Marlboro College

Academics The Plan of Concentration

Applications and Deadlines

The Preliminary Plan Application

This application serves as your formal request for permission to embark on the first year of the Plan. It follows completion of the Sophomore Review. The junior year is normally devoted to courses that are preparatory to project work.

When do you file a Preliminary Plan Application?
At the end of the second semester of your sophomore year OR at the end of the semester in which you will have earned 55 credits. The registrar will post the deadline each semester. Junior transfers will need to submit the Preliminary Plan Application by the end of their first semester at Marlboro.

The purpose of the Preliminary Plan Application is to:

  1. articulate your goals;
  2. organize your work for the next two semesters; and  
  3. inform the faculty of your goals and plans.

Before you fill out your application:

  1. Attend the Plan workshop for all second semester sophomores and transfers. It provides helpful information and an orientation to the process.
  2. If you are a World Studies Program student, confer with the director of WSP or your advisor to determine whether you have met the WSP requirements.
  3. Review the courses you have taken, by area, referring to the degree fields to be sure you have the foundation coursework necessary. Your Plan work should grow out of the courses you’ve taken and the interests you have developed.
  4. Consider the faculty with whom you have studied. Your Plan depends on a good working relationship with a faculty member.
  5. Select a Plan sponsor (or sponsors) according to where your interests intersect with the fields of expertise of faculty (see degree fields). (Consult with your advisor or the director of academic advising if you are unsure.) Remember: No faculty member is obligated to sponsor a Plan and usually will not if there has been no prior classroom contact with you. However, even faculty with whom you have had little classroom contact may have useful suggestions.
  6. Discuss your ideas with many people, including students.

Steps to complete your Preliminary Plan Application:

  1. The Preliminary Plan Application is available in the Academic Records section of the Marlboro website.
  2. Prepare your Plan application in consultation with your Plan sponsor(s).
  3. Plan statement: Write a simple statement of your intentions. Remember, this is a Preliminary Plan Application. We don’t expect to see a lot of specific detail. Details will emerge by the end of your junior year. “A study (exploration, examination) of _______________ with a focus on __________” may suffice. See sample statements below or contact the director of academic advising, Catherine O’Callaghan, at or x235).
  4. Courses and tutorials: With your Plan sponsor(s), come up with a list of courses and tutorials for your first year on Plan, including any classes that would fill in the needed gaps.
  5. Obtain digital signatures from your Plan sponsor(s) and, if you are a WSP student, from the WSP director.
  6. Once the dean has approved your Plan application (which could require further communication with you or your sponsor[s]),  the registrar’s office will distribute  a copy of the application to all faculty two weeks prior to the next faculty meeting. The faculty have an opportunity to comment on Plan proposals during this time. The registrar’s office will notify you if there are any questions about your proposal.

The Final Plan Application

The Final Plan Application specifically defines the Plan objective and the Project. It lists work completed during junior year and work projected for senior year.

When do you file a Final Plan Application?
The deadline for submission and distribution of the Final Plan Application is two semesters prior to the anticipated date of completion of the Plan. The registrar will post the deadline each semester.

Like the preliminary application, the Final Plan Application must first be approved by the dean of faculty and reviewed by the full faculty. Copies of the Final Plan Application are circulated to all faculty for final approval once the dean has approved them. This process takes time, so be sure to submit your application well in advance of the deadline. Students who fail to submit Final Plan Applications on time may be required to spend an extra semester at Marlboro before they can graduate.

Credit and residency requirements:
You need a minimum of 120 credits to graduate. Of these 120, at least 50 must be on Plan (You may earn more than 50 on Plan, but you must earn a minimum of 50). Up to 8 credits earned during your first and sophomore years may be applied toward your Plan. If your plan sponsor considers it essential, you may work away from Marlboro during your junior or senior year (e.g., an internship, study abroad program, etc.). You are required to register as a full-time student for your final senior semester.

Filling out the form:
The final plan application is available in the Academic Records section of the Marlboro website. Consult with your Plan sponsor(s) as you go through the process of filling out your Final Plan Application and use the explanations of the numbered sections (see below) to help you. If you have technical questions, consult the College Handbook (online) or see the director of academic advising, WSP director or associate director (if you are a WSP student) and/or the dean of faculty, as appropriate.

Once you have completed the application, obtain approval from your sponsor(s). The dean of faculty and the WSP director (if appropriate) then review and approve your application. The registrar will distribute copies of the final approved application to the faculty. During that time faculty have an opportunity to comment on plan proposals.

