student presenting during fwt night

Field Work Term FAQs

What is Field Work Term?

The Field Work Term (FWT) has been a central part of Bennington’s educational requirements since the College was founded in 1932. During this six-week period in the winter and summer there are no academic classes on campus. Students work in a variety of fields and geographic locations pursuing interests discovered or developed at Bennington. FWT is designed to allow students to forge professional connections, develop practical experience, and begin to discover both their role in and responsibilities to the world. For every two terms a student is enrolled, one FWT must be completed.

What are the dates of FWT?

Field Work Term can be completed in the winter or in the summer. Please refer to the Important due dates related to FWT on the Field Work Term Dates page. 

Are FWT experiences always related to my academic concentrations?

Students use their FWT in whatever way best complements their academic program and interests. FWT can be another way to combine diverse fields of study or a way to expand a focus in a specific area. FWT is a part of the overall academic program and is reviewed as such.

Is there a required amount of work time?

Yes. Students complete a minimum of 200 hours of work for FWT. Hours are broken down into primary and supplemental, based on the kind of site at which a student is working. A primary site is approved by the FWT Office, and is generally 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 at up to two primary site jobs. Many students complete all 200 required hours at primary sites. However, students can work up to 60 hours at one supplemental site if desired.

Also, students can work at up to two primary site jobs, as well as a supplemental job if desired. Please meet with the FWT Office if you have any questions regarding hour requirements.

How do I search for possible FWT jobs?

Students find jobs by pursuing a combination of their own resources and the resources available through the FWT and Career Development Office. In particular, Handshake is the number one resource at students’ disposal. Every year, over 700 openings are targeted specifically for Bennington students for Field Work Term; you can also peruse Handshake’s network of over 200,000 employers to find other opportunities.

Students also have the option of finding a position not listed on Handshake. In fact, annually, more than half of Bennington students develop FWT experiences that are unique to their needs and interests. Learn more about what a new site supervisor needs to know. 

FWT staff members are here to help students prepare a resume, apply to advertised positions, or develop their own FWT opportunity with a site that has not worked with Bennington before. Even if a student does not have a lot of work experience, securing a good internship is very possible with the proper preparation.

Can I go abroad for FWT?

Yes. The majority of students who go abroad during FWT do so either through an internship site they locate, or through an outside program that coordinates international internships. Students who are planning on going outside the US for FWT should begin planning early as there are more logistics to consider for such a project. 

Students are responsible for researching topics related to travel abroad, and to plan accordingly: research the destination, review US State Department travel advisories, remain up-to-date on visa regulations for your destinations, and double-check all credentials and paperwork before departure. International students wishing to complete FWT outside the U.S. are also strongly encouraged to speak with International Student Services to discuss potential concerns related to re-entry into the US.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to new restrictions and risks related to international travel. Even if you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should consider carefully the potential for increased risk of exposure related to international travel, as the virus spreads around the world and new variants emerge with increasing frequency. By approving your FWT registration, Bennington College is not making any representations about the risks associated with international travel, and does not guarantee your safety with respect to COVID-19 or other dangers.

Can FWT consist of an Independent Study?

Yes. Eligible students can apply to spend one FWT pursuing an independent project. Independent Study is available to students who have completed at least four terms, are in good academic standing, and submit an approved proposal. Independent study is generally used by juniors or seniors delving into a thesis or project that is part of their advanced work. Students interested in pursuing an Independent Study should review the requirements and meet with a staff member to discuss.

Can FWT be completed in the summer?

In line with the Bennington pedagogy of self-directed learning, we want to encourage students to pursue every option that advances their educational and professional goals. Sometimes, specialized internship opportunities may only be available in the summer, and summer positions are also more likely to be paid. Additionally, we recognize that some students may simply need a break in the winter as related to emergency circumstances or medical or mental health reasons, and we want to allow this flexibility. 

How is my FWT experience evaluated?

 A student’s FWT assessment is based on adherence to all FWT-related due dates, total hours worked toward the 200-hour requirement, employer written evaluations, and the student’s reflective project. Bennington rates the FWT experience on a Pass, Marginal Pass, or Fail basis. Employer comments along with the final FWT assessment become part of a student’s permanent academic record.

Students who do not successfully complete FWT requirements will be unable to pass the term. A failing rating will become part of the student’s permanent academic record and the student will be required to complete an FWT make-up during the summer. 

How do I fund my FWT? 

The cost of Field Work Term (FWT) varies greatly depending on the job you select, your housing options, and the location you choose for FWT. Costs can range from nominal (if you live at home for FWT) to $3,000 or more if you need to travel a long distance and pay for your own housing and food. Use the FWT Budgeting Form to help you plan accordingly.

FWT is a separate term from the rest of the academic year. As a result, tuition is not charged for it, and regular academic scholarships do not apply; students are responsible for meeting their own expenses during this period and may secure funding options through a variety of resources. 

What are my housing options during FWT?

Traditionally, most students secure low-cost FWT housing through personal contacts, sublet/rent as a group, or return home. Housing options sometimes include listings from employers offering housing in exchange for a job. About half of first-year students will live at home during FWT, having secured positions close to home. For more information, check out Housing Over FWT.

For students inquiring about campus housing during FWT, it is standard practice for students to move out of their campus housing at the end of fall term. Low-cost, on-campus accommodations may be available to first-year international students over FWT whose work options are limited due to immigration regulations and financial reasons. If space is available, students who have been approved to complete an Independent Study that requires campus facility use, or who have a local position, may also apply to live on campus. 

Is the FWT & Career Development Office open during FWT?

Yes. During the winter and summer, the FWT Office is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am–4:00 pm EST. Staff are available to answer student and employer questions and to assist with any problems that may arise during FWT.  You can make an appointment through Handshake or email or call 802-440-4321.