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GSAS Students Permitted More Independent Study

Faculty Approves New Program Allowing Fewer Courses, Exemptions From Exams

By George H and Watson Jr.

Far-reaching changes for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences yesterday gained the approval of the Faculty at its regular meeting.

The changes, strongly supported by Dean Elder, are an attempt "to encourage students to do as much independent work in their residence here as is practicable."

Specifically, the new program will allow graduate students to take only eight half courses in their first or second year of residence. After the successful completion of such formal courses, a student will register with the Graduate School solely in terms of the amount of time he is spending in work toward a Ph.D.

By this plan, students will normally pass general examinations by the end of the second and third term of their academic residence, and then submit a thesis by the end of the fourth year of residence.

The changes, in addition, permit a department to exempt a student from final examinations whenever it has other adequate methods of evaluating his work.

Although the changes were not without opposition in the Faculty meeting, it is understood that they passed by a substantial majority. Elder had presented the same changes at the last meeting, but it was necessary for him to make slight changes of phrasing for the plan to win approval.

Responsibility on Departments

The Administrative Board of the Graduate School explained the new plan as "putting the primary responsibility for arranging graduate programs on the Departments, and also aiming to encourage more individual work on the part of our students."

The explanation continued: "The Board believes that increased freedom for individual work in the second year, where that is possible, would benefit a student in several ways. His self-confidence and self-responsibility would be thus increased; he would be given more un-interrupted time for continued work on what interests him; and, in general, the quality of his education should thus be improved."

Favored Independent Study

Last fall, Dean Elder also applied his ideas for increased independent study to upperclassmen when he advocated that qualified seniors be allowed to work independently of courses and exams.

At that time, Kenneth B. Murdock '16, Chairman of the Committee on General Education, supported Elder's ideas in principle, favoring "more liberty for the more qualified student."

Also at yesterday's meeting, the Faculty discussed "possible improvements in the instruction of upperclassmen."

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