International Scholars Program

A student sits on a balcony above a scenic city on a blue bay

International Scholars Program

The International Scholars Program (ISP) integrates international studies coursework with study abroad interests.

Commonwealth Honors College and the International Programs Office (IPO) co-sponsor ISP, which is highly competitive, admitting approximately 15 to 20 students each year. ISP scholars must be interested in doing at least one semester of Study Abroad and able to commit three consecutive years to the program—sophomore through senior year.



Read about students from the ISP network and their journeys traveling abroad.


ISP Experience

As an ISP scholar, you will be part of a community of students and alumni who are interested in global issues and who share similar overseas experiences. ISP prepares you for a study abroad experience, fosters an appreciation of other cultures, and provides an understanding of international relations. ISP helps you engage in international research and prepare for developing an Honors Thesis based on overseas experience and in acquiring the knowledge and skills needed to meet the challenges of an increasingly interconnected world. 


Benefits of ISP

ISP offers individualized advising on how to combine a studying-abroad experience with Honors requirements. All ISP courses are small seminars with a dedicated group of students and faculty. As an ISP scholar, you will be connected to a network of past and future ISP alumni. You will also be eligible for the ISP scholarship for Study Abroad.



Any Honors College student in good academic standing may apply for consideration to this competitive program. Non-honors students who maintain a GPA of 3.400 or above may be considered on a space-available basis.


Application Information 

Apply during the spring semester of your first year.

The process begins with information sessions held in late fall and/or early spring. The sessions are  not required but provide  a good opportunity to learn about the program.

ISP Virtual Information Sessions

Applications for 2023-2024 are open

Application deadline: March 31, 2023


ISP Curriculum 

ISP scholars take three core ISP courses, a semester of Study Abroad, and frequently complete an Honors Thesis that incorporates their international experience. The ISP curriculum is designed to help you to see the global in everyday life and to approach all subjects from an international perspective. 

Sophomore Year 

Fall Semester

HONORS 251H: International Issues Seminar (3 credits) 

This is the required entry course for ISP. Its purpose is to provide students who will be studying abroad with a theoretical and practical understanding of the international system that will enable them to evaluate critically events on the national, regional and international levels. ISP scholars will explore this topic through class readings and discussions, presentations by guest speakers drawn from the UMass faculty, and independent research into a global issue that is relevant to the country where they hope to study. 

Spring Semester 

HONORS 252H: Cross-Cultural Preparation Seminar (4  credits*)

This intercultural communication seminar is the second of three required courses for ISP. It is designed to help ISP scholars prepare for their study abroad experience by exploring the role that culture plays in both facilitating and hindering communication. It encourages ISP scholars to see themselves as members of one or more cultural groups and to anticipate what it will be like living, working and communicating in a new cultural environment. The seminar pays particular attention to the ethical issues that surround crossing cultural boundaries. 

* HONORS 252H satisfies  a 4-credit SB and DG  General Education requirement.  

Junior Year

Study Abroad

Because of the current pandemic context, the study abroad requirement has been modified for the next ISP Fellow entering class. While in the past, Fellows were required to study abroad at least one semester and encouraged to study abroad one year anywhere in the world, the study abroad component is now optional. ISP fellows are, however, encouraged (but not required) to study abroad for any minimal period of time approved by the International Programs Office (Visit the IPO website for a list of possible programs). They are also encouraged to consider virtual or hybrid study abroad programs thorough IPO. This temporary modification does not impact the ISP Certificate which is open to all participants in the program under the current format.

Senior Year

Fall semester

HONORS 451H: Cross-Cultural Re-entry Seminar and ISP Project (3 credits) 

The final seminar encourages returning ISP scholars to reflect on their experiences abroad. It explores a number of cross-cultural issues in light of the seminar's collective experience. Cultural relativism and the challenges of cross-cultural ethics judgment; the construction of personal and national identities; the understanding and portrayal of people from cultures other than one's own; and the promises and problems of globalization, are some of the issues considered. In addition, the seminar helps students debrief their international experience by writing personal statements and developing interview skills for the job market, graduate school applications, and competitive scholarships. Each ISP scholar completes a final presentation based on his or her overseas experience that forms the core of the seminar.


International Scholars Program Certificate  

The International Scholars Program Certificate enables ISP scholars to develop a concentration in international studies and cross-cultural communication. This certificate should help prepare you for international careers in the business, government, and non-governmental sectors. It should help you to compete successfully for major fellowships (such as the Fulbright) that value applicants who demonstrate global competencies. ISP scholars who complete the requirements for a certificate receive an official designation on their final UMass transcripts. 

ISP Certificate Requirements 

All candidates for the ISP certificate must already be ISP scholars and must complete a supplemental curriculum in addition to the ISP requirements of three core courses and a semester of study abroad.  

ISP Certificate Curriculum 

ISP scholars who choose to complete the certificate work closely with the ISP director to design a supplemental curriculum tailored to meet their academic goals and study abroad interests. The supplemental curriculum consists of three additional 3+ credit courses drawn from the program’s main academic disciplines. Only one may satisfy a requirement in the primary major.  Courses may be taken either on campus or during the study abroad period. 


ISP Class Schedule 2023 – 2024

Fall 2023

251H International Issues

Tuesdays: 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.


451H Cross-Cultural Re-entry Seminar

Thursdays: 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.


Spring 2024

252H Cross-Cultural Preparation Seminar

Tuesdays: 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.