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First Steps

What Is Community-Engaged Learning?

Historically, Vassar has emphasized the importance of learning beyond the classroom and the laboratory. Since 1949, our office has helped students earn academic credit for experiential learning, while simultaneously contributing their skills to hundreds of local agencies and organizations. Over time these opportunities have reached beyond our local community, based on our individual students’ academic interests and pursuits.

Community-engaged learning is part of the academic curriculum, and doing a community-engaged learning placement for academic credit is an effective way that Vassar students can get involved outside of campus. Community-Engaged Learning will help guide students through the process of finding an internship that is right for them. An internship allows students the opportunity to gain practical experience that in turn complements their academic work. It also allows them an opportunity to get involved in the Poughkeepsie and Hudson Valley community.


Getting Started

Students seeking an internship placement should make an appointment to meet with the director by contacting the office at 845-437-5280. Upon meeting with the director, you will complete an application form which will provide the information regarding what type of community-engaged learning placement you are seeking for the upcoming semester. The best times for these appointments are during pre-registration and the add period.

In order to confirm a community-engaged learning placement, you need to complete an Add Form from the Registrar's Office. You need to secure a signature from your academic advisor and from a faculty sponsor prior to obtaining the director’s signature on the Add Form.



  • All students are eligible to register for community-engaged learning beginning in the second semester of their freshman year.
  • Students must secure a faculty member to sponsor the academic credit. This faculty member will be responsible for assigning the academic component of the work. Students can do community-engaged learning under any department or program in which they have taken or are taking a course, provided the faculty sponsor is a member of the department or program. All normal department rules apply.
  • The placement should be coordinated with academic work assigned by the faculty sponsor. This might include a paper, a journal, assigned readings, and/or periodic oral reports.
  • Registration for community-engaged learning requires a Preregistration or Add Form from the Registrar’s Office, signed by both the academic (major or pre-major) adviser and the faculty sponsor. If the academic adviser is also functioning as the faculty sponsor, s/he should sign the form in both places. Community-engaged learning can be taken for ½ credit or a full credit, but most field work during the academic year is for ½ credit.
  • When all of the required signatures have been secured, the director of community-engaged learning will provide the final signature so the form can be submitted to the Registrar's Office.
  • Once a student is registered and the director has secured a community-engaged learning placement, an e-mail will be sent with an Internship Proposal Form and a confidentiality agreement, and with further instructions.
  • Students should check their Ask Banner account after registering to make sure the course has been added to their schedule and that the information has been added correctly. If there is an error, students should contact the Registrar's Office immediately, and be sure to CC OCEL@vassar.edu with the requested change. This will assure that the Registrar's records and the Office of Community-Engaged Learning’s records correspond. Checking this information will assure your transcript is correct.
  • Community-engaged learning for a half unit of academic credit requires 40 hours at the placement, to be completed over the course of the semester. A full unit requires 80 hours.

Pre-Registering for a Community-Engaged Learning Placement

The ideal time to register for community-engaged learning is during the pre-registration period of the previous semester. Some of the more requested placements require additional lead-time.  Pre-registration will allow that time. Students who are not sure what kind of placement they would like, or who want to learn about the possibilities will also benefit from an appointment during pre-registration.  You can make an appointment by calling the Community-Engaged Learning Office at (845) 437-5280.



The Office of Community-Engaged Learning strives to make community-engaged learning placements accessible to all students, whether or not they have access to a car or are able to drive.  Most placements are reachable on foot or by bus, and/or with the help of a student driver or taxi. There are various means of handling your transportation needs. They are as follows:

  • Bus. City of Poughkeepsie busses are free to Vassar students with ID, and there are bus stops across from the Students’ Building and at the corner of Raymond Avenue and Fulton Avenue, across from the college store.  Schedules are available in the Community-Engaged Learning Office and online. A live map is available.
    • Route CL changed in 2018 to include a stop at the corner of Fairmont and Collegeview avenues. The route operates seven days a week every 30 to 60 minutes from the Stop and Shop shopping center in the Town of Poughkeepsie at the eastern end of the route and the railroad station at the western end.
  • Student Drivers. On certain days, a student driver will use a Vassar community-engaged learning car to drive students to and from their placements. Students using this service and/or the taxi service or a community-engaged learning car will be charged a minimal $45 fee against their student account. Students must fill out the Community-Engaged Learning Transportation Form or call in their schedule each and every week to the Office of Community-Engaged Learning (845-437-5280) so that the office can create a schedule for the drivers.
  • Taxi. When student drivers are not available, we may arrange to send students to their placement in a taxi. Again, there is a $45 fee charged against the student account for the semester. Students must fill out the Community-Engaged Learning Transportation Form or call in their schedule each and every week to the Office of Community-Engaged Learning (845-437-5280) so that the office can call the taxi companies. The college will be invoiced for the transaction, so there is no need for any out of pocket payment, but tips are encouraged. In some cases, a bus will get you downtown faster than a taxi.
  • Vassar College Vehicles. For placements in the Hudson Valley, outside of the city of Poughkeepsie, the college has vehicles that community-engaged learning students can secure for the time they will be doing the placement hours. Community-engaged learning students can only use the vehicle for the purpose of going to and from their community-engaged learning placement. The vehicle cannot be used for any personal errands and cannot carry any individuals that are not listed with the Security Office as passengers. Again, there is $45 fee that will be charged against the student account. Clearance for use of the college vehicles requires completion of a defensive driving course and evidence of a valid drivers license. Information on how to go about fulfilling those requirements should be addressed to Sergeant Salvatore Incorvaia at saincorvaia@vassar.edu in the Vassar College Security Office.
  • Train. Students interning in New York City can receive a one-time $200 transportation stipend to help offset some of the transportation expense. Students traveling by train into Beacon can receive a one-time stipend allowance of $50.
  • Personal Vehicle. Students using their personal vehicle can receive a 20-cent per mile stipend reimbursement, not to exceed $75 for the semester. Please contact the Community-Engaged Learning Office for details.
  • Please Note: All stipend payment request forms need to be submitted no later than the end of classes in the semester.  Requests after that date cannot be processed for payment.