Professional Certification: Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the Program intended for?
This Program is intended for any and all colleagues in the education abroad field who want to certify their knowledge and expertise in applying the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad. This includes experienced administrators, newcomers to the field, resident directors, and senior international officers – all benefit from building their knowledge, skills, and credentials relative to these Standards.

I’ve been in the field for less than 5 years. Can I become certified?
Yes! The Forum Professional Certification in Education Abroad Program provides knowledge of best practices that enhances your application of the Standards to your specific context. A minimum of one year full-time previous employment experience in the education abroad field in a professional, advising, or teaching capacity is required.

I’m an experienced administrator with more than 10 years in education abroad. What is the value of Forum certification for me?
Forum certification provides concrete evidence that your experience and knowledge includes in depth understanding of the Standards of Good Practice.

I am a resident director working on site. Why should I choose to be certified?
Being certified in the Standards of Good Practice demonstrates that you are knowledgeable about and can apply internationally-accepted best practices in the field.

I am a senior international officer. Is certification appropriate for me?
Senior leaders who achieve Forum certification confirm their highest level of commitment to the field, the Standards and best practices.

I am not currently employed in the education abroad field, but I was in the past. Am I eligible to enroll?
Yes, if you have at least one year of previous experience in the field. The program is intended for those who are active in the field, or those with previous experience who are seeking employment in education abroad. A minimum of one year full-time previous employment experience in the education abroad field in a professional, advising or teaching capacity is required.

My work is related to education abroad, but I am not technically in the education abroad field. Is the Forum certification program intended for me?
If you work in higher education and you have accumulated substantial experience in education abroad curriculum design, credit transfer, program direction, or risk management in your current position, Forum certification confirms your ability to apply the Standards of Good Practice effectively and appropriately in your work. For example, an employee in a university registrar’s office responsible for determining education abroad course equivalencies and credit transfer might benefit from the program, as would a faculty member who has extensive experience designing and leading short-term education abroad programs. All applicants should have the equivalent of at least one year full-time experience directly related to education abroad.

Why should my institution invest in this program?
Institutions and organizations care about the quality of their education abroad offerings. Investing in staff certification by the Standards Development Organization for the field of education abroad provides assurance that resident and on-site personnel are able to contribute to ensuring high quality education abroad programming.

My institution’s/organization’s programs abroad are unique. How can I be certain that the Forum certification program will address my needs and inform my work?
The Forum Professional Certification Program is flexible and useful for all types of institutions and organizations. The curriculum is based on the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad, which were deliberately composed to reach the broadest possible audience and the diversity of programs that represent the education abroad field. The Program’s focus is on the articulation and application of the Standards in a variety of contexts, in particular those relevant to the work of Certification program Participants.

Isn’t the Forum an institutional membership organization? Why does the program certify individuals, and not institutions and organizations?
As an institutional membership association, The Forum serves all the individuals that work at its member institutions and organizations. In certifying individuals, The Forum helps to ensure the delivery of quality education abroad programming at the institutions and organizations where those individuals are employed.

Institutions and Organizations may receive recognition by successfully completing The Forum’s Quality Improvement Program (QUIP). QUIP is the process by which member organizations are determined to be in substantial conformity with the Standards of Good Practice.

If the president, CEO or executive director of my organization becomes certified, is it appropriate to state that my organization is certified? If all employees of my organization complete the certification program, may we state that our organization is certified?
No. The Professional Certification in Education Abroad is an individual certification; only individuals may be certified. Organizations are welcome to publicize the certification status of any employees that successfully complete the program.

Organizations may receive recognition from The Forum by successfully completing the Quality Improvement Program (QUIP). QUIP is the process by which member organizations are determined to be in substantial conformity with the Standards of Good Practice.

What will this credential do for me?
Successfully completing the Program enhances your professional credentials in education abroad and certifies that you have successfully demonstrated the abilities to apply The Forum Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad.

How will I be able to show that I have successfully completed the Certification Program?
Participants who complete the program successfully are certified in education abroad by The Forum on Education Abroad, receive a certificate, the right to use the “Certified Professional” Mark on curricula vitae, résumés, etc., and be listed on The Forum’s website. Special recognition is also given at The Forum’s Annual and European Conferences. Upon request, The Forum will also send a letter to their supervisor indicating that they have completed the program successfully.

Can I participate if my institution is not a Forum member?
The Forum Professional Certification Program is intended for professionals who are active in the education abroad field regardless of Forum membership. However, employees of Forum members enjoy discounted program fees and no certification maintenance fee as long as they are employed at an institutional member of The Forum.

