Establishing Exchange Programs

The Study Abroad and Away office has a strategy in place for the development of new student exchange programs that are mutually beneficial for both institutions and will have longevity and success. Faculty members can recommend a foreign university to be added to our SJSU Exchange portfolio

Faculty members who would like to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), with the ultimate goal of establishing an exchange program should contact Study Abroad and Away ( before you begin your discussions with the prospective partner institution. This is to ensure that the proposed partnership aligns with the strategic plan of Study Abroad and Away. Please find the required steps to establish a new exchange program below.

Step 1: Vetting Partnership

Ideally, an academic department or college, with support from the Department Chair and College Dean, should champion new student exchange programs. When vetting an exchange partner, we use a number of considerations/factors to determine the suitability of the partnership. 

1. Risk, health, safety, and accessibility - Is the university in an area that is safe in general? Is it near areas that may not be safe? What are crime rates like, and what are the crimes-- violent crimes, petty theft, etc.? Is this location safe for our LGBTQIA+ students? Is it accessible for students with disabilities?

2. Academics - Is the entire course catalog open to our students, or only some courses? Do they only want to build a partnership with only one of our majors/colleges, or could this be a university-wide exchange? How many courses are offered in English? Do they have any accreditations like AACSB for Business? Does the university have a similar course catalog to SJSU where SJSU students would be able to find course options in their major easily? Are there course options that aren't available at our other exchange universities or where we don't have as much coverage?

3. Student Interest - Is this a popular destination/area? Is this somewhere that we have heard from students that they are interested in studying? This is important because we want to make sure we can keep up the balance between inbound and outbound-- that there is not only interest in students coming to California, but that there will be interest in our students going to this location abroad as well.

4. Geographical Diversity - Do we have partners in this location or this region? Is the university in an area/region where we might not have as much coverage like eastern Europe, Africa, South America, etc.?

5. Student Support/Services - How do they support incoming international students? Are there international student clubs, sports, and student organizations that our students can take part in? What does orientation look like?

6. Housing - What type of housing options are available for our students? On or off campus housing? Is there an assortment of housing costs? 

7. Cost & Scholarships - Is it an affordable location? Could our students afford studying in this location? Does the country or institution offer merit or need-based scholarships for international students?

8. Academic Calendar -  Does it line up well with the SJSU academic calendar, so if students go abroad for one semester, they won't miss time at SJSU? Typically, universities in Germany and Japan have academic calendars that are different from ours, where the fall semester abroad runs into the SJSU spring semester, so it is best for our students to study there in the spring semester, so it is good to be aware of this.

9. (Optional) Faculty Opportunities - Does the institution offer opportunities for faculty exchange or professional development opportunities? Are there grants for faculty to engage with the institution? 

Step 2: Exchange Agreement Negotiation

We are required to use the CSU template agreement. Once a potential partner institution has been identified and vetted, the Study Abroad & Away Office will email the prospective partner the SJSU agreement. There may be some back and forth regarding the language in the agreement, but it is best if the partner makes as few changes as possible (higher chance of the agreement being approved). This process can take anywhere from 6-12 months. 

The process will culminate with a Memorandum of Understanding and/or a University Exchange Agreement. These documents are formal contracts, containing program details which must be developed and fully executed prior to any business being conducted on behalf of San Jose State University (SJSU).

MOUs with international partners must be routed through the College of Professional and Global Education (CPGE). University Exchange Agreements must be officially approved by the CSU Chancellor's Office and must outline the relationship between the institutions. The Exchange Agreement must be signed by the partner organization, the Dean of the College of Professional and Global Education and the SJSU President to be considered fully executed.  

If we decide to move forward with the agreement, then we mutually decide on the number of semester exchange placements per year. Typically we start with smaller numbers (2-4 semester exchange placements per year), and may increase numbers upon mutual agreement if there is high student interest on both sides.

Step 3: Approval

If the proposed partnership is viable and aligns with the strategic priorities of the Study Abroad and Away office, we will work with you to develop the new program. Once the agreement has been finalized and signed by all parties, then the Study Abroad & Away office will list the new partner on the Spartans Abroad Portal for student recruitment and application processing.

Contact Us

If you have a potential partner for a new student exchange program, please contact Study Abroad and Away to discuss the proposed institutional partner and program. 

Study Abroad and Away (PGE, Student Union West)
(408) 924-2670

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