Summer Study Abroad Credit-Bearing Programs

Each summer, Georgetown’s Office of Global Education (OGE) administers more than 20 overseas, credit-bearing programs for graduate and undergraduate students in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Most of these programs are led by university faculty and provide direct, Georgetown semester credit for completed coursework. For more information on recent summer offerings, please click here.

Georgetown OGE welcomes ideas and proposals for new summer overseas programs. Georgetown faculty who may wish to develop new credit-bearing summer programs should contact OGE, at 202-687-5867 or Faculty interested in developing non-credit programs should contact Elizabeth Greenfeld, Assistant Director for Partnerships and Agreements, at 202-687-5867 or

All new, credit-bearing summer programs must be approved by the OGE Program and Policy Committee (PPC). Proposals for new programs must be submitted to the PPC by March 1 of the year preceding the proposed program’s first year of operation. In order to meet this deadline, interested faculty should begin speaking with OGE about possible new credit-bearing summer programs no later than July of the year preceding their proposed program’s inauguration.  

Program proposals must include detailed information about academics, housing, on-site support, costs, cultural integration, and health and safety in the proposed host-country. In addition, coursework associated with a new program must be reviewed and approved by the relevant academic department or school before the program is proposed to the PPC. For the program proposal template, please click here.

Before beginning work on a proposal for a new credit-bearing program, GU faculty should consult closely with OGE.  Interested faculty should also be sure to review two documents provided here online: Guidelines for Georgetown Short-Term/Summer Study Abroad Programs and Questions to Consider Before Proposing a GU Summer Program.

As described in those documents, GU OGE believes that credit-bearing  summer overseas study should maximize students’ immersion in the host-country culture while providing substantive, rigorous instruction in topics that are inherently linked to the program’s location. Most programs should be at least 5 weeks long, include some component of instruction in the host-country language (even if the program’s main focus is not language study), and provide students a wide range of opportunities to engage with members of the local community.

Questions that GU OGE weighs in considering the merits of a potential new credit-bearing summer overseas program include (but are not limited to) the following:

What makes this program unique at GU? Does it add new educational opportunities to the current array of GU study abroad programs, or does it duplicate existing programs in some way?

How does the program’s location connect to its curriculum? Is the program’s setting an integral part of its academic focus?  

How is this program designed to foster meaningful, sustained contact between GU participants and the local population?

Does the faculty director possess the necessary cultural and linguistic expertise to lead students in the proposed location?

Has the faculty director’s department approved all course credit associated with the program?

Is there a strong likelihood that the program will generate sufficient student enrollments for it to operate consistently for at least three years after its creation?

When/if the director decides not to continue leading the program in future years, are their other capable faculty interested in applying for the directorship so that the program continues to function?

While GU faculty directors find it deeply rewarding to lead overseas summer programs, they also consistently report that the work is time-intensive, and often physically and emotionally challenging. It is vital that potential new directors fully understand these demands and gear their expectations accordingly. Faculty should not plan to conduct research, prepare new courses, travel alone, or spend extensive time with family abroad while directing a GU summer program. In addition to designing and overseeing the academic component of their programs, faculty directors are asked to:

  • Conduct pre-departure and on-site orientation programs;
  • Maintain daily contact with students once overseas;
  • Serve as an ongoing resource for students as they adjust to life and study abroad;
  • Verify firsthand the quality of student housing;
  • Attend and oversee all group excursions;
  • Provide 24-hour emergency support to participants;
  • Remain on site throughout the duration of their program;
  • Inform OGE of significant program developments and collaborate with OGE staff in addressing problems as they arise;
  • Attend an annual, on-campus training workshop for directors of summer programs.

For a complete list of faculty director’s responsibilities, please click here.

GU OGE deeply values the energy, time, expertise, and careful planning our directors invest in their respective programs each year. It is in large measure due to their efforts that students so often place summer study abroad among their most meaningful experiences at Georgetown. Faculty directors who would like to pursue the possibility of developing future programs are welcome to contact OGE Summer Study Abroad at any time in order to discuss their ideas.

Guidelines for Georgetown Short-Term/Summer Study Abroad Programs

The Georgetown Office of Global Education developed the following guidelines in order to provide faculty, students, overseas partners, parents, and other members of our community a fuller understanding of the quality, purpose, and requirements of Georgetown summer study abroad programs. These guidelines were developed in keeping with the Office of Global Education’s overall mission to:

  • Promote, support, and develop international and intercultural educational opportunities for students, and in so doing, help define the international character of Georgetown;
  • Develop and evaluate these programs in collaboration with the wider Georgetown community in order to ensure that they are academically rigorous, linguistically appropriate, and complementary to the Georgetown curriculum; and
  • Maximize opportunities for study-abroad participants to reflect on the values that form their own identities and to encourage them to assume their roles as responsible world citizens.
Academic Requirements (number of hours of instruction)

For each three-credit semester course, the program should provide at least thirty-five (35) hours (2,100 minutes) of in-class instruction. In addition, students should participate in at least ten (10) hours per week of such additional activities as cultural excursions, community service, or peer tutoring. Syllabi for courses not taught by Georgetown faculty must be reviewed and approved by the program director and the academic department that houses the course.


