Getting Ready

Everything you will need to do before departing

Touch Points

Implementation, Committees, and Check-Ins

After your GSP is accepted by the advisory committee, you will meet with your Group Study Program Advisor and the GSP Operations Specialist. The purpose of this meeting is to implement feedback given by the committee into the program, divide tasks, and clarify any remaining details between all parties. Following this meeting, your budget will be sent to the Tuition and Fees Consultation Committee (TFCC). Upon approval of your budget, we can officially start promoting your program.

In addition to any informal check-ins that you would like to have throughout the recruitment process, we will also meet again just before the winter break for a Mid-Point Check-In. The timing may vary depending on your departure date. This meeting is a chance to evaluate if everything is going well in the recruitment and planning process or if amendments need to be made to your program going forward.

Recruitment Phase

Recruitment Phase

This section outlines the needs of the program you will be involved with from the time it is launched to students, until it is full and closed. 


Promotion is critical for Group Study Programs. There are several methods Study Abroad uses that you will be a part of.

Information sessions are highly beneficial for students to attend so that they can meet you as the instructor and get the essential information they need to make an informed decision. This can be covered in the first half of the session. In the second half, your GSP advisor can cover the application process and preparation required of the students before they depart on the program. In total they typically run for one hour. Holding 2-3 across the fall term at varied times ensures that you'll reach a variety of students. 

Classroom visits provide potential participants with a brief glimpse of the program and usually will invite them to an information session. Students are very responsive when professors talk about their own programs, however, when necessary, the GSP team is happy to help with these as well.

Visits can be as short as 5 minutes – just enough to give a brief overview of the program and hand out brochures containing follow up information and links to the program webpage.   

Your GSP Advisor will work with you to design and print posters and brochures that authentically and attractively represent your program. We will order the print materials for you and deliver them to your office at the beginning of September so that you are ready to provide them to your students and colleagues at the beginning of the fall semester.

Your GSP Advisor will help you develop your individual program webpage. These pages are designed to show detailed information about your program, answer common questions, and link students to other important resources. It will also allow students to apply for your program through our registration system, RAISA. 

The three most commonly used platforms are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Our advisors and past instructors have found social media to be a useful tool to connect with prospective students and market upcoming events.

While highly engaging and widely used by many students on campus, social media is limited in its reach, as not all students will have account or be active with all platforms. For this reason, it is best to use social media in partnership with other marketing strategies.

Using channels within your department is a good strategy to find potential students that would be interested in the courses offered on your GSP. You can work with your GSP advisor to develop language or digital posters that can be distributed to students by email, newsletters, or posted to a D2L page. 

Applications & Accepting Students

Screening Tools

If you would like to receive additional information from the students that is not already included with the online application collected through our system, you can request the following from applicants:

  • Unofficial academic transcripts
  • A brief questionnaire
  • Academic or non-academic references
  • A short interview
  • A program participation agreement

None of these screening tools are required and your GSP Advisor can request the merit of each screening tool with you at implementation.

Instructors are encouraged to create clear criteria for selecting students in advance. Sticking to them will be important as it can aid in the event that a student appeals being declined or waitlisted for a program.

Who can participate in a GSP?

Generally, GSPs are open to all students who are in good academic standing with exceptions being made at the discretion of the professor. Some programs will limit their applicant pool to students in certain majors, years standing, or with specific prerequisites. When determining pre-requisites, please keep in mind the number of students that you will need to recruit and the size of your applicant pool.

GSPs are not limited to domestic undergraduate students. You can also accept students in the following categories:

  • Open Studies students
  • Visiting students from other institutions
  • International students enrolled in programs at UCalgary
  • University staff members

Pre-Departure Phase

Pre-Departure Phase

Once your program is fully recruited, you can start to move forward with the arrangements with your department and in field

Pre-Departure Responsibilities

Once you reach the minimum number of students you will have to start reaching out to your vendors to make bookings. These will likely be based on the research you have already done in creating your budget and include accommodations, transportation, and special activities (e.g.: events, site visits, conferences, etc). As you reach out to vendors, it is important to connect them with the GSP Operations Specialist for payments to be made, bookings confirmed, and ensure that everything fits into the previously approved budget.

