About Academic Credit

Since 2002, nearly 2,000 students from hundreds of universities across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand have received academic credit through independent study or transfer credit from an ISV partner university for their participation on an ISV program and successful completion of the course requirements. Former students describe earning academic credit for their ISV program as an incredibly effective and worthwhile learning experience.

If you wish to receive academic credit, it is your responsibility to seek approval for course credit from your academic advisor or a professor in your department. Universities (and faculties or departments within a university) have different rules regarding independent study and transfer credit. Approval may also depend on your major and the number and type of credit hours you need to complete your degree requirements. ISV strongly advises that you inquire within your department about receiving credit well in advance of your departure date.

For more details, view the Independent Study tab below. If you need further assistance, please email our office at info@internationalstudentsvolunteer.com

Independent Study

Hundreds of students from more than 150 universities across the USA and Canada have earned independent study or internship credits from their university for participation in an ISV Program. Independent study is an individualized course of study that you set up with your own professor, academic advisor or other faculty member and agree on the requirements. Students from dozens of majors; from language programs to nursing, business to applied sciences, and many more, have earned credit this way towards their degree requirements or as an elective. As the name implies, an independent study course relies heavily on your own initiative, and the reward is a unique learning experience that is specific to your area of interest.

Students pursuing independent study credit can choose to follow an ISV Course Syllabus in Community Development or Natural Resources Management that is specifically designed by university educators to complement the ISV Volunteer Projects and related issues, objectives and activities and make the most of the learning opportunities presented. The course requirements include:

  • Keeping a daily journal during the volunteer project*
  • Participating in all group discussions*
  • Preparing and leading a group discussion (optional)*
  • Participation in all volunteer project activities*
  • Writing a final paper regarding your volunteer project upon completion of your ISV Program (graded by your professor/advisor)

*Your ISV Project Leader can provide an evaluation for each of these components of the course (with the exception of the final paper), which is submitted directly to your professor.

Grading for independent study students following the ISV Course Syllabus is as follows:

Participation on the project10%
Term Paper40%

You can take the Course Syllabus to your professor, advisor or faculty member and work with him/her to design an individualized independent study course in the field of conservation, community development or any other relevant topic. There is a fee of $50.00 USD payable to ISV for this independent study course option, which includes:

  • Course Syllabus in Community Development or Natural Resources Management
  • Oversight and evaluation by your ISV Project Leader/Instructor for all on-site requirements
  • Submission of grades/evaluation forms directly to your professor by ISV’s International Education Director


There is no deadline to arrange independent study, however, you are encouraged to begin the process early to ensure that your credit is approved and requirements are determined well in advance of your departure date. It is best for you to advise ISV on your Project Preference Form (due 105 days prior to departure) that you are earning independent study credit, so that ISV can take this into consideration when your project placement is made.
Your faculty member or advisor determines the credits awarded for successful completion of an independent study course, according to your school’s guidelines.
Approach a faculty member, undergraduate advisor or administrator of an academic department.

Download, print out, and familiarize yourself with the Guideline for Arranging Independent Study and Field Course. Bring the guideline when you meet with your advisor.

ISV provides two Course Syllabi that are specifically designed to complement the structure and nature of the volunteer programs we offer in our host countries. With guidance from your advisor, you may choose to either:

  1. Follow the ISV Course Syllabus, or
  2. Develop a course outline and requirements with your professor that are better suited to your individual academic needs.

The two main subject areas for ISV Volunteer Projects are:

  • Natural Resources Management
  • Community Development

Follow the Course Syllabus best suited to your interests and/or academic requirements. Note that both subject areas are not offered in every destination country. For example, all volunteer projects in New Zealand and Australia fall under natural resources management, while all projects in the Dominican Republic focus on community development. If you are unsure which outline to use, please contact academiccredit@ internationalstudentsvolunteer.com.

On your Project Preference Form:

  • Check the box that states “I plan to earn academic credit through independent study.”
  • If you are following the ISV Course Syllabus, check the appropriate box to indicate this.
  • Write your professor/advisor’s name and email address in the space provided.
  • Note any course requirements that relate to your project placement in the “Additional Comments” section.

If you have already sent in your Project Preference Form, send an email to: academiccredit@ internationalstudentsvolunteer.com.

If you follow the ISV Course Syllabus for your independent study course, your ISV on-site instructor (Project Leader) will provide grading and assessment for your journal, group discussions, and participation on the project. A completed grade report form/evaluation will be sent by ISV directly to your professor. Your professor is responsible for grading your term paper (if applicable) and assigning your final grade.

Yes. ISV participants earning independent study have countless opportunities for learning about the local environmental and social issues, however, we recommend that your course of study is based on your observations during the program as well as relevant literature. Participants will not be permitted to conduct applied, manipulative or experimental research on humans or animals. Please contact us at academiccredit@ internationalstudentsvolunteer.com  if you have any questions about your individual course of study.

Yes, you can. Contact ISV at academiccredit@ internationalstudentsvolunteer.com and request an evaluation from your ISV Project Leader for your own course of study. Let us know what your requirements are to be evaluated and whether you have a specific form to be completed. Please note that there is a $25.00 USD fee payable to ISV for this service.

Please email us at academiccredit@ internationalstudentsvolunteer.com.  We are happy to assist you and look forward to you traveling and volunteering with ISV this summer!