There are a variety of ways in which students can customize their programs of study at Berea College.
Independent Majors are designed by students who wish to pursue an integrating idea or principle that cannot be met through a standard Berea College major program. Students will provide a rationale for choosing an Independent Major, a comparison with at least two four-year accredited colleges offering the same or similar programs as what is being proposed, a bibliography and list of resources available at Berea, and a Curriculum Guide and Curriculum Planner showing the requirements for the degree and how they will be completed within the number of terms allowed. While the list is not exhaustive, some examples of previously approved independent majors are: Appalachian Studies, Classical Studies or Classical Civilizations, Comparative Literature, Ecological Building Design, Peace and Social Justice Studies, and Sustainability and Environmental Studies.
These studies are designed to provide students with the opportunity to study topics not ordinarily covered in regular course offerings, to continue previous research, to undertake off-campus projects not otherwise available, or to conduct readings in greater depth in topics previously studied. These studies may be undertaken by an individual, or by a group of students interested in the same topic. Proposals are submitted to the Office of Academic Services and approved by the Academic Program Council.
Past examples include: Poverty in Developing Nations, Continued Readings in Cell and Molecular Biology, and Mass Media in Japan.
Berea College students can take advantage of a number of on- and off-campus opportunities to engage in a mentor-apprentice summer undergraduate research experience, including those funded by Berea’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects Program (URCPP), or by the Appalachian College Association (ACA) and other external sources.
As an example, the goals of the Berea-funded URCPP, similar to research projects funded from other resources, include:
- to enhance student learning by providing opportunities for the engagement of challenging, collaborative and directed projects in an apprentice-mentor relationship with faculty;
- to foster student-faculty interaction in creative work;
- to help students understand the critical interplay between collaboration and independent thought and action in any team effort to engage a complex, open-ended project;
- to enhance students’ communication skills;
- to provide experience that would be helpful to students who wish to pursue subsequent research and learning/creative opportunities (e.g., off-campus, summer research programs, or international learning opportunities);
- to allow students to build their self-confidence to pursue careers and further study beyond Berea.
- to supply experience that will help students make informed career and graduate school decisions.
In addition to the valuable research experience gained, students participating in a full-time (minimum of 8-10 weeks, 40 hours per week) URCPP- or other department-approved summer undergraduate research project may request to be registered by the Office of Academic Services for UGR 010 (for URCPP-funded projects) or UGR 020 (for other department-approved projects), which will result in earning a grade of “S” or “U” and will appear on the student’s college transcript as “Undergraduate Research.”
In an effort to further diversify its educational offerings, Berea College has established exchange agreements with a number of other colleges and universities.
Students interested in personally experiencing a culture and learning environment different from their own have the opportunity to study abroad through an arrangement with a growing list of universities outside the United States. Students should consult with the Center for International Education for a current list of those universities and the regulations governing those programs.
Students can spend a Summer term abroad. Summer study programs are offered by theKentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS), which provides not only strong academic programs, but also opportunities for independent learning and travel while abroad. Many KIIS programs are designed to help students improve their command of foreign languages, although the programs are not limited to language study.
In addition, Berea students can apply to the Berea Term Abroad program to spend a Fall or Spring Term abroad. Opportunities exist in most countries of the world and for most majors. Students generally prepare applications for Berea Term Abroad during their sophomore year using the information on international education available in the Study Abroad Resource Library, located in the Berea College Center for International Education. Approval by the Berea Term Abroad Committee assures them of the financial support needed to spend a term abroad during their junior year. An additional source of term abroad support is available to foreign language majors who can apply to the Foreign Languages Department.
Non-degree students are those taking courses for personal enrichment or for limited educational gain. This status is open to Berea College employees, Berea Community and Madison Southern High School students, and others within the community comprising Madison, Garrard, Jackson, and Rockcastle counties. In order to be eligible to take classes as a nondegree student, applicants must not be seeking a degree from Berea College. Other restrictions may apply, and further details are included in the application materials (below). Nondegree students must wait three years beyond their non-degree status before they may apply to the College for regular admission. (Note: This would not apply to Berea Community, Madison Southern, and Berea College employee students.)