Program proposal & design

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Call for proposals

The call for proposals is generally circulated from Study Abroad through departments on campus in April each year. If you wish to submit a proposal, they are due in June. The call will provide a specific deadline. Contact your dean for more details.

Please submit proposals to  
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions! 

Proposal components

The original documents of your proposal will need to be reviewed and signed by the department head(s), associate dean(s), and/or dean(s) (whoever is responsible for approving courses as well as the program proposal). This is to ensure that the departments are fully aware of your program and its budget, avoiding any surprises during the planning and implementation process.

There are several components that make up the written section:

  1. Program preamble/rationale 
  2. Educational Value
  3. Financial Viability
  4. Degree of Safety/Risk Management Considerations
  5. Alternate Itinerary 
  6. Building Intercultural Capacity 
  7. Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  8. Connection to UCalgary Institutional Strategies 
  9. Potential Popularity 
  10. Transdisciplinary Appeal 

If each component is well-articulated, it helps your advisor, the GSP advisory committee, and your students understand why your program is pedagogically and logistically sound and important. You can be concise but will need to make sure it is clear that you have thoroughly researched your locations and have a solid grasp of what you would be doing with your students and how. The locations and topics may be unfamiliar to the committee, so some background information and visual tools, like maps and photographs, can be a big help.  

It is very important that you are particularly thorough in your risk considerations section. Proposals lacking proper consideration in this area may be sent back to the faculty member who submitted the proposal for review and improvement during the implementation process. 

We realize that some details may change closer to the date of your program, however, the more detail you can give the committee, the better.

Travel Programs: Allowing space in the itinerary for students to conduct independent research, work on assignments, and rest is encouraged. We advise avoiding listing “free days” in your itinerary as this may signal to students that they are free to break away from the group without informing program leadership where they will be. Please include a map of any destinations not easily located through Google Maps.

Virtual Programs: It is important to consider time zone differences and access to technology when planning and scheduling components of your program that involve international collaboration with partner institutions or organizations. Additionally, consideration of the student experience in terms of how much time is spent in front of an electronic device per day is important. Allowing days off and “zoom-free” time frames, in addition to balancing synchronous activities with asynchronous activities, is encouraged.

If your schedule or itinerary need to be updated at any point before your program start date, please send an updated copy to your Global Learning Advisor at

Make sure that your budget works in every cost you can think of. These expenses may include, but are not limited to: daily meals, cell phone bills, copying, tips given to guides and speakers, public transit, special equipment, and vaccines. 

Ensure that, where requested, individual line items are fully described in the written proposal so that the committee will know what activity each of the budget sections are being used for.

Please keep in mind that the program must be cost recovery, so the NET line must be greater than zero. 

Budgets should be created in Canadian Dollars. An estimate sheet showing what currency exchange rate you should be using to calculate costs is included in the Call for Proposal documents.

For any questions regarding the budget, please contact our GSP Operations Specialist Shannon Wagner at

You will need to submit a course information table showing the courses you will offer as well as the associated course outline/syllabus.

These documents must be provided to all departmental administrators involved in order to facilitate the timetabling of the courses and the preparation of contracts for instructors. Should you change any of the component courses after the proposal is signed, it will require an email of permission from the Department Head approving the change.

The advisory committee

Your proposal will be reviewed by an advisory committee made of Study Abroad team members, past instructors, and representatives of UCI, the Registrar, and Risk Management. Their job is to ask questions to clarify any missing details and make recommendations to ensure that all of your program details are thoroughly outlined before we begin to market your program in the Fall.

The committee generally meets on the third Wednesday in June. If you are submitting a new proposal, you will have the option of presenting your program to the committee, either in person or through video conference. This presentation will generally be a maximum of 10 minutes – including your presentation and questions from the committee. 

We can help

A lot of energy goes into designing a program and preparing your proposal. Check in with each of these groups on campus for advice and support.

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Your department

The first people you should talk to when creating a GSP is your department head. They give the final approval to programs and will be able to explain any obstacles to your participation. They will circulate the call for GSP proposals, mentioning any additional criteria or processes they may have. All proposals must first be submitted to your faculty's leadership for sign-off before they can be submitted (as indicated on the back of the proposal cover page).

