How To Start a Faculty-Led Program at a Community College

November 25 , 2019

How To Start a Faculty-Led Program at a Community College

Studying abroad is an enriching experience for all students, however, many students attending community college never get the opportunity. While 16% of students earning a bachelor’s degree will study abroad, less than 1% will study abroad if they attend a community college. This is not for lack of interest, but rather the hardships that fall on administrators at the community college level.

There are five major challenges standing in the way of community colleges implementing successful and sustainable study abroad programs. The first is the relatively short amount of time students attend a community college with a majority being two years. Second, is garnering student participation in the program and making sure it is affordable. The third reason is the lack of funding and resources, where many four year institutions receive endowments and financial contributions, it is less likely for community colleges to receive any type of study abroad funding. Fourth is less faculty on campus and fewer incentives for faculty to design a program proposal and lead a program abroad. Lastly, a lack of awareness is a key factor in minimal interest in implementing study abroad programs at community colleges.

This might sound like a hefty list, but there is a wealth of solutions and supplemental ideas that can help you implement a flourishing study abroad program at your community college.

Program Lengths

A short-term program, less than eight weeks, is the perfect avenue for designing a program with community college students in mind. The program will be more affordable and flexible, without creating a problem where students are missing critical semesters and classes to transfer. While a summer program is a great option, consider alternative short-term time frames like a spring/fall break, a winter month, or a Maymester. These alternatives will allow students to potentially utilize financial aid resources to study abroad and will leave their summers open for work or internships. The breaks can also be used as a supplemental class in addition to one enrolled in for the semester.

Cross-Discipline Design

To tackle the challenge of student participation, especially when programs are first being introduced to a university, design a proposal that encompasses cross-disciplinary classes with multiple courses offered. The variety of studies will increase the pool of potential students and help finance the program. In order to do that you might need a little outside help.

Tour Provider

Working with a tour provider is an excellent route to achieve a sustainable program. At first instinct, it seems like it would only increase costs, but it is actually one of the best methods used by community colleges across the country. While four-year universities have a dedicated study abroad office, administration, and experience, many community colleges are working with limited resources. To counteract that, working with a tour provider can provide insight into the most cost-effective program sites and itineraries, relieving all liability concerns, helping with marketing efforts, and keeping a tight budget.

Partnering with Other CCs

Reach out to other community colleges in your regional area to get advice on their programs, design a program together, or channel students to study abroad through their program. Find out if there is a regional or state-wide community college consortium for study abroad. These consortiums can allow for great partnerships and increase study abroad programs for many students. If designing a program with one or multiple community colleges, a tour provider can also help facilitate the partnership and handle all requests instead of one college shouldering all the responsibility.


If you’re concerned about a lack of enthusiasm and support for implementing a study abroad program from faculty and administration, host a workshop on how to propose and lead a program abroad. Another option is to have an information session during professional development events at the college. Have material ready to go over the timeline of designing a program, best practices for leading students abroad, and common concerns for faculty. Some community college consortiums, like MCCIEC, host an international forum for statewide faculty and administration to build study abroad partnerships and awareness. Lastly, consider joining a group like CCID, Community Colleges for International Development.

Program Development

7 Best Questions To Ask When Choosing a Tour Provider

If you’ve decided to start planning your study abroad program and search for a tour provider but don’t know the questions to ask potential providers, we’ve got you covered. Based on 15 years of experience, we have compiled our list of the 7 best and most necessary questions to ask during your process of selecting a tour provider for your program.


Jenna Steeve