Credit Based Learning

On this Page: Undergraduate Research | Peer Facilitation | BIS 495 Internship

Research Opportunities for IAS Students

IAS undergraduate students can choose to deepen their intellectual and professional interests by working closely with a faculty member on a research project. Research opportunities can help students earn credit toward the Interdisciplinary Practice & Reflection (IPR) degree requirement, and receive funding support through a variety of UW resources. Undergraduate research is particularly important for students considering graduate school or advanced study.

Various research opportunities are available to IAS students:

Directed Study or Undergraduate Research credit

IAS has various course options available to students who want to earn credit for directed study or undergraduate research:

  • BIS 398 Directed Study: Intended for students who are surveying existing research in a field. Not intended for students who will be producing advanced and original research.
  • BES 398 Directed Study in Environmental Science: Intended for students who will be surveying existing research in areas of environmental study or science. Not intended for students who are producing advanced and original research in this area.
  • BIS 498 Undergraduate Research: Intended for students doing advanced research that requires greater critical depth, independent reflection, and knowledge production than BIS 398. This course will also satisfy the Interdisciplinary Practice & Reflection (IPR) requirement.
  • BES 498 Independent Research in Environmental Science: Intended for students doing advanced research in areas of environmental study or science. The research for this course should require greater critical depth, independent reflection, and knowledge production than BES 398. This course will also satisfy the Interdisciplinary Practice & Reflection (IPR) requirement.
  • BIS 492 Senior Thesis: Intended for students doing an extensive independent research project on a significant scholarly topic. Students must enroll for 10 credits over two consecutive quarters. The student may earn an individual grade for each quarter of participation, or one grade assigned to both quarters once the project is complete.

Enrollment in any of the above option requires students to to identify an IAS Faculty Sponsor and submit the online Project Proposal Form which details learning goals, reading content, project activities, a communication plan, and a description of the final product or outcome. The Faculty Sponsor of the project will submit the Faculty Approval Form to authorize enrollment. Once both forms are submitted, the student will be emailed an add code for registration.

Undergraduate Research Database

IAS students can find research opportunities available year round at the UW and surrounding research locations by visiting the Undergraduate Research Program Database. This online database includes several hundred opportunities, and is updated periodically as new research projects are identified.

Summer Research Opportunity Programs

Summer research programs provide opportunities for students to engage in immersive research experiences in areas of study related to their major, or on topics they want to explore for the very first time. Many summer research programs provide funding support, faculty mentoring, and opportunities to publish or present research. IAS students can work with the Undergraduate Research Program to plan for summer research, find programs, and apply. Students can apply to summer programs hosted at numerous college campuses near and far. Visit the Summer Research Programs Beyond UW webpage for more information.

Peer Facilitation

Classroom & Teaching Experience for IAS Students

Peer Facilitation provides students the opportunity to gain valuable teaching experience and skills in facilitating groups of learners, and a chance to develop close academic relationships with faculty. IAS students may earn credit for this experience by enrolling in BISSKL 402 Peer Facilitation.

By listening, communicating, and engaging with IAS faculty and fellow classmates, Peer Facilitators provide instructional or teaching support for IAS courses in valuable ways. In this role, Peer Facilitators:

  • Create an engaging class experience that contributes to learning outcomes of the course, academic major, and School.
  • Support new students in their transition to the School of IAS by building meaningful coaching relationships with diverse individuals.
  • Use critical thinking skills effectively to make decisions in collaboration with the course instructor.
  • Improve writing and presentation skills, and become better organized in time management.
  • Learn about the processes and practices of college teaching and the student role as learner.
  • Gain deeper knowledge and insight of the selected academic subject area.

Peer Facilitation is a pre-professional training opportunity that is valuable to graduate schools and employers. IAS faculty also benefit from the Peer Facilitation relationship. Peer Facilitators can provide formative feedback on course assignments, course content and delivery, and how well the students in the course are learning.

Peer Facilitator Duties

Specific responsibilities assigned to Peer Facilitators will vary depending on mutual agreement with the course instructor. General duties may include:

  • course planning
  • developing and/or maintaining course site on Canvas
  • setting up classroom demonstrations
  • distributing course materials
  • leading class discussion, break-out groups, laboratory experiences, or other forms of collaborative learning activities
  • making presentations
  • tracking participation and student engagement
  • facilitating study sessions and tutorials, and providing feedback on student work
  • leading examination reviews and proctoring exams
  • hosting focus groups to obtain student feedback on class assignments or activities

Peer Facilitators may not serve as independent instructors for IAS courses, present course content that has not been authorized by the course instructor, or assign and submit course grades.


Eligibility for BISSKL 402 Peer Facilitation is based on the student’s interest and passion for the course subject area or material. The student must demonstrate adequate preparation, as evidenced by grades and/or previous experience in the area of proposed Peer Facilitation.

Although not required, it is generally useful that students seeking a Peer Facilitator role have developed a working relationship with the faculty member through prior coursework or other means. Most students who act as Peer Facilitators in IAS courses are invited to do so by the faculty member teaching the course.

How to Enroll

Before registering for BISSKL 402 Peer Facilitation, the student and course instructor should meet to develop a mutual understanding of the facilitator role with respect to duties, credits, and criteria for evaluation. After this meeting, the instructor should submit the online Peer Facilitation Enrollment Form.

