Independent Work

Independent work is our way of preparing our students for a world without roadmaps, without operating instructions. At Putney, you will learn to be self-motivated and discover issues, actions and concepts that you care about. You will have ideas and you will want to share them with your community (and beyond). You will be inspired by your friends’ reactions and by conversations with your teachers. By designing and executing your own projects, you will strengthen your organizational skills, and learn to apply what you have learned.

Project Weeks

We believe that students learn best by doing and that there is no better way to understand what a student has learned than to ask her to apply her knowledge creatively and independently. Project Weeks are a cornerstone of our curriculum and continue to serve as a model for project-based learning across the country. They are intensive, 7-9 day periods, which happen twice a year. Students carry out independent projects inspired by curiosity and tied to their academic coursework. They are challenged to research deeply, forge connections between disciplines, and communicate their work in compelling ways. In advance of Project Weeks, students write a proposal and team up with a faculty mentor.

They may conduct one 80-hour project or two 40-hour projects. They may also choose to hop into one of the many small group projects that Putney faculty offer. It's a chance for students to chase their passions, but also to develop critical time and task management skills.

Visit An Evolving Archive of Past Projects>

Independent Studies

Working with a faculty sponsor, students may design an independent course of study during the fall or winter trimesters. Each course must be reviewed and approved by the Educational Program Committee, composed of Deans, faculty members, and fellow students.

Work Term

Students in good standing may submit a proposal to do a work term. This program is intended to provide students the opportunity to explore an area that might be of future career interest. This experience is conceived as a full-time but not-for-profit apprenticeship.

Senior Exhibitions

Senior Exhibitions are an opportunity for seniors who are in good standing to design and complete a Spring trimester independent project, ideally interdisciplinary, culminating in a body of work that will be exhibited. Students are expected to create a project that draws upon the breadth and depth of their educational experience at Putney.

Independent Study Courses

Independent Topics in Science

This course is designed to give highly motivated and independent students the opportunity to pursue scientific or technological questions of their own design, or for students to take on a challenge such as entry in a science contest. more>

Music Intensive 

Designed for musicians who would benefit from a focused and individualized setting in which to develop their skills, this course requires at least 3 hours of practice time per week and public performances. more>

Theater Intensive

This course is designed for advanced theater students interested in pursuing an aspect of theater, such as writing, directing, or performing a play. more>

Advanced Topics in Mathematics

This curriculum is responsive to student's interests, and allows for study of mathematical topics not typically covered in a traditional secondary school mathematics sequence. more>