Opportunities Common to Many Fields of Study

Several course numbers are common to multiple departments. 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 Director 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 department faculty member, upon approval of the Department Chair. Additional information about these opportunities follows.

Special Topics

Special topics courses are 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 which may be found on the Registrar's Home Page. Generally, 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 Sponsor and student(s) will develop a course syllabus for the study, which will be submitted to the Program Chair 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 regular College course offerings.
  • 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) along with their proposed syllabus to the ALE Coordinator, 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 total 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 Associate Provost). 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 the college's Student Health provider. 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 Student Financial Aid Services. 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 Department Chair, the course syllabus will be submitted for registration to the Registrar. (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: Berea's internship experiences are intentionally designed to include reflection and assessment to optimize learning.  A student participating in an internship will meet with their faculty sponsor prior to the experience and develop an Internship Proposal.  Throughout the internship the student will submit reflective journal entries to the faculty sponsor.  At the end of the internship the student will be evaluated by the internship site supervisor, complete a summative evaluation of the experience, submit a final paper, give an oral presentation, and receive a final grade. 

Academic Course Credit: Upon successful completion of an internship, students typically earn one course credit and meet the Active Learning Experience requirement.  However, an internship may not be used to meet the Practical Reasoning (PR/PRQ) or any Perspective Area in the General Education Program. Internships are registered using a department rubric and are numbered 395 or 495 (i.e., ENG 395, CSC 495 with 495 being reserved for more advanced experiences or capstones). To be considered for course credit, internships must:

  • enable exploration related to the student's educational and/or career interest
  • provide the opportunity to gain skills and experience relevant to a possible career choice
  • be approved by the student’s Faculty Sponsor(s), Academic Advisor, Department Chair, Study Abroad or 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: 35-40 hours per week for 8-10 weeks, with a minimum of 280 total work hours
  • Fall/Spring: 12 hours per week for 15 weeks, with a minimum of 180 total work hours

Students should begin researching and identifying potential summer internships in the fall term, 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). To be prepared to apply for internships, it is recommended that students utilize the varied resources provided by the college for resume and interview preparation (online tools, workshops, and individual appointments).

Pay/Funding: Internship employers are encouraged to provide some form of compensation to student interns, such as an hourly wage, a stipend, housing, meal cards, or transportation passes.  However, if the employer is unable to offer compensation, or can only offer partial compensation, the College will help cover related student expenses for up to two summer internship experiences, subject to availability of funds and in accordance with policies.  No funding is available from the Office of Internships during fall or spring terms.  In order to obtain funding from any campus program, the internship must bear academic credit and be approved by the Office of Internships.

Prerequisites and Additional Information: Students who wish to participate in an internship should attend each of the prerequisite information sessions, Finding or Creating Your Ideal Internship, Applying for Internships and How to Receive Credit and Funding for Your Internship.   Visit www.berea.edu/icd to see the schedule of sessions and learn more about connecting with internship sites,  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) on the CELTS web page. For more information, see “Service-Learning Opportunities” in the Campus Community section of this publication.

Undergraduate Research Credit (UGR 010 and UGR 020)

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 the non-credit course, 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 the Summer Term, 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.

Berea College Advanced Standing Examination

Students may receive credit for most courses at Berea by obtaining an Advanced Standing Examination application form from the Office of the Registrar (Lincoln Hall, first floor) and arranging for the examination with the Department Chair. Upon the student’s request and the Department Chair’s approval, an instructor would write an examination. Course credit may be granted by Advanced Standing Examinations administered by the department. If awarded, the credit will be recorded on the student’s transcript under “Advanced Standing Examination,” with the course name. Students wishing to receive Advanced Standing credit for Art courses may submit a portfolio to help show evidence of skills and accomplishments. A student may not receive credit by Advanced Standing Examination in language courses numbered below the fourth level if the course is in the student’s first language. In addition, Advanced Standing Examinations are not given for any GSTR courses.