Opportunities Common to Many Fields of Study

Several course numbers are common to multiple programs. Courses numbered 186/286/386/486 are Special Topics courses; the content may vary from term to term or year to year. In addition, two (2) independent experiences can be proposed by students in most disciplines: Independent Study, numbered 390/490 (A or B) and Team Initiated Study, numbered 397/497 (A or B). With the support of a faculty sponsor and the approval of the Coordinator of Internships, students who find internship opportunities may be registered for the experience, numbered 395/495. Students also may enter into a Directed Study (398/498) working with a program faculty member, upon approval of the Program Coordinator. Additional information about these opportunities follows.

Special Topics

A course designed to meet the particular interests of students and faculty and numbered 186, 286, 386, or 486. Topics vary from year to year and seldom are repeated as Special Topics. Descriptions of Special Topics courses are provided in the corresponding term’s Schedule of Classes. Special Topics courses can be designated as 1/2 course credit or 1 course credit.

Independent Study and Team Initiated Study

The purpose of Independent Study and Team Initiated Study courses is to provide students with the opportunity to study topics not ordinarily covered in regular College course offerings, to follow up on previous research, or to undertake projects not otherwise available through regular courses. These studies also may be concerned with more narrowly defined or more advanced material than that offered in regular courses. They must increase knowledge beyond that already gained, enhance analytical ability, and/or lead to higher skills acquisition. An Independent Study or Team Initiated Study need not be in the student’s major field of study, but requires sufficient background knowledge for analysis or description within a conceptual framework, i.e., aesthetic, ethical, historical, literary, scientific, sociological, etc.

Students should consult with a Faculty Sponsor during the thinking and planning stages of the study to help develop a course syllabus that is rigorous, has clear and measurable goals, and that includes clear assessment guidelines upon completion of the work. Together, the Faculty member and student(s) will develop a course syllabus for the study, which will be submitted to the Program Coordinator for review. The faculty sponsor must be from the Program in which the study is to be conducted. Faculty members are limited to involvement with a maximum of two (2) Independent Studies or Team Initiated Studies in any one (1) term.

Each academic program is responsible for providing guidelines and/or forms to students and faculty for the process required within the academic unit to review and approve Independent and Team Initiated studies.

In addition, the Academic Program Council and College Faculty Assembly have set the following restrictions. Independent Studies and Team Initiated studies:

  • may be proposed only by Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors who are not on any type of probation (academic, social, or labor).
  • cannot duplicate courses listed in the current Catalog & Student Handbook.
  • cannot be used to meet the Practical Reasoning (PR/PRQ) or any Perspective Area in the General Education Program.
  • may carry one (1) earned course credit; studies carrying earned credit have the following minimum GPA requirements at the time the study is approved: Sophomores, 3.00; Juniors or Seniors, 2.50.
  • may be approved as not-for-earned-credit (available only in Summer terms) provided the Sophomore, Junior, or Senior has a minimum 2.00 overall GPA at the time the study is approved.
  • may meet the Active Learning Experience (ALE) requirement (see below).

Students who wish to propose an Independent or Team Initiated study to meet the Active Learning Experience (ALE) requirement in the General Education Program must complete the ALE Criteria and Proposal form (which is attached to the Independent Study and Team Initiated Study guidelines in the Self-Serve Room, 101 Lincoln) along with their proposed syllabus to the ALE Coordinator (currently Rebecca Bates), who will be looking for these components:

  1. How well does the study explore the connections between theory and practice?
  2. Does the study include an ongoing reflection component (e.g., journal, blog, photo journal, or extensive interaction with onsite resource)?
  3. Does the study include a synthesizing project (performance, play, presentation, composition, or exhibition, including interaction with the on-site adviser or other on-site audiences).

Independent Studies are carried out by one student; Team Initiated Studies are carried out by two or more students. For-credit studies are designated as GST or (discipline pre-fix i.e., ART/CFS, etc.) 390/490 for Independent Study and 397/497 for Team Initiated Study, followed by an “A” for an ALE credit and B a non-ALE credit course. Independent and Team Initiated Studies also may be proposed as non-credit for Summer terms (which can carry only ALE credit, but do not count in the minimum of 32 earned credits needed to graduate). Some types of non-credit studies are also eligible for ALE credit. Non-credit Independent Studies are designated as GST or (discipline pre-fix) 090 (A with ALE; B without ALE credit) and GST or (discipline pre-fix) 097 (A with ALE; B without ALE) for Team Initiated Studies.

Proposals under the General Studies rubric (GST) must demonstrate clearly the interdisciplinary nature of the project or be for disciplines not offered at Berea (provided there is a qualified Berea faculty member available to sponsor the study and it is approved by the Dean of Curriculum and Student Learning). Otherwise, the student(s) should determine which academic program best fits the goals and scope of the study.

Studies involving international travel require consultation with and the signature of the Education Abroad Advisor and of College Health Services. Students on F-1 visas also must have the signature of the International Student Adviser for any off-campus study. Studies involving a budget for expenses must be reviewed and approved by a counselor in the Student Financial Aid Services Office. No institutional funding will be provided for Independent Studies or Team Initiated Studies in international settings. (See “Education Abroad Policies” under Student Rights and Responsibilities for more information.)

