Students may pursue further learning in areas of interest through tutorials, independent study, or academic internships. 

Other options for student-initiated courses include directed study or writing for credit.  College students also have the option of taking music lessons in the Conservatory.


A tutorial is a primarily student-driven course of study undertaken by an individual student or small group of students in collaboration with one or more faculty members. The primary goal of a tutorial is the expansion, refinement, and synthesis of knowledge and abilities through in-depth exploration of a specific topic. Tutorials supplement regular courses offerings, especially in the junior and senior years, by extending the curriculum in depth or breadth according to the intersecting interests of students and faculty members. Pedagogical approaches vary, but tutorials typically feature significant reading plus integrative writing, speaking, or performance assignments, problem solving, and discussion. Regular conferences (typically once or twice a week) with the supervising faculty member or members focus on presentation and critique of student work. Tutorials are numbered 390, 590, or 690.

A tutorial may be undertaken to satisfy personal academic interest, to prepare for advanced or graduate study, or to lay the groundwork for an independent study, senior experience, or honors project.

To illustrate the variety and scope of tutorial studies, many academic departments have listed a number of recent tutorial topics at the end of their departmental listings in the “Courses of Study” section of this catalog. Because tutorials develop out of student interest, these topics should not be construed as offerings but as samples of the topics students have recently elected to pursue.

Independent Study

Independent study carries the student beyond the established curriculum into largely student-directed work that in most disciplines is expected to result in the generation of new scholarship or the creation of a new work or performance. Scholarship may take the form of generating new information through research or a new conceptual formulation based on existing knowledge. Creative activity may result in a new composition or other work of art, or a new performance of an existing work. The nature of the faculty-student interaction, methodology and final work or performance may vary according to the goal of the project and the needs and preparation of the student. Through independent study, the student refines and applies abilities acquired in previous coursework while producing new work typical of the discipline. Independent studies are numbered 399, 599, or 699.

At the outset of independent study, the student and supervising faculty member should define and agree upon clear goals, plans for communicating and assessing progress, and criteria for evaluating the student’s work. For independent study lasting more than one term, the student and faculty member should discuss and assess progress at the end of each term. If either party concludes that it would not be beneficial for the student to continue, the student may be assigned a grade for completed or additionally assigned work and not be required to enroll for the next term. Students who continue into the next term may be assigned a temporary grade of In Progress (IP), which will be replaced by the final grade assigned at the end of the independent study period.

Where appropriate, two students may engage in collaborative independent study, and an interdisciplinary independent study may involve more than one faculty mentor. Independent study may be undertaken to pursue a project of personal academic interest, to prepare for graduate study, to meet the requirements for a senior experience, or to complete work for an honors project.

Academic Internships

Lawrence recognizes that a student’s education can be enhanced by the combination of academic and experience-based learning. Academic internships provide students an opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom and to bring back to the classroom an enriched perspective on their learning.

Where academic departments find that the interaction of academic pursuits and work experience is both appropriate to their relevant disciplines and feasible in terms of available work experiences, they normally offer academic internships. These internship courses are listed in this catalog under departmental offerings, and they are offered at differing levels of the curriculum. Where no departmental internship exists, student-designed internships may be proposed to the Instruction Committee. Proposals must be submitted to the Instruction Committee by the end of the fifth week of the term before the start of the internship.

Students may take a maximum of 12 units of academic internship in fulfillment of their major, minor, or graduation requirements. Academic internships require prior approval by the relevant academic department (in cases where a departmental internship is available) or by a faculty supervisor/academic department and the Instruction Committee (in cases where a departmental internship is not available). Academic internships may be paid or unpaid.

Students enrolled in academic internships engage in work or service experiences with intentional learning objectives that promote reflection throughout the experience and that relate to their academic interests. Site and faculty supervisors work closely with the students and provide evaluations of the students’ activities at the end of the internship.

The academic component of the internship includes readings related to the substance of the internship, discussions with the faculty supervisor, and a written report appropriate to the discipline. Course grades are based on this academic work.

Directed Study and Writing for Credit

To learn more about directed study and writing for credit, check the Course Catalog.

To see whether a department offers academic internships (course numbers 195, 395, 595, or 695), look in the Course Catalog or Class Schedule. To apply for an academic internship where one is not offered, complete the Application for Academic Internship on the Forms page of the Registrar's website. To learn more about internships, see the Internships page on the Career Services website.