Commonwealth Honors College and the International Programs Office co-sponsor the International Scholars Program (ISP) which allows qualified students to integrate international studies coursework and study abroad during their undergraduate years. ISP is highly competitive, admitting approximately 15 to 20 students each year. Participants must be able to commit three consecutive years to the program.


Application Deadline: April 1, 2020



Goals of ISP

  • To prepare students for the study abroad experience
  • To foster in them an appreciation for cultures other than their own
  • To provide an understanding of the international system and America’s place in it
  • To help students engage in international research and complete an honors thesis or project based on their overseas experience
  • To support students in acquiring the knowledge and skills they will need to meet the challenges of an increasingly interconnected world


How does ISP achieve these goals?

  • Through the study-abroad experience
  • Through the ISP curriculum, which is designed to help students to see the global in everyday life and to approach all subjects from an international perspective
  • By making use of the university’s international resources
  • By building a community of scholars—from sophomores to seniors—who are interested in global issues and who share similar overseas experiences


ISP Curriculum

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. Students 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 students prepare for their study abroad experience by exploring the role that culture plays in both facilitating and hindering communication. It encourages students to see themselves as members of one or more cultural group 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

Students study abroad for one or two semesters, anywhere in the world, on any program, so long as it has been approved by the International Programs Office (IPO). Visit the IPO website for a list of possible programs.


Senior Year

Fall semester

Students complete the program by taking one of the following courses:

Honors 451H, “Cross-Cultural Re-entry Seminar and ISP Project,” 3 credits

This final seminar encourages returning ISP seniors 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 ethical 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. Each student completes a final project based on his or her overseas experience that forms the core of the seminar.


ISP Class Schedule 2019 – 2020

Fall 2019

251H, Monday, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

451H, Wednesday, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Spring 2020

252H: Tuesday and Thursday, 8:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.

Fall 2020

451H: Tuesday and Thursday 8:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.


Benefits of ISP

  • Individualized advising on the integration of study abroad with honors requirements
  • Small seminars with a dedicated group of students and faculty
  • Integration into a network of past and future ISP graduates
  • Limited award per semester for study abroad


Who can participate in ISP?

  • Any member of Commonwealth Honors College in good academic standing
  • Non-honors students who maintain a GPA of 3.4 or above will be considered on a space available basis


How do I apply?

  • Students usually apply during the spring semester of their first year
  • The process begins with information sessions that are held in December, January, and February. The sessions are not a requirement, but provide a good opportunity for interested students to ask questions about the program.
  • Applications are due in early April
  • Final decisions will be announced shortly after applications are submitted



What is the difference between the International Scholars Program and the ISP Certificate?

ISP is a program involving three core courses and a semester of study abroad. To receive the ISP Certificate, students must complete ISP as well as a "supplemental curriculum" of three additional courses. Students who choose to complete the certificate work closely with the ISP director to design a supplemental curriculum that is tailored to meet their particular needs and interests. Visit International Scholars Program Undergraduate Certificate for more information.



ISP Director

Madalina Akli, Ph.D.


313 Commonwealth Honors College

University of Massachusetts Amherst

157 Commonwealth Avenue

Tel: (413) 577-2613