The program should be designed to maximize student time in-country. In order to expose participants to host-country cultures in meaningful, substantive ways, summer programs should be at least five (5) weeks long. Proposals for shorter programs may be considered on a case-by-case basis and should include provisions for substantive academic work by students either before the in-country portion of the program begins, or after it ends and students have returned to the United States.


The program’s location should be integral to its academic purpose so that formal classroom studies are demonstrably deepened and enriched by the surrounding host-country culture. While weekly excursions to local sites illustrating a classroom topic can contribute toward this goal, the degree of integration between classroom and host-country culture should go significantly beyond such activities to include regular, substantive communication and interaction with various aspects of the host-country community.

Community Involvement

Whenever possible, the program should foster rich, meaningful, and sustained interaction between individual students and members of the surrounding community. Examples of such interactions include volunteer work in the community, discussion groups, peer tutoring, interview-based research, housing with host families or local students, and language partnering.

Language Instruction

If located in a country where English is not the native language, the program should provide language instruction at an appropriate level.

A) Participants in area studies and subject-specific programs taught in English (business, politics, etc.) should be provided foreign-language instruction that will enable them to communicate in rudimentary ways with members of their host-country culture. At a minimum, these students should learn to make polite requests, ask for directions, excuse themselves, and seek help. Ideally, language instruction should go beyond the utilitarian task of developing ‘survival skills’ to (1) broadly illustrate for students ways in which language proficiency is critical to the development of genuine cultural understanding; and (2) examine features of the host-country culture that are revealed by the structure of its language and the use of specific phrases. Area studies and subject-specific programs will generally not carry credit for a GU language course; however, as language learning is a key component of cultural studies, each student’s performance in his or her language class should be counted as part of his or her final overall grade for an appropriate content course (e.g., that course which focuses most squarely on the host-country’s culture).

B) Participants in intensive language programs should be placed in small groups based on language proficiency. As appropriate, participants in content-based programs taught entirely in the host-country language should also be placed in small groups according to language ability in order to maximize their opportunities to engage in classroom discussions and to verify their comprehension of lecture materials. In order to broaden participants’ understanding of academic culture and educational philosophy outside the U.S., intensive language programs and content-based programs taught in the host-country language should be designed to expose participants to the pedagogy of their host country culture, either by employing local instructors in consultation with the GU faculty or by integrating local instructors in program activities and discussions. To the fullest degree possible, these programs should take maximum advantage of their overseas locations by placing students in host families, providing them with peer tutors, and/or offering extensive opportunities for volunteer activities within the community. Program directors should actively encourage students to speak exclusively in their host-country language, to socialize with members of the host-country culture, and to avoid speaking English (other than in emergencies) during the program.

All programs should include in their pre-departure orientation discussions of the process of language learning so that students with minimal experience in second language acquisition understand the demands of the process, while more experienced students shed unrealistic expectations of achieving “fluency” in a few weeks, understand the critical importance of interacting with native speakers outside the classroom, and begin to reflect on their individual needs as foreign-language learners.

Cultural Learning

Programs should be designed to significantly broaden and complicate students’ understanding of the host-country culture. Toward that aim, faculty directors should be prepared to:

  • Encourage students to consider the overall concept of culture and the manner in which their own national cultures shape their assumptions about the world;
  • Design activities and excursions that consistently engage students with members of the local community;
  • Minimize the amount of time participants spend only with other Americans.
Health and Safety

The faculty director and on-site staff must have clear and detailed plans to provide for student health and to address medical emergencies at the program site and during program excursions in keeping with the Georgetown University emergency protocol. These plans should take into full consideration the physical challenges presented by the infrastructure of the program’s location and include a comprehensive review of medical resources. At least two people (the faculty director and an additional program staff member, or the faculty director and an on-site staff member from the host institution) should be available to provide 24-hour emergency assistance. Students should be fully informed of the health and safety challenges of a given program before they have committed to attending it.


The program should provide comprehensive pre-departure and in-country orientations.

A) Pre-departure orientations should address the program’s academic requirements, housing and meals, host-country visa requirements, instructions for travel to the program site, health and safety concerns, medical care, emergency procedures, insurance, packing, host-country logistics (e.g., telephones, Internet, finances), cultural challenges, and strategies for adapting to life abroad.

