This timeline was created by Warren Dolphin, a former biology faculty member in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. It was adapted to fit the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Study Abroad Office.

9 to 12 months in advance

A. Program vision & curricular issues

How will students receive credit for the international experience?

  • Create a list of academic outcomes for the experience and adjust the goals of trip to achieve the outcomes.
  • If a course is approved by University Curriculum Committee, it will satisfy the International Perspectives requirement for graduation, adding an incentive for students to take the class. Note: A 3 credit course would be the minimum to satisfy the IP requirement.
  • Decide the number of credits to be granted (1 credit per week of travel is a reasonable standard), can combine pre-departure course contact hours and field trip contact hours. A 3 credit course is the norm.
  • If approved by the departmental curriculum committee as counting in major, then it satisfies other requirements and adds another incentive.
  • Establish prerequisites that limit site-seers but which are not too limiting.

Develop a rough syllabus for a pre-trip seminar or course

  • Academic background topics so students can appreciate goals of travel.
  • Possible basic language instruction if applicable.
  • Information on what to take, how to pack, and how to act.
  • Consider using guest lecturers on campus who can add expertise to student preparation, including the ISU travel nurse.

Identify resources on campus

  • LAS Study Abroad Office
  • Study Abroad Center
  • Faculty Partners (co-leaders, who know the host country)
  • Experienced Program Directors
  • Service Providers

Identify resources overseas

  • Faculty Partners
  • Former Graduate Students/Colleagues
  • Host Institution
  • Service Providers

B. Translating concepts to reality

Begin organizing logistics.

  • You are a general contractor making all arrangements for travel, hotels, buses, etc.
  • Contract with a commercial travel agent to provide basics of travel and living and you fill in with more specific instructional activities.
  • Use contacts at universities or agencies in country and have them set up the entire experience with your input on academic content.
  • Schedule an appointment with the LAS Study Abroad Office, located in Catt Hall, to learn more about the services provided.
  • Revisit outcomes of the course and consider the kinds of activities and/or visits that will achieve those outcomes.


  • Look at a map of a country or region to be visited and decide on a travel route (with alternatives) to and through the region, specifying key locations and people to be visited.
  • Decide on approximate itinerary– inclusive of dates, cities and events to be visited; anticipated activities and sites to give students a sense of what the trip is about. Try to set some concrete goals for each day, e.g. travel from xxx to xxx; or “to see the interior aspect of a rain forest and to investigate the concept of canopy biology”.
  • Lay out a tentative itinerary with one third day resolution; do this for morning and afternoon and evening. Set up instructional goals and list in the itinerary. Look at the itinerary and determine what is needed to accomplish goals, e.g. bus from xxx to xxx, guide in forest, and return transport. Pay attention to how you will feed, bed, instruct and transport group during each day. Group meals are nice in some remote locations or when itinerary requires it, other times students can get meals on their own so that they have a chance to mingle in the culture. If the duration of your trip allows, try to balance program time with free time students will have on their own. That way they are more receptive to group activities that follow.
    1. Sample Itinerary 1
    2. Sample Itinerary 2
  • Use the EAC Program Planning & Approval Form’s budget form to help determine the program fee. It is better to estimate high costs at this point rather than low.
    1. Planning & Approval Form
  • Do a risk assessment on each phase of trip and review activities for potential liabilities taking steps to minimize. Use licensed carriers where possible. Add these risks to the risk section of the Program Planning Form.


Meet with the LAS Study Abroad Office to discuss:

  • Contents of application form that the students will complete which will assist you in the selection process.
  • Setting up an account to receive student payments.
  • Assistance in completing the Program Planning & Approval Form.
  • Help in advertising.
  • Information on insurance.
  • Work out how bills will be paid from trip account.

For LAS programs, submit a signed Planning & Approval Form to Mercedes Serracin. Dates for required submission of proposals are about 9 months in advance of the course traveling abroad. Check the Education Abroad Committee website. This makes your trip an approved ISU course offering. Seek funding from your department and college to defray some of the course costs. Some programs have received funding from organizations affiliated with the scope of the course.

6 to 9 months in advance – forming the group


  • Work with the LAS Study Abroad Office to prepare a one-page flyer with a program description, estimated costs, time of informational meeting for students to attend and your email address.
  • Go to appropriate classes to advertise the course.
  • Send a short announcement of the program to departmental colleagues and to appropriate departmental/program communication specialists and post it on appropriate websites. Audience is not only students who will take trip but should be parents as well who will have questions about the course.
  • All courses will have an electronic brochure created for them as part of the application, the LAS Study Abroad Office will create this for all LAS programs. It is possible to set up a “virtual” trip by creating a list of links to hotels, museums, cities to be visited. Please share this information with the LAS Study Abroad Office so we can refer students.
  • All advertising materials should have your email address on it with a note to contact you immediately so that students can be put on an email list for further contact information. As list grows, send periodic announcements to keep students interested. Schedule at least two information sessions on different days of the week, late in day to give trip overview and answer questions. Include the website for ISUAbroad ( so students know where to apply.

At the same time:

  • Once you have completed the selection of applicants, send a letter of notification of acceptance including information about getting a passport and when you may contact them again with the orientation class meeting date, time, and place.
  • Students are registered for pre-departure course by the LAS Study Abroad Office after they are accepted and committed to the program.

