Experiential Learning

Experience is for everyone.

We believe it leads to better work, better careers, and better lives. We believe hands-on experience is a credible form of education that equips you with the tools necessary to transform our world.

Meeting in a conference room

Napier Leadership Experience

The Napier Leadership Experience is a transformational experience for students in the School of Individualized Study. Fifteen to 20 undergraduate students, all recommended by their peers, advisors, and/or faculty as strong candidates for structured coaching and mentoring opportunities, we invited to participate in the day-long retreat. Topics covered including honing students’ leadership skills, understanding leadership styles and best practices, cultivating networks, building professional profiles, and owning your personal brand. The retreat featured guided reflection and interactive presentations by top professionals in advertising, business, and communication. Follow up programming offered throughout the year continued to build on the skills and knowledge students learned during the retreat. In the spring semester, students were matched with RIT and Rochester community leaders for conversations and explorations of key dimensions of telling one’s story.
RIT trustee and alumna Sharon Napier, founder of Partners + Napier, launched the leadership experience in collaboration with SOIS.

Austin McChord meeting with RIT Leadership

The Gap Year Entrepreneurial Fellowship

Created in 2018, The Gap Year Entrepreneurial Fellowship allows students in the School of Individualized Study to take time off of school to focus on personal business ventures while still working toward their degrees. Students in the fellowship receive a $15,000 award to create the time and space needed to build their business, and they have access to mentorship from entrepreneurial experts at RIT.

The Gap Year Entrepreneurial Fellowship was made possible by Austin McChord ‘09 (applied arts and sciences). He is the founder of Datto and a venture partner at General Catalyst. McCord gave $50 million to RIT in 2017 and the Gap Year Entrepreneurial Fellowship was one of many initiatives supported by his gift.

I really hope that students come away from the gap year with a better idea of what’s possible and, really, a stronger belief in themselves about what they can build. I hope every single student feels like they are in much better control of their career and has a better idea of where they want to go and what they want to do.
Austin McCord

Fellowship allows students to be entrepreneurs and stay in school
RIT helps students take an entrepreneurial gap year
Sam Cammarata, co-founder and co-owner of Aesthetician Labs
Jeremiah Gryczka, owner of Mountain House Media
Amanda Zaremski, CEO of WinutRx

student standing near tools in a warehouse

Cooperative Education and Internships

Cooperative education (co-op) provides an opportunity to put classroom lectures, textbook theories, laboratory research, and a student’s personal initiative to the ultimate test—performance in the workplace. The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education at RIT provides a variety of workshops, webinars and panels on a wide range of career and job search strategy topics that are designed for your success

Cooperative education provides our students with a competitive advantage over graduates from other colleges and universities. Cooperative education in SOIS is part-time or full-time, paid employment directly related to a student’s plan of study, with an emphasis on one or both of their professional concentrations. Students can apply for a cooperative education after they have completed the first year of academic coursework, or once they have obtained sophomore status, which is determined by the accumulated, earned credit hours.

Student working on a laptop

Independent Study

Before you can propose a SOIS independent study project you need to meet with your advisor to ensure it fits into your approved plan of study.  After you have been given the approval from your academic advisor, please set up an appointment with Meg Walbaum by calling the front office at 585-475-2234 or emailing soisstudent@rit.edu.

Student framing a house

Service Learning and Volunteering

Service learning and volunteering can help you become an involved community member, an educated global citizen, and a leader who can actively engage in opportunities to solve challenging problems. RIT offers a range of opportunities to be involved in both the local Rochester community as well as the global community. Learn more about volunteering opportunities and how you can get involved.

Street view in Dubrovnik

Study Abroad

To prepare you for success in today’s global society, RIT offers a range of exciting study abroad opportunities that will challenge you, enhance your cultural understanding, and gain key career skills. You can immerse yourself in another culture and explore the world around you through programs led by RIT faculty, at RIT’s global campuses in Dubai, Croatia, Kosovo or China, or with one of RIT’s many study abroad partners.

RIT has more than 600 study abroad programs in 60 countries for as short as one week to as long as a full year. Programs offer a variety of locations, course offerings and costs. Planning early, discussing your plans with your academic advisor and working with a study abroad advisor to find a good program fit will set you on the path to have a memorable experience while staying on track to graduation. Start exploring RIT Study Abroad.

Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning logo

Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning

The Consortium for Innovative Environments in Learning (CIEL) is a working group of twelve institutions and programs that trace their roots to the best of innovative and reform practice in American higher education. CIEL’s commitment is to discover the best means to produce engaged life-long learners and thoughtful citizens. Constantly seeking for authentic teaching, assessment, interdisciplinary and experiential learning techniques, CIEL schools come together to learn from each other and maximize our impact on U.S. higher education. Learn more about CIEL and how you can become involved.

SOIS students interested in participating in an exchange program with a fellow CIEL school can learn more on the CIEL website or by contacting Meg Walbaum at mswcms@rit.edu. Deadlines for participating are March 15 for the fall semester and October 15 for the spring semester.