99s (Winter Study Independent Projects)

The WSP offers sophomores, juniors and seniors the opportunity to pursue independent projects of their own design, called 99s. A WSP 99 may provide potential benefits that, although difficult to obtain in regular semester classes, are valuable to your education and development. The Winter Study Committee (WSC) encourages 99 proposals for projects that are intellectually challenging, coherent, and rewarding.

  • More detailed guidelines to help you develop your proposal can be found here.

    In general, project proposals for 99s that do not contain a clear intellectual challenge, are not coherent or do not have adequate faculty guidance will be rejected. The burden of proving the merit and feasibility of the project rests with the student.  The WSC will be concerned about how the applicant proposes to complete the project and the sponsor’s method of evaluation.  Plan to prepare a paper of at least 10 pages or its equivalent.  It is crucial that the focus and content of the paper be carefully delineated prior to submitting your proposal.  Discuss this fully with your faculty sponsor.  Papers should demonstrate outside research, comprehensive thought, and knowledge assimilated and applied.  A daily journal alone or a paper that is merely a reflection on your experience will not satisfy the requirement.

    Off-campus 99s must demonstrate the educational value of working elsewhere, and should not be substitutions for courses that could be taken in the regular semester. Projects that take students away from campus, therefore, should be thought of as exceptional.

    A student cannot revise a proposal AFTER it is approved by the sponsoring department unless the Winter Study Committee requests additional information.

  • Winter Study 99s present unparalleled opportunities for experiential education.  Sponsors play a crucial role in assuring the educational value of the WSP 99 experience by guiding student preparation, assisting in project design, and monitoring execution and analysis through appropriate evaluation.   If you lack experience in the subject matter of a student’s proposal, the student must cite and consult with a faculty member who has relevant expertise.  If neither you nor the student seeking guidance know an appropriate alternative sponsor, refer the student to Barbara Casey, Winter Study Coordinator ([email protected]) or Paula Consolini, Director of the Center for Learning in Action ([email protected]) for help.   When you agree to sponsor a Winter Study 99, you should strongly emphasize to the student the importance of submitting a well thought out, complete and detailed proposal.  Proposals not thoughtfully completed will be rejected.  Projects that take students away from campus should be thought of as exceptional.  The nature of the project should dictate its being off-campus rather than the desire to leave campus dictating the nature of the project.

    Here are some general tips for a smoother and quicker 99 preparation and evaluation:

    Sponsor’s Checklist--Review the student’s 99 proposal confirming that it satisfies the following conditions:

    • Preparation:  The student’s proposal should provide evidence of adequate preparation to engage in the project being proposed.  Relevant prior coursework, research, work experience and a bibliography should be listed.
    • Intellectual Content: The proposed project should be focused, specific, and intellectually rigorous and feasible. Central research questions or problems to be addressed should be clearly indicated in the student’s proposal. It should demonstrate considerable effort on the part of the student to develop or further his/her knowledge of a subject. The student must explicitly and convincingly argue the intellectual nature of the project. Even when the project is a repeat of past Winter Studies simply pursued on as independent studies, the student(s) need to indicate explicitly how this project will be executed.
    • Reading List: The student should list readings already completed to research the proposal. The student should also list readings he/she intends to do during the course of the project. A bibliography consisting entirely of websites is not recommended. A Reference Librarian can advise on reference materials available in or through the library (The only types of projects for which the Committee does not require a bibliography are those sponsored by an outside institution, such as a language program).
    • Methodology:  A well-thought out, thorough approach to the independent study should be detailed in the student’s proposal. It is the sponsor’s role to guide the student’s development of methodology.  Care should be taken guiding interdisciplinary projects requiring hybrid methodologies. PLEASE NOTE:  If a student’s project involves human subjects in some way (e.g., interviews), the methodology should be cleared with the Institutional Review Board. You can find more information about Williams College policy as it relates to human subjects here.
    • Workload/level:  Work associated with the project should engage the student for at least 26 hours per week.

