Experiential Learning

Overview

In the College of Liberal Arts, we believe that your education should include a variety of hands-on, real-world experiences. Through cooperative education and internships, student research, study abroad, the Grand Challenges Scholars Program, and local partnerships, the opportunities are endless for academic and personal growth.

Co-op and Internships

Students sitting around tables and working

RIT’s cooperative education program is a valuable part of your time here, one that gives you the opportunity to gain meaningful work experience before you graduate. It will also help you further define your career path and fully realize the value of what you are learning in the classroom. Co-op is perhaps the most extensive and intensive of the experiential education opportunities at RIT. It is full-time, paid work experience directly related to your course of study and career interest. In addition to gaining professional work experience and developing a critical network of contacts, co-op is often the best way to develop necessary professional skills like leadership, decision making, flexibility, and independence. It may also provide you with a salary—real income you can apply toward tuition, books, and living expenses.

A co-op is required or strongly encouraged in each of the undergraduate degree programs in the College of Liberal Arts. A variety of resources are available to help you through the process.

RIT’s Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education offers workshops and access to thousands of job postings and employer contacts to help you with your co-op search process. A dedicated career services coordinator with knowledge of your academic program will work with you one-on-one to create a professional resumé, polish your interview skills, and help you find a co-op that will give you great experience. Your faculty adviser will also help you hone in on your career goals and share his or her knowledge of current and projected trends in your industry.

  • CNN
  • The Hill
  • Gannett Newspapers
  • Carrot Creative
  • WROC-TV
  • Apple Inc.
  • Martino Flynn Advertising Agency
  • Bender Hammerling Group
  • New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
  • New York State Division for Youth
  • New York State Police
  • DEA
  • FBI
  • US Marshals
  • Secret Service
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Datto
  • Excellus Co.
  • Fidelity Investments
  • US Bureau of Census
  • US Internal Revenue Service, Washington, DC
  • US Securities & Exchange Commission, Washington, DC
  • US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's Office, Rochester, NY
  • US Treasury Department, Washington, DC
  • Memorial Art Gallery
  • George Eastman House
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Library of Congress
  • Genesee Country Village & Museum
  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
  • Smithsonian National Museum of African Art
  • Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute
  • The Rochester Zen Center
  • Office of New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand  
  • FBI Behavioral Science Unit
  • Harvard University Lab for Developmental Studies
  • Kresge Hearing Research Institute, University of Michigan
  • University of Rochester Psychiatry Department
  • New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA)
  • New York State Assembly Internship Program
  • OSTP internship Program
  • STPI’s Policy Fellowship Program
  • United Nations Association of Rochester
  • RIT University/Community Partnerships

Student Research

A group of students working on a project together

Curious minds like yours are never satisfied settling with the status quo, and we couldn’t agree more. Our students are constantly asking “why,” “how,” and “what if…” of issues big and small. We explore the intersection of traditional social sciences and humanities with cutting-edge fields in health, computing, science, and engineering. This interdisciplinary research, along with an emphasis on community engagement and global perspectives, improves our understanding of the world around us and makes it a better place to live and work in for all members of society.

While building a network of connections with professors at RIT, you are encouraged to find people who are performing research in an area of your interest. You may have the opportunity to be hired as a research assistant, gaining experience, earning a paycheck, and potentially fulfilling your program’s co-op/experiential learning requirement. Each year, students in the College of Liberal Arts co-author research that is published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at professional conferences. Most degree programs also include a senior thesis or capstone project where you’ll dive into a topic of personal interest.

  1. PROJECT T.I.P.S. (Trust, Information, Programs, Services)- Initiative focused on improving relations between law enforcement and members of the communities in which they serve.
  2. The Shooting Database Project- Studying how shooting databases can be utilized to guide violence intervention programs.
  3. The Gun Debate- Collecting information and points-of-view to further the national discussion on guns, gun violence, and gun policy.
  4. Empower- Exploring the differences between what workers are taught in school/training programs and what skills/competencies are required in the 21st century workforce.
  5. POWER- Studying skills gaps present in the Rochester-area photonics industry workforce.   
  6. Economic Motivations for Software Bug Bounties- Analyzing why software and web developers offer recognition and/or compensation to individuals who detect errors or security breaches in their products.
  7. Human-Environment Relationships Throughout History- Examining archaeological evidence to determine how humans hunted and farmed, as well as how constraints in their environment impacted how they lived.  
  8. Applied Transmedia Storytelling- Telling stories of complex fictional worlds across multiple media formats, such as books, movies, comics, television, etc., to create a cohesive entertainment experience. (Think fictional universes, like Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Marvel.)

