Partnership Guidelines


Establishing Meaningful Relationships

These guidelines have been developed in order to support Princeton departments and programs that seek to establish meaningful institution-to-institution relationships for the benefit of Princeton students, faculty, and staff.

Types of agreements may include (but are not restricted to):

  • Student exchange
  • Faculty/scholar/staff exchanges
  • Research collaboration
  • Materials exchanges (such as library materials) 
  • Training and technical assistance
  • Dual and joint degree programs

When several agreements exist with the same institution, when an agreement with an institution is regularly renewed and comes to represent an ongoing partnership, or in certain other circumstances, it may be necessary or expedient to develop a general International Memorandum of Understanding (IMOU) with the partner institution.

Because an International Memorandum of Understanding (IMOU) and other forms of international agreements are binding, legal contracts, it is very important that each new formal agreement be entered into with the utmost seriousness and care. Individuals who are not currently employed by Princeton University may not initiate or be designated as the primary contact for an IMOU or other form of international Agreement. The Council for International Teaching and Research reviews each proposed Agreement, and the Provost signs each new Agreement and renewal. Depending on the type of agreement, the relevant Dean(s), University Counsel, and/or the Academic Planning Group may also need to review and approve of the document.

Initiating a New IMOU

In initiating any new IMOU or other type of international agreement, Princeton faculty and administrators are asked to first carefully consider the following questions. As a general rule, if any of the following elements is lacking, an agreement or IMOU should not be signed:

  1. Some previous faculty interaction between the proposed partner institutions;
  2. Strong potential for mutual benefit;
  3. Compliance with applicable legal restrictions and University regulations;
  4. Secured financial and infrastructure support (as necessary);
  5. Identified on-site coordinators or contact persons at each institution;
  6. Stated support from all colleges, departments and programs explicitly implicated in the agreement;
  7. A plan for regular program evaluation and renewal.

Questions to Consider in Developing an International Memorandum of Understanding or Specific Agreement

Historical Background

What is the history of the relationship with the foreign institution? With rare exceptions, Princeton University will not sign a formal agreement with a foreign institution if there has been no previous interaction between any faculty members from the two parties.

Reciprocity of Benefits

What relevant strengths does the foreign institution bring to the partnership? Why is this an appropriate institution with which to sign an agreement? What benefits will this bring to Princeton currently or in the future? Who are the Princeton faculty, staff and/or students who will benefit from this linkage?


Do all elements of the agreement comply with U.S. federal law (including immigration, export/import and other regulations) and with the laws of the government of the proposed partner institution? Do all of the elements of the agreement comply with the rules and regulations of both partner institutions?


What type of financial support has already been pledged or secured from Princeton or outside sources? What type of support, if any, will the foreign institution provide during the first three years of the partnership? In addition to financial support, what arrangements are in place for other forms of support such as office space, secretarial/clerical assistance, or faculty course leave?


What individual at each institution will be responsible for coordinating the activities that comprise the relationship, e.g., initiating publicity, communicating information to the other institution, etc? Is a back-up or secondary contact available, in case the primary contact is absent or unavailable for a period of time?


Has the initiating department received explicit support from all other departments, colleges and programs that are implicated as participants in the agreement? If elements of the agreement might represent a significant workload increase or other resource issue for administrative offices, have these offices been consulted?

Evaluation and Renewal

How will the partnership be evaluated prior to the renewal of the agreement? What will the criteria be for a successful partnership? For what period will the agreement be in force? (University practice is to sign agreements for a period of three to five years, renewable with both sides’ consent. This provides a regular occasion for those involved from both institutions to discuss the mutual value of the agreement. Shorter or longer periods in which an agreement will be in force can be requested when appropriate.)

Negotiating Preliminary Agreement

Once the preceding questions have been answered, the initiating Princeton department or program may proceed by negotiating a preliminary agreement, in consultation with the Vice Provost for International Affairs and Operations (VPIAO). Proposals for new IMOU's and other international agreements will be reviewed by the Council for International Teaching and Research. The purpose of this step is to ensure that all of the key questions noted above have been answered, to check for duplication, and to identify opportunities for collaboration and network building. In many cases, the proposal will also need to be reviewed by the APG and/or the Office of General Counsel (especially if the agreement establishes a new academic program, involves long-term financial and legal commitments at the institutional level or creates significant risk to Princeton).

Required Signatures

Once an IMOU or other international agreement draft has been reviewed and approved by all relevant parties, at least two original, hard-copy versions of the document will be routed for signatures. A non-English version may also be required by the partner institution. The Provost must sign each new IMOU or international agreement and renewal. Other signatories, including deans and department chairs, may be included. One original, signed document is kept by the VPIAO and another is kept by the partner institution. Initiating and participating departments and colleges may also keep an original or copy on file. The VPIAO maintains a database of all formal partnerships and is responsible for sending a reminder to the designated Princeton contact for each international agreement or IMOU before it is due to expire. Additional agreements may be appended to the original IMOU or other international agreement and, depending on their nature, the Provost and other parties may be required to sign these addenda. Initiating departments are advised to consult with the VPIAO before processing these addenda.