All academic requirements, guidelines, and regulations have evolved from lengthy discussions among faculty, students, and staff. Members of the community are encouraged to use this information as a basis for discussion of any clarification or revision to the policies and procedures of the academic program. Students who wish to see a policy change should bring their suggestions up through one of the standing committees.

  • Academic Misconduct

    Academic misconduct is a breach of common standards of academic honesty as well as a breach of any particular instructions provided by a professor in a given class; for example, cheating, plagiarism, or any other form of using the work of another person without proper acknowledgment.

    For more guidance on this see the ‘Academic Integrity’ section within the Academic Program and Policies portion of the course catalog. Students who are suspected of academic misconduct may reasonably expect to be processed through a Judiciary Hearing process.

  • Academic Program Requirements

    Degree Requirements

    The degree of Bachelor of Arts in Human Ecology is granted upon completion of thirty-six credits specified below and of three requirements bearing no credit. Eighteen of the thirty-six credit units must be earned at COA, and a minimum of six terms must be spent enrolled full- or part-time at COA. One of those six terms may be a COA internship, but a minimum of five must be spent on campus. The normal full-time annual load is nine credits, three in each of the three ten-week terms. One COA credit unit is the equivalent of 3.3 semester hours; nine COA credits are the equivalent of 30 semester hours.

    Courses that fulfill resource area and other requirements are indicated by starred codes and noted in the course descriptions: AD = Arts and Design, ED = Educational Studies, ES = Environmental Sciences, HS = Human Studies, HY = History, QR = Quantitative Reasoning, WF = Writing-Focused, and W = Writing.

    Freshman Requirements

    • Human Ecology Core Course HE
    • one writing (W) course or two writing-focused (WF) courses
    • one history (HY) course in the first two years of attendance
    • one quantitative reasoning (QR) course within the first two years of attendance

    Resource Area Requirements

    • AD two courses (taught by different COA faculty, one must be a studio course)
    • ES two courses (taught by different COA faculty)
    • HS two courses (taught by different COA faculty)


    • Either non-credit satisfaction of the requirement while a degree candidate or
    • full-time, one term enrollment, earns three credits

    (Note: Both options require a proposal packet and approval of the Internship Committee prior to starting. The internship, whether for credit or not, cannot be the final enrollment.)

    Senior Project

    • three credits, either in a single term or split over two or three terms

    Additional Non-course Requirements

    • human ecology essay
    • community service
    • writing portfolio

    Components of the Curriculum

    Small classes are the foundation of COA’s curriculum. With a faculty to student ratio of 1:10, individualized attention and a seminar format are the classroom norm. Average class size is 12.5. A normal full-time student load is three courses per term; a normal full-time faculty teaching load is five courses over three terms. Students design their own programs of study, with a few distribution requirements.

    Freshman Requirements

    The Human Ecology Core Course (HE) is a requirement for all first-year students. Additional freshman course requirements which should be taken in the first two years of attendance include one writing (W*) course or two writing-focused (WF*) courses, one history (HY) course and one quantitative reasoning (QR) course. Please refer to the Writing Requirement section for more information. These freshman requirements are waived for transfer students entering with the equivalent of 9 or more COA credits.

    Resource Area Requirements

    The curriculum is organized into three multidisciplinary resource areas: Arts and Design, Environmental Sciences, and Human Studies. A required “distribution” of two courses from each of the resource areas helps a student become familiar with the methodology and perspective of each and incorporate these perspectives into his or her own work. A student must take a minimum of two courses in each resource area, each from a different COA faculty member. One of the Arts and Design courses must be a studio class, listed as *ADS*. Amongst academic disciplines, studio art is the making of art contrasted to the study of art history and theory.

    The resource area distribution requires a student to gain a broad foundational understanding of approaches used in each resource area of the curriculum; courses satisfying the distribution requirement should be selected in consultation with academic advisors. A student combines course work from all three resource areas to design programs of study which are interdisciplinary and individualized.

    The following cannot be used to satisfy the resource area requirement: independent studies, practica, tutorials (except for some music tutorials), group studies, or MD courses. While MD courses, which are interdisciplinary by design, have validity and purpose, they are distinctly not appropriate for the distribution requirement.

    Transfer credits from other institutions may be used to fulfill resource area requirements. However, only one AD, HS, or ES may be used in this manner. Approval of courses to fulfill resource area requirements from other institutions is handled by the registrar in consultation with representative faculty and advisors; the student must provide the catalog descriptions of the courses to be used for this purpose. AP and IB credits may not be used to satisfy resource area requirements.

  • Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

    To ensure that programs, activities and services are accessible to all matriculating students, College of the Atlantic is committed to providing reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Documented disabilities may include, but are not limited to: a learning disability; attention deficit disorder; a visual, auditory, or mobility impairment; a physical or mental health illness.

    COA’s policy and practice comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the state and local requirements regarding students with disabilities. Under these laws, no qualified individual with a disability shall be denied access to or participation in services, programs, and activities of the College of the Atlantic.

    In compliance with federal and state regulations, reasonable accommodations are provided to qualified students with disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is one that is consistent with the academic standards of the college and does not fundamentally alter the nature of the course or program. COA works directly and individually with students throughout the accommodation process. Final authority for determining the most reasonable and effective accommodation rests with the college and is based on the nature of the course or program and the individual student’s disability-related need(s). A qualified individual is a person who, with or without reasonable accommodations, can perform the essential functions of a program or course requirements. The essential requirements of an academic course or program need not be modified to accommodate an individual with a disability.

    COA’s designated Disability Support Services are located within the offices of Student Life in Deering Commons. From this office students needing accommodation will be directed to academic, programmatic, or campus mobility specialists for assistance. Students are encouraged to meet with a Disability Support Services professional to develop a plan for their academic accommodations. A request for accommodation is deemed reasonable if it:

    • Is based on documented individual needs; in all cases of non-apparent disability
    • Allows the most integrated experience possible
    • Does not compromise essential requirements of a course or program
    • Does not pose a threat to personal or public safety
    • Does not impose undue financial or administrative burden
    • Is not of a personal nature
  • Advising

    When students arrive at College of the Atlantic they are assigned an initial academic advisor. The working relationship between student and advisor is very important because of the self-directed nature of study at the college. The freedom of students to plan individual programs carries with it the responsibility to develop coherent courses of study. The academic advisor serves as the primary resource for this planning process.

    The advising relationship is critical to the success of students’ academic programs and students are encouraged to change advisors as their academic interests and needs evolve. Change of advisor forms may be found on the COA website.

    The best advisors are those who share intellectual and educational interests with their advisees. It is hoped that through class contact and campus events, students will develop collegiality with one or more faculty or staff. It is from these connections that they will choose an advisor best suited to their educational and career pursuits.

    The advisor serves as both professional mentor and guide as students work their way through their college careers. Advising meetings may take the form of discussing resource area requirements, considering further educational or career planning, or simply serving as a sounding board for a student’s academic and personal concerns. Students are highly encouraged to meet with their advisors regularly.

    As there is an atmosphere of collaboration at College of the Atlantic, students are encouraged to seek connections with other faculty, staff, and students to broaden their advising experience. For questions or further information on the advising system, please contact the academic dean.

  • Community Service

    All students at COA are required to complete forty hours of community service prior to their last term of enrollment. The college believes that community service provides valuable experience as well as personal and educational opportunities that complement a student’s studies in human ecology. A student can satisfy the community service requirement through on-campus or off-campus volunteer work. On-campus service suggestions include committee membership, planning campus-wide activities such as Earth Day, or volunteering at Beech Hill Farm. Off-campus service includes activities that strengthen the college’s ties to the local community such as coaching local athletic teams, tutoring math in an after-school program, or volunteering at a nursing home. A combination of on-campus and off-campus experiences is encouraged.

    Community service must be on a volunteer basis (not for pay or for credit) and consist of a minimum of forty hours in total. Most students have an excess of community-oriented work and ultimately need to decide which experience to use to fulfill the requirement. The director of internships and career services is responsible for assessing the adequacy of the student’s service. A one-page form with a description of the activity, length of involvement, and reflections must be completed and returned to the Internship Office prior to graduation. The required form is available on the college’s website. In addition this office has resources for on and off campus community service opportunities.

  • Ethical Research Review Board (ERRB)

    Research involving Human Subjects

    Research on human subjects is an integral part of human ecology at College of the Atlantic. The college’s policy on human subjects research is intended to foster an environment that supports and encourages such research. In addition, the policy establishes mechanisms to assist those wishing to undertake human subjects research. College of the Atlantic has in place a set of procedures concerning research involving human subjects to ensure the physical and psychological safety of participants and to ensure that researchers follow appropriate ethical standards and comply with federal laws protecting research subjects. Research that will be reviewed includes faculty research, senior projects, and graduate theses. In addition a limited set of classroom projects, residencies, and independent studies may also require review, especially if they are disseminated publicly.