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Study Abroad team

The Study Abroad team is here to support you throughout the entire process and can assist with all of your questions. Email to start the conversation! 

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Teaching & learning support

The Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning is available to support you in developing your Group Study Program. Lisa Stowe, the Director of Experiential Education, is not only an expert in teaching and pedagogy, but has years or experience leading her own GSP. Check out the Taylor Institute's online resources and get in touch with Lisa at

Tips for creating a program

With the increase in online learning, we are exploring more virtual and hybrid international learning experiences. This opens up programs to more instructors and students who might not be able to travel for an extended period of time. 

Virtual Group Study Programs:

These programs are globally-themed online courses situated within one discipline and/or associated with specific geographical locations. Virtual programs provide the possibility of accepting a larger cohort of participants as well as the opportunity to engage with content representing multiple and distant geographies, societies, etc. They also lower costs substantially for students, increasing access to global learning. Virtual programs may have on-campus components however most of the content will be virtual, and students should be able to participate equitably in on-campus program components from wherever they are. Virtual programs will provide opportunities for students to collaborate with partner institutions or organizations and/or with students located in the regions of study.

Hybrid programs:

There are many possibilities that a combination of international, virtual and/or on-campus program components allow. A hybrid program could involve meeting on campus for pre-travel coursework, as has been the case for many programs in the past. Another model would encourage students traveling to collaborate with a cohort of students remaining at home and who are participating virtually or from campus. We look forward to seeing how instructors use this creative space to develop programs best suited for their student communities, partners and disciplines.

If you're starting from scratch, it's a great idea to reach out to colleagues and members of the Study Abroad team to see if they might have knowledge of past programs in your destination. We are also happy to connect you with other instructions that have led programs in the past.

In all program modalities you can provide guest lectures, collaborative projects and more with the help of local contacts. You could also develop a joined program with a colleague in another country where students work together (for in-person and virtual programs). For travel programs, local contacts may also be helpful when you are looking for good hotels, reliable transportation or organizing activities. They may even be able to help you set up an arrangement to use class space and instructors at a local institution. 

Many instructors have found site visits essential to building a comprehensive proposal and working out many unforeseen logistical issues before having to navigate the country with students in tow. You will want to scope out affordable but appropriate accommodation, transportation options, quality teaching spaces (if traditional classrooms are not available), and opportunities for unique and exciting student experiences. 

Depending on your destination, site visits may be expensive and time consuming. Luckily, past instructors have been able to access funding specifically for program development.

Risk is an unavoidable part of travel. Any country you go to will have its dangers and it is very important to do thorough research on how you will identify and mitigate risks in-field. Some risks are too great for the university's policies to allow, and some will deter student participation. In most cases you will simply need a rock-solid risk management plan. Your Global Learning Advisor will be more than happy to advise you on university risk policy and some strategies for mitigation. 

Above all, try to enjoy the exploratory stage. There is much to think about, however, this is your chance to think completely outside the four walls of the classroom. Thinking creatively in your research will help both you and your students have an enjoyable and memorable experience. 

Past Group Study programs

If you are looking for inspiration in pulling your proposal together check out these past programs. 

Tropical Biodiversity and Conservation in Belize

This program will introduce students in Biological Sciences and other related majors to tropical biology, field techniques, and biodiversity and conservation in a developing country. Prior to departure, students will participate in a one week on-campus introduction to patterns of global biodiversity, tropical ecology and the natural history of organisms local to the field site, efforts at conservation in a developing country, as well as a brief overview of the history, politics, and culture of Belize before embarking on their adventure.


Program Page

Environmental & Conservation Geography of SE Asia

This program’s itinerary is designed to maximize exposure to local natural and urban environments; as well as the historical evolution of – and social, political, and environmental problems occurring within – the Southeast Asian region.

Program Page

Experiencing Japanese Business

This immersive program will allow students to experience first-hand the beauty and paradox that is modern Japanese culture, while at the same time developing key cross-cultural and international business acumen.

Program Page