The University Center for International Studies (UCIS) is currently in the process of updating the international agreement process for the University. Please check back regularly, as the information posted on this page is the most up-to-date regarding this process and may change over the course of the fall term.

The University partners with academic institutions across the globe to expand curricular offerings, research collaborations, and intercultural opportunities for mobility of students and faculty. University of Pittsburgh Policy 02-01-05 was developed to provide a mechanism for initiating international agreements. The University’s process for establishing and renewing agreements with international institutions exists to protect the interests of faculty and units working to establish linkages, as well as the University overall. The policy governs agreements having the following characteristics:

…any agreement 1) between the University of Pittsburgh and one or more foreign governments and/or universities or other organizations domiciled outside the United States, regarding the use of this University’s faculty, student, library or other research or instructional resources within the United States or 2) that commits the University of Pittsburgh to the deployment of faculty, student, library or other research or instructional resources outside of the United States.

Faculty and units considering an international inter-institutional agreement should follow the steps listed below. At the earliest stages of conceptualization, please contact the Global Operations Support Manager for help determining which agreement will best meet the needs of the intended partnership.

Step 1: Check Active Agreements

Before concretizing commitments with potential partners, it is important to determine whether the University currently holds an active agreement with the proposed partner institution. UCIS currently tracks all active international agreements; to inquire about existing agreements with a particular institution, please contact the Global Operations Support Manager.

Step 2: View Sample Agreements

Before formalizing any type of understanding between parties it is also critical to determine if the partnership meets University’s stated needs and/or priorities. This decision should help you discern the appropriate agreement type to best formalize the desired relationship of the parties involved. The following are the types of international agreements available for use. Please consult with the Global Operations Support Manager for assistance in this decision-making process.

  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): is a standard, non-binding accord between institutions. It is used in cases where a ceremonial signing is required or when Pitt would like to establish an exploratory relationship with a partner to best decide whether more formal collaborations are warranted. In cases where parties agree on specific projects or scope of partnerships, the MOU should be avoided and one of the agreements below should be explored.
  • Undergraduate/Graduate Student Exchange: supports individual student mobility (outside of Pitt-sanctioned study abroad program models) via a bilateral agreement where each partner is encouraged to send/receive equal numbers of students annually.  Since students at each institution pay tuition to their home institutions, these agreements require careful thought and consideration, especially as regards the responsible unit’s ability to recruit and send/receive a set number of students annually. If there is a desired exchange at both the Graduate and Undergraduate levels, separate agreements may be required. Also, please note that Graduate exchanges will be administered through specific graduate schools.
  • Faculty Exchange Non-Teaching: supports faculty as they establish non-teaching collaborations with partners abroad (including formal mobility agreements, coordinating academic meetings, publishing with international collaborators). Research projects should be discussed with the Office of Research and teaching contracts should be discussed with the Office of Faculty Affairs.
  • Cooperative Agreement: allows faculty and staff to partner with institutions on matters not related to student/faculty exchange. For example, if Pitt is co-hosting any type of program or event abroad, not related to study abroad (such as conferences, film festivals, or publication launch), then we should formalize that arrangement using this agreement.

Step 3: Application and Draft Generation

Once an appropriate agreement type has been selected, work must first begin to approve the partnership proposal within the University. Upon approval, you can negotiate the specific terms for a final draft with the potential partner. This process will consist of the following steps:

1: Fill out and submit the Agreement Request Form

This form will allow the internal applicant to provide details about the desired partnership such as scope, level of involvement, general terms etc. The completed Agreement Request Form will become the initial partnership proposal that will be vetted and approved by appropriate Pitt leadership before a more formal and robust agreement is developed. Please submit your completed Agreement Request Form to the Global Operations Support Manager.

View Agreement Request Form

2: Approval and Template Issuance

The Agreement Request Form will be sent first to the Global Operations Support Manager who, in conjunction with International Agreements Team (IAT), will forward it to the internal applicant’s department chair/director and dean for initial approval. Once the Agreement Request Form has been vetted and approved, the internal applicant(s) will be invited to meet with the IAT to discuss the creation of a specific agreement. Finally, in consultation with the internal applicant, the IAT will draft an agreement that should be sent to the proposed international partner institution for their review.

3: Negotiation with the International Partner

In the event where negotiations are necessary, internal applicants will consult with the IAT about engaging in the negotiation process.

Step 4: Final Approval and Routing

Once all parties agree on a final draft, it should be sent to the IAT for internal routing and final approvals.

Please Note: The agreement review process may take 6-8 weeks on average to reach execution While efforts are in place to reduce the time for procuring approvals and routing, this process still involves a signed agreement from the University of Pittsburgh and all such agreements must be thoroughly reviewed to protect the interests of the University. Therefore, the estimated timeline is subject to change based on any number of potential variables to including negotiations and required revisions or any other unforeseen circumstances.

General Advice

It is important to remember that, in many cases, international agreements can include multiple parties and not just the University and a single foreign entity. This should be taken into consideration during the initial phases of the planning process.

Particular points of concern include issues such as export control, IP, shipment of sensitive and restricted equipment or hazardous materials, human subject research review, and restricted party concerns. For example, an agreement that includes research and exchange of information with foreign nationals can be an actual or a “deemed export” under federal export control laws. Because the University is subject to federal export laws, you should be sure that local research or the information exchange occurring within the United States is “fundamental research” so that you are exempted from obtaining an export license.

Fundamental research is essentially basic or applied research at the University where the results are ordinarily published or disseminated widely. Confidentiality clauses or other publication restrictions may take your project outside the fundamental research exception and require you to obtain an export license. Keep in mind also that the traditional export of certain technology, information and goods, to certain countries or individuals, may be banned or also require one to obtain an export license. For more information, please visit the Export Controls website.


For more information on institutional collaboration or to answer any questions, please contact the following: