Directed Readings Guidelines For the Summer Service Learning Program

Think of an issue or topic that is related to the work of your SSLP site and your major or minor field of study. Write a paragraph proposal about what you would like to study/research. List any professors you would like to approach with this idea, or indicate that you do not know of a professor and need advice. Submit to Andrea,, as soon as possible. The deadline is March 1. For those students in the College of Arts and Letters, review the requirements for Directed Readings courses to be sure that you qualify.

  1. Set up a meeting with Ben to go over your proposal and together discuss what professor you would like to ask to work with you in the Directed Readings course. The deadline for this meeting is March 1.
  2. Make an appointment and meet with the professor before April 1. Bring your research proposal, the guidelines for SSLP Directed Readings courses, and send them the link for the electronic version of the SSLP 2016 annual booklet.
  3. If the professor agrees to work with you, meet to determine your summer reading list. You will need to do some of the readings from the SSLP packet on theological reflection and Catholic social thought. You will also need to submit the 17 journal entries on Sakai. Ask your professor if he/she would like to read these entries, too. The rest of the reading and writing assignments are determined by you and the professor.
  4. Send an email to Ben by April 15 with a final draft of your proposal and the professor's name and department.
  5. Discuss with the professor how you register for a Directed Readings course in his or her department for the Fall Semester 2017. If you are studying abroad in the fall, talk with the professor about taking the course in the Spring Semester 2018 when you return to campus. 
  6. During the summer maintain email contact with the professor.
  7. At the end of the summer you need to submit a 6-8 page version of your paper to the Notre Dame Club, the site supervisor and the Center for Social Concerns.
  8. In most instances students complete a 20-25 page paper by fall break. The professor submits your grade for the course at the end of the semester. If you or the professor has questions at any stage of the process, contact Ben Wilson.

Guidelines for Credit-Bearing Directed Readings and Special Studies for the College of Arts and Letters


Courses entitled "Directed Readings" are reserved for courses in which students meet with a faculty member to discuss, analyze, and interpret a set of agreed-upon texts in a given field of study. We recommend that the notion of “Special Studies” be used when students work closely with a mentor in the areas of performance, studio, and production. For students participating in a faculty member's research, we suggest that departments use the designation of “independent lab research,” instead of “special studies,” as has been the practice.

Directed Readings and Special Studies provide students with an opportunity to work closely with a faculty with some relevant means for evaluation stipulated by the instructor and home department. A Directed Readings could also be based entirely on an agreed-upon reading list. Overall, such an approach to teaching is a mark of faculty members' dedication and can enrich the undergraduate experience.

To ensure that students flourish, Directed Readings and Special Studies should be carefully planned before being approved. They should be exceptional in nature since the requirements of a specific curriculum should be fulfilled by courses regularly offered within the department or program. Students should have a compelling reason to undertake Directed Readings or Special Studies.


  1. Students should have a minimum GPA of 3.5 in their major.
  2. The course of study students propose may not duplicate or reflect content of regularly offered courses.
  3. The work should be as intellectually challenging and intense as a 3-credit class.
  4. Departments will normally limit to two the number of Directed Readings, Special Studies, or Lab Research classes to fulfill the requirements of the major.
  5. Students may register for one Directed Readings, Special Studies, or Lab Research per semester.
  6. Faculty members may grant up to five Directed Readings or Special Studies per semester.
  7. Faculty mentors and their students should write up a formal proposal with a list of readings and resources. Proposals should also include the faculty member's commitment to helping students in the following areas:
  • Develop specific timetable for consultations and submission or presentation of student work
  • Advise on possible sources of information, as well as methods of data collection and analysis
  • Provide feedback on a regular basis
  • Introduce students to other faculty who may be able to assist them
  • Offer constructive criticism

The proposal should be signed by the faculty member, the student, the DUS, and an Assistant Dean in the Office for Undergraduate Studies before the student is given permission to register for the course and/or given permission to receive transfer credit.