifying especially significant differences between a home campus experience and what can be expected abroad, including information about local living conditions and the extent of responsibility assumed by the program for housing participants;
h. provide extensive orientation for participants prior to departure for, and on arrival in, the foreign country with respect to the matters in item g above, augmented with more detailed information and instruction related to the specific program;
i. have a resident director carefully selected on the basis of professional competence and interest, appointed for a minimum of two years with provision for overlapping replacement appointments to allow for a transition, and ensured of the same professional rights, privileges, and consideration as colleagues on the home campus, with due respect for the responsibilities of the overseas assignment;
j. provide counseling and supervisory services at the foreign center, with special attention to problems peculiar to the location and nature of the program;
k. guarantee adequate basic reference materials to offset any limitations of local libraries or inaccessibility to them;
l. include clearly defined criteria and policies for judging performance and assigning credit in accordance with prevailing standards and practices at the home institution; where several institutions are involved with a single overseas institution or in a consortium, a common basis for determining grade equivalents is essential;
m. stipulate that students will ordinarily not receive credit for foreign study undertaken without prior planning or approval on the students' home campuses;
n. include provisions for regular follow-up studies on the individual and institutional benefits derived from such programs; and
o. ensure fair reimbursement to participants if the program is not delivered as promised for reasons within the sponsor's control.

Cooperative arrangements are urged among American institutions seeking to provide foreign study opportunities for their students. In many cases, resident directors, faculty, and facilities could be shared, resulting in significant improvement in the efficiency and economy of the operation. One basic reference collection, for example, supported and used by students from several programs is likely to be more satisfactory than several separate ones.

Travel programs per se or commercially sponsored "study-travel programs" should be thoroughly investigated by an institution before granting degree credit for these activities. The regional accrediting commissions do not evaluate these activities as foreign study programs of member institutions, nor will they evaluate independent foreign study programs which are not related to the curricula of specific colleges or universities in the United States.

Adopted 1972