Please note: The information displayed here is current as of Sunday, June 20, 2021, but the official Course Catalog should be used for all official planning.

2020-2021 Course Catalog


This catalog was created on Sunday, June 20, 2021.

Student-Initiated Courses and Programs

Individualized Learning

Students may customize their learning through student-initiated courses and student-designed majors as described below.

Student-initiated courses

Students may pursue in-depth learning in areas of interest through tutorials, independent study, or academic internships. Students may also pursue directed study or writing-for-credit under the direction of a Lawrence faculty member. Non-music majors may request private music lessons by audition or interview and with an additional fee.

Tutorial (390-foundation/gateway, 590-advanced, 690-capstone)

A tutorial is a primarily student-driven course of study undertaken by an individual student or small group in collaboration with one or more faculty members. The primary goal of a tutorial is expansion, refinement, and synthesis of knowledge and abilities through in-depth exploration of a specific topic. Tutorials supplement regular course 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 focus on presentation and critique of student work. 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.

Independent study (399-foundation/gateway, 599-advanced, 699-capstone)

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. Students who continue an independent study 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.

Academic internship (395-foundation/gateway, 595-advanced, 695-capstone)

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. Students in academic internships engage in unpaid or paid work or service experiences with intentional learning objectives that relate to their academic interests and promote reflection throughout the experience. The academic component includes readings related to the substance of the internship, discussions with the faculty supervisor, and a written report appropriate to the discipline. For departments that do not offer an academic internship (course number 395, 595, or 695), a student may apply for an academic internship to the Instruction Committee by midterm reading period of the term before the start of the internship. Students may take a maximum of 12 units of academic internship in fulfillment of their degree requirements, and it is recommended that internships not integral to the major be graded S/U only. Application forms for student-designed academic internships may be obtained from the Registrar’s Office; the Center for Academic Success; the Center for Career, Life, and Community Engagement; and the Main Hall, Briggs Hall, Conservatory, and Wriston Art Center offices.

Directed study (191-introductory, 391-foundation/gateway, 591-advanced, 691-capstone)

Directed study follows a syllabus set by the instructor and may be used to deliver content from an existing course (whether because there are too few students enrolled or because the course is not currently being offered), to develop a possible new course offering, or to direct a student in a defined course of study. The main goal is knowledge or skill acquisition, not research or creative work. Students may meet frequently with the instructor or work more independently, completing assignments according to a schedule agreed upon in advance. Typically, several assignments and/or exams are used to evaluate student learning.

Writing for credit

Students may write for credit (with permission of the instructor) in any course in the curriculum other than tutorials, independent study, academic internships, directed study, or Freshman Studies. The student should consult the instructor for permission to write for credit; the instructor will then specify a program and schedule of reading, examinations, and papers. To register, a student must supply the registrar with a memorandum containing the name of the course and the signatures of the student’s advisor and the instructor of the course. The work must be completed in one year. Courses do not become part of a student’s record until the instructor reports that the required work has been satisfactorily completed. The letter grade will be recorded for the term in which the grade is reported. Students who have opted for billing by the course under the incremental fee plan will be charged for the credit earned by writing for credit and reported that term.

Music lessons

Private instruction for non-music majors is available by permission of the instructor based on audition or interview and faculty schedules. Additional fees apply for lessons and the use of practice facilities. Group piano lessons are also available. Information is available in the Conservatory of Music office.

Student-designed major

A student-designed major provides the opportunity for a student to develop an area of concentration outside established programs for interdisciplinary or department majors. Like all majors, those that are student-designed should meet the following objectives: greater knowledge of the field under study, increased methodological sophistication, and integration of disparate yet related areas that fall within the proposed major. A student-designed major must align with the liberal arts mission of the university and be based on areas of faculty expertise and regularly offered courses.

A student-designed major should not be proposed in areas better served by existing majors and minors, and usually a maximum of 18 units in any other major, minor, or IA the student is completing may be included in a student-designed major. A student-designed major should not rely heavily on tutorials, independent studies, or a single faculty member, so usually no more than 18 units in student-initiated courses may be included in the major, including the Senior Experience. A reduced version of an existing major will not be approved.

The procedure for establishing a student-designed major is relatively simple:

  1. The student elects a topic area and identifies a member of the faculty who is willing to act as advisor.
  2. With help from the advisor, the student prepares an Application for a Student-Designed Major identifying a title for the major, listing required courses and electives, and proposing a Senior Experience. The student also prepares a statement on how the proposed major forms a coherent field of study, how it addresses the student's educational goals, and why these goals cannot be accomplished with existing majors, minors, or interdisciplinary areas. Proposed coursework should include 10 to 12 courses with a Senior Experience, and courses should be reasonably distributed across the introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels. The student should confirm with department chairs that proposed courses will be offered in the terms indicated in the student's tentative plan.
  3. The advisor and the student invite two other members of the faculty who support the proposed major to serve as the advisory panel for the major. The panel oversees the program and approves minor changes in course selections or topics for the Senior Experience. One member of the panel should be designated as an alternate advisor in case the principal advisor goes on leave or is abroad. If the Senior Experience will be done as an independent study, the student also needs the commitment of a faculty member for that independent study.
  4. The student submits the Application for a Student-Designed Major, endorsed by the faculty advisor and panel, to the Instruction Committee (for the Bachelor of Arts degree) or the Conservatory Administration Committee (for the Bachelor of Music degree) before the end of Term I of the student’s junior year. Students seeking an extension to this deadline should contact the chair of the relevant committee. Faculty members who endorse the statement accept responsibility for supervising the major if it receives committee approval.
  5. The Instruction Committee or Conservatory Administration Committee reviews the application and the student's academic history, takes action on the proposed major, and communicates its action to the registrar, the student, the faculty advisor, and members of the panel.
  6. Once the major has been approved, the student submits a Declaration of Major, Minor, or Interdisciplinary Area form to the registrar's office, checking the box for "student-designed major" along with any other boxes that are applicable (such as for a minor or interdisciplinary area).
  7. After the major has been approved and declared, small changes such as a course substitution or change in the Senior Experience topic or advisor can be approved by the three-person faculty panel, whereupon an updated list of major requirements should be provided to the registrar. More significant restructuring of the major or changes in its requirements must be approved by the Instruction Committee.