Field Work Term Requirements

  • Graduation Requirements
  • Field Work Term Requirements 
  • Primary Positions
  • Supplemental Positions
  • Approved Waivers
  • Field Work Term and Leave of Absence 
  • Field Work Term and Academic Withdrawal, Dismissal, and Suspension
  • Field Work Term and Study Away
  • Field Work Term Summer Deferral

Graduation Requirements

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.)

For example, a student who completes eight terms of full-time undergraduate study is required to complete four FWTs. A student who transfers into Bennington and completes fewer than eight terms would have an adjusted number of required FWTs, outlined in their credit letter from the Admissions Office.

Field Work Term Requirements

Students complete a minimum of 200 hours of work for FWT. Hours are broken down into primary and supplemental. A primary site is considered one that is approved by 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 hours at one primary site. However, many students choose to complete all 200 required hours at a primary site. If students decide to complete 140 hours at one primary site, students can work an additional 60 hours at one supplemental site as an option for securing paid employment at a site that isn't connected to your coursework and Plan goals at Bennington.

Students may submit up to 30 hours of excused time due to illness or inclement weather, and these count toward the 200 total. These hours must be signed off by a site supervisor on a student’s timesheet. 

Primary Positions

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. Please use this Google form to submit your timesheets.

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 Associate 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 five 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.

Supplemental Positions

If the full number of FWT required hours will not be earned in primary positions, up to 60 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. Please note that while proof of credit earned for credit-bearing courses is required as proof of completing supplemental hours, this credit cannot be counted as Bennington eligible coursework credit. Use this Google form to submit your timesheets.

Supplemental hours may include:

  • An unrelated job for pay.
  • Credit-bearing courses.

Approved Waivers

An FWT may be waived in a few specific situations, including:

  • A transfer student starting at Bennington in the spring (excluding juniors).
  • A first-term or third term student starting at Bennington in the spring.
  • A student taking a leave of absence.
  • A student participating in study abroad/study away.
  • A student participating in an approved Bennington faculty member course over FWT and receives a partial waiver of required FWT hours.

In any of these circumstances, a student is typically eligible for a FWT waiver if: 1) They have not already received a prior waiver; 2) They are not on-track to complete their FWT requirements by graduation; 3) They will still complete at least two FWTs before graduation.

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 Registrar's Office 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.

Field Work Term and Leave of Absence

Students on a Leave of Absence are not enrolled at Bennington; therefore, we cannot consider you officially registered in an FWT while you are on Leave. However, the Field Work Term Office can consider your work toward your FWT graduation requirements upon reentry, provided that the work meets the FWT Requirements outlined in the FWT Handbook. Please contact the Field Work Term Office for details, fwt@bennington.edu. 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. 

Similarly, students who have been on a leave of absence or withdrawn and have been approved to return for a spring term, will not be eligible to register and complete an FWT before they start classes in the spring. The Field Work Term Office can consider your work toward your FWT requirements upon reentry (see above).

Field Work Term 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.

Field Work Term and Study Away

Students who are participating in an approved study away program in the spring may be eligible to have the FWT requirement for that academic year waived due to differences in academic schedules at other schools. Students who are applying to study away in the spring but are still awaiting a decision regarding acceptance into a program by late October should notify the FWT Office by emailing fwt@bennington.edu.

Field Work Term Summer Deferral

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. 

Summer Deferral Application and Eligibility

FWT Summer Deferral Applications are available on a rolling basis, up until the FWT registration deadline and approved within 48 hours by the FWT Office. Depending on space availability and other factors, summer deferrals may be limited to:

  • First-year international students or new transfer international students ineligible to work off-campus in the U.S. during their first nine months of study.
  • Students with documented medical or mental health considerations preventing winter work. (See the medical accommodations office for support arranging a medical summer deferral).
  • Students with unforeseen circumstances that arise over FWT requiring a summer deferral accommodation. (Determined by FWT staff following appointment or documentation)
  • Students applying for a specialized internship program that is otherwise unavailable during FWT. Applicants must demonstrate they have specific and feasible FWT plans that could not be realized during the winter term.

Funding Considerations

Students applying for an FWT summer deferral may still receive partial need-based funding to help offset costs, but must register for the summer FWT by the fall FWT registration due date. Funding eligibility is determined based on registered in the fall; if an awardee changes their FWT plans, funding will be reconsidered.

First Year International Visa Issues

Because international students have F-1 visa restrictions preventing work in the U.S. until after nine months of study, you are guaranteed a summer deferral in your first year if you enter in the fall term. After this, you are only eligible if you meet the general summer deferral requirements outlined above. (You still need to fill out a summer deferral request form, due in mid-October.)

If you are approved to defer your FWT to the summer, you are encouraged to meet with the FWT director to discuss securing a U.S. summer FWT that is in compliance with federal Curricular Practical Training (CPT) requirements. Similarly, you need to meet with Bennington’s Designated Student Official (DSO), Kate Child, as promptly as possible to secure necessary paperwork in time for the start of the FWT Summer Makeup period.

International Student CPT Requirements

International students who defer their FWT to the summer and who are planning to work in the U.S. must meet with FWT staff to discuss securing a summer FWT that is directly connected to their academic work in order for it to be in compliance with CPT requirements. Similarly, students need to meet with Bennington’s designated school official (DSO) in Academic Services promptly as possible to secure necessary paperwork in time for the start of the FWT summer period.

Graduation Considerations for Seniors

Seniors who defer their final FWT to the summer will receive their diploma the following December once they have completed their final FWT requirement. If no other coursework is needed to graduate, these students will have “in absentia” status in the fall term between their summer FWT make-up and their official December graduation date. In this case, students may petition to walk in the June graduation ceremony prior to completing the final FWT requirement. Students should speak with Academic Services for more information regarding this petition.