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Glendening Hall 230

Non-Standard ELAW Petitions

Students must get approval from the Core Curriculum Committee to use an Independent Study, Directed Research, or non-credit experience — or to combine several difference experiences — for ELAW credit. In all cases, the experiences used must earn the student at least 4 credits (or, for non-credit experiences, take at least 160 hours to complete). Please note that if even you successfully petition to use a non-credit experience to satisfy your ELAW requirement, you will not earn any additional numerical credits towards graduation.

An Independent Study (such as POSC399) or Directed Research (such as PSYC397) is arranged in cooperation with a sponsoring faculty member. You must make these arrangements before formally petitioning for ELAW credit, although you are encouraged to speak with the Assistant Dean of the Core during your planning process.

A non-credit experience might include a Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program, an internship that you have not arranged through the Career Development Center, or a volunteer or paid opportunity that has a significant learning component.

In addition, it is sometimes possible to combine two experiences, such as a 2-credit study tour and a 2-credit Independent Study on a related topic — or two connected non-credit experiences of less than 160 hours — into a single ELAW experience.

To petition for approval, students must:

 I) Submit a Core350 registration form to the office of the Core Curriculum

 II) Along with the form, submit a letter with the following information:

     For credit-bearing experiences: 

  • the course number
  • the title of the experience
  • the name of the faculty mentor
     For non-credit experiences:
  • the location of your experience
  • the name of your supervisor
  • the dates and hours of your experience
  • documentation of the experience (a short letter from your supervisor describing your activities and confirming your hours)

III) For both credit and non-credit experiences, provide a description of the experience, including an explanation of how it makes you engage with an off-campus community. Explain how you will connect it to your overall educational experience, develop your knowledge base, critically reflect on the meaning of experiencing the liberal arts in the world, and balance the roles of participant and observer. 

sample petition

In the heading of your letter, include the following identifying information:
  • Full name (First, Middle and Last)
  • Date of petition
  • Student ID#
  • Current address (on or off-campus)
  • Permanent address
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Advisor's name
  • and Major (if declared) 

The petition letter must be signed if submitted in hard copy, or e-mailed from your SMC e-mail account. Petitions may be submitted in hard copy to Glendening 220, or e-mailed to

The Core Curriculum Committee meets monthly during the school year. For a petition to be considered in any given month, it must be received in the office of the Core Curriculum by the first of that month. Petitions submitted over the summer will be reviewed by a subcommittee of the Core Curriculum Committee on a case-by-case basis, pending the availability of committee members.  

Students will be notified by the Dean when the Committee has reviewed the petition and will either be given the outcome of the Committee's deliberation in writing, or will be asked to provide further clarification or supporting data before a decision can be made.