Academic Contract, Independent Study Project

The New College Contract

An academic contract, which corresponds to one full-time semester of enrollment at New College, contains four sections:

  1. Educational activities
  2. Short- and long-term goals
  3. Descriptions of academic activities and activities outside of the academic contract
  4. Certification criteria

Goals may of course change over time. Rather than committing to activities or outcomes, contemplation of goals provides an opportunity to imagine the future, and to reflect on how educational choices lead to academic achievements. Over time, successive contracts record new directions in thoughts and aspirations, and document the changes in a student’s intellectual and social development.

The student’s list of planned educational activities can include both semester-long (fourteen-week) and modular (seven-week) activities. Each New College full term course, tutorial, internship or Independent Reading Project is equivalent to one unit; one that is modular or module-equivalent counts as a half unit. At minimum, the student must enroll in, and remain enrolled in, at least three units throughout the semester. Enrollment in more units may be necessary to make timely progress toward graduation, and/or because the faculty advisor requires this.

Only activities listed under educational activities, when completed and evaluated as satisfactory by the appropriate New College professors, appear on the official transcript. Educational activities may be courses, seminars, tutorials, labs, fieldwork, internships, special projects, and the like. For each activity for academic credit, a New College faculty member is listed and is responsible for submitting an evaluation of student work. All activities undertaken as tutorials or internships require the instructor's initials on the contract.

Activities outside the formal curriculum, such as personal development projects or employment, have a place on the contract as well. They do not appear on the transcript, and, while they may form an important part of the student’s experience and play an important role in the discussion with the contract sponsor, a faculty member does not evaluate these activities. This section may also be used to describe in more detail any educational activities listed in the second section.

The advisor and student negotiate the criteria for satisfactory completion of the contract, called "contract certification." The certification criteria reflect an agreement between the student and sponsor as to what constitutes successful academic progress for a semester. These criteria usually involve a number of completed educational activities, but may include the completion of other projects as well, such as planning for the senior thesis or solving a specific academic problem.

The New College faculty member with whom a student develops the contract, and who signs it, is the contract sponsor. This professor serves as a mentor (or advisor) during the semester, helping the student integrate experiences and respond effectively to academic challenges. Though the sponsor is often an instructor for one or more of the student’s educational activities, this need not be the case.

The completed contract, with the appropriate signatures, must be submitted electronically to the Office of the Registrar by the eighth day of the semester (typically, Wednesday of the second week of classes—see Registration Part II). In exceptional circumstances the Division Chair or Associate Provost may sign the Contract, with the contract sponsor’s approval.

Contract Renegotiation

After the student submits the contract, the student may revise it in consultation with the sponsor, a process called "contract renegotiation." Educational activities may be added or dropped, and the certification criteria must be revised accordingly. The sponsor must endorse the changes. The deadline for contract renegotiation is Friday of the twelfth week of the semester.

4-Week Financial Aid Unit Drop Grace Period Deadline for Financial Aid Purposes

Courses dropped via contract renegotiation through the fourth week of classes will not count toward unit attempts in calculating Maximum Time Frame or Pace to Graduation for financial aid purposes. The deadline for this is published as the "Financial Aid Unit Drop Grace Period Deadline" in the academic calendar. (Other contract renegotiations may be submitted through the "Contract Renegotiation Deadline" published in the academic calendar.)

Semester Evaluations

At the end of each semester, the instructor for each of the contract's educational activities (listed for potential transcript entry) submits a narrative evaluation of each student’s performance to the Student Evaluation System (SES). In addition to providing details related to the student’s performance, this evaluation specifies whether or not that work is "Satisfactory," "Incomplete," or "Unsatisfactory."

Auditing a Course

Audit is a registration status allowing students to attend a course without receiving credit. Audited courses do not count toward the minimum full-time enrollment status of three units per part-of-term. New College of Florida degree-seeking undergraduate students may audit courses at New College with the permission of the course instructor.

Students may audit a course for personal enrichment or for review of certain segments of the course material. Auditing is not permitted during summer or the January Intersession. Audited courses are not recorded on the student's official transcript.

A student who wishes to audit a course must have the instructor of the course sign the student’s contract form and write the word “Audit” next to the course on the form. The instructor of the course determines the requirements for auditors, including rules concerning attendance and class participation.

A student may submit a contract or contract renegotiation form with courses listed to be audited during the contract renegotiation period. After the contract renegotiation deadline has passed, students may not change their registration enrollment from audit to satisfactory/unsatisfactory. All audits are dependent on space availability.

Preemptive Unsatisfactory Designations

A “preemptive unsatisfactory” designation may be assigned at the discretion of the instructor before the contract renegotiation deadline. Assignment of a “preemptive unsatisfactory” designation serves as a warning that the student will not satisfactorily complete the course for that term. At the contract sponsor’s discretion, that course may still be dropped before the contract renegotiation deadline. If the course remains on the contract after the evaluation submission deadline, the Office of the Registrar will convert the “preemptive unsatisfactory” designation to a regular “unsatisfactory” designation at the end of that term. Like all “unsatisfactory” designations, these converted designations remain a permanent part of the student’s academic record.