Step-by-step explanation of the numbered sections of the Final Plan Application:

  1. Faculty Sponsor(s): the faculty member named first is the primary Plan sponsor of record for administrative purposes. It is appropriate to have a co-sponsor only if another faculty member makes major contributions to the Plan. It is also recommended that the sponsors match the degree fields, that is, your primary Plan sponsor should oversee the degree field that appears first in all capital letters. Faculty in your chosen degree fields who are not sponsors or co-sponsors should be asked to be part of the committee for the oral examination, especially if you have only one Plan sponsor (see #8).
  2. Field(s) of Study: fields must be selected from the degree fields approved by the faculty. These fields are listed below and will appear in ALL CAPS. The degree field may be followed by descriptive sub-fields in title-case letters (e.g. ART HISTORY/Renaissance Painting; BIOLOGY/Ornithology; HISTORY & LITERATURE/Shakespeare; CERAMICS/Chemistry).

American Studies
Art History
Asian Studies
Computer Science
Cultural History

Development Studies
Environmental Studies
Film/Video Studies
Liberal Studies

Visual Arts

Students in the World Studies Program may also undertake a plan in DEVELOPMENT STUDIES.

  1. Summary of Plan and The Work: the Plan is a coherent program of study that may have multi-disciplinary components. A Plan summary is a statement about the areas—topics and/or theoretical issues—you want to focus on and the objectives you have formulated; it is not a list of the work that will be submitted for evaluation. The Work summary is a brief description of the work you will do in depth to address the concerns expressed in the Plan summary. This work should use the theories and methods appropriate to your field of study. The Work may take the form of a major paper or set of papers based on library, laboratory or field research; a presentation in the performing or creative arts; or any other effort or combination of efforts appropriate to the liberal arts.
  2. Background Work: non-Plan courses or work experience that is considered to be essential background work for a Plan.
  3. Preliminary Work on Plan: a list of courses, internships and tutorials taken in your junior year that are part of your Plan, totaling approximately 25 credits. Remember, up to 8 credits taken prior to your junior year may be applied.
  4. Final Year Work on Plan: a list of plan courses and tutorials you intend to take in your senior year, which will result in a minimum of 50 credits on Plan. Note: do not list non-Plan courses (courses that will not be part of the Plan evaluation process).
  5. Work to be Evaluated and Proportional Weights: all work on Plan is subject to final evaluation. Percentages should be roughly consistent with the time spent on each element. Note: At least one element must consist of formal written prose and must comprise at least 20 percent of the weighting. Each element of the Plan will fall into one of the following categories, with only the first two involving work prepared under faculty guidance:
    • Plan Work: Permission of the dean of faculty is required if the percentage total for all elements of the Plan project is larger than 50 percent. A percentage total above 75 percent is not permitted. If your Plan project consists of distinct parts, you may list them individually. No more than 120 spaces may be used to describe each component. Please indicate if the work is a paper, exhibit, performance, etc. These components are recorded separately on your transcript.
    • Other Plan Components: You should include here all other components related to your Plan project. While this may include complementary work in another discipline, background work for your Plan project(s) (historical, technical, etc.) or comparative work, the relationship to the main topic or question of your Plan should be very clear. Please note if the work is a paper, lecture, exhibit, etc.
    • Examinations and other Plan work prepared independently of faculty guidance:At least 20 percent of the material presented for evaluation must be in a form prepared by you without faculty assistance and be available to your outside evaluator. Such independent work or examinations normally cover the major fields or sub-fields of study; they may also cover areas of the Plan not addressed explicitly by the Plan project and supporting work.
  6. Oral Evaluation: The examining board for a student’s oral examination consists of the Plan sponsor and co-sponsors, a second faculty member if there are no co-sponsors, and an outside evaluator. Marlboro faculty who are not co-sponsors but who have worked with a student on Plan may be on the committee. The dean of faculty appoints an outside evaluator upon recommendation of the Plan sponsor; students are encouraged to suggest names of possible outside evaluators.

Note: At least one week before the oral evaluation, the outside evaluator must have copies of all exams, papers, journals, etc., which are part of the Plan. The outside evaluator should have the opportunity to evaluate all elements of the Plan and must have the opportunity to evaluate at least 90 percent of Plan work and all work prepared independently of faculty guidance. However, when a student teaches, performs or gives a public lecture, the outside evaluator may not be available. Therefore, such elements with weightings of more than 10 percent, or which are included as independent work, must be documented in a form available to the entire community. For this reason, such elements should not be included under work done independently of faculty guidance, as at least 20 percent of such work must be available to the outside evaluator. Weightings for a public lecture or class teaching must be kept to 10 percent or less. If such elements comprise more than 10 percent, special arrangements must be made with the dean of faculty. Exceptions to this rule may be granted by the dean of faculty, upon advice from the curriculum committee.

Sample Plan Applications

Sample Plan Descriptions
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