The Many Roles of a Faculty-Led Study Abroad Program Professor

By Melanie Foster freelance writer higher education for education-related websites and blogs

The Many Roles of a Faculty-Led Study Abroad Program Professor
The Many Roles of a Faculty-Led Study Abroad Program Professor

Professors who take part in their college’s faculty-led study abroad programs know that the work is both rewarding and challenging. As fun and exciting as teaching abroad is, there is nothing easy about it. This is because the faculty member is not only in charge of their classroom; they are also in charge of planning and managing an array of other extracurricular activities and overseeing the order and safety of their students.

Hence, faculty-led study abroad programs require that professors play more than just the role of teacher. It takes a very cool, confidant person to handle a group of students 24/7, but it’s an experience that you will never forget, as it gives you the opportunity to teach both inside the classroom and out in the real world. As a test to your leadership skills, joining a faculty-led study abroad program will require you to prove your abilities as a college professor, as well as your competencies in the following additional roles.


As “administrator,” professors will need to make sure that all their ducks are in a row, so to speak. They will be partly in charge of ensuring that their students have completed and turned in all necessary forms and paperwork before leaving the country. They will also need to make sure that all fees have been paid. In addition, professors should meet with students before the trip to discuss policies and procedures and to go over a checklist of what to bring on your trip. Professors will also be responsible for keeping up with their own paperwork related to the study abroad program.

Travel Planner and Tour Guide

Regarding extracurricular activities, professors will need to do research and make travel plans ahead of time. This is especially important, because most sightseeing will be done as a group and order will be needed to remain on schedule and see all points of interest. Some sites and places may require large groups of visitors to plan their tour ahead of time to better accommodate their needs. In those instances where a tour guide is not provided, professors should prepare a lesson plan to teach students the history and facts about the site or place.

Safety and Health Director

Studying abroad is the ultimate test of freedom for college students. Although they are completely free to go and do what they want, professors should still require students check in and out. This is not for policing purposes but for safety purposes. If something were to happen, the professor will at least know when the student left the dorm and where they were expected to go. Professors should also familiarize themselves with clinics and hospitals in the area, as well as request that students notify them about any life-threatening allergies or health problems.

Think you have what it takes to lead a study abroad program? If so, speak to your department director about how to get trained today. If you’re up for the task, participating in a faculty-led program will truly be an experience you will want to repeat year after year, as it both enriches the teaching experience and provides a breath of fresh air to your academic career.


As a freelance writer, Melanie Foster shares valuable information about higher education for students and faculty alike. In addition to regularly contributing articles to, Melanie also writes for numerous other education-related websites and blogs. Please leave any questions or comments for her below.

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One thought on “The Many Roles of a Faculty-Led Study Abroad Program Professor

  1. Great article Melanie! Although I have worked mainly with high school teachers traveling with their students, I find that educators also have to play the role of cheerleader or salesperson for these programs. Of course with programs that are well-established this isn’t a problem but do you find that with educators attempting programs for the first time that one of their main jobs is building awareness around a program and generating excitement?

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