Individual Student Program Requirements

General Requirements

An ISP should be comparable in strength, breadth, and depth to programs at colleges and universities that offer majors in the area of study, and to other majors at Hartwick. It should differ substantially from established Hartwick majors and not be a standard major modified by a few additions or deletions.

The program may be carried out entirely on the Hartwick campus, or it may use the resources of other academic institutions in the United States or abroad. It is important to note, however, that a minimum of 60 of a student’s 120 hours required for graduation must be earned at Hartwick in order to comply with Hartwick’s general academic regulations.

For Individual Student Program (ISP) students with a self-designed major, Hartwick’s Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree Program is a unique opportunity to earn a degree in three years.

 The Three-Year Degree program

The Individual Student Program: Getting Started

Step 1: Exploring Your Idea

If you are interested in developing an Individual Student Program, you should first talk over your idea with the ISP Coordinator and other faculty members at Hartwick who are knowledgeable in your area of interest. Many students have also received significant help from students with approved Individual Student Programs, other members of the Hartwick community, and individuals not associated with Hartwick. The idea is to test and refine your idea by discussing them with as many people as possible. ISPs must be declared by the end of sophomore year, so we recommend you begin the exploration process no later than the fall of your second year. Transfer students who want to pursue ISPs should contact the ISP coordinator as soon as they are accepted.

Next, do as much research as possible into your area of interest. Using the Hartwick Catalog and other relevant resources, find and list courses that would fit into your proposed program. If relevant, also look into possible internships, independent study programs, and course offerings at other institutions, such as SUNY Oneonta. Finally, investigate how your ISP would enhance your long-term career opportunities. Students can make use of Hartwick’s Stevens- German Library, The Office of Career Development, and Internet resources to do this research.

Only when your ideas are fairly well formulated should you prepare your formal proposal.

Step 2: Get Program Advisors

Your student ISP Advisory Committee is a group of 2-3 faculty members, who are knowledgeable in your specific area of interest, and who are willing to support your proposal with advice and recommendations throughout your Hartwick career. After you know something about your area of interest and have spoken with a number of people about your program, ask a Hartwick faculty member to be your Program Advisor. This person will be your primary academic advisor and will help you develop and implement your program. You must also get at least two other people who are knowledgeable in the area of your ISP to serve on your individual committee.

The Individual Student Program: Declaration and Approval

Step 3: Prepare the Declaration Form

The Declaration Form, available from the ISP Coordinator, will outline your proposed ISP and includes the following sections:

  1. Personal information, including your proposed ISP title.
  2. A list of advisory committee members with approval signatures.
  3. An essay about your program. In it, you will explain your motivation for doing an ISP, discuss your overall goals, and provide a rationale for the courses you have included in you area of concentration.
  4. A list of courses for your ISP Area of Concentration. This list must include all regular courses, independent studies, internships, directed studies, senior projects, and/or courses at other colleges or universities that will make up your program.
  5. A list of all the courses you will take, grouped by year and semester.
  6. A list of courses that fulfill Liberal Arts in Practice general education requirements.

Step 4: Draft Proposal, Get Signatures, Submit

Take the rough draft of your proposal to your Interdisciplinary Studies Committee members and the ISP Coordinator. They will review the proposal and make suggestions for improvements. Make any changes that you feel are necessary in light of these discussions. Then prepare a final draft of your proposal and get approval signatures from your program advisor and the other members of your individual committee. Give the completed form (hard copy with signatures) to the ISP Coordinator. Also send an electronic copy (attached file e-mail) to Chair of the ISP Committee to facilitate distribution to the Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) Committee.

Step 5: Interdisciplinary Studies Committee Evaluation

The Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) Committee is a standing Committee of the faculty of Hartwick College. It consists of the ISP Coordinator and two professors from each of the academic divisions (Physical and Life Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Arts and Humanities). The Committee evaluates all proposals and sets all policies related to ISP. It meets regularly during the fall and spring terms (but not during J Term) to consider programs and senior projects.

At your meeting with the IS Committee, you will briefly present an outline of your program and answer any questions the members might have about your plans. To prepare, review your proposal and try to anticipate what kinds of questions the committee might ask. Keep in mind that this is not an interrogation. Rather, the meeting is an opportunity for you to demonstrate the initiative and creativity that you have put into your proposal. The committee’s role is to help you achieve your goals by making sure your program is clear, feasible, and able to meet college and state standards.

After you leave the meeting, the IS Committee reviews and then votes on your proposal. The ISP Coordinator will inform you of the results as soon as possible. If the committee decides to accept, your file goes to the Registrar who officially registers you as a declared ISP major.

In some cases, the committee will give a conditional acceptance, and require that the student agree to make certain changes to the proposal (usually small additions or modifications) before forwarding the file. If the committee feels that the proposal has problems that are insurmountable, it will be declined and the student must substantially revise the proposal and resubmit.

Instructions for Approved Programs

Implementing the Program

Your Individual Student Program should be carried out exactly as approved, according to the plans outlined in the Declaration Form. Choices about electives, general education classes, etc. that do not affect the list of ISP courses can be made by the student.

Any changes that affect ISP related courses, however, must be submitted in writing to the ISP Coordinator. This may be done via email. The Coordinator can approve minor changes without referring them to the entire Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) Committee. However, if the requested changes significantly alter the content of an ISP Program, the Coordinator may decide to take the request before the entire IS Committee. Note: Failure to secure approval in advance for any change in an approved ISP may invalidate the program and may result in failure to graduate.

It is the responsibility of the student to meet all departmental requirements for the planning and carrying out of internships, independent studies, and other special programs or courses. Your program advisor, the coordinator of internships, and other faculty members can assist you in fulfilling these requirements. You should start planning well in advance of any projected off-campus experience as individual departments may require a departmental approval as much as a full semester in advance.

The Senior Project

The Senior Project will be the culmination of your ISP. As such, it will highlight the distinctiveness of your program of study, and will incorporate the insights and methods you have gathered from previous courses. You can only do your Senior Project in your Senior year and it must be formally proposed and approved the semester before you intend to do the main work.

Your Senior Project will be guided by:

  • a faculty member who will be supervising and grading your project, and,
  • a second reader who will make comments and give advice, but will not actually grade the final version.

Both should be involved in your project from the start and should be very familiar with the overall goals of your ISP.

Usually, it takes time for the design and approval process to take place, so you should start as early as possible. To allow time for evaluation and possible changes, your proposal should be ready to submit to the Interdisciplinary Studies (IS) Committee at least four weeks before the end of the term. Note: The IS Committee does not meet during January term.

The keys to a successful senior project are:

  • a clear plan of action,
  • regular communication with your main advisor, reader, and the ISP committee, and
  • timely completion of all major stages of the project.

For detailed instructions on how the prepare a Senior Project Proposal, contact the ISP Coordinator.