    An Ethical Research Review Board (ERRB) will be appointed by the academic dean at the beginning of each academic year. The ERRB is charged with implementing this policy in a manner appropriate to the interdisciplinary nature of COA and consistent with federal law. The ERRB will provide researchers with materials and tools to determine if their project(s) fall under the category of human subject research. The ERRB will assist researchers wishing to undertake research on human subjects to develop strategies for meeting ethical and legal standards appropriate to their research.

    Students and faculty must seek approval for their research from the ERRB when they initially propose their work. Student projects which do not gain approval, may not be granted college credit or count as fulfilling graduation requirements. The application for approval, in the form of an ethical research review form and accompanying narrative, will be forwarded for review and approval to the chair of the ERRB who will convene to review proposals on a rolling basis. Researchers may appeal the ERRB’s decision to the academic dean or her or his designee. The dean’s decision is final.

    For further information or a full statement of the college’s policy and details on the process of application and review, contact the ERRB chair.

    Ethical Research Review Board


  • Human Ecology Essay

    The human ecology essay is a work of exposition, argumentation, extended description, or narration and should be approximately 2,000 words long. By choosing and developing a subject of personal or social significance, the student explores her or his perspective on human ecology. The human ecology essay is not expected to be a paper done for a course, although it can evolve from such a paper or be produced in a writing class. The human ecology essay must be clear, concise, and coherent. In some cases a student may choose to do a nonverbal “essay,” or write a piece of fiction or poetry. If this is the case, the student must submit a two- to four-page essay explaining how the project reflects her or his notion of human ecology.

    The student’s advisor and one additional faculty member will serve as readers for the human ecology essay. The second faculty reader will be chosen together by the student and the advisor. Both readers must be continuing faculty members. Both the readers must approve the essay in order for the essay to be considered approved. Usually a student’s essay goes through several drafts and takes 3-6 weeks to be approved. Students are strongly encouraged to work with the writing center on their essays; their readers may require them to do so.

    Students are strongly encouraged to begin work on their human ecology essay during the second half of their junior year. The initial draft will be due toward the beginning of the fall term of the student’s senior year, and the final draft will be due in mid-February. The initial draft and the final draft must be submitted to the faculty assistant and the student’s advisor whose role is to oversee the human ecology essay process and ensure that deadlines are met.

    Students who fail to meet human ecology essay deadlines will jeopardize their ability to graduate or stand in June.

  • Privacy

    The college’s policies, consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), are as follows: 

    This act is a Federal law, which provides that academic institutions will maintain the confidentiality of student education records.

    College of the Atlantic accords all the rights under the law to students who are declared independent. No one outside the college shall have access to nor will the institution disclose any information from students’ records without the written consent of students, except to persons or organizations providing student financial aid, to accrediting agencies carrying out their accreditation function, to persons in compliance with a judicial order, and to persons in an emergency in order to protect the health or safety of students or other persons. All these exceptions are permitted under the Act.

    College of the Atlantic also requests, beyond the requirements of law, that all students, whether or not declared independent, give their written consent in the sending of evaluations and transcripts to parents and to officials of other institutions in which students seek to enroll. Within the COA community, only those members, individually or collectively, acting in the students’ educational interest are allowed access to student educational records. These include personnel in the Financial Aid, Business, Admission, Student Life, Internship, and Registrar’s offices, academic deans, advisors, and faculty, within the limitations of their need to know.

    At its discretion, the college may provide Directory Information in accordance with the provisions of the Act to include: student name, address, phone number, date and place of birth, major field of study, dates of attendance, degrees and awards received, the most recent previous educational institution attended, and participation in officially recognized activities and sports. Students may withhold Directory Information by notifying the registrar in writing within two weeks after the first day of an academic term. Requests for non-disclosure will be honored until the end of an academic year; authorization to withhold Directory Information must therefore be filed annually.

    The law provides students with the right to inspect and review information contained in their education records, to challenge the contents of their records, to have a hearing if the outcome of the challenge is unsatisfactory, and to submit explanatory statements for inclusion in their files if they feel the decisions of the hearing panels are unacceptable. COA students have unrestricted access to their own records; they may have copies made of their records at their own expense, with certain exceptions (in cases of delinquent tuition payment, or copies of transcripts from previously attended institutions).

    Education records do not include employment records, alumni records, student health records, or records of instructional, administrative, and other personnel which are the sole possession of the maker and are not accessible or revealed to any individual except a temporary substitute. Health records, however, may be reviewed by physicians of the student’s choosing.

