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International Programs



All international travel opportunities at Messiah College are required to abide by the following policies.  Questions can be directed to Faith Minnich, Director of International Programs at or 717.796.1800 x7373.


Students and educators traveling with students desiring to travel internationally through Messiah College must do so through one of Messiah's established international travel opportunities outlined in this International Travel Manual.


Students and educators traveling through one of Messiah's established international travel opportunities are required to complete all protocols and procedures, abide by all policies, and comply with all deadlines outlined in the International Travel Protocols and Procedures Manual.  Failure to do so will result in the group or student's suspension from travel through the College, including withholding of funding and institutional support.


Messiah College is committed to making reasonable accommodations for qualified students with disabilities to assure equal access to all programs and services of the College. The College offers a variety of credit-bearing and non-credit-bearing site-based learning experiences. For the purpose of this policy, "field experience" refers to internships and all other credit-bearing and non-credit-bearing site-based experiences.  


Some programs and majors have mandatory site-based learning experiences, whereas students may enroll in similar types of experiences for elective credit. Those programs with mandatory field experiences may have additional requirements established by licensing agencies and/or professional standards.


Disclaimer:  The College does not have authority over cooperating agencies and cannot guarantee that all requests for accommodation can be honored. The College will work with students to locate suitable work-sites whenever possible.


Essential functions:  Students must demonstrate an ability to perform the essential functions of a specific assignment, with or without assistive technology. While some professions have reached general agreement about the essential functions of specific jobs, others remain diverse and each site or organization may have developed its own set of standards for performance. The College has no authority to compel changes to those standards for the sake of an individual student.


Site Assignments: Different professions and experiences present unique challenges to students with disabilities, due in part to expectations that vary significantly. Students may find certain work assignments outside the range of their abilities, while other situations may be more easily adapted to the individual. Students should be able to demonstrate mastery of essential skills before placements are arranged. Agencies are not required to provide technologies or an assistant to manage those details that the student cannot perform independently.


Programs with Mandatory Field Experiences:  Students wishing to complete a program with mandatory field experiences should discuss their needs for accommodation with their advisors, department chairs, program directors (if applicable), and the Director of Disability Services. Those conversations should take place as early as possible in the student's program to allow sufficient time to plan or to consider alternative majors should a change be indicated. Early identification of areas of concern also allows the student opportunity to work to improve when improvement is possible.


Confidentiality:  In order to effectively represent the student's needs, the College will at times be required to reveal disability-specific information to an agency representative in order to determine whether a student can be accommodated. The College will use the "need to know" criterion for determining who is to be informed of a student's disability to assure confidentiality and protection of personal information. That determination is left to the College representative, generally in consultation with the Director of Disability Services, and with the written approval of the student.


Related Concerns


  • Academic:  That groups participating in Messiah course work or service opportunities delivered overseas be comprised of individuals whose primary objective is learning and serving, not leisure. 


  • Financial:  That Messiah College students not subsidize the travel costs of auxiliary personnel and/or travelers.


  • Liability:  That all individuals accompanying the trip be officially known and approved by the College, and that all participants agree to follow the guidelines and parameters of Messiah-run international programs.  Likewise, that the insurance status of all travelers be clarified before departure.


  • Ethos:  That all group participants be compatible with Messiah's ethos and willing to abide by the community covenant.

Categories of Travelers


  • Immediate Family Members:  It is possible for spouses and school-age children of an Educator group leader to accompany the group while they are studying or serving abroad. If participating in an academic opportunity (such as cross-cultural courses), such family members are not required to take the course for audit or credit.  No subsidy for their expenses, however, should come from student tuition or fees, and the College cannot assume additional expense in order to accommodate non-participant individuals accompanying the trip.  It is important, however, for the College to be aware of the total roster of family members accompanying an official Messiah group, and to ascertain whether basic liability and logistical issues have been addressed.  Family members who are not Messiah students or employees are required by the College to sign a waiver form.  


  • Younger Children of Faculty Group Leaders:  In most cases it is not advisable for younger children to accompany student groups on credit-bearing international courses or service experiences.  The 24-hour demands of delivering academic course work or leading a service group overseas leave little time or energy to tend to the needs of young children.  The concern here is that students' access to group leaders not be compromised by competing demands.  Requests for special permission should be directed to the appropriate Dean (i.e. Dean of Students for athletic teams, Dean of the School of the Arts for performing arts groups, Associate Dean of General Education for cross-cultural courses, etc.)


