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Tutorials and Independent Studies

Matriculated students—generally juniors and seniors—are encouraged, when appropriate, to enroll in tutorials and independent studies. Both of these types of study enable motivated students to extend the learning process beyond the limits of regularly scheduled courses.


Tutorials are limited to individual students or small groups and assume a degree of academic maturity on the part of the student. Tutors meet regularly with students to discuss reading and other assignments. Students receive periodic evaluations and a final evaluation. Up to 4 credits may be awarded for a tutorial. One credit is equal to 50 minutes per week (15 hours per semester) with the tutorial instructor, plus two hours of student preparation per week.

Independent Studies

Similarly, independent studies are limited to students who are capable of working at an advanced level with limited supervision. Generally, students may receive no more than 4 credits for an independent study, with each credit the equivalent of 37½ hours per semester of academic activity.

Permission to Register

Students must complete a Special Course Contract, have their sponsor sign it, and submit it to the Office of the Registrar by the end of the add/drop period each semester. This form is available in the Office of the Registrar. For tutorial and independent studies during summer session, please refer to Summer Session Policies below.

Eligibility and Restrictions

  1. Tutorials and independent studies are limited to Purchase matriculated students. (Nonmatriculated continuing education students cannot register for independent studies or tutorials.)
  2. The amount of credit agreed upon at the time of registration is the amount of credit to be awarded at the end of the semester. Credit may not be reduced at the end of the semester because of partial fulfillment of a particular course, tutorial, or independent study.
  3. Students may not count more than 16 credits of independent studies, tutorials, and senior project taken with one faculty member toward the 120 (or 45 upper-level) credits required for graduation. Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the appropriate Director.
  4. An independent study or tutorial cannot be used to fulfill a SUNY general education requirement. 

Summer Session Policies

  1. Only matriculated students are eligible to register for summer tutorials and independent studies.
  2. The content of summer tutorials or independent studies should be significantly different from courses offered during the regular summer session or academic year.
  3. Students must register, pay for, and complete all work during the designated summer session period.
  4. Grades are due at the same time as regular summer session grades.
  5. Summer tutorials and independent studies are approved only after ascertaining that the faculty member will be available in the summer to supervise the student’s work.
  6. Only full-time members of the Purchase faculty are permitted to supervise summer tutorials and independent studies, but they are not paid to do so. All students should be aware that many upper-level courses in the liberal arts and sciences are available to students in the summer, and tutorials should not duplicate these courses.
  7. In most cases, upper-level courses in the performing arts are not available during summer session.