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International Contracting Basics

On this page, you'll find essential information and resources for planning international agreements. Don't forget to connect with your unit's contract administrator as soon as you start to consider launching an academic collaboration or institutional partnership.

Hand holding a pen and signing a contract.

Good Agreements Take Time

Plan ahead! Allow weeks to months for the contracting process, depending on the complexity of your agreement. Follow the six steps—from idea to signed MOA—outlined on our Establishing an Institutional Partnership page.

Before starting work on a new memorandum of agreement (MOA), check to see if a collaboration already exists. View the list of Cornell's active MOA collaborations (Cornell login required). If an agreement is already in place, Global Operations will help you determine if your activity can take place under the existing agreement(s), or if a new agreement needs to be negotiated.

Allow your unit's contract administrator ample time to evaluate your agreement from a variety of perspectives. Complex contracts may take extra time, particularly if they require outside advisory support. Your administrator will return the draft agreement to you with input or comments.

Types of International Agreements

Global Operations oversees Cornell's contracting procedures for several types of international agreements. The agreements must be initiated by your unit's contract administrator, and then executed by your designated signatory.

International Institutional Collaborations

  • Relationships governed by MOA, project agreements, letters of intent, letter agreements, memoranda of understanding, and similar agreements regardless of title
  • Grants from internal funding sources to international collaborators or community stakeholders

International Revenue-Generating Activities

  • Relationships governed by master services agreements, statements of work, educational services agreements, and similar agreements regardless of title
  • Activities funded by a foreign entity or when Cornell conducts work out of the United States. Learn more about Cornell's policy on reporting foreign gifts and contracts.
  • Revenue-generating activities that fall outside sponsored research, including executive education, training, etc. (Please consult Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) if you're not sure if your project would be considered sponsored.)
  • Non-degree program tuition or service revenue
  • Other review-generating activities

International Independent Contractors

  • Relationships with individuals or non-corporate entities that reside outside of the United States and provide personal services to Cornell, while retaining control over the means and methods of accomplishing the result.

Who Can Sign?

According to Cornell Transaction Policy 4.2, certain individuals have been granted transaction authority for the university’s international agreements, including university counsel, the provost, and the vice provost for international affairs. Delegation plans extend this authority to deans of colleges and schools and authorized approvers for university-level units. Only these designated signatories may sign international agreements for your unit, college, or school.

Elsewhere at Cornell

Some Cornell activities happen in the international arena, but are outside Global Operations' scope:

Negotiating a contract? Consult our overview of international contracting tips and best practices (Cornell login required).