Educational Agreements

Introduction & Overview

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
Below is a list of approved templates which will be made available to interested parties. Please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs (OVPAP) for current templates at

-MOU or Handshake ("Agree to Agree"): These are agreements between Columbia and another entity 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. Anything more concrete would require a separate and full agreement apart from this document.

-Student Exchange or Visiting Student (a Columbia student visiting a partner institution for one or more semesters or a student from a partner institution visiting Columbia): This template offers the flexibility to develop agreements focused on students traveling either bi-directionally OR uni-directionally between universities at the graduate or undergraduate level. 

-Jointly-Registered Program (Domestic and International): A program involving Columbia University and at least 1 other institution, leading to 1 or more credentials, that has been collaboratively developed by faculty at both institutions and intentionally designed to meet specific learning goals. Requires engagement with the APAS system and registration with NYSED. Please contact for access to APAS.

-Dual-Degree Program: A program involving only Columbia University or CU and at least 1 other institution; leading to 2 credentials; taking advantage of two existing programs, with students completing most of the requirements for each, but allowing for completion of some requirements through the other program. If this is not a unique program that has been collaboratively developed, it does not require registration with NYSED. The University may rely on its transfer credit policies to document completion of program requirements. Please consult OVPAP to manage the internal approval process; this will require engagement with the APAS system.


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