    The online Faculty Sponsor Form can be found here. For off-campus project, a letter of recommendation is also required.

    You must submit a faculty sponsor form for the 99(s) that you are sponsoring by 27 September. Department chairs need to let the Winter Study Coordinator know which proposals the department supports no later than 1 October.

    Note that all Winter Study work must be completed and in the sponsor's hands by January 27th unless prior written extension has been obtained from the Dean's Office.

  • If your Winter Study 99 is a RESEARCH project that relates directly to the focus of your academic interests/goals, you can apply for a Collin and Lili Roche 1993 Student Research Fellowship. You are encouraged to read the guidelines before applying. If you apply, since there is no guarantee you will receive one of these fellowships, the Winter Study Committee strongly recommends that you have a back-up plan to finance your proposal.

    Besides the Gaudino, Levien and Roche fellowships, there are no college funds to support 99 projects other than up to $1000 in financial aid, which you must apply for by submitting the FINANCIAL AID FORM.

  • Types of 99 projects that are educationally valid

    RESEARCH PROJECTS: You should be acquainted with the methodological issues, know something of the techniques and tools available and have demonstrated an ability to handle the type of problems defined and research to be carried out.

    DISCOVERY PROJECTS ON AN UNFAMILIAR SUBJECT OR ISSUE: The aim of such a project is to enable you to understand things more clearly than you might be able to otherwise. The typical discovery project will be on campus, under consultation with the advisor. However, language and other academic programs also fall into this category. While these take place off-campus, sponsoring institutions will provide the necessary guidance.

    INTERNSHIPS: The Winter Study Committee (WSC) supports internships that provide “an opportunity for active intellectual exploration—that is experience shaped by thought.” Proposals for internships, volunteer positions and research or teaching apprenticeships must have supporting letters from sponsoring institutions, and must describe the activities the student will be involved in, as well as the intellectual challenge of that experience. The student must be engaged in project activities for at least 26 hours per week and the expectation is that the student will have a reading list and research project/paper that complements the field study. Students cannot receive pay for work done for Winter Study Credit, though it acceptable to receive a small stipend to cover living expenses (travel, housing, meals).

    LANGUAGE STUDY PROGRAMS: Proposals to enroll in an academic program must include the program’s website or a formal brochure from the institution. The Winter Study Committee will rely on the supporting Language Department to review the content and rigor of the program to make sure it's acceptable for Winter Study credit.

  • Checklist of essentials for 99 proposals


    A sponsor should have expertise in the subject area of your project.  If you are unsure of whom to contact you might start by contacting a member of the department corresponding to the subject of your 99 proposal whom you have had as an instructor in a class.  If you have not worked with any of the department’s faculty, you should contact the chair of the department to request a recommendation, or contact Barbara Casey, Winter Study Coordinator ([email protected]) or Paula Consolini, Coordinator of Experiential Education ([email protected]).  Do this early, since you should consult with the sponsor when developing your proposal.


    This stage of the process should be carried out in close contact with the project sponsor. All WSP 99s must have a clearly defined intellectual challenge.  You should, therefore, be refining your ideas about a project and limiting it to something that can feasibly be completed during the time available.  99s solely involving physical challenges will not be accepted.


    In order to submit a successful 99 proposal it is essential that you do extensive background research into the topic so that you can demonstrate to the WSC that you are aware of the main contours of the field and where this project fits into that context.  In order to do this you will need to develop a detailed bibliography in consultation with your sponsor and a Reference Librarian.  The bibliography indicates that a proposal is well thought out and taken seriously.  It is one facet in demonstrating to the WSC that you have devoted considerable effort to developing or furthering knowledge of a subject.  The only types of projects for which the WSC does not require a bibliography are those sponsored by an outside institution, such as a language program.  As part of your preliminary research, you should also determine what resources or materials you will need (e.g., software, equipment, on-campus space, library resources).


