Profs. Haun Saussy and Rachel DeWoskin in conversation with Xu Bin at the 2020 US-China Forum


Establishing a Memorandum of Understanding

Frequently asked questions

What is an MOU? 

‘MOU’ stands for Memorandum of Understanding and is an agreement between two or more entities (ie. academic institution, foreign government) expressing an intended partnership through collaborative activity. MOUs are often facilitated for joint activities that are non-binding and not legally enforceable.  

When do I need an MOU? 

MOUs best serve their purpose when there is a clear, specific, intended exchange of institutional value between the entities. ‘Institutional’ implies that the collaborative activities are implemented between units, departments, centers, divisions, or entire universities, at a level higher than individual involvement. ‘Value’ can be construed in a variety of ways—as human capital (ie. student or faculty exchange), as knowledge (ie. data or intellectual property), as a financial commitment, or as operational resources (ie. classroom space or lab equipment). MOUs can also act as formal documentation to facilitate external funding or a grant application. 

What kinds of activities can an MOU facilitate? 

Some of the most common partnership activities included in an MOU are noted below, though activities may vary depending on the needs of the partnership: 

  • Undergraduate and graduate student exchange 
  • Faculty exchange and visiting scholars 
  • Joint executive education/certificate programs  
  • Joint program funding/financial contribution 


Please reach out to UChicago Global ( for more details and to see if an MOU is the right type of agreement for your work.