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Roles and Responsibilities

Role and Expectations of the Resident Director

Study abroad broadens perspectivesThe roles and responsibilities of the education abroad resident director extend beyond the traditional classroom and/or academic advising setting with which you are familiar and in which boundaries are clearly defined between faculty and students. Education abroad, by definition, is a 24/7 involvement for participants and resident directors alike. This means you will handle non-classroom issues and situations which differ significantly from the demands and challenges of the classroom environment. In your position as resident director, daily interactions and close living quarters will acquaint you with student life and culture outside the classroom. You will need to establish appropriate boundaries between you and the students while you are resident director of an education abroad program.

As you undertake this leadership role, it is critical for you to understand and accept you are a role model. Your behavior, actions and words will always be on display. You will want to maintain professional and neutral relationships with all students in your group and avoid displays of preferential treatment and/or favoritism. Such displays, at best, will be resented by students and, at worst, misunderstood and considered objectionable.

Above all, you will often have to put the needs of the students above your own and view this experience as a team effort, not an individual one.

Generally, your key roles and responsibilities as a resident director are to:

  • Promote and enhance the academic integrity of the education abroad program
  • Serve as the liaison between the Office of International Affairs (OIA), students and the host institution
  • Assist students in meeting the academic, social and cultural challenges of the education abroad experience
  • Respond to emergency situations 24/7
  • Maintain accountability for any funds entrusted to your care for program expenses
  • Assist in the overall development of the education abroad program with your college/department and OIA

Specifically, you are required to perform the following duties as a resident director:


  • Provide input on flights, in-country itinerary and program budgetary matters, as needed and in a timely fashion
  • Submit required documents and information to OIA in a timely manner through the online RD profile
  • Attend program information sessions
  • Recruit for the program (class and club visits); resident director involvement is critical
  • Assist with the selection process and/or interview student applicants (some programs)
  • Participate in all pre-departure orientations
  • Read the Preparing to Depart and Health and Safety sections on the website 
  • Participate in OIA’s mandatory resident director orientations
  • Determine division of labor with assistant/co-resident directors
  • Verify all students have enrolled in the correct education abroad course(s)
  • Read and know Department of State and Centers for Disease Control information for the countries the program will visit


  • Oversee academic program in-country
  • Provide in-country orientation to students
  • Hold regular meetings with students throughout the program
  • Maintain regular contact with education abroad coordinator
  • Manage cash advance funds
  • Respond to medical/non-medical emergencies
  • Serve as liaison between the host institution and/or vendor and OIA
  • Facilitate cross-cultural learning for students


  • Submit receipts for cash advance funds to OIA business operations
  • Attend debrief meeting with education abroad coordinator
  • Assist future program leaders
  • Begin planning for next year (if applicable)

Essential characteristics of the successful resident director include the following:

  • Sense of humor
  • Common sense
  • Endless patience
  • Physical stamina
  • Excellent communication skills (verbal and non-verbal)
  • Strong record-keeping and documentation skills
  • Caring, helpful and supportive attitude
  • Genuine interest in host culture and country
  • Flexibility
  • Firm but fair attitude
  • Basic first aid knowledge
  • Ability to remain calm in stressful situations

Roles and Responsibilities of OIA Education Abroad Specialist

Buckeyes studying in HondurasThe OIA education abroad specialist is responsible for managing your program and supporting you in your role as the resident director. Each specialist manages a diverse portfolio of programs, varying in length and location. Education abroad specialists have extensive professional and personal international experience and many years of working within the international education profession.

You will have frequent phone conversations, email contact and meetings with your education abroad specialist. The education abroad experience is greatly enhanced by a close and cooperative working relationship between the resident director and OIA education abroad specialist.

Specifically, your OIA education abroad specialist:

  • Advises students on education abroad opportunities
  • Recruits for education abroad programs
  • Manages all non-academic issues— with resident director input — relating to the education abroad program (organizing info sessions, pre-departure orientations, logistics, financial aid issues, budgets, payments, etc.)

The education abroad specialist is supported by staff members who are responsible for fee posting and health insurance enrollment. The Office of International Affairs has a business operations unit responsible for making payments overseas, providing your cash advance and meal allowance and providing overall guidance and support on the university’s fiscal and travel policies.

Roles and Responsibilities of Education Abroad Liaison

A liaison is appointed for every college and regional campus to provide assistance to faculty and departments with interest in developing new opportunities, lead the annual program reauthorization process and review budgets for individual faculty-led programs in collaboration with the Office of International Affairs. In addition, the liaison manages the enrollment in the college's education abroad placeholder course for students who are participating in college-approved third-party provider and exchange programming and monitors enrollment numbers in student exchange programs. The liaison is also responsible for promoting the college's education abroad opportunities to college stakeholders and audiences.