Proposal Guidelines

Program Structure

Our goal is to create innovative programs that will profoundly impact the lives of our students. In a successful JBS program, students develop close working relationships with each other and with their instructors. Ideally, the curriculum reinforces their academic growth by helping to integrate their classroom learning and providing applications of their new understandings to real-world problems. 

Each 10-week JBS program will consist of an integrated set of courses addressing a common theme. Ideally, the courses are interconnected, creating a seamless overall program. Students are required to take all courses in the program. JBS should be an immersive program, meaning that the students meet four or five days each week for several hours in experiential, real-world contexts as well as in seminar settings.

Each JBS summer program will consist of at least 12 credits (e.g., three 4-credit courses or two 6-credit experiential learning courses). Each four-credit course will meet for a minimum of 40 contact hours. These  hours may include “outside-the-classroom” instruction, when the instructor is present. Students are also expected to complete an additional 420 hours of coursework outside the classroom for each JBS.

The Justice Brandeis Semester follows the regular summer school calendar.

The program is expected to be offered multiple summers and take place mostly on the Waltham campus and in the United States. Proposals that take place overseas for the majority of the program will be considered a Brandeis faculty-led study abroad program, and will follow these guidelines. Such proposals should be submitted at least 18 months in advance of the anticipated program start date.


Each JBS program is expected to enroll 12 to 15 students. The minimum number of students expected for viable programs is 10. Most will not enroll more than 20 students. Non-Brandeis students may apply as well.

Students who enroll in a JBS program must take all of the courses offered within the program; they may not enroll in a subset or portion (that is, only four credits or only six credits) of a Justice Brandeis Semester curriculum. Courses that have been offered through the Brandeis Summer School may be repurposed for inclusion in a JBS program, but a JBS curriculum may not include current Summer School offerings, and Summer School students may not enroll in a subset of summer JBS program courses.

Brandeis master's students may enroll in JBS programs at the discretion of the respective program, provided that the student meets admissions criteria and that space is available. Admissions preference will be given to undergraduate students.

All courses in a JBS program must be taken for a letter grade, with the exception of already approved credit/no-credit courses.

Program Expense Budgets

Each JBS is expected to submit a budget annually for the anticipated expenses for their JBS program. The range of expenses to be covered, excluding faculty salaries, will typically not exceed $10,000 per program for an estimated 15 students. This budget is subject to the number of students enrolled and is offered as a expense ceiling rather than a guarantee. Programs with fewer students will have accordingly smaller budgets. In addition to achieving its pedagogical goals, the JBS program is an attempt to meet financial challenges facing the university, and thus expenses associated with proposals should be kept to the minimum level possible.

Transportation (e.g., air/train travel) and housing expenses for out-of-state JBS programs will be billed separately. Some local travel may be provided by the program, through the experiential learning program van, the Summer School van or a van/bus rental.

Approval Process

All proposals must be approved by your department chair, the JBS Committee, the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and the dean of arts and sciences. New courses must be approved in the standard manner, by department/program, school councils and dean (including six-credit experiential learning courses. See experiential learning practicum guidelines.

JBS proposals will be reviewed for approval based on the following criteria: academic coherence, excellence and feasibility; expected appeal to undergraduates; financial viability; and health and safety.

Proposal Format

Please answer all of the following in your proposal:

  1. What is the title of your proposed Justice Brandeis Semester?
  2. Please include a four-paragraph description of your program, suitable for posting on the JBS website and usable in other marketing efforts.
  3. Please include a rationale for the program. Why is this program important? Does it fill a demonstrated need for students?
  4. For each course offered in your program, please list:
    • Number of credits.
    • Name(s) of the proposed instructor(s), if known.
    • Whether the course is already listed in the Brandeis University Bulletin or will require new course approval.
    • Course description (if this is a new course).
    • Whether or not these courses will count toward requirements or electives for your major and/or minor, for other majors and minors, or for general education requirements.
  5. What are the expected course assignments and means of evaluation for each course?
  6. Please include a weekly or daily schedule, with proposed class meeting times and other instructional activities.
  7. What are the experiential learning and/or community-engaged learning components of your proposed JBS?
  8. What are the expected learning goals and outcomes for students enrolled in this JBS? In what ways does this program contribute to facilitating the university learning goals of social justice and global citizenship?
  9. What is the target student group for this program?
  10. What is the ideal number of students for this program? Is there a maximum number of students?
  11. Are there course prerequisites for admission to this program?
  12. How would offering this JBS affect the curriculum of your department and/or other programs to which you contribute? Has your department/program chair approved this JBS proposal? (Please include correspondence from the chair confirming approval.)
  13. If partnerships with other businesses or organizations are necessary, please discuss the status of negotiations and related expenses, if any.
  14. If services from other Brandeis offices or departments (e.g., study abroad, information technology services or Hiatt Career Center) are required, please also discuss.

Proposals should list all proposed expenses (faculty and teaching fellow/assistant salaries, course replacement, programming and/or transportation expenses, etc.) and resource needs, assuming that 12 to 15 students enroll. Please use the JBS budget template (Excel) for this section. If appropriate, please list expected expenditures for smaller or larger cohorts of students.

At the proposal stage it is not required that you submit course syllabi. However, it may be helpful to begin crafting draft syllabi to clarify the topics, readings and assignments for each of the courses in your proposed JBS.


JBS program courses will participate in the standard online university course evaluation system. A supplementary assessment form may also be used.