    Students who believe that their education records contain information that is inaccurate or misleading, or otherwise in violation of their privacy or other rights, may discuss their problems informally with the registrar and/or the faculty member involved. If the decisions are in agreement with the student’s request, the appropriate records will be amended. If not, students will be informed by the registrar of their right to a formal hearing. Student requests for a formal hearing must be made to the Review and Appeals Committee, which will inform students of the date, place, and time of the hearing.

  • Review & Appeals

    The Review and Appeals Committee, a subcommittee of Academic Affairs, considers student proposals for senior projects and residencies, petitions for exceptions to requirements, and unusual requests for credit. This subcommittee also receives and reviews appeals for reconsideration of any other decisions regarding a student’s academic work, and assesses and evaluates fees related to the academic program.

  • Satisfactory Academic Progress

    Background and Rationale

    The Federal Government requires that the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy must be at least as strict as the policy the institution applies to a student who is not receiving assistance under the Title IV, HEA program. The policy is detailed in the COA College Catalog in the Academic Standing section and it is posted on the college website.

    The SAP policy also provides for consistent application of standards to all students within categories of students, e.g., full-time, part-time, undergraduate and graduate students and educational programs established by the institution noting the basic elements of the policy that measure progress.

    Academic progress is evaluated at least annually to correspond with the end of the last payment period.

    Qualitative Standard

    The qualitative measure of satisfactory progress is defined as receiving “credit” or a passing grade in an individual course or the appropriate credits (implying satisfactory completion) for an internship, residency, or final project. Further, although College of the Atlantic does not routinely calculate a grade point average, federal regulations require that by the end of the second academic year (measured as a period of time, not a student’s grade level), a student must maintain a C average or its equivalent. Courses recorded on the transcript as “credit” are considered to be at least the equivalent of a grade of C. After the second academic year, if a student by reason of failing courses or by passing courses with a grade of D, is, in effect, maintaining the equivalent of a grade point average of less than a C (defined as being below a 2.0 average on a 4.0 scale), that student is not considered to making satisfactory progress unless it is specifically documented through the College’s Review and Appeals Process that such academic performance will not impede a student’s ability to graduate.

    Quantitative Standard

    In addition to the qualitative measure of satisfactory progress, federal regulations require that a school set a maximum time frame during which a student is expected to complete his/her program. College of the Atlantic allows a student to attempt a maximum of five academic years plus one term in order to complete the required four years of successful academic work required for achievement of the COA Degree. This is based on a full-time enrollment of three credits per term equals nine credits in COA’s 3-term academic year. Another way of looking at it is to note that a student has 16 terms to successfully complete the equivalent of the required 12 terms of academic work. Therefore, the maximum time frame for completion of the College of the Atlantic Degree with financial aid eligibility is one and one third times the length of the 4-year program. A student with transfer credits has a shorter program length (36 required credits minus the number of credits transferred in). The maximum time frame for a student with transfer credit is calculated at the same one and one-third times ratio. This is the same as at least a 75% successful completion rate.

    This quantitative measure must be assessed incrementally. College of the Atlantic uses one year increments.


    Based on the full time standard described above, College of the Atlantic will allow for transfer credits, part-time enrollment status, periods of non-enrollment, etc., by requiring that a student must be successfully completing at least 75% of the academic work he/she has attempted in each increment in order to be considered eligible for financial aid funds. For transfer students, all eligible transfer credits are counted as attempted and completed and must conform to a grade of at least a C or 2.0 GPA.

    “Attempted work” is defined as the number of credits a student is officially enrolled for as of each enrollment period’s add/drop deadline. A student is considered to be successfully completing work that he/she has enrolled for (as defined above) if credit has been awarded or the work can be considered to be in progress, i.e. the potential for successful completion exists.

    Unsuccessfully completed work includes courses noted on the transcript as “NC” (no credit) as receiving a grade of F, or as receiving a grade below C if the equivalent GPA is less than 2.0 by the end of the second academic year jeopardizes a student’s ability to graduate from the College.

    Attempted work that shows “incomplete” or “extension” status will not be counted as work unsuccessfully completed, so long as the potential for “credit” status continues to exist. This category will be treated as work in progress as the college has a policy limiting the amount of time attempted course work can be considered in “incomplete” or “extension” status. However, students with multiple “incompletes” or “extensions” will be monitored closely.

    A grade of “W” (withdrawal) is counted as attempted work. Repeated work will count as work attempted and not be eligible for campus-based or institutional aid.


