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Custom Programs


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No matter what your academic focus, CIEE has the resources and global infrastructure to help you develop an outstanding custom program that brings your curriculum to life. We offer the ability to design and deliver faculty-led programs, custom semester and quarter programs, and custom internship programs in locations globally.

Why Partner with CIEE

Dedicated Team of Support

Our US- and on-site teams work collaboratively to ensure your program is well supported from program ideation to program departure. With our industry-leading health and safety support, we are there for you to manage emergencies and program disruptions around the clock.

Global Networks and Infrastructure

In each of our 40+ locations, our on-site staff offer deep networks in academics and industry to support and enhance your program goals, as well as logistic support and spaces for teaching and learning.

Flexible Academic Models

We offer flexible program models that appeal to diverse audiences, themes, and institutional goals throughout the year and around the world.

Program Models

Cape Town

Short-term Faculty-led Programs

Lead a program abroad with your students as part of a semester or summer course through your institution. Take advantage of CIEE’s network of support on health and safety, logistics, and academics.

Portugal Lab

Custom Semester Programs

Develop a signature, custom program for your department or institution that can be integrated into your students’ curricula. CIEE can hire faculty to teach specific courses, and deliver health and safety and logistics support.

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Custom Internship Programs

Offer your students real-world global work experience with an internship program customized to your institutions’ requirements.

New Zealand ASU

Modified Programs

Take advantage of CIEE’s extensive curricula and unique program models by customizing a program based on an existing CIEE program. CIEE can adjust the academics and other program inclusions to suit your needs. 


High School Custom Programs

U.S. high school educators can design the perfect learning adventure for their students too! Choose from 35+ destinations and one area of focus. Set the learning goal and the program duration—from 7 days to an academic year. Let CIEE do the rest!

Frequently Asked Questions About Custom Programs

Developing international programs involves careful planning, collaboration, and attention to various logistical and educational aspects. At CIEE, we help you bring your vision to life and offer a consultative approach to developing a program abroad. We are here to help you navigate the process through the following steps:  

  1. Share Your Vision – Consider program basics and goals using our Program Development Questionnaire as a guide. Once you have submitted, your dedicated CIEE Custom Program Manager will be in touch to further discuss your program.
  2. Develop and Commit – Review and discuss CIEE’s proposal and itinerary for your program, with your CIEE Custom Program Manager to ensure it meets your academic goals and budget.
  3. Spread the Word – Once your program is approved by your institution, make use of our Program Promotion Toolkit to support student marketing and recruitment.
  4. Fine-tune the Details – Collaborate and communicate with your CIEE Custom Program Manager and on-site staff to ensure you're satisfied with every detail.  
  5. Begin the Pre-departure Process – Submit your participant list, attend a final itinerary walk-through, and complete an online pre-departure orientation.
  6. Embark and Enjoy – CIEE staff welcome you on-site and provide an orientation.  

A good study abroad program offers a range of features that together create a rewarding and enriching experience for students. We recommend reviewing the Forum on Education Abroad Standards of Good Practice and NAFSA Ethical Principles for industry standards on quality education abroad programming. In addition to these resources, we recommend you consider several key elements when developing a custom or faculty-led program abroad:

  • Audience and Inclusivity: Since our founding, CIEE has placed value on making sure our programs are accessible to as many students as possible, and this value extends to our custom and faculty-led programs as well. When designing your program, consider your audience to ensure that your program design and supports are appropriate and effective. Consider students from different backgrounds on your campus and how your program can be inclusive of their needs and desires. This extends to all program areas highlighted below.
  • Academics: In addition to academic quality, we recommend that courses contribute to the student's degree requirements, localize the academic content to the study abroad location, and provide co-curricular/experiential opportunities to learn outside of the classroom.  
  • Cultural Engagement: To go beyond the tourist experience, we recommend including cultural engagement activities to help students understand and appreciate the local culture and how it connects to their studies (ex: offering homestays, language exchanges, field trips that incorporate the local perspective, industry site visits, cultural activities, internships and other career-related activities, volunteering or service learning). CIEE on-site staff are also a great resource for engaging with locals with diverse perspectives.
  • Health, Safety, and Security: To best support programs abroad, we recommend following industry standards for health, safety, and security and ensuring professional support that has vetted all program elements for these risks prior to the program start. Other health, safety, and security supports included on CIEE programs are pre-departure orientation, on-site support staff, health and safety resources, insurance, and 24/7 emergency support.
  • Program Pacing: Consider your academic goals and how much can be accomplished realistically within a given time frame. We recommend scheduling 2-3 activities per day, including class time. Consider the impact of jet lag and allowing students time to explore on their own to bring back their observations to the program.
  • Pre-departure Preparation and On-site Logistics: At CIEE, we know how much planning and communication goes into organizing custom programs far in advance of the program start dates. We recommend you begin planning 12-18 months prior to the program start date. It is crucial to consider how program logistics – both pre-departure and on-site – will be managed. Pre-departure preparations include management of student applications, visa applications, billing, credit transfer, and itinerary planning. On-site logistics such as booking for events and activities, transportation, and housing also play an important part in ensuring a successful program.  
  • Program Cost: Cost is a significant factor for student recruitment and a primary consideration for CIEE when developing programs that meet the needs of our partners and their students. We recommend you keep in mind the overall program costs, including tuition, and consider how your program can be designed to ensure a quality experience at an affordable fee. Multisite programs, for example, tend to carry higher fees for transit between locations, and action-packed programs with lots of activities may cost more as well.  

