Students are required to successfully complete one Field Work Term (FWT) for every two terms of full-time, undergraduate study at Bennington. (Part-time undergraduate students are required to complete one FWT for every 32 credits earned.)
Students complete a minimum of 210 hours of work for FWT. Hours are broken down into primary and supplemental. A primary site is considered one that is approved by the student’s faculty advisor and the FWT Office, and is connected to advancing the learning goals of a student’s Plan. A supplemental site does not need to be registered with the FWT Office, nor connected to a student’s plan, nor approved by the College. It does require proof of hours. Students are required to work a minimum of 140 primary hours, and can do so between up to two primary site jobs. Many students complete all 210 required hours at primary sites. However, students can work up to 70 hours at one supplemental site if desired.
Students may submit up to 30 hours of excused time due to illness or inclement weather, and these count toward the 210 total. These hours must be signed off by a site supervisor on a student’s timesheet. Any excused hours beyond these must be approved by the FWT director and may require a doctor’s note or additional documentation as requested by the FWT Office.
Primary site positions are professional experiences connected to a student’s educational/career inquiries. Primary sites require a student to be working or volunteering for an organization or for an individual. The position must have a supervisor who is experienced and knowledgeable in their field, who is available for regular on-site supervision throughout FWT, who verifies and signs weekly timesheets, and who can complete the online employer evaluation (in English) by the stated due date. A supervisor may not be an immediate family member. It would be a conflict of interest for an immediate family member to complete an employer evaluation as these evaluations help determine an FWT assessment and become part of a student’s permanent academic record. When working for an individual (e.g., a sole proprietorship)—such as an independent artist, performer, photographer, etc.—the position is required to help the supervisor with professional work as opposed to personal needs such as babysitting, housekeeping, etc.
Primary positions may be paid or unpaid and/or offer other forms of remuneration, such as transportation or room/board. International students on F1 Visas are ineligible to work for any kind of compensation, including educational credit, in the first nine months of study in the United States. See FWT for International Students for more information. Organizations may consider the student an employee, a volunteer, or an intern.
Primary Site Special Consideration
The circumstances below require special consideration by the FWT Director:
- Jobs with weak learning objectives or objectives unrelated to a student’s educational or career interests.
- Working the same job as a previous year.
- Working for a supervisor with less than 5 years of experience in their field, including recent Bennington alumni.
- Jobs in which a supervisor is not working at the same location as the student.
If the full number of FWT required hours will not be earned in primary positions, up to 70 hours may be earned in any job with a supervisor. Students may complete only one supplemental position per FWT.
Supplemental opportunities offer students the chance to make money over FWT at a side job not connected to their Plans, take additional special coursework, and/or work hours to fill a gap left by a primary position. Supplemental jobs do not need to be registered, but students must submit proof of hours either by submitting a supervisor signed timesheet or copies of pay stubs. Noncredit coursework requires a course description and a signed timesheet or an instructor letter confirming time and attendance. Credit-bearing courses require a course description, proof of grade, and credit earned.
Supplemental hours may include:
- An unrelated job for pay.
- Credit-bearing courses.
Note: Supplemental positions are not allowed for a half Independent Study/half Field Work Term option. In this case 105 hours must be completed at one Field Work Term primary site.
An FWT may be waived in a few specific situations, including:
- A transfer student starts at Bennington in the spring (excluding juniors).
- A first-term or third term student starts at Bennington in the spring.
- A student takes a leave of absence.
- A student participates in study abroad/study away.
- A student participates in an approved Bennington faculty member course over FWT and receives a partial waiver of required FWT hours.
If more than one of the above conditions applies to a student, they will be required to make up an FWT. Additionally, transfer students who begin as fourth-term sophomores in the fall, or as juniors in the fall or spring, must complete a minimum of two FWTs to graduate, even if they take a leave of absence or study abroad/study away. A student whose situation includes one or more of the above scenarios should meet with the FWT director to ensure they have enough FWTs to graduate.
Special Student Circumstances
Part-time Students – Part-time students who work full time may have the FWT requirement modified and should speak with the FWT director about their situation.
Students Who Are Parents – Parents of young children, who notify the FWT director of their parental status by the registration deadline, are only required to fulfill the 140 hours of the primary job and will not be asked to provide supplemental hours.
FWT and Leave of Absence
Students cannot request a leave for Field Work Term alone. If a student takes a leave for fall or spring term, but wishes to complete FWT, the effective start and return dates on the leave of absence application from the Dean’s Office should be marked appropriately. Any student on leave who wishes to complete an FWT must register by the FWT registration deadline. Students taking a leave for spring term, who have chosen to complete FWT, should be aware that for federal reporting purposes, the last day of classes will be listed as the last actual date of fall class attendance (mid-December), not the end of FWT (late February).
If a spring term leave is requested after the final date of FWT, the student must complete the FWT requirements and will be assessed accordingly. If a student requests a leave to begin during the FWT, all registered supervisors will be contacted to inform them that the student is no longer registered for the FWT and will not be receiving FWT credit for this experience.
Students who have been on leave of absence or medical withdrawal, but have received clearance to return to the College prior to the last date to register a late FWT position (Friday, January 13, 2017), may elect to complete an FWT. These students should contact the FWT director prior to registering. Registrations will not be approved prior to the Field Work Term Office receiving notification from the associate dean of the College that the student has been cleared for re-entry. Students who do not receive clearance prior to the deadline will not be eligible to complete FWT.
FWT and Academic Withdrawal, Dismissal, and Suspension
Students who withdraw from the College during the fall term are not required to complete FWT. Students who withdraw, are dismissed, or are suspended from the College in the fall term or during the Field Work Term will not receive FWT credit for any work begun or completed during FWT for that academic year. All registered supervisors will be notified that the withdrawn/dismissed/suspended student will not be receiving FWT credit for the term and that any continued working relationship between the former/suspended student and the site is independent of any relationship with the College. Students must inform the FWT director if they plan to appeal their dismissal and intend to continue their FWT work in the event an appeal is granted. Students appealing their dismissal should continue working at the FWT site in order to ensure completion of hours and unaffected grading.
Students who withdraw, are dismissed, or are suspended after the last day of FWT will need to complete all FWT requirements including the Reflective Project according to stated due dates. Withdrawn, dismissed, and suspended students wishing to re-apply to Bennington at a later date to complete their degrees will need to meet with the FWT director to discuss makeup requirements after being readmitted.
FWT and Study Abroad/Study Away
Students who are participating in an approved study abroad/study away program in the fall or spring may have the FWT requirement for that academic year waived due to differences in academic schedules at other schools. Students who are studying abroad/studying away in the fall and would like to complete FWT must contact the Field Work Term Office prior to the registration deadline to register. Students who are planning to study abroad/study away in the spring but wish to complete an FWT should register as usual. Students who are applying to study abroad/study away in the spring but are still awaiting a decision regarding acceptance into a program by late October should meet with the FWT director to discuss their options.