Getting Started

Where can I go? Which of ISA’s sites can support a Custom Program?

ISA Custom Programs can support your program in any of our program sites. This list is always growing, so please check back often if you do not see your country of interest!

How long can my program be?

ISA Custom Programs can support your program for any duration of time.  Currently, our shortest programs are week-long programs that typically occur over J-Term or Spring Break. We also are experienced in designing and supporting semester-long programs, and any short-term program length in between.

How do I know what Program Model I should use?

If you are unsure as to what academic program model you think will apply to your program ideas, or have any questions at all, please let us help you decide! Learn more about Program Models.

Do I need to bring another faculty member or an assistant?

Typically, no. Due to the presence of an ISA staff member and their level of expertise, ISA Custom Programs typically have just one faculty leader. Additionally, program cost per-student will increase for an additional faculty leader.

Please note that ISA Resident Staff are on call for emergencies 24/7 and will accompany your program on visits, activities, and excursions. ISA is committed to maintaining a staff to student ratio of 1:20 at all times.

However, some universities maintain a required ratio of faculty leaders to student participants, so we recommend that you check with your study abroad office when deciding how many faculty or staff will accompany the group.

Who are the Resident Directors?

Once on-site, ISA’s full-time Resident Directors assist students and faculty with all aspects of their experience abroad. ISA Resident Directors are locals or have lived extensively in the site and are highly knowledgeable about the available facilities, customs, support services and local people.

The ISA Resident Directors provide support for academics, arrange program orientation, excursions, weekly meeting, cultural activities, and much more. ISA staff members are trained to ensure the well-being of each program participant and make every effort to make themselves accessible to students at all times.

What is your student-staff ratio?

At ISA, we are committed to maintaining a student to staff ratio of 20 to 1. We expand our staff as necessary in order to provide a personal and accountable relationship between our Resident staff and ISA students.

I've never been abroad. Can I still lead a program?

Yes! Custom Programs recommends contacting your Study Abroad Office as the first point of contact. Most Study Abroad Offices are more than willing to provide training, program development guidelines and on-going support for faculty interested in leading programs abroad. Also, ISA provides a Faculty Handbook outlining roles and responsibilities for program logistics, recruitment ideas, on-site resources and post-program evaluations. Copies of this handbook are available upon request.

Furthermore, in addition to your university’s resources, ISA offers Faculty Seminars where U.S. faculty, faculty from our host institution partners, and local experts can exchange ideas about ISA's host institution partners and the academic programs available. This may be a beneficial avenue for you to learn more about leading a program abroad!

Do I need to know the host country’s language to lead a program?

Not necessarily. While language capability never hurts, it is not imperative for you to speak or even be familiar with the language of your host country. Our on-site Resident staff members are fluent in English and are eager to help you facilitate your program abroad. For example, they can arrange for English-speaking guides during academic and cultural visits.

Do my students need to know the host country’s language to participate?

It depends. While language proficiency is not required by ISA, it can affect the program design. For example, in order to participate in most service-learning components available to your program, students will need to have some language proficiency.

Additionally, though many ISA host families do not speak English, they are accustomed to hosting ISA students who may be beginners in the local language. ISA can offer 'survival' language classes for your custom program; often, these are conducted during the first few days of a program and are non-credit bearing. Please speak to a Custom Program Manager for more information.

Is there a minimum number of students I need to recruit?

Not always. For some program models, ISA Custom Programs does not require a minimum number of students. For other models, we typically recommend 10-12 students minimum to participate in your program. Please consult your ISA Program Manager if you are unsure about whether your program will require a student minimum.

How do I market my program and recruit students?

ISA understands the need for effective marketing on campus, as well as nationally, to recruit students for your study abroad program. Check out all of our marketing support services here.

How soon can I get a proposal?

Typically, ISA Custom Programs request 2-3 weeks to submit a complete proposal for your program. In this time, we will create a budget and itinerary for your program based on your specifications and provide a document outlining all of our included support services and activities.