    As noted previously, College of the Atlantic measures academic progress in one year increments. However, progress is monitored throughout the academic year. Student academic progress is monitored as grade reports become available after the close of each of the three ten-week terms. Provided the student maintains the potential to achieve a successful completion ratio of at least 75% at the end of a one year increment, the student is considered to be making satisfactory academic progress.

    A special problem arises for students entering midyear or not enrolling for all terms in an academic year. Students entering the College for the first time who enter midyear or take an approved Leave of Absence from the College during their first academic year of enrollment will have a three-term (equivalent of one academic year) increment in order to achieve the minimum 75% completion ratio. This three-term increment may overlap two academic years. For all other students, the current academic year will be used as the increment during which satisfactory academic progress will be measured. In other words, in order to maintain satisfactory academic progress, all students except for those noted above, must maintain at least a 75% successful completion ratio by the end of the current academic year in order to retain eligibility for financial aid.

    With regards to qualitative standards, a student must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA by the end of the second academic year and, prior to the end of the second year, must maintain the potential to achieve a minimum 2.0 GPA by the end of the second year unless it is specifically documented through the College’s Review and Appeals process that such academic performance will not impede a student’s ability to graduate. This is also monitored as grade reports become available at the close of each term.


    Students who fail to meet the SAP standards will be placed on financial aid probation and have their financial aid suspended until such time as they have re-established SAP in conformance with the policy standards. They will receive a written notification of the results of any such evaluation that impacts their eligibility for T-IV aid. A student may appeal a decision to suspend financial aid through Review and Appeals if s/he believes special circumstances merit a review.

    If a student is not making SAP according to the school’s policy, the school may place the student on financial aid probation and may disburse Title IV, HEA program funds to the student for the subsequent payment period if –a) the school evaluates that the student is not making satisfactory academic progress; b) the student appeals the determination; and c) the school determines that the student should be able to make satisfactory academic progress during the subsequent payment period and meet the school’s satisfactory academic progress standards at the end of that payment period, or the school develops an academic plan for the student that, if followed, will ensure that the student is able to meet the school’s satisfactory academic progress standards by a specific point in time.

    A student on financial aid probation for a payment period may not receive title IV, HEA program funds for the subsequent payment period unless the student makes SAP or the school determines that the student met the requirements specified by the school in the academic plan for the student.

    It should also be noted that campus-based funds withheld from a student who has had his/her aid suspended may be redistributed within an academic year and may cease to be available to that student during said academic year even upon reestablishment of satisfactory academic progress at the discretion of the Financial Aid Office. In no case will any form of financial aid be awarded retroactively for a term of enrollment during which aid was suspended.

    Mitigating Circumstances

    Under certain conditions the normal standards for satisfactory process may be set aside. Essentially this would be when a student’s failure to make satisfactory progress can be definitively attributed to factors outside of a student’s control that negatively influenced the student’s ability or opportunity to successfully complete academic work. In such cases the underlying assumption would be that, in the absence of such factors, it can be reasonably assumed that the student would likely have done successful academic work.

    Normal standards for satisfactory academic progress may be set aside if a student can document that s/he was seriously ill or injured during the enrollment period in question. This would typically be documented with a written statement from an attending physician or the academic dean or academic probation officer if s/he is intimately familiar with the circumstances.

    If it can be documented that a student was severely affected by a personal or family trauma that could include the death or life-threatening illness or injury of a close relative, spouse, domestic partner or close friend, normal standards for satisfactory progress may be set aside for the enrollment period in question.

    Also, if it can be documented that an extreme disruption affected a student’s life such as divorce, separation or extreme domestic upheaval in the student’s immediate family or that a student was involuntarily and unavoidably affected by such an extreme disruption in the life of a close relative, spouse, domestic partner or very close friend, normal standards for satisfactory progress may be set aside for the enrollment period in question.

  • Self-Directed Study

    Independent Study

    An independent study provides an opportunity for the student to design his or her own course. It is intended to be student-initiated and carried out under the supervision of faculty or community sponsors. An independent study is appropriate for advanced or specially focused work not offered in the regular course curriculum, for study in fields not offered by the college, or study requiring work off-campus.

    First-year students are not allowed to undertake an independent study. No more than two independent studies are permitted within one academic year (they cannot be banked). Transfer students are permitted to take two independent studies per year starting from the first year they enroll at COA. Every independent study must have an on-campus project director. An on-campus sponsor is required if the independent study project director is an off-campus resource. In the event that the off-campus project director fails to generate a grade and written evaluation, the on-campus sponsor is responsible for providing this information.

