Experiential Learning Requirements

Wells College is committed to programs and activities that encourage students to connect their classroom studies with hands-on experiences.

Experiential learning occurs through engagement in and reflection on planned activities outside the classroom contributing to personal growth, intellectual development, and an awareness of community and culture. To this end, the College approved an experiential learning requirement for all students (four year and transfer) as a part of the distribution requirementsBecause these experiences may take place off campus and at times other than during fall and spring semesters, it is important that students plan their academic schedules carefully. 

Experiences fulfilling experiential learning share the following objectives. They allow students to:

  • Apply course-based learning to situations outside the classroom.
  • Gain new perspectives.
  • Interact with others effectively.
  • Engage in on-going critical reflection of the experience.
  • Develop oral and written communication skills.
  • Develop individual outcomes for the specific learning experience that are realistic, intentional, and measurable.

Semester-long Off-Campus Study

Wells has both domestic and international off-campus study options available. Most Wells students participate in either the Wells College program (Wells in Florence) or an affiliated program. Wells in Florence is administered by Wells College and enrolls both Wells and non-Wells students. About 20 additional affiliated programs are available to Wells students, but Wells does not run these other programs on its own and instead helps students to access the educational offerings of an institution abroad or a program provider who offers courses abroad or elsewhere in the United States.

Learn more about semester-long off-campus study.

Intersession Off-Campus Study

Students may also study off campus over January during intersession through faculty-led courses. These short courses introduce students to areas of interest both aligned with and outside the faculty’s normal course offerings. The topics, which change annually, have included genealogy research in Salt Lake City taught by a professor of chemistry, anthropology studies in Hawaii taught by a professor of anthropology, tutoring on a Navajo reservation led by a professor of education, and study of theatre in London led by a professor of performing arts.

Learn more about off-campus study courses:
OCS 110. January at the Art Students League — New York City
OCS 215. London Theatre
OCS 275. Women and Public Policy Seminars
OCS 280. Women and Science/Technology Policy Seminar
OCS 285. Topics in Experiential Learning
OCS 300. The Anthropological Experience in Hawaii
OCS 305. The Anthropological Experience in Belize


One of Wells’ most successful and popular ways to meet the experiential learning requirement is through the Internship Program. Almost every Wells student will complete at least one internship during her or his years at Wells; many will complete more than one. Students may elect to participate in credit-bearing internships with individuals, organizations, or businesses. A student plans an internship by working closely with a faculty sponsor, the experiential learning and career services staff, and an on-site sponsor who supervises and evaluates the on-site work. In many cases, Wells alumnae/i help to arrange internships and act as sponsors. Internships may take place during January intersession, a semester, or summer. For each semester hour of credit, a student must work 40 hours. For students to earn academic credit for the internship, they must complete all necessary paperwork to register for the appropriate course. Students work with their faculty sponsors and on-site supervisors to develop learning contracts. The contracts as well as the internship agreement forms must be submitted to the Office of Experiential Learning and Career Services prior to registration.  Deadlines are the last day of add/drop for internships occurring in the fall and spring semesters and the last day of classes of the preceding semester for January intersession. Registration for summer internships is on a rolling basis but students must register and turn in their contract before beginning their experience. Students who turn in internship paperwork after the deadline may not be able to earn academic credit for their internship.

The purpose of the Wells Internship Program is to assist students to discover the relationship between the study of liberal arts and the application of knowledge or techniques from that study in an on-the-job setting. Internships provide an important link that allows a student to define and refine her or his career goals. Internships have frequently led to valuable career contacts and job offers. The Internship Program gives students the opportunity to explore careers in a wide variety of fields, such as advertising, publishing, human resource management, marketing, accounting, the arts, education, healthcare, international relations, banking, law, human services, and computer science.

Records of internship placements are maintained by the Office of Experiential Learning and Career Services and are available for student use. Students may also generate their own internship placements with the advice of the experiential learning and career services staff and approval of their faculty sponsors. Students are assisted by the staff with job-seeking skills such as preparing a résumé, writing letters of inquiry, and interviewing. A student should be aware that an internship may entail extra expenses and should consult parents or guardians if appropriate.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, Wells students completed over 218 internships in 21 states, Ghana, India, Taiwan, and Zambia. Of the graduates in the Class of 2014, 90% completed at least one internship during their college careers.

Internships for First-Year Students

From the moment they arrive on campus, Wells students are encouraged to explore career options. First-year students can complete internships during January Intersession through either discipline-based internships or the course WLLS 190 that allows students to explore their interests through individually-arranged field experiences. During January 2014, about 12.3% of first-year students were enrolled in a January intersession internship. 

Wells College promises a relevant liberal arts and sciences education. Intellectually challenging. Reinterpreted for today. Classroom teaching combined with hands-on learning. Wells graduates enter the world prepared for successful futures.

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