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Developing Partnerships

The Office of International Relations works with faculty, school administrators, and other units on campus to design, negotiate, and institutionalize international partnerships. These partnerships should be formalized with an agreement or a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

International agreements are written for various types of partnerships, such as student exchange programs, customized student programs, dual degree programs or faculty exchanges, to name a few. See all partnership types.

If you are considering a new agreement, please contact Emily Wilson in the Office of International Relations to see if there is an existing agreement with your proposed partner. Below is the process a standard agreement must follow to be approved by Northwestern.

Step-by-Step Guide on how to Develop an International Partnership

Determine if an Agreement is Needed

  • You need an agreement if there is an exchange of faculty, students, or money.
  • Any institutional level program requires an agreement.
  • You do not need an agreement if you are doing an individual research project with a colleague or if you are taking students on a one-off short-term trip.
  • If you are considering an undergraduate exchange or study abroad program, please contact Karey Fuhs in the Office of International Program Development before proceeding.
  • If you have a question about whether or not you need an agreement, please contact Emily Wilson in the Office of International Relations.

Get Approval from Dean and Department Chair to Pursue a New Partnership

  • Obtain approval from your school to pursue a new relationship or expand an existing relationship with a partner institution.

Draft an Agreement

  • Contact Emily Wilson in the Office of International Relations for an agreement template.
  • Consider the following when drafting agreements:
    • Is this a mutually beneficial agreement for Northwestern and the partner institution?
    • Is this the best partner institution for this specific purpose?
    • What are the anticipated activities of this program?
    • What is the timeframe of this program? When will the agreement expire?
    • Who will be involved from Northwestern?
    • How will this collaboration be funded?
    • Will this collaboration create any intellectual property (copyrights or patents) or involve any confidential information?

Obtain School's Approval of the Agreement

  • The agreement details should be endorsed by the dean or associate deans at the school proposing the agreement.

Contact International Units

  • For agreements relating to undergraduate students going abroad to study at an international university:
    • Send the draft agreement to Karey Fuhs in the Office of International Program Development,
  • For agreements relating to graduate students going abroad to study at an international university or a partner institution:
    • If this program is going to be a part of The Graduate School, contact Antoaneta Condurat in The Graduate School first for program approval, then Emily Wilson in the Office of International Relations,
    • For all others, send the draft agreement to Emily Wilson in the Office of International Relations.
  • For agreements relating to hosting graduate students at Northwestern from an international university or a partner institution:
    • Send the draft agreement to Emily Wilson in the Office of International Relations.
  • For agreements relating to research with partner universities:
    • Send the draft agreement to Emily Wilson in the Office of International Relations.

Legal Review

  • Legal review of undergraduate agreements is managed by the Office of International Program Development. All others are managed by the Office of International Relations.
  • Once your agreement is reviewed and approved by General Counsel, the edited document will be shared with you to send to your partners.

Partner Institution Approval

  • If the agreement is approved by the partner institution, return the document to Karey Fuhs (for undergraduate agreements) or Emily Wilson (for all others), who will obtain the Provost's signature.
  • If the agreement is not approved by the partner institution, return the document to the Office of International Program Development (for undergraduate agreements) or the Office of International Relations (for all others) with the disputed clauses highlighted.

Partner Institution Signature

  • The Office of International Program Development (for undergraduate agreements) or the Office of International Relations (for all others) will send the signed agreement to your partner institution for signature.
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