Apr 16, 2024  
2012-2013 UMass Dartmouth Undergraduate Catalog 
2012-2013 UMass Dartmouth Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Special Learning Opportunities

Individualized Courses, Alternative Credit, Experiential Learning, Internships, Study at other Institutions

Students may desire educational experiences that extend beyond the regular courses of the university. The university thus offers various individually-initiated learning experiences to its students.  These include Independent Study, Contract Learning, and Directed Study; study at a nearby university through cross-registration; study abroad; and receiving credit through a variety of standardized examinations.

Special Course Opportunities


Directed Study

Students who wish to take a regular university course in a term when it is not offered may seek to do so through a Directed Study option. However, students must understand that, because the appropriate faculty must be available and approvals must be granted, the option of Directed Study for a particular course is not always available.

In Directed Study, the faculty member must agree to provide students with close supervision to aid them in achieving the same course objectives that would have been accomplished during a normal instance of the course. Permission for Directed Study must be obtained from the subject/course faculty member, the student’s department chairperson, and the college dean, after consultation with the faculty advisor.

Forms for enrolling in Directed Study are available at the Registrar’s Office. Directed Study courses will be so designated on the student’s transcript, displaying the title of the course undertaken. Directed Study courses are offered at each course level, 1xx, 2xx, 3xx, and 4xx, in order to match the level of the course of record.

Independent Study

Independent Study, which is faculty-supervised research or readings into areas of study outside the current curriculum, offers students the opportunity to investigate a research topic or readings independently, under the close supervision of a faculty member. Independent Study will only be approved for research into areas of study that do not duplicate the university’s current curriculum of courses.

The student will be responsible for meeting the requirements of the Independent Study as outlined and approved, and the faculty sponsor will assume responsibility for coordinating the Independent Study, evaluating its results, and determining an appropriate grade.

Upper Division students may request to do Independent Study, upon recommendation of a faculty sponsor and approval of the student’s department chairperson and college dean. Twelve semester credits is the maximum of Independent Study allowed for an undergraduate academic career. The student must submit a written proposal and outline of the program of study to be undertaken, which, if approved by the sponsor and the department chairperson, will become a guide for evaluating the student’s performance and accomplishment.

Forms for enrolling in Independent Study are available at the Registrar’s Office. Independent Study courses will be so designated on the student’s transcript, displaying an annotation of the topic undertaken.

Internships, Practicums, and Experiential Learning


Students in any major may arrange for an external learning experience. Most departments list the course Experiential Learning for their majors; it offers lower-division work experience at an elective level. Some of the university’s majors offer upper-division internship or practicum opportunities for students.  An internship or similar experience is mandatory for students whose participation in the University Studies curriculum is mandatory.

Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning provides an opportunity for practical application of academic training while earning academic credit.

Under the direction of a faculty sponsor, and with approval of the appropriate Dean, arrangements are made to work under the immediate supervision of a supervisor at a work site, which may be located on or off campus. The range of project types and settings is almost limitless, creating exciting ways to enrich one’s academic studies, to test a tentative career choice, and to gain valuable experience.

The Experiential Learning contract is an agreement to undertake a significant academic learning experience:

  • Participating students maintain a log or journal of experiences. They also receive assessments from the individual they are working for, the supervisor at the work site.
  • In all cases, the student must submit a work of writing and reflection to the faculty sponsor for evaluation. The exact assignment is determined by the sponsoring faculty member.
  • The faculty sponsor evaluates the project and assigns either a CR or NC grade.

Students wishing to participate must submit a contract proposal and receive the required approvals. The Career Resource Center may assist students in making these arrangements.  Typically, students work with faculty member to arrange the internship; they submit a written proposal which identifies the internship’s site, goals and objectives, work to be performed, and the name of the on-site supervisor. 

The following are some of the academic limitations and definitions:

  • Students must be at least sophomores to participate.
  • Although the typical internship contract would earn three credits, internships proposing a greater/lesser number of credit hours are also possible. Experiential Learning credits are part of the normal student credit load and subject to university policy with regard to credit hour limitations.
  • Students on academic probation are not eligible for Experiential Learning, unless ineligibility is waived by their college dean.
  • The work assignment typically comprises at least 45 clock hours per academic credit.
  • Supervision of students doing projects under the Experiential Learning program shall in all cases exclude individuals who are themselves undergraduate degree candidates; and a faculty member cannot serve as both supervisor and sponsor.

Students in the College of Business are offered a junior-level Internship course in lieu of Experiential Learning. They may contact the Career Resource Center for assistance.