BISSKL 402 Peer Facilitation is a variable credit course and may be taken for 2 to 5 credits, depending on assigned responsibilities. The number of credits for enrollment can be calculated based on the the number of hours spent each week on activities related to the peer facilitation role (e.g. student involvement in attending lectures, meeting with the course instructor, preparation, direct and indirect classroom support, etc.):

  • 2 credits will require at least 6 hours per week
  • 3 credits will require at least 9 hours per week
  • 4 credits will require at least 12 hours per week
  • 5 credits will require at least 15 hours per week

Through their enrollment in BISSKL 402, students will reflect on their peer facilitation experiences to develop greater self-awareness and confidence in their professional growth. This reflection may be in the form of a final paper or other documented project.

Students may complete up to 10 credits total under the BISSKL 402 course number as Peer Facilitators. BISSKL 402 is a Credit/No Credit (C/NC) course and may not be taken for a numeric grade.

BIS 495 Internship

The IAS Internship course (BIS 495) is a credit/no-credit course designed for students interested in linking their classroom education to practice-based learning in local for-profit, not-for-profit, and governmental organizations. It satisfies the Interdisciplinary Practice and Reflection graduation requirement.

The course allows students to apply the knowledge and skills gained in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (creative problem solving, collaboration, critical analysis and thinking, interdisciplinary research) to a variety of work environments. Students are encouraged to use the internship experience to analyze and assess potential employment opportunities and career paths.

Internship Stories:

Step 1: Course Eligibility & Information

Eligibility to enroll in BIS 495 requires that you:

  • Are an IAS student and have completed BIS/BEARTH 300
  • Have an internship and learning contract in place before course starts
  • Be in good academic standing

*Note: Students in the Interactive Media Design major are not required to take BIS or BEARTH 300 before enrolling in BIS 495.

Class Information

  • Variable 2-6 credits (see below)
  • The grading is credit/no credit
  • May count toward electives or toward the 20 additional IAS credits
  • Can only be taken once
  • Offered autumn, winter, spring and summer quarters
  • Sample BIS 495 Syllabus

Step 2: Find an Internship

To be admitted into course, you need to have an internship confirmed and a learning contract completed at least two weeks before the quarter for approval (Step 4 provides instruction on submitting the learning contract). If you need help finding an internship, Career Services can help. You can make an appointment to meet with Career Services staff and go over internship options.

Your internship must be a short-term educational experience that is related to your degree and future career aspirations. If your internship is with a current employer, it must have a mentorship component that is specific to that time frame and provide experiential learning and professional development opportunities that are significantly different from your current responsibilities. The internship must be concurrent with the class.

What is an internship?

An internship:

  • Provides a structured learning experience that has a defined beginning and end;
  • Creates opportunities to apply classroom knowledge in a “real world” professional environment;
  • encourages you to develop and refine skills that are transferable to a variety of work settings;
  • includes a position description with relevant and clearly defined learning objectives;
  • provides for supervision/feedback from a professional with expertise and background in that field;
  • includes resources, equipment, and facilities that support learning goals.

Internships previous BIS 495 student have completed

Step 3: Determine the Number of Credits

BIS 495 is a variable credit course. Credit loads vary with weekly hours logged at your internship site: 2 credits (4-6 hours); 3 credits (7-9 hours); 4 credits (10-12 hours); 5 credits (12-14 hours); 6 credits (15 hours or more). Work with your internship site supervisor and your IAS academic advisor to determine the proper number of credits for the course.

STEP 4: Submit Learning Contract for Admittance Into the Course

Once you have your internship confirmed and credits determined, submit the learning contract (signatures are not needed until the first day of class) two weeks before the beginning of the quarter to

A learning contract:

  • is a document that structures the course and shapes a robust learning experience;
  • has clearly defined learning goals that complements classroom learning with practical experience;
  • ensures that the intern and site supervisor have clear expectations about the internship;
  • must be submitted two weeks before the start of the quarter in order to receive an add code for the course.

Learning contracts will be reviewed within 10 days of receipt on a first come, first serve basis up to 2 weeks before the quarter.

Add codes will be sent once you are admitted to the course, and no later than a week before the quarter starts. If the contract requires revision, you will be contracted. The course is limited to 15 students and typically fills up well before the end of the previous quarter, so please plan in advance. Once the course fills we will start a waitlist, in the event that someone drops before the quarter begins.

We will review the learning contracts to assure that it:

  • is a structured learning experience that has a defined beginning and end;
  • provides opportunities to apply classroom knowledge in a “real world” professional environment;
  • encourages you to develop and refine skills that are transferable to a variety of work settings;
  • includes a position description with relevant and clearly defined learning objectives;
  • provides for supervision/feedback from a professional with expertise and background in that field;
  • includes resources, equipment, facilities that support learning goals.

STEP 5: Once Admitted into the Course


All students must:

  • Attend the three mandatory, virtual class sessions held Fridays in the 1st, 5th, and 10th weeks of the quarter (Summer the 1st, 5th and 9th weeks of the quarter). See time schedule for exact times. Students are responsible for coordinating the class schedule with their internship site.
  • Complete weekly assignments that integrate the course readings and the internship experiences.
  • Keep a field journal of your internship experience.
  • Create a recorded final presentation based on your experiences in the course to discuss during the final class period.

Have Questions or Need Help?

  • About course syllabus, eligibility, and assignments – BIS 495 Instructor Loren Redwood
  • Credits applied toward major and academic requirements – IAS Advisor
  • Internship search and learning contract specifics – Career Services,