Intensive Learning Term (May Term)

The Intensive Learning Term, also known as May Term, provides students with the opportunity to learn in an immersive environment.

Types of IL Opportunities 

The College provides a wide array of Intensive Learning opportunities, including both travel and on-campus options. The majority of these courses are offered in a three-week term during May. Occasionally IL travel courses will run at other times of the year. IL Independent Study and IL Internship typically occur during May or summer. Here are the options:

  • Campus Courses - These courses are taught on campus, though some may include half-day or full-day trips off campus.
  • Field trip courses - These courses are taught mostly on campus but with overnight stays of no more than 5 nights off campus.
  • Travel Courses - These courses are taught mostly or entirely off-campus. The form to apply is on the Travel Course page, which is available here.
  • IL Independent Study and IL Internship - A student may apply to complete the IL requirement by doing an IL Independent Study or IL Internship. Note that these should be 400-level projects and normally within the student's major. They must meet the requirements of the department in addition to those specific to IL. Such projects must be undertaken when the student is not enrolled in other classes. Like all other IL courses, the IL Independent Study and the IL Internship require close interaction with a faculty mentor who supervises the project. Because of the specific IL requirements, many wonderful internships will not qualify for IL credit. To learn more about requirements and deadlines for application, see

Frequently Asked Questions about IL

  • Am I required to complete an IL course?  Yes, degree-seeking students have the four options listed above. The IL requirement may  not be satisfied with a course transferred from another college or a course taken abroad.
  • I am not seeking a degree from Roanoke College, can I register for an IL course?  Unfortunately, no. These opportunities are limited to degree-seeking Roanoke College students. 
  • I am a Roanoke graduate, can I register for an IL course? Normally, no. Once you graduate, you are no longer a degree-seeking student. Seniors who have not yet completed an IL course may be able to walk at Commencement and then complete the IL requirement. In those cases, the student hasn't actually graduated before IL. They are August graduates completing their final college requirements in May or summer.
  • Do IL courses have extra costs?  If you are a full-time student, the tuition cost of one IL course is covered by your regular full-time tuition for the year; no additional tuition is charged. Students who take travel courses pay all of the travel expenses. See the specific description of travel courses to find the cost of each. Typically these are $3000-$5000 depending upon the destination and duration of travel. Field trip courses also have fees to cover travel, but these are much lower. Some campus courses have fees to cover vans for day trips or special supplies. Normally book costs are much lower for IL courses than for courses in a regular term. See the college catalog for more details on general fees. See the listings for specific courses, whether travel or campus, to determine any fees.
  • Are there scholarships to cover the extra costs of travel courses? A limited number of scholarships are available for travel courses. The application for travel courses includes details on those scholarships. For 2022IL, about 35% of students got some scholarship aid. The average scholarship awarded was $1350. The neediest students (based on financial aid EFC) got around 40% of their course fee covered. 
  • Can I do more than one IL course? Students take only one course at a time during May Term. Some students choose to enroll in a subsequent year as well. Students must, however, pay tuition for the second unit of IL credit. See the college catalog for more details.
  • Can I live on campus while taking my IL course? Yes. If you lived on campus in Spring Term, you may continue to live on campus during May Term at no additional cost. If you lived off campus in Spring Term, but want to live on during May, contact Residence Life for more information. Contact Residence Life for all questions about rooms, leaving belongings on campus, etc.
  • Can I stay in my Spring residence hall room? Probably not. The Office of Residence Life can give you details about rooms. Please note that ALL students must vacate residence halls in the room between Commencement and the start of on campus IL courses. If this is a hardship, contact Residence Life. Students may be able to arrange to stay on campus for a modest nightly fee.
  • How do I sign up for a travel course? Applications for travel courses are accepted beginning in June. Apply by October 1 to be considered in the first round of applicants and have the best chance of being accepted. Application for all travel courses is by a single form submitted to the Academic Dean's Office. Find the form on the Travel Courses page linked from this page. All travel courses are enrolled "by faculty permission," which means that faculty use criteria they establish to select students from the applicants. Typically, students are selected based upon a short essay and previous interest in the topic. Some faculty members use gpa or class level as criteria; some do not. Students cannot register for travel courses if they are on academic or conduct probation. Students must also be in good academic and conduct standing at the time of departure.
  • How do I sign up for a campus or field trip course? Students register for these courses just like a regular term course through Self Service. Registration opens in October/November, at the same time that registration for spring classes begins, and continues through Spring Semester or until the course is full.
  • How do I sign up for an independent study or internship to satisfy my IL requirement? Use one of the forms linked in the section above. Watch the deadlines and follow the directions carefully. Applications are due by April 15 for projects to be completed in May or the summer.
  • When do I have to pay any extra fees? Course fees for campus and field trip courses are due to the Business Office by the first day of class.  Note that you will not receive a bill in the mail. Travel course fees are paid in two parts. A $300 deposit is due no later than December 1. The balance of the travel fee is due no later than February 1.
  • Are travel scholarships available? Yes.See the travel course application form, which is available on the Travel Courses page linked from this page. You can apply for scholarships at the same time  you apply for your travel course. The exception is the Fowler Legacy application which is completed online.
  • What days and times do IL courses met? Travel courses vary significantly. See the separate listing of travel courses for expected meeting dates.  Campus and Field trip courses follow the official calendar for days they will meet.  Meeting times each day vary significantly. Students should keep their schedules free of other obligations until the instructor specifies meeting times for the class. All-day field trips and evening hours, in addition to regular day hours, are not uncommon. Contact the specific instructor for more information.
  • Are regular college offices open during May? Yes, most offices are open on the same schedule as the rest of the year. Other services have more limited hours. Please check with these offices: Counseling Center, Health Services, Library, and Outdoor Adventure. Dining Service hours are are very limited. See their web page. Generally, they are open for about an hour for each meal.

Other Questions?

If you don't find the answers in the IL webpages, contact Dr. Bryan Parsons,, (540) 375-4967.