Incompletes and the One-Year Rule

For work designated as “Incomplete,” a faculty member may specify a deadline for completion in the Student Evaluation System; the deadline must be on or before one year from the first day of the semester for which the contract was written. If the faculty member makes no designation, educational activities that are “Incomplete” after one year from the first day of the semester for which the contract was written automatically become “Unsatisfactory.” For example, a course taken during fall 2013 and not completed becomes “Unsatisfactory” on the first day of classes of fall semester 2014. This practice applies to modular and full-term courses.

The deadline for the submission of semester evaluations by the faculty is Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. during the eighteenth week after the beginning of the semester.

New College does not assign letter grades or calculate grade point averages for NCF degree-seeking undergraduate students. New College’s academic program focuses on demonstrated competence rather than on the compilation of credits and grades. Achievement is recorded on the official transcript only for educational activities completed satisfactorily: courses, labs, tutorials, internships, independent study projects, and independent research projects. At the conclusion of each term, students receive an assessment of their performance followed by a narrative evaluation from the faculty member overseeing each educational activity. Evaluations are not intended as substitutes for grades and are never converted to grades. The narrative portion of the evaluation is a personal communication between the professor and the student.

Beginning with the fall 2016 incoming student cohort, narrative evaluations may be provided as a component of the official transcript, at the request of the student. Students who first entered New College prior to fall 2016 are responsible for providing narrative evaluations separately from the official transcript, if needed.

Since only current students have access to the Student Evaluation System, the Office of the Registrar strongly suggests students download a copy of their evaluations prior to graduation or leaving the College. However, students may request a set of their narrative evaluations once from the Office of the Registrar. Contact the Office of the Registrar for more information at or at 941-487-4230.

Contract Certification

The contract sponsor certifies the academic contract after evaluations have been submitted to the online Student Evaluation System. This is based on the certification criteria articulated in the contract. The deadline for contract certification is ten days after the beginning of the following semester. Like individual courses, contracts are certified as Satisfactory, Incomplete, or Unsatisfactory.

The Independent Study Project

The ISP requirement addresses five educational objectives:

  1. To train students to carry out independent research so they are prepared to plan and carry through an effective senior thesis.
  2. To supplement the curriculum by providing opportunities to cover areas or methods of study not usually available, particularly off-campus.
  3. To provide an opportunity for non-traditional, innovative, experiential learning projects in the U.S. or abroad.
  4. To encourage work-related experiences such as internships.
  5. To provide an opportunity for intensive involvement with one subject, as a change of pace from semester-long terms.

A student chooses a topic in consultation with a faculty member who agrees to become the ISP advisor. The ISP Handbook, and the ISP Workshop held in November of each year, provide guidance to students as to the types of ISPs that faculty encourage. Projects may be carefully defined at the beginning, or left open-ended and exploratory. The content and demands should be roughly equivalent to that of a term-length tutorial. A full-time, four-week academic activity, the ISP is incompatible with full-time employment, a regular semester contract, or a second, simultaneous ISP. One New College ISP counts as one unit. Three ISPs are required for graduation. A student may register for a fourth ISP. A fourth ISP may be necessary for completion of Area of Concentration requirements. To register for a fourth ISP, please reference the instructions below.

The first ISP must take place as on-campus study in order to assure the opportunity for frequent consultation between student and ISP advisor. When strongly justified by the educational benefits of a project, including a project completed abroad, a student may petition the Provost for a waiver of this requirement. To petition for a waiver, a student should send a petition form to or in person to Cook Hall 219. The petition can be found on the Resources for Students page. The petition should be accompanied by the completed Independent Study Project Description Form and a letter of support from the project advisor. Transfer students are not bound by this requirement, although on-campus study during the first ISP is strongly recommended. When practical, subsequent ISPs should also be done as on-campus study to permit advisor-student consultation.

Registering for the January Interterm ISP

The process of registering for an ISP has two steps: Registering and paying for the ISP, and submitting an ISP Description Form.

Step I

If the student has not yet satisfactorily completed the 3 ISPs required for graduation, the Office of the Registrar will automatically register the student for the January Interterm along with the fall registration, so that the student will be billed to pay for the January Interterm along with the fall semester.

The student’s faculty contract sponsor can approve withdrawal of that ISP registration; the student is responsible for seeking the sponsor’s signature on an ISP Add/Drop Form to request this (deadline: December 1, or the next business day if December 1 falls on a weekend).

If a student is not already registered for a January ISP but intends to do one, he or she may register for it during fall registration or during the fall semester, and pay for it as an addition to fall tuition. Registration may take place electronically if completed during the period before classes start, or it may take place through the ISP Add/Drop Form submitted to the Office of the Registrar (deadline: December 1). Students may not add a January ISP to their fall registration after the last day of fall classes.

Step II

In addition to registering and paying for the ISP, the student must submit an ISP Description Form signed by the project advisor and the fall contract sponsor. In order to complete the form, the student must articulate a title or topic for the ISP, a core bibliography, the form of the final project (e.g. critical essay, research paper, work of art, series of examinations, performance, etc.), and a description of the project including goals and procedures.

