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A cornerstone of the New College experience is your ability to work with faculty to design your own independent study program (ISP) and conduct hands-on research.

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A cornerstone of the New College experience is your ability to work with faculty to design your own independent study and conduct hands-on research.

During the four-week Interterm each January, you work one-on-one with your professor or in a small group on a research project, lab experiment or scholarly paper. Or, you can use this time to study abroad — from Antarctica to the Amazon — take part in an off-campus internship or even put together your own art exhibit or performance.

The ISP Handbook and the workshop held in November of each year provide guidance to students as to the types of ISPs that faculty encourage. Projects may be carefully defined at the beginning or left open-ended and exploratory. Three ISPs are required for graduation.

The ISP requirement addresses five educational objectives:

  1. To train students to carry on independent research, to prepare them to plan and carry through an effective senior thesis;
  2. To supplement the curriculum, to provide an opportunity to cover areas not usually available, particularly off-campus;
  3. To provide an opportunity for nontraditional, innovative, experiential learning projects;
  4. To encourage work-related experiences such as internships;
  5. Generally to provide an opportunity for intensive involvement with one subject, as a change of pace from the regular terms.  

A student chooses a topic in consultation with a faculty member who agrees to become the ISP advisor. The ISP Handbook, and the ISP Workshop held in November of each year, provide guidance to students as to the types of ISPs that faculty encourage. Projects may be carefully defined at the beginning, or left open-ended and exploratory. The content and demands should be roughly equivalent to that of a term-length tutorial. A full-time, four-week academic activity, the ISP is incompatible with full-time employment, a regular semester contract, or a second, simultaneous ISP. 

  • Dive deeper into the ISP

    Welcome to ISP season

    All New College students must complete at least three ISPs in order to graduate.

    Connecting to conservation

    Maya Greenberg spent her independent study project season living in what seemed like a rainforest.

    An aural approach to birding

    Hope Sandlin is using her love for birds to create an unusual independent study project.

    ISP students beating stress, boosting focus

    New College students are learning how to better cope with the stress of college life.