    It is critical that all sections of the WSP 99 form be completed according to specifications. All approvals are contingent upon receipt of required information.


    Registration for Winter Study will occur in November. Notification of approval or rejection for all 99s will occur well before then to give you a chance to register for a regular course should your proposal be rejected.


    For off-campus 99s, it is important that you are aware of the dangers (violence, health risks, traffic dangers), discomforts (weather and climate, travel, long waits, availability, or lack thereof, of sanitary facilities) and realities of the trip (potential disappointments, planned visits disrupted, contacts not coming through, location not as nice as it seemed).  The websites for the State Department and the Center for Disease Control offer complete information concerning pertinent political, criminal and health dangers.  Before proposing an off-campus 99, you should note that if you are enrolled in a 101-102 language course you may be required to take the sustaining Program during the WSP and thus remain on campus.  Although it is a College rule that students may not be paid for work earning credit, the WSC will allow a student with an off-campus 99 project to receive living expenses, which may be offered for this purpose and not as pay.  The request to receive this living allowance must be approved by your faculty sponsor, the department and the WSC.


    If you are considering pursuing an Economics 99, in addition to reading the instructions given above, you should reference the Economics Department Guidelines for WSP Internships and Other 99s.  If you are considering pursuing an Anthropology or Sociology 99, you should reference the Anthropology & Sociology Guidelines for WSP Independent Projects.

  • For Winter Study 2022, Olga Shevchenko is the Department of Anthropology & Sociology's appointed coordinator of all WSP 99 applications. Students interested in applying to the department for sponsorship of a WSP 99 should adhere closely to the following procedures:

    1. The Winter Study Coordinator will send general information about 99s to upperclass students at the beginning of the semester.
    2. Students must email a copy (one or two pages, double-spaced, WORD format) of their independent project proposals to the department coordinator no later than Thursday, September 23. Please note that this date is earlier than generally required for submission of WSP proposals to advisors. The proposal should clearly articulate the essence of the project and should include an educational rationale for the project. If the project is to be sponsored by Anthropology & Sociology, the proposal must demonstrate its relevance to major themes in one of those disciplines. The proposal should include a concise but appropriate bibliography. If the project is an internship, students should describe in some detail the activities to be undertaken during the month. Prospective interns must demonstrate organizational approval for their projects (see #6). These written proposals are the basis for the department's decision on whether or not to sponsor a student's project.
    3. If the department gives initial approval to a written proposal, the coordinator may request revisions to strengthen the proposal. The turnaround time is short and students must adhere to the deadlines the coordinator sets. All revisions must be completed and re-submitted no later than Thursday, September 30.
    4. If the revised proposals are satisfactory, the coordinator forwards them to the department chair for final approval. The WSP Committee must receive all proposals from department chairs by Friday, October 8. Once students receive word that they have departmental approval for their projects, they should register for WSP online, making sure to email a completed copy to the department coordinator.
    5. Note that College rules mandate a ten-page paper or its equivalent to fulfill requirements for WSP. The final deadline for this paper is the last day of WSP. For this academic year, that is Thursday, January 27th. There are no extensions for WSP work. In submitting proposals through the department, students are committing themselves to finishing work on time.
    6. Each proposal for an internship must include a written statement from a person in authority where a student proposes to work. This statement can be very brief, indicating simply that a student does indeed have organizational approval for his or her project.
    7. The WSP Committee will inform students directly about the status of their proposals.
  • Economics is a subject that lends itself naturally to practical application and to learning through real world experience. An internship with a business firm, labor organization, or public agency can be an excellent way to deepen one's understanding of economics, both by seeing economic principles applied and by seeing theoretical assumptions challenged by real world evidence. Independent projects in economics (other than internships), both on and off campus, can also be highly effective ways of learning.

