Office of International Programs

FAQs for Faculty Leaders

How many credits are most travel courses?
Most travel courses are approved for 3-6 credits. Shorter programs that are two weeks or less tend to be 3 credits, while programs that are longer than 2 weeks tend to be 6 credits. Travel courses must meet the same contact hour requirements as courses on campus. That is, for every 3 credits there must be 45 contact hours plus a two-hour assessment at the end of the course. You may also choose to include class meetings before or after travel, particularly if the time abroad is short.  Contact hours are commonly defined as any activity in which the students are engaged with the learning objectives of the course. This can include lectures by the faculty or local experts, visits to museums or cultural sites, group discussion time, and student presentations.  

Can I bring a group by myself?
There must always be two responsible leaders on each program unless the program is co-sponsored by another university that agrees to assist with potential emergencies while the group is abroad. Larger programs will enrollments over 20 students will require at least three responsible leaders. The primary leader must be a USM faculty member (either full-time or part-time) in order to be sponsored by USM.

The second leader can be another USM faculty member, a USM staff member, a USM graduate student, a faculty member at a different university, a colleague from the host country who is willing to accompany the group at all times or serve as an on-call emergency backup person, or a spouse. Serving as the second leader is excellent experience for faculty members who are thinking about developing their own short-term travel program.

First preference is given to USM faculty and staff for the position of a second leader. If you wish to elect a secondary leader that is not employed by USM, we must work through Human Resources to temporarily hire the elected leader to provide the same liability protection and coverage as a regular university employee.

How much will I get paid?
We use the same remuneration policies as teaching on-campus courses during the summer and winter session. Full-time faculty teaching and coordinating short-term travel courses during the summer session are paid 7% of their base annual salary per three credit course. The spring semester base annual salary is used for this calculation. Full-time faculty teaching and coordinating short-term travel courses during the winter session are paid according to the AFUM Overload Schedule according to academic rank. Part-time faculty coordinating short-term travel programs are paid off of the PAFTA Overload Schedule according to their academic rank, regardless of whether they are teaching during the winter of summer session.

There must be at least 8 students and in some cases more than 8 to cover the cost of one full faculty salary. If you are team-teaching, there must be at least 16 students enrolled in the program to cover two full faculty salaries. If two faculty choose to lead a program with fewer than 16 students, the faculty will need to split a full salary. If a significant portion of the instruction of the course is taught by guest lecturer(s) or if a significant portion of the logistics are managed by an in-country coordinator, a portion of your salary may be used to pay for their stipend which will reduce the amount of compensation you will receive.  All salary details will be finalized and provided in a contract after your proposal has been approved.

Will I receive a per diem?
The Office of International Programs will provide a per diem for every faculty leader except for programs where all faculty expenditures are covered in advance or as part of the program fee (ie. all meals are pre-arranged and pre-paid in the destination).

How are students recruited for a travel course?
The Office of International Programs will assist the program leaders in recruiting, but we have found that students are most interested when approached by the program leaders directly. As a program leader, you are encouraged to discuss your program with students in all of your classes and ask colleagues to promote your program in their classes too.

The Office of International Programs will talk about travel courses in study abroad advising sessions and class visits, post information on USM’s summer, winter, and international web sites, advertise at student fairs, post flyers and send mass e-mail promotions. 

Some other suggestions for marketing your program:

  • Advertise to former students from previous classes (e-mail is an easy and effective method!)
  • Visit classes with related topics
  • Host a course-specific information session, or reserve a table at the dining hall with program materials
  • Post an ad for your course on your departmental web page and ask your department to post a link to the travel course website

What are the minimum enrollments for travel courses and when will I know if the program will run or be canceled?
The Office of International Programs will work with you to determine a minimum enrollment for your course before we finalize the program budget. The lowest number we can consider is 8 students though most programs require at least 10-12 students. We base the minimum enrollments on a number of factors including the program location, housing or transportation limitations, and student program fee.  Since the course instructor(s) expenses are shared among the paying participants, a minimum enrollment is necessary to contain the costs.

If fewer than the stated minimum enroll, the course will be cancelled or the feasibility of re-arranging the program for a smaller group will be negotiated. Course enrollments will be reviewed the week after the application deadline to determine whether there are sufficient enrollments to run the course. 

Can I bring my spouse and/or children?
No, not unless they are officially enrolled in the course (i.e. will receive credit and a grade) and their enrollment has been approved by the Office of International Programs Director. The enrolled family member must pay the full cost of the program to USM.

What are my responsibilities for the travel logistics?
The Office of International Programs will make reservations and payments to vendors, including but not limited to hotels, airlines, ground transportation providers, museums and tour guides. If a vendor cannot accept payment in advance, the faculty leader will need to make payment at the time of the purchase using a p-card or travel advance. OIP will not make any reservations without first getting approval from the faculty leader. OIP is required to follow the policies and procedures set forth by Purchasing and Payables and the University Risk Management and will advise the faculty of any policies that may change or limit plans set forth in the proposal. 

Faculty leaders are expected to suggest specific hotels or preferred neighborhoods for lodging and provide guidance on your preferred method(s) of in-country transportation. Faculty leaders are responsible for arranging and confirming any guest lectures. OIP will handle payment to the lecturers.

If you are traveling to an area or country that you have never visited, we strongly recommend working with a study abroad organization. Many study abroad organizations offer customized programs the include a dedicated staff person who will accompany your group each day. The Office of International Programs can identify study abroad organizations who plan customized programs in the location you desire. OIP will work with you to develop an outline of required services for your program and gather bids from providers. The faculty leaders will work with OIP to select the most appropriate provider.

I’d like to stay overseas after the program ends. Is that okay?
Many of our faculty chose a particular destination because of a personal connection and request to stay there after the program ends. This is okay provided you bring the students to the airport and ensure that they all successfully check in for their return flight to the US. You are still expected to submit your receipts and travel expense voucher to the Office of International Programs within 2 weeks of the program end date. This can be done by scanning copies of receipts and then sending the originals by mail.

The Office of International Programs will not cover any additional expenses incurred after the program ends (additional hotel nights, transportation costs, etc) or flight change fees. If you purchase a plane ticket separately, we will only reimburse up to the same amount as the group flight and reimbursement cannot be made until you submit a travel advance request prior to departure per policies set by Purchasing and Payables. 

What kinds of expenses cannot be covered?
The Office of International Programs may not be able to reimburse expenses that were not submitted in the original budget (i.e. dinners with colleagues, a luncheon for the students). When in doubt, please contact the Office of International Programs.

Alcohol cannot be covered by the Office of International Programs and it can never be purchased for a student. If you are taking a colleague out to dinner as a thank you in lieu of an honorarium, we cannot reimburse for any alcoholic beverages unless you have received special permission from your department to use a gift account. The Office of International Programs will not reimburse mileage to the Portland Jetport, Concord Trailways Bus Station, or other locations within the Portland/Lewiston Auburn area.