Office of the Registrar

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Williams College, Williamstown, MA 01267

April 2017

To: Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors
From: The Winter Study Committee
Subject: Winter Study 99 Projects for January 2018

If you have an idea for a 99 that you wish to undertake this coming January, you need to get started now. After reading the "Winter Study Program (WSP) 99s” which includes guidelines for what makes a good 99, you should contact potential faculty sponsors as soon as possible. (If you are considering pursuing an economics 99, in addition to reading the brochure, you should reference the "Economics Department Guidelines for WSP Internships and Other 99's" online— If you are considering pursuing an anthropology or sociology 99, you should reference the “Anthropology & Sociology Guidelines for WSP Independent Projects” online— The 99 application is available online at

The timetable for application is:

Before September 28. Discuss project with potential faculty sponsor(s). Conduct background library research needed to construct a credible bibliography. Identify any resources (library materials, audio visual equipment, computers, etc.) that will be needed and confirm that they will be available. For internships and research apprenticeships, obtain a letter confirming the position (due December 1st at latest; include with application if possible). For academic programs, a formal brochure detailing the dates and course of study must be submitted to the Registrar's Office.

September 28. Completed application is due to faculty sponsor. If the faculty member agrees to sponsor the project, the applications will be passed on to the department for review and, if acceptable to the department, to the Winter Study Committee for a final review. THE WINTER STUDY COMMITTEE STRESSES THAT REJECTIONS OF INDEPENDENT PROJECTS MAY BE APPEALED ONLY ON THE GROUNDS THAT THE COMMITTEE WAS MISTAKEN IN REJECTING THE PROPOSAL. STUDENTS MAY NOT REDRAFT OR REVISE INADEQUATE PROPOSALS. It behooves you, therefore, to develop a strong proposal in the first place. There will be no second chances.

Please note that you still need to register for Winter Study. Registration will take place online from 18 October-22 October. At that time, you will register for your first choice (Note: if you are proposing a 99, that MUST BE your first choice)

Again, we urge you to start working on your proposal now. It takes time to construct a proposal that effectively conveys the creative or intellectual focus of your project and sets forth a clear, workable, structure. Most students report that the time and effort required to put together a successful proposal is paid back in the form of a richer experience during January. We look forward to reading your proposal.

Winter Study Program (WSP) 99s

The WSP offers sophomores, juniors and seniors the opportunity to pursue special projects of their own design, called 99s. A WSP 99 may provide potential benefits that, although difficult to obtain in regular semester classes, are valuable to your education and development. The Winter Study Committee (WSC) encourages 99 proposals for projects that are intellectually challenging, coherent, and rewarding.

Project proposals for 99s that do not contain a clear intellectual challenge, are not coherent or do not have adequate faculty guidance will be rejected. The burden of proving the merit and feasibility of the project rests with the student. The WSC will be concerned about how the applicant proposes to complete the project and the sponsor’s method of evaluation. Plan to prepare a paper of at least 10 pages or its equivalent. It is crucial that the focus and content of the paper be carefully delineated prior to submitting your proposal. Discuss this fully with your faculty sponsor. Papers should demonstrate outside research, comprehensive thought, and knowledge assimilated and applied. A daily journal alone or a paper that is merely a reflection on your experience will not satisfy the requirement.

Off-campus 99s must demonstrate the educational value of working elsewhere, and should not be substitutions for courses that could be taken in the regular semester. Projects that take students away from campus, therefore, should be thought of as exceptional.

A student cannot revise a proposal AFTER it is approved by the sponsoring department unless the Winter Study Committee requests additional information.

NOTE: There is no funding for 99s beyond that available from the College for financial aid students. Students should not solicit funding from departments or other College sources; those who do so will be disqualified from pursuing an independent study course for Winter Study.

Types of 99 projects that are educationally valid

  1. research projects on a familiar subject: You should be acquainted with the methodological issues, know something of the techniques and tools available and have demonstrated an ability to handle the type of problems defined and research to be carried out.
  1. discovery projects on an unfamiliar subject or issue: The aim of such a project is to enable you to understand things more clearly than you might be able to otherwise. The typical discovery project will be on campus, under consultation with the advisor. However, language and other academic programs also fall into this category. While these take place off-campus, sponsoring institutions will provide the necessary guidance.
  1. internships: The Winter Study Committee (WSC) supports internships that provide “an opportunity for active intellectual exploration—that is experience shaped by thought.” Proposals for internships, volunteer positions and research or teaching apprenticeships must have supporting letters from sponsoring institutions, and must describe the activities the student will be involved in, as well as the intellectual challenge of that experience. Similarly, proposals to enroll in an academic program must include the program’s website or a formal brochure from the institution. The student must be engaged in project activities for at least 26 hours per week. Students cannot receive pay for work done for Winter Study Credit.