    A student is not allowed to undertake an independent study if they are on academic probation or if a previous independent study is not complete. An independent study is considered incomplete until the proposal has been completed and the student’s self-evaluation and description of the study have been submitted to the registrar, along with the director’s grade and written evaluation.

    A cover sheet needs to be submitted with the proposal. Proposals need to include educational goals, anticipated learning resources, assessment criteria, and an approximate time-table of events. An honorarium is available to off-campus project directors pending receipt of grade and evaluation of student’s work. The cover sheet requires these signatures:

    • student;
    • study director—COA faculty, staff or non-COA expert (non-COA directors must submit credentials specific to the independent study, for instance a CV or resume, for review by the registrar);
    • faculty or staff sponsor (required when the director is not a member of the COA faculty);
    • advisor; and
    • academic probation officer.

    Group Study

    The group study is a student-initiated, one-term project, which provides an opportunity for collective pursuit of specific academic problems, topics, or issues which are not offered in the regular curriculum. Key factors in the success of any student-designed study at COA are planning, goal-setting, and evaluation. The content of group studies ranges widely. Some groups work on “hands-on” projects which have tangible products. Some groups are more seminar-like, with the objective being the sharing of information among members. Group studies are taken for credit/no credit only.

    First-year students and those on academic probation are not eligible. The group study administrator is required to submit an evaluation of each student to the registrar within three weeks after the end of the term. Participants decide how these evaluations will be done.

    The requirement that students describe these plans clearly in a proposal is intentional. In addition to review of the student’s planning, the Academic Dean and the Academic Probation Officer reviews the students’ proposal for its content and relationship to the rest of the curriculum, as well as academic eligibility. A group study must be approved prior to the registration period for the term when it will be done; deadlines for submission of proposals are published in the back of this catalog and online.

    For a group study to be established the following requirements must be met:

    • a minimum group size of five and no more than eight active participants; and
    • at least three of the five should share responsibility for the design of the group study and the preparation of the proposal.

    The proposal should:

    • contain a clear description of the educational goals and methods of the study;
    • identify the tangible products;
    • include a syllabus based upon a minimum of three hours of regularly scheduled meetings per week for a total of 150 academically engaged hours;
    • outline criteria for evaluation, being clear about what constitutes participation worthy of credit;
    • identify a faculty sponsor and any additional resource person;
    • identify a student administrator; and
    • contain an itemized budget. Budget support is available from the college for expenditure such as travel and supplies necessary to the learning activity. The maximum award is $300.

    Approval procedure:

    Proposals must be submitted to the academic dean by the published deadline (week three of the term prior to registration) with an itemized budget that includes expenses, which are essential for the learning to take place.

    The group study proposal cover sheet (available on the COA registration web page) must accompany all proposals and have all required signatures.

    At midterm, representatives of the group are required to make a progress report to the academic dean.

    Students may not take two group studies in the same term and no more than two per academic year.


    A residency is a three-credit, term-long educational experience designed by an advanced student. In order to do a residency students must have earned at least eighteen COA credits and be in good academic standing. In addition, only two residencies may be used toward graduation requirements. Residencies offer students the opportunity to put together their own cohesive program of study in order to explore areas which may not be provided in either the content or structure of the regular academic curriculum.

    Students should have a developed interest in an area that cannot be satisfied by the regular curriculum and have the motivation, work habits, and creativity necessary to pursue this interest in an academically responsible manner. Students must have an excellent academic record and be in good standing to participate in a residency.
Students have used the residency term to explore topics as diverse as: women’s health issues; the history of western thought; physical, cultural, and intellectual approaches to dance; and issues in psychology and the treatment of mental illness. A recent residency used quilting as a theme to explore color theory, organic and chemical fabric dyeing, computer aided design, and three quilting cultures. A residency allows a student to learn first-hand the educational value inherent in interdisciplinary study.

    A COA faculty member must be the primary director of a residency and have scheduled contact with the student throughout the term. This may be done by office visits (if the residency is local or on campus), via phone, or by e-mail. Any outside director to the project will assist the primary director in completing final evaluations. Residencies are taken for credit/no credit only. While students are encouraged to only do one, a maximum of two can be allowed.

    Students must submit a proposal to do a residency. The residency application form may be downloaded from the registration page on line or picked up at the registrar’s office. The application for the residency must be submitted to the Review and Appeals Committee by the registration deadline for the term in which it is to occur. (See schedule of deadlines in the back of this catalog and online.) Late residency applications will NOT be considered. Students are advised to register for alternate classes in the event that their residency application is not approved. All residency applications will be approved or rejected by Review and Appeals Committee before the end of the term prior to when the residency is to occur.


