Educational Agreements

Columbia University has a long history of successful and mutually beneficial collaborations with a wide range of domestic and global partners. This website has been launched to facilitate the work of faculty and staff throughout the University to construct agreements that satisfy regulatory requirements from federal, state, and accrediting bodies, as well as to follow best practices and ensure the quality of our educational programs. It is the result of a collaborative effort among several offices, including Student Financial Services (SFS)/Compliance, the Office of General Counsel (OGC), and the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs (OVPAP). It is meant to provide the Columbia community with best practices in the development of educational agreements. Below, the process for developing and codifying agreements is described step-by-step. Timelines and templates are also provided.

Educational Agreement Process

1. Please contact your school's dean for education/academic affairs prior to submitting a new educational agreement to the Provost's Office. The school's dean's office must sign off on any proposed educational agreement.

2. We have launched an online tool called DARCI (Database for Agreements, Renewals, Centers and Institutes) for processing academic agreements.

       a. Check with your school's education dean to see if your school is using DARCI, and who in the dean's office can access it for you. Please work with that individual to submit your proposed agreement with accompanying basic information via DARCI.

       b. If your school is not using DARCI, please complete the Cover Sheet for a New Educational Agreement. This form summarizes basic information about the general agreement and rationale as to why the university should enter into this agreement. Click here to download the form. Only Columbia University faculty and staff should use this form for internal proposals at the school or department level.

3. Submit the agreement via DARCI, or via email (to with the cover sheet. All documents must be submitted as Word documents that allow for editing. PDFs will not be accepted.

4. The agreement will typically need to be reviewed and approved by 3-4 offices:

  • Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs (OVPAP)
  • Office of General Counsel (OGC)
  • Student Financial Services (SFS)/Compliance Office
  • CUMC Dean's Office (if the agreement is from one of the CUMC schools)

Depending on the location of the proposed agreement, Risk Management (or other University offices) may also be consulted and asked to review.

5. The agreement review and approval process can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 36 weeks. Please note that the review process begins when both the agreement and accompanying basic information (collected via DARCI or cover sheet) are received via DARCI or email.

  • OVPAP template: 6-12 weeks
  • Non-Columbia University template: 8-36 weeks

6. Schools are encouraged to use one of the University's agreement templates to help expedite the approval process.

7. Agreement Translation/Verification - The Provost cannot sign documents in any language other than English without the agreement being verified by a translation service or approval from OGC.

  • OVPAP will work with the translation service on behalf of the school. Please note that if a translation is needed this can lengthen the review and approval process time, even when OVPAP templates are used.
  • Schools submitting agreements for approval that required translation are responsible for the costs incurred as of July 1, 2016.
  • Schools will be asked to provide a chartstring to cover the costs of the translation.

8. Signatures on agreements - There is a process that schools should follow to obtain signatures on agreements. OVPAP will provide this information to the school once the agreement has been approved. This information will be clearly described in a cover memo from OVPAP.

Educational Agreement Templates

Please contact for available agreement templates.

Handshake, or “Agree to Agree” [Template available]

DESCRIPTION: These agreements are between Columbia and another entity (domestic or international) where both express an interest in having current and future discussions about potential collaborations. However, there are no specific outcomes, programs, courses of study, or projects described in this document. They are non-binding with regard to faculty, staff, students, or any other university resource. There is no exchange of resources. Anything more concrete requires a separate and full agreement apart from this document.

Student Exchange or Visiting Student (where credits are earned) [Template available]

DESCRIPTION: These agreements are for Columbia’s student(s) visiting a partner institution (domestic or international) for one or more semesters and/or for a student from a partner institution visiting Columbia.  These agreements are for undergraduate and graduate students traveling bi-directionally OR uni-directionally between universities. All such agreements are characterized by the fact that credits are earned by the students at one or both institutions.

Dual Degree Program [Template available]

DESCRIPTION: These agreements are for students participating in educational programs leading to two degrees.  Dual degree programs link two separate programs together as a way for students to complete courses in two degree programs, with students transferring credits from one program to another in accordance with each institution’s credit transfer policy.  There are several types:  Students may receive the same degree from two institutions (e.g., a Bachelor’s degree from each).  In other arrangements, students may receive degrees in two different fields (e.g., a Master’s degree in public health and a Master’s degree in public administration). Or, students may receive two degrees at two different levels (e.g., a Bachelor’s from one institution and a Master’s from the other).  Dual degree arrangements may be with two schools within Columbia, or between Columbia and a domestic or international partner institution. If the partner is external to Columbia, an educational agreement is required. All dual degree programs require review and approval by several University offices (e.g., OVPAP, University Senate). Internal approvals are managed through the online Academic Program Approval System (APAS). Formal program registration with New York State Department of Education may be required in some instances but not others. If it is not a unique program that has been collaboratively developed, it does not require registration with NYSED.  Please contact OVPAP for further information or to gain access to APAS (

Joint Degree Program [Template available]

DESCRIPTION: Joint degree programs are ones in which there is a mutually determined curriculum involving faculty from Columbia and an external partner institution.  Students receive one or two degrees, issued jointly from Columbia and from the partner (domestic or international).  In addition to requiring a University educational agreement, joint degrees must be managed through Columbia’s APAS system and they must be registered with New York State Department of Education.  Please contact OVPAP for further information or to gain access to APAS (

Executive (Non-credit) Education

DESCRIPTION: A number of Columbia schools offer “executive” (non-credit-bearing) educational programs for a variety of stakeholders. Executive (non-credit) education agreements are reviewed by the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs. There are specific guidelines for such programs. For additional information, please visit:

Internships, clinical placements, practica, travel, and short-term, non-credit educational enrichment programs (excluding executive education)

DESCRIPTION: At this time, internships, clinical placements, practica, travel, and short-term non-credit educational enrichment programs do not undergo the educational agreement review process led by Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs.  Executive (non-credit) education agreements are reviewed by the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs - see above for further information. Schools are responsible for developing such agreements in consultation with OGC and any other relevant offices (such as risk management) as the scope of the agreement dictates.

Study Abroad

DESCRIPTION: Study Abroad programs where Columbia students earn Columbia credits (taught by Columbia faculty through Columbia COI approved courses) do not need provostial reviewed, institutional level agreements.  There may be other reasons for agreements to exist for these types of relationships (facilities, other services).   Study abroad programs where Columbia students earn credits offered by another institution do need provosital reviewed, institutional level agreements.

One-time, specific purpose – or Individual-Level Agreement

DESCRIPTION: These agreements pertain to one-time research or educational initiatives by a single student or faculty member (or, on occasion, a small number of each) for a very specific purpose.  Examples include:  a graduate student travels to another country to carry out archival research for two weeks; a faculty member travels to another country as part of a collaborative research project.  All such agreements are handled at the School level. They must be reviewed by OGC.  Provost Office review is not required. 



(This site launched June 1, 2015 and will continue to evolve over time and include even more information.)