Commonwealth Honors College and the International Programs Office (IPO) co-sponsor ISP, a competitive program which admits approximately 15 to 20 students each year. ISP scholars are encouraged to study abroad for at least one semester. However, study abroad is optional. They must commit to the ISP curriculum, which consists of three mandatory Honors classes — two taken during the sophomore year, and one in the senior year.

Read more about the ISP Scholars

ISP Experience

As an ISP scholar, you will be part of a community of students and alumni who are interested in global issues and share similar overseas experiences. ISP prepares you for a study abroad experience (should you choose to study abroad), fosters an appreciation of other cultures, and provides an understanding of international relations. ISP helps you engage in international study overseas and acquire the knowledge and skills needed to meet the challenges of an increasingly interconnected world. 

Benefits of ISP

ISP offers individualized advising on how to prepare for study abroad. 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. Prospective applicants need to make sure that they have time to commit to the ISP curriculum of three mandatory classes. Students usually apply in the spring semester of their first year.

Application Information 

Apply during the spring semester of your first year.

The process begins with information sessions held in the spring semester. The sessions are  not required but provide  a good opportunity to learn about the program.

ISP Curriculum 

ISP scholars take three core ISP courses, are encouraged to study abroad, and may 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. The ISP curriculum is mandatory.

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 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, should they choose to study abroad, 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 is highly encouraged and supported by the ISP Scholarship

Because of the post pandemic context, the study abroad requirement has been modified for the 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). This 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 ISP scholars to reflect on their experiences abroad and/or their experience as undergraduates at UMass. 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 and/or their undergraduate experience at UMass by writing personal statements and developing interview skills for the job market, graduate school applications, and competitive scholarships, such as the Fulbright scholarship. Each ISP scholar completes a final presentation based on their overseas or UMass 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, particularly the Fulbright scholarship, 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 an optional study abroad program.  

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.

Fall 2024

  • 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.


Madalina Akli

Director, Office of National Scholarship Advisement
Director, International Scholars Program
CHCRC Faculty in Residence
Senior Lecturer of International Studies

Madalina Akli is a Director at the Commonwealth Honors College.

Portrait of Madalina Akli at the University of Massachusetts