Is there an application deadline?
Applicants may apply to the Program at any time; acceptance is on a rolling admission basis. However, there are registration deadlines for each workshop.

Are there scholarships available?
Yes. The Forum’s scholarship program helps fund colleagues from member institutions to participate in the Certification Program who otherwise could not afford to do so because of lack of institutional resources or support.

How do I apply for a scholarship?
Complete the scholarship portion of the Certification application. Applicants are asked to demonstrate need and how certification will benefit them and their organization.

Can I apply workshops that I have attended in the past towards this Certification Program?
If you participated in specific Forum workshops since March 2015, you may apply any of those towards your certification. Workshops offered before 2015 were not designed with this Program in mind.

Do I need to complete all of the workshops or can I simply complete the Standards Assignments?
Standards Assignments are based on the specific content that is covered in each corresponding workshop. Although it is not recommended, some participants may feel prepared to complete a Standards Assignment without completing the corresponding workshop. The exception is the Module 1 workshop, which is required because it is the foundation for all of the other modules and workshops.

Is there a specific order in which the Assignments must be completed?
The workshop associated with Module 1 is the only required workshop for certification and must be completed when beginning the Certification Program. Once Module 1 is completed, participants seeking certification may complete the remaining modules in any order, ending with the Culminating Project.

Where and when will workshops be offered?
The Forum offers workshops across the U.S. and overseas on a regular basis.

Are workshops available online?
All of the Standards of Good Practice workshops are available online and are made available to participants upon enrollment in the program.

Why isn’t just attending workshops enough for Forum certification?
The Forum’s Professional Certification Program goes well beyond seat time as a measure of outcomes. The specially-designed Standards Assignments are exercises that relate to the content of the Standards of Good Practice and provide the means to evaluate participants’ abilities to articulate and apply the Standards. The assignments require participants to apply what they learn to a variety of education abroad organizational and institutional contexts, which provides opportunities for real world application. Participants will receive specific feedback to the responses they submit for each Standards Assignment from Forum Certification Assessors.

Who will be assessing my work in this program?
The Standards Assignments are evaluated by certified Forum Certification Assessors who are trained and appointed by The Forum. All Forum Certification Assessors maintain the strictest confidentiality regarding participants’ progress in the program.

What happens if I don’t “pass”?
Participants who do not complete Assignments successfully are given specific feedback by the Forum Certification Assessors to assist them to revise their responses to the Standards Assignments. These revised Assignments are resubmitted and evaluated; this process continues until participants achieve a successful result on all of the Standards Assignments.

How long does the entire Program take?
Once admitted into the Certification Program, participants must complete it within 3 years. The time that it takes to successfully complete the program depends on the individual. It is expected that most participants will take between 1 – 2 years to complete the Program.

How long does each module take me to complete?
Each module begins with a 4-hour workshop followed by Standards Assignments specific to the topic of the module. On average, it should take a participant 2 to 4 hours to complete the Standards Assignments associated with each module.

May I request an extension to complete the Program?
In extenuating circumstances individuals may petition for a one-time extension in order to complete the Program provided that at least 70% of the program has already been successfully completed. The length of that extension is determined at the time of the petition.

What criteria must be met in order to be considered for an extension?
Participants petitioning for an extension must provide evidence of the extenuating circumstances that are prohibiting their completion of the Program within the three year time period.

Are there additional fees charged in the case of an extension?
No additional fees are charged in the granting of an extension to complete the Program.

How will I be recognized as a Certified Education Abroad professional?
A person who completes the Certification Program successfully is awarded a certificate stating such and will be listed on The Forum’s website as a certified education abroad professional. A certified professional may also use The Forum’s “Certified Professional” Mark which gives indication of being certified. Special recognition is also given at The Forum’s Annual and European Conferences.

Once certified, how do I maintain that status?
The certification maintenance is rigorous but flexible. It requires individuals to demonstrate evidence of ongoing professional development every two years by showing how they have used the Standards within their institutional context in a myriad of ways. In addition, The Forum will offer several advanced webinars during the year that will be reserved for those who are certified, and these will count towards their certification maintenance.

There is no maintenance fee for colleagues employed at Forum member institutions. Colleagues from non-member institutions will be charged a $100 maintenance fee every two years.

Once certified, will attending a professional event (such as a NAFSA, AIEA or EAIE conference) count towards my certification maintenance?
Individuals maintain certification by demonstrating continuing professional development related to education abroad and the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad. These activities are not limited to Forum events, but rather include any and all appropriate professional activities, including continuing education, professional development, service, scholarship, and program development and assessment.