General Limitation on Internship Credit

No more than 1/8th of the graduation credits required for the student’s major may be earned in optional internships, including Experiential Learning.

Internships, Clinical Experiences, and Practicums in the Majors

Certain of the university’s majors require an upper-division internship, practicum, or clinical experience; others allow for an optional course is offered. These experiences range from an experience nearby in a course the student takes during a semester to a semester or even a year-long in experience that may be well away from campus. Consult the requirements section for your major to learn of these opportunities. 

Cooperative Education in Engineering

The College of Engineering offers cooperative education experiences to qualified students. Students in the program alternate a semester/summer in coursework with a semester/summer on the job full time. Please consult the front of the catalog section on the College of Engineering. 

Internships Away from Campus through Affiliated Programs

Some programs that may be available to UMass Dartmouth students, like those of The Washington Center or Disney Enterprises, offer a full semester at an internship site. The university has formulated procedures whereby the student can maintain an appropriate enrollment status to participate in such internship programs.

Financial arrangements, enrollment status, and credit that can be earned vary, depending on the program.

Study Abroad


The university encourages its students to study abroad, and this study can include internships, research and service learning.  For all such programs occurring abroad, students apply simultaneously through their academic department and the International Programs Office.  Registration protocol calls for UMass Dartmouth students engaging in any form of education abroad to register with the International Programs Office.  Along with study-abroad academic programs, this requirement includes internships, experiential learning, and student organization activities when conducted outside the United States.  Several exchange agreements have been established to facilitate study abroad, together with procedures for academic advisement, registration, and planning personal finances. In addition, a wide variety of programs are available, both of short duration and for a semester or a year. Each year courses and/or field components within campus courses are led by faculty abroad.  UMass Dartmouth offers hundreds of study abroad program options via partnerships with third party providers.

Faculty-led courses abroad are UMass Dartmouth courses.  Grading policies and financial aid eligibility is the same for these courses as for any other UMass Dartmouth courses.  Students participating in third party provider programs can generally apply financial aid awards to the cost of those programs. 

Exchange agreements facilitate study for UMass Dartmouth students at a partner university abroad and study at UMass Dartmouth by students visiting from the partner universities.  The visiting Exchange students bring to campus with them a cross-cultural learning opportunity for all members of the campus community.  Exchange participants pay tuition and fees at their home campus and financial aid awards apply as for any other term.


The university has formal exchange agreements that include:  State of Baden-Württemburg  (Germany), Cinvestav (Mexico City, Mexico, State of Hessen (Germany), New England Board of Higher Education (Quebec and Nova Scotia, Canada); Portuguese Catholic University (Lisbon, Portugal), Tecnologico de Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico), Trier University (Trier, Germany), Universidade Bandeirante de Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Universita degli Studi di Messina (Sicily, Italy), University of Cyprus (Cyprus), University of Grenoble (Grenoble, France), National Economics University Business School (Hanoi, Vietnam), Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences (Wolfsburg, Germany), University of Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo, Brazil) Vellore Institute of Technology (Tamil Nadu, India).  See the International Programs Office for a complete list and details.

Policies and Procedures

The Office of International Programs provides general oversight of exchange, faculty-led and provider programs.  Study Abroad fairs and other informational events are offered by the IPO each semester.  A complete list of approved study abroad programs, application procedures and deadlines, and other guidelines are available on the IPO website at http://www.umassd.edu/ipo/

The application process is completed online.  The portal is located in the Study Abroad section of the IPO website. 

1.  Students apply to the university for certification of eligibility to study abroad.  Minimum requirements are 2.5 gpa for semester study (2.0 for intersession) , no current student conduct sanctions, and a financial account in good standing.  Other requirements may apply.

2.  Eligible students apply for the study abroad program of their choice and must be accepted by that program in order to participate.

Students seeking to study abroad must first plan with their faculty advisors the program of study that they intend to pursue at the other institution and receive departmental approval of this study plan.

Financial aid may be obtained if the student is eligible and pursuing the study abroad experience to earn credits toward degree requirements.  Furthermore, a special scholarship, the Mary Louise Walsh Fund for International Study, makes assistance available in the form of grants to undergraduates and graduating seniors. Students who are on financial aid are required to file a Study Abroad Estimated Expenses Form with the Financial Aid Office.  That form is available in the Study Abroad section of the IPO website. 

Students who study abroad while remaining in active student status will be listed as “Study on Exchange” status. This status allows students to remain in current, registered status while they pursue full-time studies at another higher-education institution. They may thus remain matriculated students eligible to apply approved credits earned to their UMass student record and continue to qualify for their financial aid benefits. A modest fee is charged for “Study on Exchange” status.