With the approval of the Program Coordinator, the course syllabus will be submitted for registration to the Director of Student Records and Accounts. (See above eligibility requirements concerning probation and minimum GPA that must be met before the study can be registered.)


Berea College supports experiential education opportunities for students in the form of internships, and defines an internship as a supervised, credit-bearing, career-related learning experience in the workplace that allows students to apply knowledge acquired through their classes and studies to practical situations and problems. Such experiences promote engaged learning by helping students find connections between theory and practice, between learning in the classroom and learning outside the classroom, and between their academic interests and potential career possibilities.

Process and Learning: Learning is optimized when these experiences are intentionally designed to include reflection and assessment. A student participating in an internship will develop an Internship Proposal prior to the experience, meet with faculty sponsors, keep a reflective journal, complete a final paper, be evaluated by the internship site supervisor, give an oral presentation, submit a student evaluation of the experience, and receive a letter grade.

Academic Course Credit: Typically students may earn up to one course credit and meet the Active Learning Experience requirement with a successful internship. However, an internship may not be used to meet the Practical Reasoning (PR/PRQ) or any Perspective Area in the General Education Program. Internship are registered using a program (BIO, ANR, BUS,GST) rubric and are numbered 395 for sophomores and juniors and 495 for seniors. To be considered for course credit, the proposed experience must:

  • further the student’s educational goals by enabling exploration of an educational area of interest
  • provide the opportunity to gain skills relevant to a possible career choice
  • support the student’s academic major/minor
  • be approved by the student’s primary and secondary Faculty Sponsors, Academic Program Coordinator (or the Dean of Curriculum and Student Learning, if a GST internship), Academic Advisor, International Advisor (if applicable), and the Internship Director

Eligibility/Hours/Timeline: Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors, who are not on probation, are eligible to participate in internships. Internship experiences are typically full-time in the summer and part-time in the fall or spring based on the following parameters:

  • Summer: 30-40 hours per week for 8-10 weeks, with a minimum of 240 total work hours
  • Fall/Spring: 9-10 hours per week for 15 weeks, with a minimum of 135 work hours

Students should begin researching and identifying potential summer internships early, so they will be aware of early employer application deadlines (some are as early as September or October, although most are in January and February). Students should plan to attend resume and interviewing workshops, and consider scheduling appointments for resume assistance and interview coaching during the fall, so they will be prepared to apply for internship positions early in the spring.

Pay/Funding: Internship employers are encouraged to provide some form of compensation to student interns, such as an hourly wage, a stipend, housing, meals, or transportation, however, if the employer is unable to offer sufficient compensation, the College will help cover related costs for up to two internship experiences, subject to availability of institutional funds and in accordance with policies. Funding is available to students participating in full-time academic internships during the summer. Typically, no funding is available to students during fall or spring if the experience is a 15-week local internship, which is part of a student’s regular course load. In order to obtain funding from any campus program, the internship must receive the approval of the Office of Internships.

Students who wish to participate in an internship should visit , attend an Internship Basics presentation, and/or contact the Office of Internships at (859) 985-3656 to learn more about how to find an internship, the process for receiving credit, possible funding, policies regarding international internships, and the deadline for submitting internship proposals.

Directed Study

A Directed Study is a full-credit course organized and directed by Faculty and approved by the Program Coordinator to meet the particular interests and/or needs of specific students. This should not be confused with an Independent Study or Team Initiated Study, which is much more independent in nature (see above). The course is numbered 398 or 498 and is available as student interest and faculty availability allow.

Service-Learning Courses

In courses designated as Service-Learning, students apply academic knowledge to address community issues while developing their academic skills; sense of civic responsibility; critical, reflective thinking skills; and commitment to the community. Service-learning courses are taught each term in a variety of Programs at Berea College. Designated service-learning courses are listed for each term in the Schedule of Classes for registration. These designated service-learning courses meet the Active Learning Experience (ALE) requirement in the General Education Program. More information, including faculty guidelines and a proposal form for service-learning course designation, can be found on the Web page of the Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service (CELTS) at http://www.berea.edu/celts/servicelearning. For more information, see “Service-Learning Opportunities” in the Campus Community section of this publication.

Undergraduate Research Credit (UGR 010 and UGR 020)

In addition to the valuable research experience gained in the collaborative faculty-student undergraduate research described in the Life on Campus section of this publication, students participating in a full-time (minimum of 8-10 weeks, 40 hours per week) Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects Program (URCPP) or other program approved summer undergraduate research project may request to be registered for UGR 010 (for URCPP-funded projects) or UGR 020 (for other program-approved projects), which will result in earning a grade of “S” or “U” and will appear on the student’s College transcript as “Undergraduate Research.” (Requests to be registered for UGR courses should be made to the Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects Program Committee in care of the Academic Dean’s Office)

Note: During that Summer Term, except for UGR 010, students participating in a URCPP-funded project are not permitted to enroll simultaneously in any other course either at Berea or elsewhere.

In other words, students are not permitted to take any course other than UGR 010 AND participate in the URCPP-funded project during the same Summer Term. While no academic credit can be earned for this research experience, students who earn a grade of “S” in UGR 010 or UGR 020 can meet the Active Learning Experience (ALE) requirement.