Finally, the best way to ensure a good study abroad program is to make sure you have students. Remember the importance of strong marketing and recruitment plans as well. CIEE is here to help from program design to recruitment to on-site support to ensure a smooth and successful program for you and your students! Get started with us today!  

Tips for Leading a Study Abroad Program

Leading a study abroad course or program is a rewarding but complex responsibility, involving logistical, educational, and interpersonal challenges. We recommend reviewing the Forum on Education Abroad Standards of Good Practice and NAFSA Ethical Principles for industry standards on quality education abroad programming. In addition to these resources, here are some tips to help you lead a successful study abroad program:

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  • Consult the Experts: CIEE can help you achieve your vision for your study abroad program based on your goals – academic or otherwise. With our 75 years of experience and global reach, we bring our network, expertise, and support!  
  • Role as Program Leader: Consider the role of the program leader and engagement with students outside of the classroom. Program leader responsibilities extend beyond the classroom to ensuring the day-to-day well-being of students and spending an extended and/or condensed period of time together with students abroad.  
  • Program Planning & Pre-departure Preparation: We recommend starting 12-18 months prior to the program start date, depending on whether you have run this program before and your institutional procedures for approving study abroad programs. This gives time for your program to undergo any approvals processes on campus, for recruitment and marketing, and for pre-departure preparations involving program planning and with students to set expectations around important deadlines such as applications and cultural expectations in pre-departure orientations, emails, and other methods.
  • Location: Consider visiting the program location in advance of your program dates to get ideas for your program, meet your on-site partners, and learn more about the city layout and culture. CIEE can help facilitate a visit to our program locations.
  • Academic Rigor and Relevance: Ensure that the program’s academic content aligns with the students’ home institution requirements and enhances their overall educational goals. Design your program around general education requirements, other major/minor requirements on your campus, difficult to get into courses, or globally-focused courses in your department. CIEE can help you to incorporate local resources, experts, and excursions that enhance the academic material and provide unique, contextual learning opportunities, as well as help students navigate academic challenges by offering tutoring, study groups, or consultations.
  • Recruitment and Marketing: Be sure to market your program to students in different settings and make use of connections on campus for promotion, e.g. on virtual billboards on campus, holding info sessions, flyers, class visits. CIEE can provide photos and other marketing resources to assist.
  • Cultural Sensitivity and Awareness: Encourage open-mindedness by preparing students to embrace differences and approach the host culture with respect and curiosity, and by encouraging this same approach with each other as well. Discuss cultural norms and potential culture shock. Lead by example and demonstrate cultural sensitivity and adaptability. Showing respect for local customs and practices encourages students to follow suit and can help to establish a community of respect within your group as well.  
  • Communication: CIEE encourages regular communication to discuss progress, address any concerns, and provide feedback. Be approachable and available for students needing assistance or advice, and lean on CIEE on-site staff when needed. Effective communication helps in managing any issues that arise and supports students’ well-being.  

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  • Health and Safety: Ensure you and students know how to access healthcare services, understand the insurance coverage, and are aware of any necessary health precautions specific to the region. CIEE works together with program leaders to provide regular updates on safety protocols and any local security issues, and enforces a code of conduct that prioritizes student safety. Recognize that each student may experience homesickness or cultural adjustment challenges differently.  
  • Cultural Integration and Engagement: Make use of the CIEE network to promote interactions with local students and community groups by building them into your program itinerary. CIEE can provide recommendations on local events and activities to deepen cultural understanding, including volunteering and service learning, survival language classes, and language partners.
  • Continuous Improvement: Collect feedback from students and your partners during and after the program to identify areas for improvement. Use this information to make necessary adjustments for future iterations. Regularly reflect on your own experiences and adapt your leadership style to better meet the needs of the program and participants.
  • Professionalism and Ethical Conduct: Set and maintain professional boundaries with students. Be a role model in behavior and ethics. Work respectfully and collaboratively with local institutions and communities.
  • Document and Share Experiences: Encourage students to keep journals or blogs that reflect their learning and experiences. Document successful aspects of the program to promote it and share key learnings with stakeholders.

CIEE is here to support you as you navigate the important role of program leader – as a first time or an experienced leader. Together, we can foster an environment of learning, respect, and open communication to help you lead a program that is both impactful and memorable for all participants. Get started with us today! 

What Faculty are Saying

  • "Every detail was managed. The faculty were warm, personable, extremely informative and accommodating. The speakers were spectacular."

    Faculty leader from Ramapo College of New Jersey