Study Abroad

RITchie standing in front of a stone castle with his arms raised.

A truly global education, the kind that prepares you for personal and professional success in an interdependent world, knows no boundaries. That is why RIT maintains a comprehensive study abroad program that provides you opportunities for travel off-campus and beyond U.S. borders. You become immersed in a culture apart from your own while gaining an international perspective on specific areas of academic interest. More than that, study abroad can transform you personally, and give you a clearer view of the world at large. So get out there and explore!

There are a variety of exciting study abroad experiences available to students at RIT. A first step in the process is to identify how factors such as cost, level of cultural immersion, location, length of time, and coursework available will affect your program choice. Don’t worry—your academic adviser and a professional study abroad adviser will help you sort through your options. They can also let you know about any grants or scholarships that may be available to help you fund your adventure.

  • Ireland's Culture, Society and Justice System
  • Social Impact Design Field Experience in Haiti
  • Urban Ecology in Sweden
  • Ecology of the Dalmatian Coast & The Roots of the Croatian Wine Tradition
  • RIT Kosovo Peace & Conflict Summer Program
  • Summer Psychology in Croatia
  • Exploring a People and Culture in the Dominican Republic
  • Kyoto Language & Culture Immersion Summer Program- Kyoto, Japan
  • A Door To Italy- Genoa, Italy
  • Museums and Beyond: Art & Culture in Paris, Madrid & Rome
  • Study Abroad in Shanghai: Summer Accelerated Chinese
  • Study Abroad in Scandinavia- Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Semester in Argentina- Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Semester in Australia- Sydney or Gold Coast
  • Plus over 600 programs in 60+ countries

Grand Challenges Scholars Program

Water

The complex problems and opportunities facing humanity in the 21st century require a blend of science, technology, and engineering with a solid grounding in the liberal arts. Understanding social, cultural, psychological, and other important factors are key when developing effective and long-lasting solutions. As one of fewer than 63 schools in the world participating in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges Scholars Program, RIT students and faculty from the College of Liberal Arts and Kate Gleason College of Engineering are working together to improve life on the planet for all people by addressing 14 grand challenges:

  • Provide access to clean water
  • Advance personalized learning
  • Make solar energy economical
  • Enhance virtual reality
  • Reverse-engineer the brain
  • Engineer better medicines
  • Advance health informatics
  • Restore and improve urban infrastructure
  • Secure cyberspace
  • Provide energy from fusion
  • Prevent nuclear terror
  • Manage the nitrogen cycle
  • Develop carbon sequestration methods
  • Engineer the tools of scientific discovery      

 

For more information on the goals of the program, visit the NAE Grand Challenges and the NAE Grand Challenges Scholars Program.

RIT’s Grand Challenges Scholars Program is highly flexible, allowing you to customize the program to match your interests. You’ll take interdisciplinary coursework and collaborate with students majoring in RIT’s engineering programs on research projects addressing the grand challenges.  

 To participate in the program, simply let your academic adviser know you’re interested! He or she will walk you through the on-boarding process and register you for the appropriate classes. Once you join the program, you’ll work with an adviser and submit a proposal that identifies how you intend to achieve the following five core competencies:

  1. Research/Creativity – Mentored research or creative experience on a Grand Challenge-like topic
  2. Multicultural Understanding – Understanding of cultures, preferably through a multicultural/global experience, to ensure cultural acceptance of proposed solutions.
  3. Multidisciplinary – Understanding of multidisciplinary system solutions, developed through engagement.
  4. Viable Business/Entrepreneurship – Understanding, preferably developed through experience, of the necessity of a viable business model for solution implementation.
  5. Social Consciousness – Understanding that solutions should serve primarily people and society, reflecting social consciousness. 