Checklist of essentials for 99 proposals

1) find sponsor(s)
A sponsor should have expertise in the subject area of your project. If you are unsure of whom to contact you might start by contacting a member of the department corresponding to the subject of your 99 proposal whom you have had as an instructor in a class. If you have not worked with any of the department’s faculty, you should contact the chair of the department to request a recommendation, or contact Barbara Casey, Registrar ( or Paula Consolini, Director of the Center for Learning in Action ( Do this early, since you should consult with the sponsor when developing your proposal.

2) develop a project with intellectual content
This stage of the process should be carried out in close contact with the project sponsor. All WSP 99s must have a clearly defined intellectual challenge. You should, therefore, be refining your ideas about a project and limiting it to something that can feasibly be completed during the time available. 99s solely involving physical challenges will not be accepted.

3) do preliminary research, develop a bibliography, and formulate a proposal
In order to submit a successful 99 proposal it is essential that you do extensive background research into the topic so that you can demonstrate to the WSC that you are aware of the main contours of the field and where this project fits into that context. In order to do this you will need to develop a detailed bibliography in consultation with your sponsor and a Reference Librarian. The bibliography indicates that a proposal is well thought out and taken seriously. It is one facet in demonstrating to the WSC that you have devoted considerable effort to developing or furthering knowledge of a subject. The only types of projects for which the WSC does not require a bibliography are those sponsored by an outside institution, such as a language program. As part of your preliminary research, you should also determine what resources or materials you will need (e.g., software, equipment, on-campus space, library resources).

4) complete forms
It is critical that all sections of the WSP 99 form be completed according to specifications. All approvals are contingent upon receipt of required information. Be sure to take note of the following details: title: Make sure it is restricted to 30 characters (including spaces) for the purpose of transcripts; prefix: ALL 99 proposals must have a normal subject prefix, e.g., BIOL, WGST, RLFR, or SPEC—and the same prefix is used when registering for the course—otherwise it cannot be processed. “SPECial” is used for those 99s that do not fall within a regularly used subject prefix; off-campus address: If your proposal includes being off-campus for all or part of WSP, a reliable address where you can be contacted is required; confirming letter: If applicable, a letter supporting your internship, apprenticeship, or volunteer position is required for the approval of your 99; financing: There are no College funds to support 99 projects other than the new Roche Research Fellowship and those provided to financial aid students, in which case reimbursements are provided between 10-100% of the proposed costs, up to a maximum of $500.

5) register for winter study and observe deadlines carefully
You need to first register for Winter Study and list the 99 as your first choice. Registration for Winter Study will occur from Wednesday, October 18, 2017 to Sunday, October 22, 2017. Notification of approval or rejection for all 99s will be given prior to the closing of the registration period, allowing you the opportunity to amend your registration if your 99 is rejected. A 99 proposal must be completed online (, printed in duplicate and submitted to your faculty sponsor by Thursday, September 28, 2017. If you are on financial aid and wish to request scholarship aid for any costs associated with the project, the appropriate form must accompany the proposal. This form is available in the Financial Aid Office. Your sponsor should review both the proposal and an request for financial aid, complete the appropriate section on the proposal and then sign both items. The proposal must then be approved by your sponsor’s department before it is submitted to the Registrar by the department chair by Friday, October 6, 2017. You may only submit ONE 99 project per Winter Study Period.

Special Notes for Travel 99s

For off-campus 99s, it is important that you are aware of the dangers (violence, health risks, traffic dangers), discomforts (weather and climate, travel, long waits, availability, or lack thereof, of sanitary facilities) and realities of the trip (potential disappointments, planned visits disrupted, contacts not coming through, location not as nice as it seemed). The websites for the State Department ( and the Center for Disease Control ( offer complete information concerning pertinent political, criminal and health dangers. Before proposing an off-campus 99, you should note that if you are enrolled in a 101-102 language course you may be required to take the sustaining Program during the WSP and thus remain on campus. If you are a junior or senior, you should also check the Bulletin to see whether your major department(s), or program(s), requires you to take an on-campus WSP. Although it is a College rule that students may not be paid for work earning credit, the WSC will allow a student with an off-campus 99 project to receive living expenses, which may be offered for this purpose and not as pay. The request to receive this living allowance must be approved by your faculty sponsor, the department and the WSC.

Other Special Notes

If you are considering pursuing an Economics 99, in addition to reading the instructions given above, you should reference the “Economics Department Guidelines for WSP Internships and Other 99s” which is available online ( If you are considering pursuing an Anthropology or Sociology 99, you should reference the “Anthropology & Sociology Guidelines for WSP Independent Projects” which is available online (

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