Academic Process

Journey Through a Prescott College Education



A student's first years at Prescott College are a time for building a solid academic foundation. Students participate in introductory classes or structured field projects, working closely with faculty members and advisors. After building a solid academic foundation students move on to advanced work. They assume increased responsibilities and pursue a broader range of learning experiences including independent studies, internships, and other off-campus projects. Students have the opportunity to work with faculty in tutorial relationships, serve as teaching assistants, co-researchers, or lead expeditions.


New Student Orientation is the perfect place for all incoming students to be introduced to the learning processes and tools used at Prescott College. The four-week orientation provides plenty of time for explanation of each subject, and each student can practice and perfect the processes that take place in a typical Prescott College course.

Faculty Advisor

Each student benefits from pairing with at least one faculty member assigned for the student's journey. This person is instrumental in broadening and, when necessary, narrowing the student's subjects of study. The faculty member also serves as mentor, role- model, networking resource, supporter, reference, and friend.

Competence and Breadth

At Prescott College, competence is the term for major, and breadth is the term for minor. Consisting of a minimum of 12–16 courses, a student's competence(s) must address five qualitative criteria:

  • Literacy in the field
  • Mastery of methodology
  • Interconnections between the competence and other areas of study
  • Application of learning
  • Personalization of learning

Consisting of 6–8 courses, a student's breadth(s) also addresses these five criteria but in less depth than a competence.

The Degree Plan

This sketches the academic map of the journey. Due three enrollment periods (about eighteen months) before the student intends to graduate, the Degree Plan includes:

  • An overview of courses and credits earned
  • Brief descriptions of competence, breadth, and liberal arts areas
  • Lists of courses completed and those to be completed
  • A tentative Senior Project plan and description
  • Additional honors or experience that contribute to competence or breadth

The Degree Plan is a living document that continues to evolve throughout the student's final three terms.

The Senior Project: Culmination, Bridge, Calling Card, Legacy

Prescott College differs from most other liberal arts colleges in that it requires every student, not just designated "honor" students, to design and carry out an ambitious Senior Project.

The Senior Project at Prescott College functions as both a demonstration of competence and a culmination of the undergraduate experience. It builds on the foundation of theory, method, and research that has been prepared by coursework, independent studies, practicum and internship experiences, teaching assistantships, and professional work. An opportunity for students to dynamically synthesize their learning, the Senior Project may take the form of an ambitious research project, a collection of original creative work, a curriculum plan and implementation, a studio art exhibition, a performance, a case or field study, or a challenging internship.

Another way of thinking about the Senior Project is as a bridge between a student's undergraduate career and the work after graduation. The Senior Project stands as a calling card that proclaims to graduate schools, prospective employers, and the world, "Look, this is what I'm capable of doing." For some students, the Senior Project is also a way of providing a legacy. Prescott College's Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, college newspaper, and women's resource center all began as student-directed Senior Projects.

Such projects obviously allow the College to collaborate with its students in ways usually reserved for graduate-level research projects. As a result, students are often challenged (and expected) to do graduate-level work. Students typically perform exceptionally well if they go on to pursue master's or doctoral studies.


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