    However, to turn an internship or an independent project into an opportunity for effective learning requires considerable advance thought and careful planning. It is crucial that a project have a clearly defined and worthwhile intellectual focus and that the project should be designed effectively to allow you to pursue that focused study. As the Winter Study Committee's guidelines on 99's note, "The educational advantages of working elsewhere should be clearly and convincingly set forth by the student. The nature of a project should dictate its being off campus, rather than the desire to leave the campus dictating the nature of the project."

    In order to help make sure that the 99's the Economics Department sponsors meet the educational goals of Winter Study, we set forth the following requirements:

    1. You must have taken at least Economics 110 or 120. If there is an obvious elective that you should take before doing a particular 99, we will also make this a requirement.  For example, if your proposal related to issues of health and health insurance, we would require at least Economics 230 (Economics of Health and Health Care).  If it related to the Federal Reserve's management of monetary policy, we would require Economics 252 (Macroeconomics).  It is your responsibility to discuss this with your advisor.
    2. You must begin discussion of your proposed project with a member of the Economics Department well in advance of the deadline for submitting proposals.It is your responsibility to find a member of the Economics Department who is willing to act as your advisor. You need time to draft a proposal, and to nail down details of your arrangements. Very often more than one draft of the proposal is needed. This year the deadline for submission of completed proposals to the department is September 30. The proposal must be written or typed in the space provided on the form. You must initiate discussion of your proposal with a member of the Economics Department no later than (September 23).  We will not approve a WSP 99 or internship proposal that we first hear about after that date.
    3. Proposals should be approximately two typed pages and should include:
    • Your sponsor's name.
    • A clear description of the economic content of the proposal.
    • A detailed bibliography of the relevant economics literature.
    1. Responsibility for gaining access to the information needed to perform an intellectually effective internship or off campus 99 lies with you. You must provide the department with assurance that the needed materials exist and that your duties during Winter Study will allow you both access to them and time for thoughtful study. Interns must provide a letter from their sponsoring organization to the Economics Department chair confirming these arrangements prior to department approval of the WSP. These letters must accompany your proposal, which is due on September 30.
    2. You must read in the economics literature on the subject with which your internship or other 99 is concerned -- commercial banking, advertising, foreign exchange markets, etc. -- and prior to WSP -- write a brief (5 page) paper on some of the socially important questions that the literature suggests (e.g., bank regulation, liquidity crises, social role of advertising, destabilizing foreign exchange speculation, etc.). The aim is to develop further the intellectual groundwork for the study identified in the original proposal. This paper is due by the last day of reading period. If you do not submit an acceptable paper by this date, you will not be allowed to continue with the WSP during January.
    3. Interns must write a final paper (10 pages) summarizing the findings of their internship and relating them explicitly to the issues discussed in the proposal and earlier papers. The paper is due on the regular WSP schedule.
    4. Proposals for 99's other than internships must set out a clear schedule of work and means of evaluation. Unless compelling considerations argue otherwise, you should expect to include a paper as part of your work. As the Winter Study Committee notes, a daily journal alone is not adequate.

    These requirements demand of you considerable planning and commitment. We believe that WSP projects that conform to these requirements will prove satisfying and intellectually rewarding, and we will be pleased to sponsor them.

  • Besides 99s, there are many opportunities for students to do field study during Winter Study via a number of regular courses. There are also some travel courses that include field work.

    Students cannot receive pay for work done for Winter Study Credit.

    The deadline to submit a 99 internship is 30  September.


    Note: some of these courses have deadlines that are earlier than the regular Winter Study registration period. If you are interested in finding out more about any of these opportunities, please contact the pertinent instructor as soon as possible.

    ECON 23 Investing
    PSCI 21 Fieldwork in Public Affairs and Private Non-Profits (Same as POEC 21)
    PSYC 21 Psychology Internships
    SPEC 19 Healthcare Internships
    SPEC 21 Experience the Workplace: an Internship with Williams Alumni/Parents
    SPEC 24 Transformative Moments in the Education of a Preschool Child
    SPEC 28 Class of 1959 Teach NYC Urban Education Program