B) In-country orientations should review health and safety guidelines and emergency procedures; provide specific information about the mores and customs of the host-country culture; and offer active opportunities for students to learn the layout of their host-university campus, use the public transportation system, navigate the city, purchase food and cell phones, and visit the program’s recommended medical center.

Faculty Director Selection

OGE reviews all candidates for summer directorships in consultation with the appropriate academic department. The program director must possess the cultural and linguistic expertise to lead students in the proposed location. He or she must also be prepared to carry out the many non-academic duties of his/her position, which include providing 24-hour emergency assistance, regularly counseling students, addressing behavioral issues and group dynamics, visiting host families, planning and joining excursions, and being widely accessible to students throughout the program. The director must possess the necessary interpersonal skills to assist students effectively as they experience the physical and emotional stress of life abroad. The director must plan to be on-site with students for the full duration of the proposed program. All program directors are required to attend an orientation and training session led by staff of the Office of Global Education prior to departure; this requirement applies both to new directors and to directors who have led programs in the past.

Program Sustainability

The program must be sustainable both in staffing and its enrollments for at least three years:

A) The program should be able to draw from several qualified Georgetown faculty and/or graduate students (where appropriate) to serve as on-site directors over an extended period. A specific plan for the program’s continuation for at least three years should be included in the program proposal.

B) The program must have demonstrable potential to draw student enrollments sufficient to meet its costs. In general, only about fifty percent of students who apply for a summer study abroad program actually attend. Thus, a program with a minimum enrollment of ten must typically be able to garner no fewer than twenty applications each year. New program proposals must include a careful assessment of potential enrollments and a detailed plan for recruitment.

A New Addition to the Range of Existing Programs: The new program must be distinct and unique, offering opportunities for students to explore academic subjects and locations that are not currently a part of Georgetown summer overseas studies. If the program is to be located in an area where another GU program already exists, the new program’s academic design and rationale must be wholly separate from the existing program. In addition, it is imperative that new programs not threaten to draw students away from semester or academic-year programs.

A Beginning Rather Than an End: To the fullest degree possible, the program should be designed to encourage students to return to the host country for longer periods of overseas study (semester or academic year) in the future. Programs may do so by calling students’ attention to important topics that are too complex to explore fully in a short program, by examining long-term study abroad opportunities in the region, and/or by challenging students to examine critically the concepts of area studies and cultural expertise.

Questions to Consider Before Proposing a GU Summer Program

Program Design
  • How does program location connect to curriculum? Is the program’s setting an integral part of its academic focus?
  • Is the program designed to foster meaningful contact between GU participants and the local population?
  • What makes this program unique at GU? Does it add something new to the current array of GU study abroad programs, or does it duplicate existing programs in some way?
  • On what institutional relationship will the program be based? How fully will the host institution support this program and its students? Do you personally know staff/faculty at the host university who would be working with our students? How interested/committed are they to the success of the program?
  • What housing options are available? How would we verify the quality of housing? If host families are to receive students, who will select and orient families, make student placements, and review quality?
  • Will the program provide direct GU credit or transfer credit? If GU credit, what must be done to have the courses officially approved at Georgetown?
  • How would you recruit students for this program? To what type(s) of students (majors, graduate programs, fields of study) would this particular program appeal? Would it draw students from other existing programs or pull new students into study abroad?
  • How fully will your department support the program? Will this program continue to exist after its founder no longer wants to lead student groups to this location? Who would succeed the program’s founder as overseas director?
  • Will the program’s cost be within reach of most GU students? (Cost is a major concern for summer programs: all program expenses, including faculty salary, travel, and housing, along with main campus administrative fees, must be paid by participants. Most summer programs that are six weeks long cost between $7,000 and $8,000. As financial aid is extremely limited, program costs often make it much harder than expected to recruit students.)
Health and Safety
  • What medical resources are available at the program location? If a student had a severe medical emergency, where would you take him/her for treatment? How quickly could a student be evacuated? What resources would be available to support a student suffering a psychiatric crisis?
  • What health and safety risks are inherent to this location? Is transportation to and from the host university safe and reliable? Will students be exposed to high-crime areas? Are students likely to be the focus of unfriendly attention in other ways?
  • If the faculty director is occupied with a full-scale emergency, who is available to support the group?
Faculty Director
  • Does the faculty director possess the necessary cultural and linguistic expertise to lead students in the proposed location?
  • Is he/she prepared to take on the many non-academic responsibilities inherent to this position (providing twenty-four hour on-call assistance, counseling students, addressing behavioral issues and group dynamics, planning excursions, responding to health-and-safety emergencies)?
  • Does he/she have the necessary interpersonal skills to assist students effectively as they experience the physical and emotional stress of life abroad?

*Please note: Proposals for new summer programs must be submitted to the Office of Global Education no later than March 1 of the year preceding the proposed program’s first year of operation.*

Summer Program Proposal Template