Curriculum Integration: Best Practices

August 04, 2016

Compiled by Christine Parcells, Stanford University, Gayle Woodruff, University of Minnesota

Curriculum Integration: Best Practices is an online project by the Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship Knowledge Community. It focuses on "Curriculum Integration of Education Abroad" (CI) which refers to a variety of institutional approaches designed to fully integrate study abroad options into the college experience and academic curricula for students in all majors.

The resources on this page present case examples of curriculum integration in education abroad. In addition, several CI publications are highlighted.

Print Publications

Anderson, L. (ed.) 2005. Internationalizing Undergraduate Education: Integrating Study Abroad into the Curriculum. Minneapolis, MN: Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota.

Brewer, E. and K. Cunningham (eds.) 2009. Integrating Study Abroad into the Curriculum: Theory and Practice Across the Disciplines. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Forum on Education Abroad. 2005. A Baseline Survey of Curriculum Integration in Education Abroad.

Hulstrand, J. 2012. Curriculum Integration: It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint. International Educator: NAFSA. pp 48-51.

Keillor, B.D. and Emore, J.R. 2003. "The Structure and Process of Curriculum Integration in Study Abroad Programs: The University of Akron International Business Model." In G.T. Hult and E.C. Lashbrooke (Eds.), Study Abroad: Perspectives and Experiences from Business Schools. Advances in International Marketing, vol. 13. Elsevier Science Ltd., pp. 227-245.

Parcells, C. 2010. “Institutional Case Studies of Curriculum Integration Practices Based Upon the University of Minnesota Model.” (383kb Icon PDF 16) Office of International Programs, University of Minnesota.

Woodruff, G. 2009. Curriculum Integration: Where We Have Been, Where We Are Going. (256kb Icon PDF 16) Internationalizing the Curriculum and Campus Paper Series, University of Minnesota.

Case Examples of Curriculum Integration

The institutions below represent exemplary curriculum integration based on the following indicators:

  • Significant institutional support for curriculum integration of education abroad
  • Transferable "lessons learned"
  • Demonstrated collaborative cross-campus partnerships
  • Outcomes include academic advising tools (major advising sheets, course equivalency lists, etc.)

Bellarmine University
Since 2008, Bellarmine University has incorporated curriculum integration via the “Minnesota Model” as part of a comprehensive internationalization strategy, supported by endowment funding and anchored in the University’s strategic plan “Vision 2020.” All majors, along with the general education curriculum, are integrated vis-à-vis our short-term faculty led programming abroad, as well as over 40 bilateral partnerships around the globe. Every department is linked to the International Program Office (IPO) on their particular website for faculty advising with specifically developed CI brochures for each major at the UG and G levels, plus Ph.D and Ed.D programs. In a collaborative effort across campus, each department is also linked to the IPO via an appointed faculty liaison, who assists with student advising and credit transfers.

Beloit College
“At Beloit College, off-campus study is not an isolated experience for individual students, but instead is integral to the Beloit College curriculum." Beloit College's Curriculum Integration project focuses on faculty development, strengthening connections with study abroad partners, and providing grant opportunities for students to maximize their overseas experience. The Office of International Education provides recommendations for study abroad by major and minors at Beloit that are intended to address students’ different backgrounds, educational goals and personal interests as well as offer different ways to approach the major through study abroad.

Clark University
Clark University's Curriculum Integration project focuses on the faculty's role as advisors to students and the need for close cooperation through this relationship with the students to promote study abroad. To aid faculty in understanding their role with study abroad, Clark's office of Study Abroad has resources aimed at faculty.

Florida State University
The Florida State University Global Citizenship Certificate, designed by Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, maximizes the rich cultural learning experiences available to students on campus, in the community, and abroad by focusing on active learning, reflection and cross-cultural interaction. Students can choose a certificate theme based on their interest and goals, take related academic courses, study another language, and participate in international and/or cross-cultural experiences and events to enhance their theme. Students may opt for a local cross-cultural experience, in lieu of an international experience, if not able to go abroad.

Georgia Institute of Technology
The International Plan is a challenging four-year program that works in tandem with an undergraduate's academic curriculum to produce globally competent citizens. The program utilizes existing study, work, and research abroad opportunities available through the Office of International Education and the Division of Professional Practice to help students fulfill their requirements. Successful completion of the program results in a special "International Plan" designation on the Georgia Institute of Technology degree and transcript.

Juniata College
At Juniata College in central Pennsylvania, study abroad is firmly integrated into student majors. Curriculum Integration efforts are inspired by the institutional promise to provide Juniata graduates with experiential learning opportunities related to each student's education. As a result, curriculum integration and other internationalization initiatives are faculty-driven with faculty members working on efforts such as collaboration with counterparts abroad to cultivate global learning opportunities through partner degrees and technologically-facilitated learning. Additionally, courses and grades taken abroad at partner sites transfer directly, and Juniata has developed Program of Emphasis (major) study abroad advising guides.

Michigan State University
The Michigan State University Education Abroad Curriculum Integration Project works with MSU's 17 degree-granting colleges to further position education abroad programming as a primarily academic endeavor and an integral component of undergraduate education. The project's main goals are the development of new programs to meet curricular requirements for all majors and the creation of major-specific advising resources, including degree pathways, to assist students in selecting a program, and faculty and staff in advising and guiding students interested in pursuing education abroad.

Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU views curriculum integration as essential "to achieve the goals of the University's Academic Master Plan, which emphasizes several internationally focused skills graduates need in the 21st century.” Through CI, the Office of Education Abroad works with academic departments to develop education abroad programs, incorporate cultural and language requirements into the departments' curriculum, and align education abroad programming with degree programs.

North Central College
The curriculum integration project at North Central College (NCC) is an ongoing effort to show students, faculty, staff, and administration that study abroad is an essential component of a complete academic experience as a student at NCC. The creation of academic subject-specific marketing and advising brochures connect students, faculty, and advisors with suggested study abroad programs depending on students' academic, personal, and professional goals. Resources such as our course equivalent guides, which are organized by academic discipline, emphasize the additional opportunities and expertise of our partner institutions and their alignment with NCC curricula.

Oregon State University
Oregon State University's intentions with curriculum integration are to ensure that every undergraduate student, including those in the sciences, has the opportunity to enhance his or her academic program with an international experience. The International Programs Office works with interested departments to integrate education abroad into their discipline's curriculum.

Skidmore College
Skidmore College's goal with Curriculum Integration is to help the institution achieve its academic vision of becoming a portal to the world. The study abroad office strives to get faculty involved to incorporate study abroad into their students' academic experience. One way in which the study abroad office assists faculty in this endeavor is through the maintenance of a list of 125 approved programs.

University of California, Santa Barbara
UCSB has had a study abroad staff member dedicated to curriculum integration for over eight years who works with every department on campus to develop major advising sheets and course equivalency lists. Other activities UCSB has found successful include using returnee students to present to prospective students within their majors and creating videos of students speaking about studying abroad in their major. UCSB also provides specific advising information for academic planning and how to choose courses abroad. The system-wide University of California-Education Abroad Program’s Academic Integration is designed to fully integrate study abroad programs and courses into the curricula of the University of California campuses. To accomplish this task, the study abroad offices focus on developing and sustaining collaboration with outside academic units and departments.

University of Colorado, Boulder
Curriculum Integration efforts at CU-Boulder actively began in 2007. The goal with CU-Boulder’s initiatives is to partner with departments to further integrate Study Abroad into their curricula and ensure that study abroad offerings and coursework meet the needs of all majors/minors on campus. The two primary outcomes are the creation of Study Abroad Guides (29 currently) and expansion of course pre-approval lists for various majors and degree requirements (currently contain 5,000 courses collectively).

University of Kansas
The University of Kansas’ "Mapping Study Abroad to the Major" initiative is a collaboration among KU’s academic departments, administrators, and the Office of Study Abroad to fully integrate study abroad experiences into the college experience and academic curricula for students in all degree programs. Through this initiative there is a focus on new program development, student scholarship support, and the creation of major-specific study abroad resources to help students begin planning for their study abroad experience as early as possible.

University of Kentucky
Curriculum integration at University of Kentucky engages colleges and academic departments by creating a synergetic understanding of education abroad opportunities and curricular requirements of academic programs on campus. Through this engagement, UK has developed Major Advising Pages (MAPs) featuring programs identified by faculty members as academically appropriate for students of that major. MAPs are designed to be reader-friendly and to effectively highlight the variety of international opportunities available, such as study, intern, research, teaching, and service-learning abroad programs, and in many cases feature an example term abroad integrated into a four-year plan for timely graduation.

University of Minnesota
The "Minnesota Model" of study abroad curriculum integration is based on partnering with academic units to effectively meet institutional goals to internationalize the curriculum. This model spreads the ownership for international education throughout the institution.

University of South Carolina
In an effort to increase knowledge in the Study Abroad Office of academic departments and their challenges with study abroad, as well as to increase understanding on the part of all academic departments of the programs and policies of the Study Abroad Office, USC has created a liaison system. Within this system, each Study Abroad Advisor is assigned a certain number of academic departments. The role of the Study Abroad Office Liaison to Academic Departments is to serve as the primary point of contact to exchange relevant and related information between each college or school and the Study Abroad Office. USC’s Study Abroad Office has created the Academic Advisor’s Guide to Study Abroad. Icon PDF 16

University of Texas, Austin
Curriculum Integration at UT Austin is a collaborative process between Study Abroad and academic departments. Each partnership results in a major-specific brochure to educate students on how/when/where to plan for study abroad as part of their degree plan. Within each brochure is a map of the four-year degree plan highlighting the ideal semester to participate and the ideal courses to take while abroad. Foreign courses at each program highlighted in the brochure have been evaluated for UT credit and pre-approved to fulfill degree requirements listed on the map. Foreign courses are displayed in the in the My Credit Abroad Database.

University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
The University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire's Curriculum Integration initiative seeks to fully integrate study abroad into all departments' curriculums. By sustaining open communication with faculty and academic departments, the study abroad office aims to improve the advising process for students' awareness of study abroad options and how to complete degree requirements.

Villanova University
Villanova University's Curriculum Integration deals with the process of incorporating a student's international educational experience into the undergraduate academic program. One of the key features of CI at Villanova is a database for faculty members and/or advisers to utilize when advising students who are interested in studying abroad.

Washington State University
The Education Abroad Office at Washington State University works with departments to identify academic programs abroad which align with WSU's four-year academic plan. Using the 'Minnesota Model,' the Education Abroad Office collaborates with each academic department to determine several programs that integrate well into the department's curriculum and are the best fit for students' degree progression and learning outcomes.