Each semester the IPO provides mandatory pre-departure orientations for UMass Dartmouth students registered for credit or non-credit programs abroad.  Returning participants are invited and encouraged by the IPO to participate in international-focused activities of the campus community.

Study Abroad program transcripts are received by the International Programs Office and reviewed for verification of the academic department’s approval of courses for transfer.  If grades have not been provided with a US format, the IPO coordinates with the academic department in assignment of the grade to appear on the student transcript.

Grade Policy

Study Abroad credits are considered to be “in residence.”  Most Study Abroad courses are graded P/NC with NC being awarded when the course receives a UMass Dartmouth-equivalent grade below C-, or for any case that has not been approved by the academic major chairperson.  P grades earn the credit stipulated for the course but do not affect the GPA.  NC grades are shown on the transcript but do not affect the GPA.

The exception to the above grading system occurs:

  • When UMass Dartmouth courses are offered abroad (either entire courses or portions of courses).  In this case, regular UMass Dartmouth grading prevails for UMass Dartmouth students.  Students may elect the P/F option as with any other UMass Dartmouth courses, following the normal P/F rules.
  • When an exchange agreement of other curriculum requirement specifies that a course taken abroad will use the regular UMass Dartmouth grading system.

When students arrange a study abroad experience, they will be informed in advance which grading scheme applies to the course or courses in their study plan.  At the conclusion of the study abroad course, students will take responsibility for submitting a transcript or other official record of the results of the study abroad course.


Receiving Credit Through Standardized Examination


CLEP Examinations

The University has approved the use of the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). The CLEP exams are offered by the College Entrance Examination Board. The program enables those who have reached the college level of education outside the university to demonstrate their achievement and to use the test results for college credit and/or placement.

The equivalency of CLEP examinations to this university’s courses are determined by the department that teaches that subject matter. CLEP credits may not be used to duplicate or replace credits for coursework taken here or elsewhere. The office of the University Registrar maintains a current list of CLEP examinations accepted for credit on its website; we advise current students to consult the equivalency tables and their advisor before deciding to take CLEP tests.

CLEP credits are defined as transfer credits and will not be reflected in an individual’s grade point average. No more than 30 credits earned by CLEP Examination may be used to satisfy degree requirements.

Two types of CLEP examinations are offered:

Subject Examinations
One semester’s course credits (usually 3) or two semesters’ course credits (usually 6) may be awarded for a score at or above 50, as reported on the CLEP score report. Such credits are generally used to satisfy university distribution requirements or may be used as elective credits. We do not accept all CLEP Subject Examinations for credit. One that we do not accept is the Freshman College Composition test.

General Examinations
Credit is not awarded at UMass Dartmouth for the CLEP General Examinations.

Advanced Placement—AP Credit

Advanced placement and/or college credit are awarded to entering freshman students presenting Advanced Placement Examination grades of three or higher (four for credit in Psychology) in most AP fields. AP courses taught in high schools are college-level courses, and the students’ mastery of the content is validated by the AP Examination series administered by the College Board. Such course credits may be used to satisfy degree requirements, general education requirements, or will allow students to place into a more advanced initial course.

Advanced Placement—Dual Enrollment Credit

Some freshman students enter the university with college credit already earned, from courses taken at a college or university while they were in high school, many through the Massachusetts Dual Enrollment program.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Credit

Entering freshman students presenting IB Exam grades may be awarded advanced placement and/or college credit.  Information about test scores and course equivalencies is available through the Office of Admissions.

Military Service Training

For Military Service School training, credit may be awarded according to the recommendations contained in the most recent Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experience in the Armed Services of the American Council on Education. These credits cannot be applied to the student’s major field of studies. Additional information is available at the Office of Admissions and/or the Office of the Registrar.

SACHEM Cross-Registration

UMass Dartmouth students may cross-register for courses at other SACHEM (Southeastern Association for Cooperation in Higher Education in Massachusetts) institutions on a space-available, prior-approval basis. Likewise, students at these other institutions may cross-register for courses at UMass Dartmouth. Institutions involved in the program, in addition to UMass Dartmouth, are:

Bridgewater State College
Bristol Community College
Cape Cod Community College
Dean College
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Massasoit Community College
Stonehill College
Wheaton College.

Tuition and fees established by the “away” institution are suspended, provided that the matriculated student is a degree-seeking student at the home institution and carries and pays for a full-time load there. Further information and appropriate forms may be obtained in the Registrar’s Office.