Developing Student Exchanges

Exchanges with international organizations and institutions enhance the character of the University of Minnesota and provide compelling experiences for students here and abroad. Departments may initiate exchanges for a host of reasons including deepening an existing relationship or providing opportunities for their students.

The GPS Alliance, which includes the Learning Abroad Center (LAC) and International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), guides the consideration, development, review, and approval of the exchange agreements. This includes liaison with the Office of the General Counsel on agreement issues and the sponsoring department regarding the management and technical details of the exchange. LAC advises the sponsoring department on processes and considerations for the outgoing University of Minnesota students; ISSS advises on processes and considerations for the incoming international students. Note, however, that the sponsoring department is responsible for the overall management of the exchange.

Initial Considerations When Contemplating an Exchange

  • Does this relationship advance a priority for your department or college?
  • Is there appropriate support for the exchange? (dean, department chair, recommended .5 FTE to manage the workload)
  • What is the academic calendar of the international institution?
  • What is the language of instruction at the international institution?
  • Does the international institution offer courses that will meet degree requirements for UMN students?

Next Steps

Once you have reviewed the initial considerations and are ready to move ahead, there are several important steps to take before initiating an international exchange. Failure to address these issues in advance will have negative consequences for the students and the international institution. Please review the following questions and considerations. Contact Molly Portz if you'd like to schedule a meeting to discuss.

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What is the goal of this exchange for your department or college?

Clarifying the goals for the exchange is important in determining how to set up the agreement. Determining the number of students, the type of activities, length of stay, etc. are important considerations to discuss with the international institution. The information provided here pertains to full-time undergraduate students. If you are interested in other types of exchanges (faculty, graduate students, staff, or research), the GPS Alliance can help.

Administrative Duties

Does the college/department have the administrative capacity to manage an exchange?

The sponsoring department is responsible for promotion, recruitment, selection, nomination, and orientation of the outgoing and incoming UMN students and all correspondence with the international institution regarding the exchange. Depending on the number of students and level of experience in your college/department, this commitment could be up to 0.50 FTE to administer one program.


Does the exchange make financial sense for the college/department? What tuition amount will your UMN student be responsible for? What amount will the incoming international student be responsible for?

Ultimately, the department is responsible for the financial solvency of the exchange. There are several financial models* to consider:

  • 1:1 exchange of tuition and fees. Outgoing UMN student pays tuition at UMN that is “banked” for incoming student. The same benefits are provided at partner institution for UMN student. Note: It is important that the department can recruit UMN students to attend the partner institution, or the financial model is not sustainable.
  • College offers resident-rate tuition for incoming student.

*These scenarios assume students will pay for housing.

Keep in mind that UMN fees are substantial. Some fees can be included in the exchange benefits, but not insurance. Incoming international students are required to purchase the Student Health Benefit Plan.

Students attending classes are expected to pay tuition (section E, UMN Policy: Grading and Transcripts).

Sample budgets for outgoing UMN students and incoming international students are available.


Is the international institution a desirable destination for UMN students? Is UMN a desirable destination for the international institution’s students?

If the department is considering a balancing exchange of students, including tuition and fees, it is imperative that the partner institution is a desirable location for UMN students. Pre-approval of major, minor, or liberal education requirements and faculty support and promotion of the exchange is critical for recruiting students.

Encourage your international institution to discuss with their international office whether the UMN is a desirable destination for their students.


What will your application/selection process include?

The sponsoring department is responsible for the selection of the incoming and outgoing students. There are requirements that you must include.

Incoming international students

Incoming international students do not follow the same application process as degree-seeking international students. Students must be formally admitted to a non-degree or degree-seeking program by the host college, and will be required to maintain continuous full-time enrollment (12-credit minimum). Only graduate students who have completed a bachelor's degree can be invited to conduct research and not enroll. Applicants must have at least a 79 iBT TOEFL or 6.5 IELTS score with writing subscore about 21, meet minimum academic standards, be at least in their second year of university study, and maintain good academic standing while on the exchange. A general application for exchange students is available. This form should only be used by students nominated by a formal exchange partner. The completed form should be submitted to the college or department responsible for the exchange. If the student is accepted, the form is sent to Undergraduate Admissions for processing. ISSS can provide further guidance on admission of international students, but departments are responsible for making these choices.

Outgoing UMN students

The college or department is responsible for the recruitment, selection, and nomination of the outgoing UMN student, as well as all correspondence with the international institution regarding the program. After the student is nominated, the LAC works with the student to set up financial aid, credit transfer, insurance, and billing arrangements (including an administrative fee). The LAC ensures students complete the mandatory online orientation and any other appropriate paperwork. The Learning Abroad Center can provide guidance on selecting students, including University policy and requirements.

Academic Support

What assistance will be available for your student(s) in selecting coursework and registering at the international institution? What assistance is available in your department for the incoming international student? What courses will you make available for the incoming student(s)?

Incoming international students

The department needs to provide academic advising and registration assistance to the incoming international exchange students. There may be restrictions on fields of study available to students and whether they can register before they arrive on campus. 

Outgoing UMN students

It is important to consider what assistance is available for the UMN student at the international institution to ensure that classes will fit their academic plan.

Visa Requirements

Will help be available for visa requirements?

Incoming international students

Once an international student is admitted, ISSS will issue the appropriate documents for that student to receive a visa from the State Department. However, the college or department must inform ISSS when the student is accepted. Note that visa requirements do influence how the exchange must operate. Details including credit, length of stay, status (undergraduate, graduate), etc. will impact which visa will apply.

Outgoing UMN students

The State Department’s website is a good source for information on visa requirements for Americans going abroad. It will be the responsibility of the college to advise students on passport and visa requirements for this exchange.


What is the housing arrangement for your UMN student? What arrangements can be made for the incoming international student?

Housing can be a large expense and challenging to arrange, both in the U.S. and abroad, and should be carefully considered in the exchange development process.

Incoming international students

Housing in residence halls (single sex, shared with a U.S. student) can be arranged, provided there is availability and the request is received by April 1. If there is no availability, the sponsoring department or student must secure housing through other means, such as a private apartment.

Outgoing UMN students

Housing is typically arranged by the international institution and not included in tuition and fees. However, some overseas partners may not have housing available and may ask that students find independent housing. It is preferable if the partner provides assistance in securing housing.