ISP Director:

Madalina Akli, Ph.D.


313 Commonwealth Honors College

University of Massachusetts Amherst

157 Commonwealth Avenue

Tel: (413) 577-2613




The International Scholars Program Certificate combines academic learning with a substantial period of study abroad in order to provide students with the global competencies they will need to become informed and effective citizens of our increasingly interconnected world. Candidates for the certificate must be members of the International Scholars Program. They are expected to complete the program’s core curriculum, to study abroad for at least one semester during their junior year, and to complete a supplemental curriculum that they will design in consultation with the program’s director. This certificate should prove helpful in preparing students for international careers in the business, government, and non-governmental sectors. It should help them compete successfully for major fellowships (such as the Fulbright) that reward candidates with demonstrated global competencies, and it should prepare students who wish to pursue graduate degrees in related fields.



All candidates for the certificate must be members of the International Scholars Program. ISP is a selective program that currently accepts 15 to 20 students each year. It is open to all honors students who are in good academic standing. Non-honors students with overall GPAs of 3.400 or higher may be considered on a space-available basis. Interested students apply to ISP during the second semester of their freshman year. For more information on ISP, please visit the program’s website.



The ISP Certificate requires a minimum of 3 additional courses, each worth 3 credits of more, drawn from the program's main academic disciplines: international studies or cross-cultural communication (including language study). Students may fulfill this requirement during their period of study abroad or on campus. Only one of these courses may satisfy a requirement in the primary major. These supplemental courses must comprise a coherent program related to the student's academic goals and plans for study abroad.

  1. Sophomore-year core curriculum

Honors 251: International Issues Seminar (3 credits)

This is the required entry course for ISP. It provides students with a theoretical and practical understanding of the international system that will help them study abroad as informed global citizens. Students will explore the field of international relations 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 intend to study.


Honors 252: 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 borders.


  1. Junior-year study abroad

Students must spend at least one semester on a university approved study abroad program. They may study anywhere in the world, on any program, so long as it has been endorsed by the International Programs Office. To explore the range of possible programs, please visit the IPO website.


  1. Senior-year core curriculum

Students complete the core curriculum by taking the following course:

Honors 451: Cross-Cultural Re-Entry Seminar and 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.


  1. Supplemental curriculum

Candidates for the certificate must complete a supplemental curriculum of three additional courses, each worth 3 credits or more, drawn from the program’s main academic disciplines. They may take these courses either during their period of study abroad or while on campus. Only one of these courses may satisfy a requirement in the primary major. Candidates for the certificate will need to work closely with the ISP director to make sure that these supplemental courses comprise a coherent program related to their academic goals and plans for study abroad.


Frequently asked questions

What is a certificate?

A certificate allows students to add coherence to the courses they take outside their major. The ISP Certificate in particular enables them to develop a concentration in international studies and cross cultural communication. It also provides an academic context for study abroad. Students who complete the requirements for a certificate receive an official designation on their final UMass transcript.


What is the International Scholars Program?

The International Scholars Program (or ISP) is sponsored jointly by Commonwealth Honors College and the International Programs Office. It provides an opportunity for qualified students to integrate study abroad with courses in international studies and cross cultural communication. ISP participants must be members of Commonwealth Honors College, though occasionally the program accepts non-honors students with overall GPAs of 3.400 or higher.


What is the difference between ISP 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. 


Can a student participate in ISP without completing the certificate?

Yes. In that case the student completes the ISP requirements without the supplemental curriculum.