Directed Study

Directed study follows a syllabus set primarily by the instructor to meet the needs or interests of an individual student or small group of students. The main goal of directed study is knowledge or skill acquisition, not research or creative work. Students may meet frequently with the faculty supervisor 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. Directed Study courses may be numbered 191, 391, 591, or 691.


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 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 Committee on Instruction. Proposals must be submitted to the Committee on Instruction 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 Committee on Instruction (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.

Application forms for student-designed academic internships may be obtained from the offices of the provost and dean of the faculty, the dean of academic success, and the registrar and from Career Services and the Main Hall, Briggs Hall, conservatory, and art center faculty offices.

Student-Designed Majors

Student-designed majors provide an opportunity for students to develop areas of concentration outside established programs for interdisciplinary or departmental 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 the integration of sometimes disparate, but related, areas of study that fall within the proposed major. Student-designed majors must be based on areas of faculty expertise and regularly offered courses. The major should not be heavily reliant on tutorials, independent studies, or a single faculty member.

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

  1. The student elects a general topical area and identifies a member of the faculty who is willing to act as advisor.
  2. With the advisor, the student develops a statement on the planned major. The statement indicates (a) how the major will serve the objectives of an area of concentration; (b) what educational or other objectives the student seeks to meet; and (c) the courses that have been taken or will be taken that would fit into the major and the proposed senior experience. In the statement, the student and the advisor have the responsibility to show that the proposed objectives can best be satisfied outside established programs of study. (d) Proposed coursework should include a reasonable distribution across the introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels. As a guideline, regular majors for the Bachelor of Arts degree typically require nine to twelve courses and a senior experience. (e) Self-designed majors should not be proposed in areas that are better served by existing majors and minors.
  3. The advisor and the student invite two other members of the faculty who are supportive of the proposed major to serve as the student’s advisory panel for the major. The panel is responsible for overseeing the program and for reviewing minor changes — e.g., in course selections, topics for an honors paper, etc. One member of the panel should be designated as an alternate advisor in case the principal advisor goes on leave or teaches at an overseas campus that the student does not attend. It is the student's responsibility to check with the department chairs whether proposed courses in the major will be offered in the terms indicated. If the senior experience will be done as an independent study, the student also needs the signed commitment of a faculty member for that independent study.
  4. The student submits the statement of the proposed major, endorsed by the faculty advisor and members of the panel, and a transcript to the Committee on Instruction (for the Bachelor of Arts degree) or the Conservatory Committee on Administration (for the Bachelor of Music degree) before the end of Term I of the student’s junior year. Students wishing 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 Committee on Instruction takes action on the proposed major and communicates its action to the registrar, the student, the faculty advisor, and members of the panel.

Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube LarryU