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Tutorial Proposal Guidelines

Designing a Tutorial

Tutorials are small groups of two to five students working closely with an instructor on a common topic, project, or skill. Designing a tutorial is an important part of the project, and while tutorials are usually student-generated projects, the students in the group should work together, along with the instructor, to discuss the aims and content of the study and produce the proposal, which consists of four components as explained below. Each student in the tutorial must complete a separate Tutorial Proposal form and attach a description of the group’s tutorial proposal.

As you begin to work on the Tutorial Proposal, please refer to the Student Checklist to ensure that you do not miss any important steps or deadlines. 


Four Components of a Tutorial Proposal

Description of Tutorial

The description should be modeled on the Gallatin course descriptions, which are available to view on the Gallatin Website. Like a Gallatin course description, this part of the proposal essay should describe the general theme and scope of the tutorial. The theme may be stated as a problem to be investigated, an issue to be explored, or an argument to be defended. The essay might indicate where the student is starting out and where s/he would like to get in terms of answering a question, exploring a phenomenon, understanding a theory, building a skill or other goal. It should articulate the theme and strategy of the study as clearly as possible within 250 words.


The student must provide a reading list with authors and titles, even if tentative, along with the proposal. The list should be comparable to a similar classroom course list (e.g., interdisciplinary seminars often assign 6 – 10 books, depending on length and complexity.) Readings may change during the semester as the study evolves, but the preliminary list should be appropriate for the number of credits, and should indicate the kind of works to be read. Proposals for creative projects should include readings, as well.

Work to be evaluated by the Instructor

The proposal should indicate the kinds of work (response papers, research essays, creative works, etc.) which will be evaluated by the instructor. Assignments should be comparable in extent to a similar classroom course. Provide details about the work, including the number, length and type of work to be submitted (e.g., two research papers, one 10 pages and the other 15; a portfolio of 20 exhibit-quality photographs plus four reading response papers of 2 pages each). Ultimately, it is up to the students and instructor to determine the specific format of the work to be evaluated by the instructor. The work for the tutorial should be submitted according to the schedule of due dates agreed upon at the outset, and as with a classroom course, late work may be penalized.


The student must provide a schedule of meetings which includes the topics, the readings, and assignments to be covered during each session. Students can revise and adopt their syllabus with their instructor once the semester begins.

Identifying an Appropriate Instructor

An instructor for a Gallatin Tutorial should be an NYU faculty member. In rare cases a professor from another university or college might be approved to instruct a Tutorial.

The Committee on Individualized Studies strongly urges students to locate NYU faculty to direct their tutorial. In rare instances a student may seek to work with a professor at another institution. There is no guarantee that a non-NYU faculty member will be approved as an instructor of a Gallatin Tutorial. Students seeking to work with non-NYU faculty members must attach the professor’s curriculum vitae (CV) with the proposal form for review by the Faculty Committee on Individualized Studies.

Students and instructors should be aware that faculty members (both full-time and part-time) are limited to supervising no more than one tutorial per term (Fall, Spring, or Summer). 

The Role of the Instructor

The instructor should help students clarify the proposal to ensure that it includes all four necessary components, and meet regularly with students to discuss readings and provide feedback on writing assignments or other projects.  At the end of the term, the instructor assigns a letter grade (A through F). Instructors with questions or concerns regarding the tutorial may speak with Gallatin’s Chair of the Committee on Individualized Projects (contact Kathe Ann Joseph (212-992-9822) for contact information).

Number of Credits and Meeting Hours

Generally, the number of credits for the tutorial is determined by the work to be completed and should be comparable to that of a Gallatin classroom course. For example, the workload for a 4-credit tutorial might include a reading list of 6 to 10 books (depending on their length and complexity) and approximately 20 to 30 pages of writing over the course of the semester. It is up to the students and instructor to determine the specific format of the work to be evaluated by the instructor. They may choose several short papers, or a longer paper written in sections as the work progresses. For some tutorials, other kinds of work may be appropriate, e.g., video productions, paintings, music compositions, etc. The work for the tutorial should be submitted according to the schedule of due dates agreed on at the outset, and as with a classroom course, late work may be penalized.

The number of credits determine the meeting hours. While the days and times of the students' meetings with the instructor are “to be arranged,” instructors and students meet for a minimum number of hours per semester: for a 4-credit tutorial, the minimum number of contact hours is fourteen (14). In arranging contact hours, instructors and students may choose to meet every week for one hour, every other week for two hours, or less frequently, if appropriate, as long as they meet for a minimum of fourteen (14) hours over the course of the semester. Contact hours for a tutorial that is less than 4 credits should be prorated accordingly (e.g., a 2-credit tutorial should meet for a minimum of 7 hours). As in any other course, the students should come prepared for these meetings by completing readings and written work on time.

Students and instructors may establish meeting times and places for the tutorial, however, long distance tutorials (where the students and instructor cannot meet together) are not generally permitted.

Credit Limitations

While students are encouraged to engage in independent work with the University faculty, the Gallatin program is designed for a careful balance between independent and classroom experience.  Graduate students may therefore take a maximum of 12 credits of Individualized Projects. This includes any combination of Independent Study, Tutorial, Internship and Private Lesson credit. If a student receives credit for Course Equivalency, this will decrease that graduate student's allowance of Individualized Project credit.

Composition of the Tutorial Group

Tutorial groups must include at least two students, but no more than a total of five students. At least one member of a Tutorial group must be a Gallatin student.  


Approval Process

Both the instructor’s and adviser’s approval of the proposal are required. While the instructor may agree to supervise the student’s work, the student’s adviser determines whether it is appropriate for the student to undertake a tutorial. After submitting the online Tutorial Proposal form, the student should follow up with both their adviser and instructor to make sure their approvals have been sent to Gallatin’s Faculty Committee on Individualized Studies.

Enrollment in a tutorial also requires the approval of the Gallatin Faculty Committee on Individualized Studies. Students should coordinate the submission of their proposal forms because the Committee cannot begin the review of a tutorial until they receive completed proposal forms from at least two members of the tutorial. 

Please note that submitting a proposal does not guarantee approval of a tutorial.


Proposal Submission and Deadlines

The completed tutorial proposal consists of:

  • adviser’s approval
  • instructor’s approval
  • completed proposal form
  • description of the study
  • reading list
  • work to be to be evaluated by the instructor
  • syllabus

Students must submit all of the above components by the appropriate semester deadlines.

Student Checklist

Students should follow the deadlines listed on the Student Checklist to ensure approval of their proposal.