    Tutorials are faculty-initiated studies for one to five students which cover specialized material not available within the regular curriculum. They differ from independent studies and group studies in that faculty members, not students, are responsible for design and implementation. Tutorials cannot be used to fulfill resource area requirements (with the exception of some music tutorials).


    An internship is an off-campus, site-based (not virtual), supervised work experience in an area compatible with a student’s career path and interests. The successful completion of one eleven-week, full-time (forty hours per week) internship is an academic degree requirement. In addition to the four hundred forty hours of work, internships require that students are engaged for another 10 hours (totaling 450 hours) through internship/job hunting, application processing, writing the proposal, meeting with their advisor, writing and working with the writing center in regards to their internship report, and developing a community presentation.

    The experience allows a student to apply his or her knowledge and skills in the job market, develop new skills, clarify future goals, and establish important career contacts. Returning to a former employer, work site, or working with relatives is not considered an internship placement. Interns are encouraged to take part in training, meetings, and workshops held at their work site. A student may choose whether to receive academic credits (three) or complete the internship requirement for non-credit. Both meet the requirement.

    Prior to participation in an internship, a student must submit a proposal, a current resume, and a letter of commitment from the internship sponsor/supervisor to the Internship Committee. This is true for both the academic year and the summer.

    Registration, as with any course, is necessary for both credit and non-credit internships. Deadlines for internship proposals and reports are posted and listed at the end of the catalog. A student must be in good academic standing and have no outstanding accounts in the Business Office to enroll for an internship.

    The internship cannot be the final enrollment. A student must spend at least one term enrolled (for at least one credit) on campus following the internship and prior to graduation to integrate the internship with later academic experience. The following term may be the senior project.

    The Internship Committee expects the student to take full responsibility for submitting all paperwork in a timely fashion just as he or she would in the world of work. A final report is due twenty days into the next term of enrollment following the internship. The internship experience is incomplete until the final report is approved, the sponsor’s evaluation has been received, and the student completes a community presentation.
When the committee has approved the internship report, the director of internships and career services compiles a transcript evaluation including excerpts from the proposal report and the sponsor’s evaluation. All internship paperwork is kept in the student’s file in the Internship Office.

    The Internship Office maintains an active file of organizations, alumni mentors, and job contacts to help students find internships that are appropriate to their career needs and interests. The director of internships and career services is available to help students take advantage of the resources of the office and can give additional guidelines for proposing an internship.

    Current guidelines for writing proposals, resumes, and reports are available in the Internship Office and on the college’s website. Students are encouraged to meet with the director of internships and career services as soon as they begin to plan for their internship.

    In certain instances students may be allowed to take up to two three-credit internships. Students wishing to take a second for-credit internship must have strong support from their advisors, strong rationale for the need of a second internship, and an approved proposal from the Internship Committee.

    Student teaching may be used to fulfill the internship requirement. Students choosing this option must meet the standards set for both the Student Teaching Practicum and the internship.

  • Senior Project

    The senior project is a three-credit independent effort required for the human ecology degree. It is a significant intellectual endeavor, experiment, research project, or original work which is intended to advance understanding in a particular academic area and bring together the skills and knowledge acquired during the student’s college career. It is a major work at an advanced level, occupying at least a full term, earning three credits. This full-time commitment requires full tuition, no matter how many additional credits have been earned previously. The three credits of a senior project may be spread over two or more terms if the research requires more than ten weeks or if the student wishes to combine the senior project with course work in his or her final terms.

    With the exception of the spring term just prior to graduation, senior project enrollment may be combined with course enrollment even if the total load is four credits. If a student wishes to conduct a senior project, in whole or in part, in the spring term and enroll for one or more classes, registering for more than three credits total, he or she must gain approval through an appeal to Review and Appeals Committee prior to the end of the add/drop period for the spring term.

    Once a student registers for his/her senior project, he/she will have one year to complete it barring extensions. If at the end of that time period the project is not completed the student will be withdrawn from the institution. When a student re-enrolls to complete his/her project he/she must reapply through the Office of Admission and pay all applicable admission fees, as well as a special one-time senior project registration fee. The project must be completed by the end of the term. If the student does not complete the project in the allotted time, the next enrollment will be at the full rate of three credits with a new proposal required.

    A COA faculty member or a non-COA expert may serve as the senior project director. This person is responsible for the final evaluation and may or may not be the faculty member on a student’s permanent advising team. In addition, resource persons outside the college may be used, and in certain cases a $400 honorarium will be provided to them. Some approved senior projects take place primarily off campus; however, there is a requirement that a student must spend a term on campus following internship and before graduation.

