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Cal Poly International Exchange & MOUs

CP International Exchanges

General Information
The Cal Poly International Center oversees the approval and execution of new and renewing international agreements. International agreements are entered into for the purpose of facilitating international cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit. There are two types of agreement that may facilitate international cooperation: a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which is a general document that lays the groundwork for future collaborative activity, and a Memorandum of Agreement (Agreement), which details one or more specific activities and normally includes the commitment of university resources. International agreements are those institutional affiliations between Cal Poly and partner institutions that involve the use of the University's name and may include any or all of the following:
  • Exchange of scholarly materials
  • Administration of joint research projects
  • Administration of faculty exchange
  • Administration of study abroad program (one-way to Cal Poly and/or to the partner
  • institution; students pay host institution tuition and fees)
  • Administration of student exchange (students pay home institution tuition and fees)
For the purpose of this document the following definitions will be used:

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): A document that establishes a broad context for institutional cooperation and is not a legally binding document. Because an MOU does not spell out specific commitments, programs that commit university resources will require a legally binding Agreement in addition to the general MOU.

Agreement: An Agreement spells out the specific arrangements for a program that commits university resources. These include Exchange Agreements, Study Abroad Agreements, Affiliate Partner agreements and any other such agreement that is legally binding.

Amendment: An Amendment clarifies or expands an Agreement.

Renewal: An Agreement may be renewed following approval by the Cal Poly International Programs Committee and in consultation and agreement between stakeholders at both institutions.

Coordinating Unit: The college, school, department, or center at Cal Poly that has agreed to serve as the ‘host’ of the Agreement in consultation with the Cal Poly International Center.

Faculty/Staff Coordinator: The representative from the Coordinating Unit who is responsible for administering the Agreement, championing the program to students, faculty and staff, and who works closely with the International Center in the proposal and renewal process. The Coordinator is responsible for submitting an annual activity report for the International Center Director and the International Programs Committee.

Exchange: Students take classes for credit at host institution on a temporary, non-degree basis and pay tuition and fees as required by their home institutions. Both institutions will review the program annually for any imbalances in student participation and shall adjust the following year's exchange program's student ratio accordingly.


Establishing Overseas Exchange Partners

If you are a faculty member at Cal Poly and would like to establish a new international agreement with an overseas university, the International Center staff can assist you with this process. If this is your first time initiating and establishing a new exchange program, it can be advantageous to start with a general Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as you explore what type of potential there can be for a future exchange program.

Exchange programs can play a significant role in the internationalization of the college and the department. Cal Poly students are offered a low-cost study abroad experience within their academic discipline, and students from the partnering university have an opportunity to study at Cal Poly.  Faculty are also generally able to participate in exchange activities, joint research, etc.  The Cal Poly community is enriched by the diversity and cross-cultural understanding that exchange bring to the campus.
Exchanges operate on a reciprocal basis, where incoming international students trade seats with the Cal Poly students studying overseas. Therefore, exchanges increase the number of international students without displacing the number of degree-seeking students at Cal Poly.
In an exchange agreement, the two universities agree, in the spirit of goodwill and reciprocity, to strengthen ties between the universities and to promote academic and cultural exchange. The exchange agreement provides a mechanism for student exchange.

The International Center requires that you consult with your dean and department head/chair about your intent to initiate a new exchange program. The support of your dean and department head/chair is critical in establishing and maintaining a thriving and successful exchange program. To begin the process of establishing a new exchange program or MOU, select a button below to start a Proposal Form.  If you have questions regarding international agreements that are different from MOU or Exchange, please contact Kristine Roberts at

IE ProposalMOU Proposal
Deadlines for new MOU and Exchange Proposals are:
May 1st by 5:00 p.m.
December 1st by 5:00 p.m.

New Exchange Proposals are reviewed by the International Programs Committee on a bi-annual basis. After completing the Proposal Form, if you would like feedback before it is presented to the International Programs Committee, please contact Dr. Caroline (Cari) Vanderkar, Director of the International Center. You can set up an appointment with Dr. Vanderkar by email at


The International Center keeps track of the International Agreements and their upcoming renewal dates. Staff from the International Center will contact the Faculty/Department Coordinator about the upcoming renewal and ask them to complete the International Exchange Renewal Form or the MOU Renewal Form. The International Exchange renewal will be reviewed by the International Programs Committee on a bi-annual basis. To begin the process of establishing a new exchange program or MOU, select a button below to start a Renewal Form.

IE RenewalMOU Renewal

Deadlines for  MOU and Exchange Renewals are:
February 24th by 5:00 p.m.

Inbound Exchange

Prospective Exchange Students can find instructions on how to apply online on the International Exchange Programs web page for International Students. Overseas exchange coordinators should email the International Center with their list of nominated students and the students shall submit the online application according to the following deadlines:
Inbound Exchange Deadlines
Quarter Student Begins Nomination Deadline Application Deadline
Fall February 15 March 1
Winter July 15 August 1
Spring October 15 November 1

The California State University does not allow incoming exchange students to Cal Poly with U.S. Citizenship or dual-U.S.citizenship to participate in exchange programs.

Outbound Exchange

Outbound Exchange Deadlines
Quarter Student Begins International Center Deadline
Summer/Fall/Academic Year March 1
Winter/Spring October 1*

*Except for specific CENG exchange programs
The Cal Poly Exchange Coordinators, in cooperation with the exchange coordinators at the partner university, set the eligibility requirements of the student participants. Most exchange programs require a GPA of at least 2.5, good disciplinary standing at Cal Poly and language ability necessary to be able to function well in the academic setting of their respective destinations. A Cal Poly Department or College may set a required English language proficiency test score if desired.