The Office of the Registrar will accept the ISP Description Form without penalty to the student until December 1 or the next business day if December 1 falls on a weekend. A late ISP Description form will be accepted by the Registrar until the ISP Renegotiation Deadline, which is 5:00 pm on the third day of the ISP period. The form must be submitted with signatures from the faculty contract sponsor and faculty ISP advisor. In exceptional circumstances the Division Chair may sign the ISP form with the contract sponsor’s approval. After the renegotiation deadline, the form will not be accepted. If the deadline is missed, the student forfeits payment for the ISP, and the ISP is recorded as Unsatisfactory.

Renegotiating the ISP

ISPs may be renegotiated with respect to topic, scope, etc. at the discretion of the original ISP advisor by filing a revised ISP Description form with the Office of the Registrar. The renegotiation deadline for ISP proposals is at 5:00 p.m. on the third business day of the ISP period. Renegotiation of an ISP Description form that was submitted on time will not be assessed a late fee. If a student is registered for an ISP and fails to submit an Interterm ISP Description form to the Office of the Registrar by the renegotiation deadline, the student forfeits payment for the ISP, and the ISP is recorded on the student’s permanent academic record as “Unsatisfactory.” Changes to the topic and ISP advisor after the renegotiation deadline require a successful petition to the Provost.

Summer ISPs

Students can earn ISP credit during the summer in two ways. With approval from their contract sponsor, students can pursue a summer internship for ISP credit under supervision of NCF's Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity; the evaluation for this ISP would be due before the start of the fall term at New College. The other option, with faculty sponsor approval and a completed Summer ISP Description Form, allows a student to enroll in academic activities at an accredited college or university for at least 4 semester credit hours (or 6 quarter hours). The credit hours must be earned with a grade of C or better at the host institution in order to receive transfer credit for an ISP at New College. Students who complete a Summer ISP abroad for academic credit need to submit off-campus study forms and documents at Since credit for only one ISP may be accepted in transfer, students should ensure they have not already earned transfer credit for an ISP.

May 2nd, or the next business day if May 2nd falls on a weekend, is the deadline for submission of the Summer ISP Description Form to the Office of the Registrar. The contract sponsor also serves as the ISP advisor on the Summer ISP Description Form. Completion of the summer ISP is due by the day before fall classes begin at New College. The official college transcript for the work must be received no later than the last day of classes of the subsequent fall semester. The contract sponsor and/or the host institution may set earlier deadlines for completion and transcript submission.

Cancellation of the ISP

If a student is registered for an Interterm ISP but fails to turn in an ISP Description Form by the last day of the first week of the January Interterm period, then the Office of the Registrar records the ISP as canceled, and the student’s ISP is recorded as Unsatisfactory.

ISP tuition and fees will be refunded to a student only in the following cases:

  • The student officially withdraws from New College during the semester preceding the ISP
  • The student is granted an Emergency Leave of Absence during the semester preceding the ISP
  • The student is dismissed during the semester preceding the ISP

If the student has Bright Futures Scholarship funding, ISP tuition and fees are subject to repayment. (New College would repay the State of Florida and the student would be liable for repaying New College.)

Off-Campus Study ISP Payment

Students engaged in a January ISP off campus (but not with a host institution) pay tuition and fees to New College. If, however, a student enrolls at a host institution to complete an ISP, the student must submit a request for waiver of New College tuition and fees. Students who elect to enroll at a host institution for their ISP must earn a minimum of 4 semester credits and send an official transcript to the New College Office of the Registrar upon completion of their course or program. Students who complete part or all of their ISP abroad need to submit off-campus study forms and documents at

Deadlines for Completing ISPs

All work completed as part of the Interterm ISP is due no later than the last day of the January Interterm. After that date, the ISP is considered incomplete or unsatisfactory.

A summer internship for ISP credit must be completed and evaluated before the start of the fall term at New College. A summer ISP through approved course work at another college must be completed by the day before the first day of fall classes at New College (or earlier, if specified by the host institution or faculty contract sponsor). The New College Office of the Registrar must receive the transcript by the last day of fall classes. (The contract sponsor and/or host institution may set earlier deadlines for completion and transcript submission.)

If a student has turned in an ISP project and has received no acknowledgment of his or her completed work in the Student Evaluation System, the student should contact the ISP sponsor and request that the professor indicate “All Work Submitted” in the Student Evaluation System. Appeals of ISP terminations, and of ISPs that are deemed Unsatisfactory because they were turned in after the deadline for faculty to evaluate them, will be heard by the Student Academic Status Committee (SASC), which can waive termination in exceptional cases.

Deadlines for Faculty Evaluations of ISPs

A January ISP that has not been evaluated as Satisfactory in the Student Evaluation System by 5:00 p.m. on the Wednesday of the eighteenth week after the beginning of the subsequent spring term will be designated Unsatisfactory. A summer internship for ISP credit must be evaluated before the start of the fall term at New College. The expected completion date for a summer ISP is the beginning of the subsequent fall semester at New College. The New College Office of the Registrar must receive the transcript from the host institution by the last day of fall classes.