    Review and Appeals Committee posts deadlines for submission of senior project proposals; the deadlines are listed on the back cover of this catalog and online.

    Students wishing to register for senior project credits must obtain a signature from one of the co-chairs of the Review and Appeals Committee on their registration form. In order to obtain a signature from a chair of Review and Appeals, a student must have submitted a complete proposal to the committee for review.

    The format for senior project proposals is as variable as the range of projects. Proposals should be readable by the general community and free of jargon. The relevance of the project within the context of a COA education should be clear. A completed proposal or intent form should be submitted to the Review and Appeals Committee before registering for senior project credits. Project proposal cover sheets are available in the Registrar’s Office and online with a checklist of required elements included.

    The following elements are absolutely essential in a senior project proposal:

    • statements describing purpose, methodology, schedule for completion, criteria for evaluation, manner of final presentation, and the role of the project director;
    • detailed description of the way in which this project is a culmination of the student’s work at COA, including academic background, career goals, and qualifications to do this work;
    • bibliography and/or other references which place the work in a theoretical context, demonstrating what will be new learning or original; and
    • a cover sheet bearing signatures of the permanent advising team members and the project director, including the preliminary project title.

    Note: senior projects without completed and approved proposals cannot receive credit, which may result in a student not being able to graduate.

    The senior project must be submitted to the library archivist no later than the end of the ninth week of the spring term. Failure to meet this deadline will jeopardize the student’s ability to graduate in June. Students are required to submit a description and self-evaluation electronically to the Registrar’s Office; the project director will submit an evaluation. Letter grades are not given for senior projects.

    The student is responsible for submitting his/her project in a format approved by the library archivist, following the guidelines posted on the registrar’s webpage. This includes a brief abstract (200–400 words, single spaced) describing the project. The project is cataloged by the library and added to its permanent collection of senior projects for reference by future students.

  • Writing Requirement

    There are two components to the writing requirement:

    1. Writing Course: The goal of the first phase of the writing requirement is to ensure that all students take a writing class shortly after starting their studies at COA. All entering students must take either one writing class or two writing-focused classes within their first five terms. Writing-focused classes are regular courses, such as literature or philosophy classes, which have an additional focus on writing, including a weekly workshop and peer-review session. (Students who matriculated at COA on or before spring term of 2023 and who scored a 4 or a 5 on English AP exam or 6 or 7 on the IB H1A exam are exempted from this portion of the writing requirement.)
    2. Writing Portfolio: The goal of the second phase of the writing requirement is to ensure that all students write at an advanced collegiate level. Students who begin here as first-year students, or with fewer than nine credits, must submit a writing portfolio once they have completed fifteen COA credits, or have been in attendance for five terms. Transfer students with nine or more credits are required to submit a portfolio by the end of their third term of residence. Failure to meet this requirement may result in the student’s not being allowed to register for the following term.

    While students who transfer in more than nine credits are exempt from the first year writing requirement, they are required to submit a portfolio during their third term of residence. The portfolio should be submitted to the faculty assistant at

    This portfolio, which is reviewed by a member of the team of faculty reviewers, should include:

    • three essays written for courses—these essays should explain a concept or issue;
    • one must demonstrate that you can analyze an issue or argue a position; and
    • one (that could be expository or argumentative) must be 5+ pages.
    • At least one essay must demonstrate that you can use and document sources appropriately.

    These essays are reviewed to ensure that students meet the criteria specified in the writing rubric. These criteria include the ability to:

    • write coherently;
    • organize a paper so that the writing moves logically from sentence to paragraph to whole paper; and
    • write sentences that do not interfere with the author’s intent or meaning and use sources consistently and appropriately.
    • When students demonstrate that they can clearly explain and/or address an issue and formulate and support a coherent and logical argument without significant mechanical or grammatical errors, they will have met the second component of the writing requirement.

    Students whose writing is flawed by minor mechanical errors or minor errors in documentation will be asked to work with a writing tutor until they have mastered the problem.

    Students with more serious writing issues will meet with their advisor and the faculty reviewer and/or the writing program director to collaboratively develop a plan to improve their writing. The development and implementation of the plan should not only be supportive but should allow the student to achieve a higher level of writing competency. The written contract will not only articulate the specific goals that must be met but also may include, but is not limited to, the following: taking other writing or writing-focused courses, working on writing in other courses, or working on a regular basis in the writing center.