Panther Program Overview

Since its founding in 1981, the Study Abroad Office has been dedicated to making international education experiences accessible, affordable, and meaningful to all students. Due to institutional support, the office has grown to 17 full-time staff members spread across six locations on four campuses, including dedicated teams in Engineering and Business. Since 2007, faculty-led programs, known as Panther Programs, have grown from ten to over 100, each building on faculty research interests and teaching acumen.

Current program development is focusing on tailoring programs for the professional schools, with the goal of having overseas opportunities for students in all majors.  Panther Programs collaborate with quality universities and third-party providers to sustain academic rigor, in-country student support, and the highest levels of health, safety, and security measures. Given Pitt’s dedication to keeping study abroad program costs as low as possible while providing an extensive menu of options, in AY 2017-18, over 2000 students participated in an international education experience, with over 80 percent choosing a Panther Program.  

Faculty Participation in Panther Programs

The Study Abroad Office has an extensive list of programs, partners, and existing site locations that have already been approved by the Study Abroad Advisory Committee and Provost. There are multiple ways that faculty can become involved with study abroad programming at Pitt. Including, serving as a faculty director for an existing semester program, adding course tracks to existing program models, developing stand-alone programs in existing sites, or developing a standalone program in a new city and or country that has yet to be approved.  The Study Abroad Office approves final site and program concept prior to development.

Please note, that while some programs have multiple faculty members participating, the Study Abroad Office is not accepting proposals with multiple faculty members co-teaching the same course.  Each faculty member on the program must teach their own individual course abroad.

Additionally, University staff are ineligible to propose or create new faculty-led study abroad opportunities due to their administrative responsibilities to their position on campus. 

Regardless of which type of program you propose, the Study Abroad Office offers you a Program Manager to help facilitate the development process including but not limited to contacting providers, assistance with logistics proposals, the creation of marketing materials, and consultation with legal counsel. While you will serve as the academic point of contact for students, the assigned Program Manager will manage applications and pre-departure processes for students.

New Program Proposal Process

Over the past ten years, the Study Abroad Office has established a new program development process and guide for Panther Programs in alignment with the Standards of Good Practice for international education as outlined by the Forum on Education Abroad.  Given the high number of returning faculty leaders and already established number of faculty-led programs, the Study Abroad Office will now be reviewing new program proposals on an annual basis through an online application process.

Information for Faculty from A&S, SHRS, Nursing, CGS, SIS, and Regional Campuses

 (Pitt Business and Swanson School of Engineering should contact their respective International Programs Office)

With over 80 faculty-led programs running already each year and increasing demand by faculty and departments for new Panther Program development, the Study Abroad Office is nearing capacity based on current resources and student interest.  At this time, we are not pursuing additional semester programs given the strength of our current portfolio and department development projects.

New Program Proposal Information

Health, safety, and security are our primary concerns followed closely by academic quality and professional development experience for our students.  When reviewing new program proposals, the Study Abroad Office will be particularly interested in the following information:

  • Learning goals – what are the academic, personal, and professional goals of your proposed program?  Why does this need to be taught abroad and what do the students get out of it?
  • Curriculum integration – what requirements would your program fulfill, general education, major, minor, certificate?
  • Career integration – what pre-professional experience does this opportunity provide students?  Is it directly related to one career field?  What are the transferable skills this program would teach students?  How does it apply to multiple disciplines? 
  • The originality of concept – we greatly respect the work that our current and previous faculty leaders have put into their study abroad programs and therefore we try incredibly hard not to compete against ourselves.
  • Marketability to students – Will students see value in this type of experience?  Why do you think so?  Who is your target market on campus? 
  • Perceived student demand – students will always want to go to Western Europe, that is a given, but in this case, what is the demand for this topic, this location, this experience?  Cases can be made for programs both in the well-traveled and off the beaten path locations, if connections can be made to the academic content and the idea is different enough from others.
  • Unique opportunities – Does your program offer something that students otherwise cannot do either here or abroad?  Is this a new idea for a previously underserved major?  Are there connections overseas that will provide a different perspective to an undergraduate’s academic experience that is of value to compare?
  • Cost vs. Benefit Analysis – are the financial realities of the proposed program worth the expenditures paid by the students?

Program Development Process

If the proposal is selected, there are a number of steps that must be completed prior to offering the program.  The following documents outline the development process and the roles and responsibilities of faculty leaders on Panther Programs.

The Study Abroad Office has moved to an online proposal process.  The Panther Program team will review proposals on an annual basis and select new programs to pursue based on a number of key factors as outlined on the new proposal information page.  All new programs for undergraduate students at the University of Pittsburgh must go through this process for review, selection, and approval. 

To start your online new program proposal, please click here. Application will be available soon! 

Pitt Study Abroad is currently working on new programs for 18-19.  We look forward to reviewing submissions for AY 19-20. 

Submit an application for consideration for participation in already developed programs

Occasionally, we have faculty leader openings on some of our faculty led programs due to faculty rotations, sabbaticals, family emergencies, etc.  While limited (generally under 5 a year), these present opportunities for faculty members that are interested in short term opportunities to participate in study abroad.  To submit your name as a candidate for these positions please click here to submit your name for consideration.  Once submitted, your name will stay in the pool for three years.  The Study Abroad Office will contact you should an opportunity that aligns with your skills, an area of expertise, a region of specialty, or thematic expertise, becomes available.

Annual Evaluation of Panther Programs

Programs are regularly evaluated in a number of different ways.  OMETs are required for each course offered on our Panther Programs.  In addition, the Study Abroad Office performs program satisfaction surveys on each program upon completion.  Furthermore, the Study Abroad Office receives program evaluations from the majority of our overseas program partners.  Programs are evaluated annually on the following metrics: student satisfaction levels regarding course execution, program logistics, and inclusions.  The Study Abroad Office routinely does cost vs. benefit analysis on our programs and re-evaluates offerings annually upon results of our robust evaluation mechanisms.