Drafting Guidance

MOU/MOA Drafting Guidance

1. Title information

Various titles are acceptable including "memorandum of understanding” or a "general international agreement." The name of both institutions should be provided in the heading of the document.

2. Preamble

A general and short statement providing contextual information regarding the history and other background for the agreement is appropriate.

3. General purposes

A general agreement is usually the first affiliation document developed with a partner international institution. This agreement is a means to formally codify a relationship between a unit at MSU and an international partner. A general linkage identifies the activities that the two institutions wish to pursue. Before these activities can be implemented, however, both parties should discuss the problems involved to the satisfaction of each party and enter into specific agreements based on agreed implementation plan.

This section should outline the various purposes of the agreement. Such purposes might include:

  • Exchange of faculty members and/or research scholars
  • Exchange of students (student exchanges require additional documentation)
  • Joint research and meetings for education and research
  • Exchange of materials, documents and information
  • Technical assistance

4. Specific activities to be pursued and implementation plans.

Specific activities may be mentioned as well as implementation plans and assignment of roles and responsibilities of the concerned parties. It also is possible to create additional agreements for specific activities after the initial linkage is initiated.

If an exchange of students is to take place, a separate Student Exchange Agreement and supporting documents must be completed.

5. University units that might be involved/named in the agreement

The agreement should name each unit that will be involved. It also could mention, if desired, that expansion to other units might be sought in the future and identify directions that future development might take. It could involve centers, institutes, departments, colleges and/or the university as a whole. ISP's Office of the Dean does not initiate agreements.

6. Parameters of the agreement

The agreement should include a statement along the following lines: "this document constitutes the entire agreement between the parties, and that all prior discussions, agreements, and understandings, whether verbal or in writing, are merged in this document."

It also should include a statement which indicates that "the agreement is not considered to be a contract creating legal and financial relationships between the parties. the agreement is designed, rather, to facilitate and develop a genuine and mutually beneficial exchange process/research relationship, and so forth."

7. Funding arrangements, if any

If funds are available to support agreement activities, they should be identified in the agreement. The text should identify the source and amount of the funds and the time during which the funds will be available.

8. Duration of the agreement

All agreements should have a specified life-span. Typically agreements are signed for five-year periods with the possibility of renewal upon receipt of the written agreement of both parties. The following verbiage should be included: "this agreement shall become effective as of the last date of signature of both parties."

9. Termination

This section should specify the ways in which the agreement may be terminated by either party. Typically it should note: "the agreement may be terminated by written notice by either party with a minimum of 120 days written notice. Activities in progress at the time of termination of this agreement shall be permitted to conclude as planned unless otherwise agreed."

10. Review and evaluation of the agreement

All agreements should have a conditional clause that specifies that review and evaluation of outcomes will occur at the end of the stated life-span. Individuals (please list their respective positions) responsible for the evaluation should be identified.

11. Nondiscrimination

The agreement should contain a statement that indicates that: "Both institutions subscribe to a policy of equal opportunity, non-discrimination and affirmative action. University programs, activities and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, gender, religion, national origin, political persuasion, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, height, weight, veteran status, age or familial status." 

12. Communication between the parties

This section should name the contact persons, including their addresses, telephone numbers, facsimile numbers, and email addresses, for each participating institution. This section also should specify the language of communication and the process by which communication will take place (e.g. post mail, facsimile or email).

13. Signatories

One or more signatures from each institution is required to make the agreement effective. It is desirable to have the heads of all participating units (Deans or their equivalents) sign but it is not required. The only required signature from MSU is that of the Provost and the ISP Dean. The President is not required to sign international agreements. Generally, signatures are paired with the equivalent official of each institution signing the agreement.

14. International Review

Once a draft of the MOU is completed by the MSU unit, it should be forwarded to the international partner for review and approval. Once both parties agree on the wording and contents of the Agreement, the document should then be forwarded to ISP for review and processing. Please allow up to 12 business days for review and approval processing and signatures.

15. Completion

Once the MOU has been fully processed and all signatures (MSU and International partners) have been obtained, please send a fully signed completed MOU to ISP to be added to the database.