3 to 6 months in advance – administrative issues

  • Talk to your Department Chair and College about a summer salary for you (if applicable) and other co-leader covering period of trip and some time before and after when you will be doing paper-work related to trip.
  • Contact contractors (hotels, buses, airlines, guide services, etc.) and get firm estimates of costs with amount due to make reservation and date of full payment. Investigate refund policy and latest cancellation dates. Inform students about refund policies and that late cancellations may well forfeit earlier deposits. Always ask about free of charge policy because many hotels will give a free room of leaders if group size is 20. This also applies to airline tickets. The Study Abroad Center can get airline quotes for you. Update budget form with latest prices.
  • You may need to make deposits at this time. All payments must go through the Purchasing system, and advance payments can be made with credit cards (University P-cards), wire transfers, or checks. The Study Abroad Center can assist you with all these things.
  • To determine exact cost of trip, sum up group expenses to get a total budget. Subtract from total any funds that you have raised on campus such as group leader grants. Divide remainder by number of students paying to arrive at per student cost (this can be done using the budget form). This is the program fee and will be added to the students’ U Bills the semester of travel. Program fees are billed through the Study Abroad Center. The Study Abroad Center will confirm fee amounts with you by accounts receivables deadlines (Fall billing due – first week of July; Spring billing due – first week of December; and Summer billing due – first week of April). When students pay their bills, money is automatically routed to your study abroad account. In addition to program fee, there are also tuition/fees (for summer programs that will be charged to students’ Ubills too), and out-of-pocket expenditures.
  • Consider how you want to evaluate the trip. If you need a baseline, consider doing some pre-trip evaluation during the orientation.

4 to 5 months in advance – pre-departure orientation

  • At a minimum, the pre-departure orientation must cover health, safety and risk issues. The LAS Study Abroad Office can assist with this preparation. General travel tips, money issues, local language and cultural preparation are important as well. Technical background will help students develop a context for what they will experience and learn on the trip. You can do this alone or invite in guest speakers. The seminar allows the group to get to know each other and allows you to set the tone for the trip, i.e. it is a course, not a vacation.
  • Previous leaders have built in student ownership by having students complete assignments on trip locations, flora, fauna, geology, weather, politics, economics, and general tourist information. Have the students send links to you and insert in a trip web page or Facebook page that you develop. Some groups have had student “reporters” that take responsibility for weather reports, current events and interesting news from the host country.
  • Share with students your concerns about the trip and have them participate in developing a sensible code of conduct for the trip. Responsibility should be on the students and not always on the leader. Be sure to address alcohol problems and disruptive behavior.
  • Layout a detailed itinerary with objectives, logistical information and day-to-day activities. Include phone, emails or links of locations where appropriate. This list can be shared with parents, etc. before you go on trip.
  • Arrange extracurricular meetings so that group members can get to know one another. Have a student social committee to plan some games. Use it as an opportunity to share travel tips: packing, phone cards, gear to bring, extending trip afterward, etc.
  • As trip dates get closer watch currency exchange rates. You might want to prepay by credit card for some services if exchange rate changes in your favor or act defensively if it starts to work against you.
  • If visas are needed for the country visiting, begin paperwork process for this. The LAS Study Abroad Office can assist with this as well.

1 to 2 months in advance

  • Using the information in the application forms, the LAS Study Abroad Office will prepare an emergency packet of information: Emergency contact information for all students (part of application form); medical information for all students (part of application form); copy of passport/visa of all participants (can help with replacement if lost).
  • Purchase or collect gifts for hosts.
  • Consider what your financial needs will be on the trip.
  • LAS Study Abroad will assist you in applying for an Event Card (Purchasing card) to use during your program.
  • Decide how much cash you will need (university cash advance before trip, or ATM withdrawal in-country).
  • Finalize any advance payments, take receipts or confirmation with you.
  • Submit final itinerary and contact information to the LAS Study Abroad Office.

During the trip

  • During trips, keep students informed of each day’s activities and the goals of those activities through daily morning briefings.
  • Consider reflection activities throughout the trip to maximize learning.
  • Keep excellent records on expenditures (keep all receipts, and take blank receipts as well).
  • Encourage students to post program experiences on social media using #LASAbroad.
  • Keep excellent records of incidences, review emergency handbook to be prepared. Please go to


  • In the event of an emergency situation, it is the first responsibility of the Program Director to provide for the immediate safety and security of all participants.
  • In the event of an emergency situation, it is the second responsibility of the Program Director to immediately contact ISU via the ISU Global Emergency number which is 515-294-7700 or LAS Study Abroad personnel.

0 to 2 months post trip – wrapping it up

  • Submit receipts to the Study Abroad Center Account Specialist for reimbursements.
  • Post photos and comments on appropriate websites or social media sites. Helps to bring closure for group and sets up advertising for next group.
  • Submit a narrative report that summarizes the trip activities and suggests any changes that you might make for next time. If unexpected risks were encountered describe with suggestions for future minimizations. Be sure to evaluate educational value as well as travel arrangements.
  • Organize a reunion picnic to share photos and stories when convenient.

Adapted from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Study Abroad website