Independent Study as Field Work Term Option

This alternative to FWT employment offers time to delve into a particular research area, theme, or question, working in association with a sponsor. You may apply to spend an FWT pursuing an Independent Study project if you are a junior or senior, have completed at least one FWT, and are in good academic standing. A sponsor must be a Bennington faculty member whose area of expertise is appropriate to the Independent Study. Bennington faculty are not obligated to sponsor Independent Study and funding is not available to pay sponsors. Your sponsor must have in-depth knowledge of your proposed area of study and be willing to:

  • Meet with you regularly either in person or over phone/Skype/Hangout/email to discuss your progress and offer feedback. Typically, sponsors arrange a weekly meeting time but scheduling is at the discretion of the sponsor. At a minimum, a sponsor should converse with the student every two weeks.

  • Meet virtually or in person to review the content of your Independent Study work

  • Complete an online evaluation via Handshake

Independent Study Sponsor Evaluations

Students completing an Independent Study are encouraged to meet with their sponsors to review their completed work upon their return to campus, although all work is due by the last day of FWT. Sponsors will fill out an online evaluation form with a recommended pass/marginal pass/fail assessment. Final Independent Study assessments are determined by the FWT Office, who may also request to see your finished work. Independent Study topics, sponsor evaluations, and final assessments become part of your permanent academic record.

How to Apply

If you are interested in pursuing an Independent Study, please apply via "Request an Experience" on Handshake. This form includes space for a detailed description of the goals and methodology of your proposed work. Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted. After your Independent Study application is reviewed and approved by the FWT Office, a copy will be sent to your proposed sponsor along with a link where they must indicate their approval. Please note that it is your responsibility to follow up with your sponsor to ensure their timely approval.

A project proposed for Independent Study is, at minimum, equivalent to the 200 hours required for FWT. Your Independent Study application will need to be approved by the FWT Office as well as your sponsor. The FWT Office will notify you via email within a week of the IS application due date as to whether the application is accepted or declined. If aspects of your application need clarification, the office may ask you to submit additional information within a given timeframe.

Independent Study Application Guidelines

Your Independent Study application should address the following:

  • What learning goals do you have for this project?

  • Why does this project need to be accomplished independently and not as FWT site work?

  • In what ways will you document your learning and receive ongoing feedback from your sponsor over the FWT period? Examples include: worklogs, journal, phone/Skype meetings, and email.

  • What is the specific work you will be doing in this Independent Study?

  • What papers, projects, or other work products will be generated?

  • How will this work be assessed by the faculty sponsor?

Submit your application to the FWT Office through the "Request an Experience" form on Handshake. (Please review these detailed instructions. If you encounter any problems, you can directly email your Independent Study application to

Ensure your sponsor approves your Independent Study application (via the Handshake link sent by the FWT Office) by the time your application is due. To meet this due date, we strongly encourage you to submit your application at least a week in advance.