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Tutorials and Independent Projects

Together with a professor and perhaps another student or two, students can plan a tutorial to study a specific topic in depth during weekly meetings. The process is more rigorous than a standard course, since students work with a faculty member to design reading lists, assignments, and criteria for evaluating their work. Independent studies are like tutorials, only slightly more independent and perhaps even more individualized. Students can develop and pursue an independent course of study, meeting periodically with a professor to evaluate their progress.

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Bard College at Simon’s Rock provides advanced students— normally juniors or seniors who have demonstrated their intellectual maturity and ability to work independently— with the opportunity to pursue academic work outside the College’s regularly scheduled course offerings. Such students may work with a faculty member to define an area of study and explore that area in depth through a tutorial or an independent project, they may arrange extended campus projects, and they may enroll in courses at Bard College. To qualify for special opportunities, juniors and seniors must have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.5. Sophomores may undertake a tutorial, independent project, or extended campus project if their academic record is superior (substantiated by a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3) and the need can be justified in terms of clearly defined, valid educational goals. First-year students are not usually eligible for tutorials, independent projects, or extended campus projects.

Tutorials
A tutorial consists of academic work undertaken with a faculty member on an individual or small-group basis by a junior or senior in a subject central to the student’s program of study. Tutorials may consist of a 300- or 400-level course listed in the catalogue but not offered in a given semester or year or a course of study that is not part of the College’s regular curriculum offerings. The faculty tutor meets with the student at least once a week during the semester.

Tutorials usually earn four credits, and no student may take more than one tutorial in a given semester. Tutorials are generally reserved for juniors and seniors, although moderated sophomores with advanced technical expertise may appeal to the Standards and Procedures Committee for an exception to this policy. Eligible students apply by submitting a Tutorial Registration Form (available in the Office of Academic Affairs), including a syllabus with a proposed course of study, a week-by-week plan of readings and other assignments, criteria for evaluating the student’s work, and a statement describing the importance of the tutorial for the student’s program of study, to the Standards and Procedures Committee (S & P) by the deadline indicated on the Dates and Deadlines calendar. S & P’s approval of a tutorial is based on a review of its academic coherence, its importance to the student’s program of study, and its compatibility with faculty workload restrictions.

Independent Projects
Independent projects consist of independent work by a junior or senior under the direction of a faculty member. Independent projects are directed towards the production of a unified product (e.g., a scientific poster, a mathematical result, an exhibition, a play, a series of poems, a longer academic paper suitable for an undergraduate conference presentation) central to the student’s program of study. Independent projects must be preceded by relevant course work in the program of study. The student and faculty member meet periodically (less frequently than for Tutorials) to review and assess the student’s progress towards completing the agreed-upon project.

Independent projects are reserved for juniors and seniors. A student may take no more than three independent projects over the course of her or his BA studies. Eligible students apply by completing an Independent Project Contract (available in the Office of Academic Affairs), including a detailed description of the project, criteria for evaluating the student’s work, and a statement describing the importance of the project for the student’s program of study, to the Standards and Procedures Committee for approval by the deadline indicated on the Dates and Deadlines calendar. Proposals for summer independent projects must be accompanied by a written plan of the means and frequency of communication between the student and the faculty supervisor. S & P’s approval of an independent project is based on a review of its academic coherence, its compatibility with faculty workload restrictions, and the student’s preparation for undertaking it as demonstrated by prior coursework.