  • High School-Aged Children of Faculty Group Leaders:  Approval may be given for the high school child of a faculty leader to accompany the group on an international opportunity.  On credit-bearing experiences, it is advisable that a learning contract be negotiated with the high school student so that their own objectives are compatible with the educational mission of the trip.  In certain cases it might also be possible for the high school student to actually take the course for credit. 


  • Spouses of Educator Leaders:  The spouse of an Educator leader may also request to accompany the group.  It is important that student fees or fundraising not subsidize the travel expenses of the Educator's spouse.  If the spouse serves an essential, defined role on the trip, it may be appropriate to build a stipend for them into the trip budget.  This stipend should be at a rate consistent with stipends paid for other contracted services.


  • Adult Auxiliary Travelers:  All adults (i.e., alumni, parents, adult children, friends of Messiah students) who accompany an international travel opportunity must officially enroll in the program.  As such, they would pay any tuition and course fees associated with the trip.  In the case of cross-cultural courses, auditing might also be a possibility, but with the following caveats:

    • The faculty group leader must approve the audit.  (There are good reasons why faculty might not want outsiders registering for the course.) 

    • The alumni or friend may not displace a matriculated Messiah student who wants to take the course for credit.   

    • The financial terms of participation should be clearly articulated and clearly met.

    • All non-Messiah individuals must sign the Study Abroad Contract

    • All non-Messiah individuals must sign the Community Covenant.

    • The Academic Office will grant the final approval. 


  • Adjunct Faculty Members:  On occasion for cross-cultural courses, it may be acceptable for the second group leader to be an adjunct faculty member.  Such an individual should follow the same application and screening process as other new or existing adjunct faculty who teach at the College.  Their compensation is at the normal adjunct rate.  The following guidelines relate to this option:
    • The same faculty-student ratio applies.

    • At least one of the individuals leading the course should be a full-time Messiah faculty member.

    • The adjunct faculty member must be willing to assume roughly half the responsibilities for planning and delivering the course.

    • This option may be most appropriate for residents of the host country who have appropriate graduate degrees.  Such individuals may be particularly well placed to coordinate curricular and logistical resources in-county, and provide expertise related to the course curriculum.  It should be noted, however, that such an arrangement places a heavier burden on the full-time Messiah faculty member for State-side student recruitment and orientation.


At least one Educator Leader on a Messiah international travel group opportunity (such as cross-cultural courses, service trips or Collaboratory site teams) is to accompany their student group during travel.  This applies both to the trip en route to the program site, and the return trip back to the United States.


Rationale for this policy includes the following:


  • For many students this is a first time abroad, and a very brief introduction at that.  The committee did not feel comfortable having the group troubleshoot any related travel complications on their own.


  • These are Messiah-run international experiences.  The sense was that our responsibility for students is even greater when they participate in programs fully run and managed by the College.


  • Many, though not all, groups will need van transportation back from the gateway airport.  Several glitches have occurred in these arrangements over the past several years which are more effectively managed when an Educator is present.


All Messiah students are required to take the group flight when it is provided by the study abroad program partner or international travel opportunity because:


  • Students benefit from the support they receive from traveling with other students


  • For semester-long programs, many group flights include a faculty member or "chaperone"  who will help students navigate the intricacies of the making flight connections and dealing with foreign entry processes and  can assist with problems that arise (such as canceled flights).

Messiah College does make exceptions in RARE, extenuating circumstances. (For instance, a student lives in France and will be studying or serving in Germany.)  We do not, however, waive the group flight requirement for students who wish to find less expensive flights elsewhere.


In order to be considered for a flight exemption, students must submit a written request to the Program Coordinator for their experience or to the Director of International Programs and the EpiCenter for semester-long program requests.


For semester-long program exemptions, if approved:


  • students will receive a $500 credit on their account after the program begins


  • students are responsible to book and pay for their round-trip flight


  • students are responsible to make arrangements with the director to meet the group in the destination country


Students wishing to travel independently prior to or at the conclusion of their international travel opportunity must sign a Supplemental Waiver for Independent International Travel (see Attachment K, p. 44) and submit it to the Program Coordinator of their international travel opportunity prior to their departure from the United States.  Program Coordinators are then required to submit a copy to the Office of International Programs.