Once recruitment for the program is full, you and the students will receive instructions by email for purchasing your flights. The email will include a travel information form that you must fill out and return to the travel agent in person or electronically.

All flights must be arranged through our designated travel agent. Everyone is required to travel together from Calgary for risk management reasons 

The cost of instructor flights and insurance are built into the program budget. We work with the travel agent to book and pay for instructor flights for all in program flights. The budget covers the equivalent of an economy round trip between Calgary to the destination. You may also wish to change your dates in order to stay on longer after the program ends. Be aware that you will be responsible for any deviation of price from any upgrades or change of return dates.

Students are permitted to travel on after the end of the program but they must book their return flight to Canada through the travel agent assigned to your program. If your students travel on, they are responsible for communicating their plans to the travel agent at the time they submit their air letter (travel information form). They are also responsible for submitting their assignments by the dates on the course outline unless an extension is provided by you.

Your GSP Advisor will host one mandatory pre-departure session that will include you as an instructor, teaching assistants (if applicable), and students. This session will focus on intercultural competency development, safety abroad, conflict resolution, and group dynamics.

Students will also be required to complete online modules on D2L, organized by Study Abroad, before departure.

Your group may also need additional sessions depending on your programming. This may include, first aid training, travel clinics, swim assessments, etc. Work with your GSP Advisor to make these arrangements for your students.

You will be provided with instructions to input your request for travel advance into the PeopleSoft system by the GSP operations specialist approximately four weeks prior to departure. When there is more than one instructor, the cash advance is usually given to just one instructor. When setting this up, you will be asked to identify how much cash must be insured if you must travel with currency on your person. All accounts regarding finances must be settled, after your program ends, as soon as possible with the GSP operations specialist.

Managing cash advance funds while in the field in crucial to the program’s success as all programs are cost recovery.

Before departure you will receive a cash advance breakdown detailing the different categories that the money you have been advanced is intended for. This will likely mirror the remaining expenses to your vendors. 

Departmental Responsibilities

Communicating with your department to make sure your courses are timetabled can be done at this point. Your GSP Advisor will need to know the name of the department contact responsible for helping with student registration as well. Lastly, you will need to make arrangements for any classes you plan on having on campus before departing on your program.

You GSP Advisor is more than happy to help you navigate this process. Reach out if you have any questions.

Academic Work

You may hold academic sessions to prepare the students for the field as you see fit but you cannot assign any work to your students that will count towards their grade prior to the in-field dates of your program. In the past professors have hosted a meet and greet, packing sessions, or an in depth program overview with students in six to eight weeks leading up to their departure.

If you would like to set an academic foundation for your students before they leave, you can assign readings, discussions, and D2L activities. Some professors even take the week before their departure to conduct classes with their students.

A comprehensive Emergency Response Plan must be completed and submitted to Study Abroad at least two weeks prior to departure. It should include: 

  • a detailed accommodation itinerary
  • identification and management of hazards
  • in-field phone numbers

You may request a travel briefing from Risk Management and Insurance if submitted 3 weeks in advance through the following link. This is highly reccommended.

In addition to the travel briefing, you may use the details from the Risk Considerations section of your proposal as a start. We also recommend using Global Affairs Canada, International SOS, and any other information sourced from relevant organizations (World Health Organization, Centre for Disease Control, etc.) to create an informed and up to date plan with the current conditions of your destination(s) close to your date of departure. 

An entire term could go by between when you talk to a student in an information session to when the group needs to travel together. We encourage instructors to keep in touch with them and give students the chance to meet each other in some capacity. Holding meetings and facilitating groups discussions online are all great ways of doing that. They also have the added benefits of keeping the students' excited and making travel smoother since everyone is familiar.

You will need to make sure you complete any additional items required from Study Abroad such as: 

  • Registering yourself as the instructor of the program in RAISA
  • Providing a copy of your passport
  • Register to drive with Risk Management (if necessary)
  • Reviewing the Travel website from Risk Management
  • Completing First Aid certification*
  • Getting any required vaccinations for travel completed**
  • Register your travel with the Registry of Canadian Abroad

*It is a requirement that one member of the instructional staff on a program be first aid certified.                              **Please note that you must arrange this independently and it will not be paid for by the University of Calgary.