Intensive Learning (May Term)

The Intensive Learning Program, commonly called May Term, provides you with a distinctive learning experience in which you and faculty share academic immersion and full-time engagement with a single course.

Intensive Learning courses focus on a topic in ways that are not possible during the regular academic year. First and foremost, they emphasize active student participation. How? By moving beyond lecture to involve students in activities like debates, lab and studio work, field trips, surveys, simulations and reenactments, films, videos, and interactive media.

The College provides a wide array of Intensive Learning opportunities, including travel as well as on-campus courses. Most of these are offered during a three-week term in May. You must complete one Intensive Learning course before you graduate.

This is how we do classes in May

Each year we offer 30 or more new on- and off-campus May Term courses on subjects as wide-ranging as "Urbanism in Argentina," "Forensic Chemistry," "Law and Film" and "The Science of Cooking."

From our students' cameras

Watch Video students on a cruise in Alaska
See some exciting moments that our students have shared.
Some Maroons snorkeling off the coast of Palau during their May Term in 2012

As part of the Roanoke team that went to the Pacific island nation of Palau, Alex DeLaricheliere '13, helped to conduct research on globalization and health. The long-term goal of the team's research was to provide data that would help the local government select the most effective programs to reduce disease rates and increase nutrition and food security.

DeLaricheliere chronicled her experiences in a weekly blog she shared with the campus. "We don't just want to come in, do our thing, tell them what to do, and then leave," she wrote. "We want to do work that will help us create meaningful solutions that the Palauans themselves will actually want to implement. That's the only way we'll change the epidemic of non-communicable diseases that plague so many Palauans."

May Term travel courses

Students jumping in a desert

A sampling of travel courses:

  • Exploring Ghana through Service
  • Tropical Ecology on a Maya Landscape
  • Service-Learning and Peacework in Belize
  • Pausanias' Grand Tour of Greece
  • The American Tourist in Rome
  • Cultural Legacies in Contemporary Peru
  • Stockholm on the Water
  • Desperately Seeking Dragons in Great Britain
  • Emerging Adults in Thailand
  • Comparative Legal Systems in the United Kingdom
  • Seven Thousand Years in Malta
  • Arthurian England
  • Japan in the Long Twentieth Century