You will be assigned a faculty mentor to advise you on your plan and progress toward becoming a Grand Challenges Scholar. You’ll also maintain an electronic portfolio of your work in the program which you can use to impress prospective employers or graduate school admissions counselors. Finally, at graduation, you’ll receive a medal and formal recognition as a Grand Challenges Scholar.

To learn more about the RIT Grand Challenge Scholars Program, contact the College of Liberal Arts GCSP coordinator Associate Dean Andy Herbert at amhgss@rit.edu.

Rochester area partnerships

High falls in Rochester

Connecting with the Rochester community brings a wealth of personal and professional opportunities to students at RIT. We partner with organizations in the area to extend our classrooms beyond campus and allow you unique experiences—think researching how penguins perceive the world or writing the script for a Halloween tour of a 19th century historic village. There are opportunities for research, working a co-op or internship, and connecting with leaders in the community for students in all of our degree programs.

RIT University/Community Partnerships is an on-campus resource that supports neighborhood revitalization activities in the city of Rochester while integrating community-based learning and research into RIT’s academic programs. University/Community Partnerships provides you with the unique opportunity to work on hands-on, real world projects with community leaders and neighborhood residents. Through course work, internships, co-ops, independent study, and capstone projects you can strengthen your academic and professional portfolio by partnering with individuals working to transform their communities.  Through University/Community Partnerships' initiatives, you apply what you learn in the classroom to projects identified as critical by individuals working to develop their physical environment (housing, lots, streetscape), to improve their quality of life (health, diet, exercise, art and recreation) and to enhance their skills (leadership, civic engagement, community building).

RIT and the Seneca Park Zoo work together on mutually-beneficial projects and research in areas such as animal cognition and perception, visitor engagement and education, and marketing and social media management. The zoo’s Center for Biodiversity Exploration is a direct result of the partnership with RIT—it’s an interactive experience for zoo guests of all ages to learn more about biodiversity and environmental health. Research on animal perception and cognition conducted at the zoo by RIT

The RIT-GCV&M partnership provides opportunities for you to combine historic and 21st-century techniques to innovate and enrich visitor experiences at one of the country’s preeminent living history museums. Since the fall 2016, RIT faculty, students, and staff have partnered with the museum in areas such as marketing, social media strategy and analysis, driving tourism through events, engineering a historically-accurate printing press, developing interactive digital content for visitors, designing exhibitions and curating galleries, and preparing STEM-focused educational activities. Located 20 minutes from campus, GCV&M is the largest living history museum in New York and the third largest in the United States. The museum campus contains 68 historic structures, 175 acres of nature trails, and a fine art gallery with paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures as well as 3,500 historic costumes.

Scholarships and Awards

Students dressed up, holding awards

We understand that as a student, costs can arise that are oftentimes separate from tuition.  Maybe it’s a co-op with your dream company, or a study abroad trip in a city you’ve always wanted to visit. Maybe you’re working on a research project and supplies are expensive. Whatever it is, we want to help.

That’s why we have funds set aside to help our students cover the costs associated with the hands-on, out-of-the-classroom things that make an RIT education so amazing. Your advisor will help you navigate the application process to give you the best opportunity to be selected for these funds and grants.

The College of Liberal Arts Student Research Fund supports research by students enrolled in liberal arts degree programs. Projects may include, but are not limited to, master’s theses, senior projects, senior theses, or independent studies conducted in any College of Liberal Arts department. Grants up to $500 can be used to cover the expense of project materials, software, postage, copying, and research travel.

The College of Liberal Arts Student Travel Fund awards grant money to students enrolled in liberal arts degree programs for the purposes of funding travel. Grants up to $500 can be awarded to cover travel costs associated with presenting original research papers at professional conferences nationwide and internationally, while grants up to $750 can be awarded to help fund a study abroad trip.

The Clark Internship Support Fund provides financial assistance to College of Liberal Arts students who wish to accept professionally valuable internships and co-ops that do not include sufficient levels of financial support. Funds from this program can help cover transportation or living expenses for students registered for a co-op or internship.

The Alumni & Friends Endowed Scholarship supports students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership abilities in the College or RIT. The scholarship rewards students who have exercised leadership in improving the life of the RIT community. Examples of leadership include but are not limited to: serving as an officer in an active club or student organization, organizing an important event, or making a significant contribution to the college or RIT community independently of any particular club or organization.