Crediting Policies for Bass Connections Project Teams

Undergraduate and graduate students on year-long Bass Connections project teams generally receive academic credit for their participation during the academic year. Credit is typically administered by listing each team as a tutorial under the subject code for their theme (1 credit for undergraduates, 3 credits for graduate students).

Teams may also opt to set up a tutorial or special topics course in a team leader’s department or use research independent studies (in certain circumstances, as explained below). Crediting options for teams in Bass Connections Open may vary.

Crediting Policy FAQs

Who can participate on Bass Connections project teams for credit?

All students, including both undergraduates and graduate/professional students, have the option to participate on their project team for credit during the academic year. However, there are some students for whom credit will not make sense or be desirable. For example, advanced graduate or undergraduate students may no longer need additional credits and some professional students may not be able to count “elective” credits towards their degree. In such instances, team leaders may allow students to volunteer on the team or elect to pay them from their project team’s budget. (See below for more information about paid participation on project teams.)

How do I set up credit for my project team?

By default, your theme administrator will set up undergraduate- and graduate-level tutorial listings under your theme’s subject code. You do not need to submit a course request or any other paperwork. If you would like to discuss setting up a tutorial or special topics course within your department, we are happy to work with you on this process. Please also contact your theme if you think a research independent study is a more appropriate mechanism for your team. 

Can I offer more than one form of credit for my team?

Generally, you should only offer one crediting option per semester for the same student population to avoid situations where students receive different curriculum codes for the same activity (applicable to Trinity students). Exceptions to this rule might include: 1) if the team has an associated listing for Pratt students and a different listing for Trinity students; 2) if a team sets up two or more listings within different departments to more accurately record the differing roles students are playing on the team given the interdisciplinary nature of the project; 3) if one student cannot attend group meetings for the semester and instead makes special arrangements with the team leader to contribute in a more individual fashion; or 4) if a given student will be taking on significant writing responsibilities and wishes to request a Writing (W) code.

How many credits do students normally receive for working on project teams?

Typically, undergraduates receive one (1) credit for each semester of participation and graduate/professional students receive three (3). For each group, this is equivalent to one course per semester.

Do students have the option to participate on their project team for half credit or as a volunteer?

Team leaders may offer students half-credit or no-credit (i.e., “volunteer”) options. This is typically discouraged as it can lead to frustrations around student commitment, accountability and motivation.

Can students apply credits earned on their project team to their major or program requirements?

It depends. Undergraduate students who wish to apply project team credits towards their major (or minor or certificate) should talk to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in the relevant department. Graduate students should talk to their Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). With departmental approval, a student's tutorial can be accepted for credit within a given department. 

Can students participate on a project team for pay?

Yes, students can participate on a project team for pay, assuming that your team has sufficient funds to support this expense.

  • During the academic year, paid opportunities on project teams should be reserved for students with differentiated roles, such as graduate students in leadership, teaching, mentorship and/or project management positions. Students may also receive pay if they are not eligible for credit based on their level or program structure (e.g., advanced doctoral students). Paid roles may also be appropriate for advanced undergraduates who are longtime members of a team and take on extra responsibilities.
  • During the summer, all students who are conducting research with their project team should be paid or receive travel financing (if applicable).

Can a student receive academic credit and be paid at the same time?

No, students cannot simultaneously receive academic credit and pay for their work on a project team. In rare circumstances, a student may be paid if they take on work that is above and beyond the standard expectations of team members and is sufficiently distinct from credited work. If you plan to do this, please reach out to your theme administrator to discuss the situation first.

Do faculty receive teaching credit for leading a Bass Connections team?

Faculty generally do not receive teaching credit in their department for leading a Bass Connections team unless such credit is worked out in advance with the DUS/DGS and Department Chair or Dean, as appropriate. Depending on departmental/school policies, leading a Bass Connections project may count towards accelerated leave/sabbaticals. 

Crediting for Project Teams


By default, Bass Connections teams will be set up as a tutorial under the subject code for their theme (1 credit for undergraduates, 3 credits for graduate students). Curricular codes for Trinity undergraduate students are applied to each tutorial but vary across themes. All listings carry a Small Group Learning Experience code in both the fall and spring semesters, and all listings include a Research (R) code in the spring. As such, students should have a significant role in conducting research on your team. If you would like to request additions or changes to the default listing below, please contact your theme administrator, so we can work with you to request approval from the Trinity Courses Committee.

Theme Tutorial Listing (Fall/Spring) Curricular Codes for Trinity Undergraduates

Brain & Society

BRAINSOC 395T/396T & 795T/796T

Natural Sciences (Fall & Spring); Research (Fall & Spring); Small Group Learning Experience (Fall & Spring)

Education & Human Development

EHD 395T/396T & 795T/796T

Social Sciences (Fall); Research (Spring); Small Group Learning Experience (Fall & Spring)

Energy & Environment

ENERGY 395T/396T & 795T/796T

Natural Sciences (Fall); Research (Spring); Small Group Learning Experience (Fall & Spring)

Global Health

GLHLTH 395T/396T & 795T/796T

Cross Cultural Inquiry (Fall); Research (Spring); Small Group Learning Experience (Fall & Spring)

Information, Society & Culture

ISS 395T/396T & 795T/796T

Science, Technology & Society (Fall); Research (Spring); Small Group Learning Experience (Fall & Spring)

Bass Connections Open Health Policy Projects HLTHPOL 395T/396T & 795T/796T Social Sciences (Fall); Research (Spring); Small Group Learning Experience (Fall & Spring)

We do not have a subject listing for Bass Connections Open teams (except those administered by the Margolis Center for Health Policy) and will work with those teams individually to determine the best approach to offering credit.

If a team leader wants to set up a tutorial framework in their home department, we have a template for this and would be happy to work with you and your department on this process.

Research Independent Study Courses

Research independent studies should not generally be used for crediting for Bass Connections projects because our teams usually exceed the Trinity policy limiting enrollment in independent studies to two students. However, there are some special circumstances in which a research independent study may be appropriate. In these cases, you should work with your theme administrator to set up listings at both the undergraduate and graduate levels (e.g., 395/396 and 795/796).

Research independent studies may be appropriate if:

  • One or two undergraduate students on your team will be undertaking significant writing and would like to request a Writing (W) code
  • You have an experienced student on your team who cannot attend the group meeting times during one semester of the year, but you have made arrangements for them to continue contributing to the team in a more independent fashion
  • Students are working on individual research projects with one-on-one mentorship (this should not typically be the norm for the Bass Connections model)
  • A student is seeking credit within their major/graduate program (please note that if a student is seeking credit within their major/program, we also have the option to request that a department approves an entire tutorial listing for departmental credit)

All Bass Connections research independent studies carry a Research (R) curriculum code and a Small Group Learning Experience (SLGE) code. For undergraduates in Trinity, this means the team will count towards their research and small group learning general education requirements. Accordingly, students should have a significant role in conducting research on your team.

Team leaders can choose whether to list a research independent study within a team leader’s department or within their theme’s subject designation. If your team lists the independent study within your theme, the theme administrator will work with you to set up this listing. If your team opts to set up a research independent study within one or more of your home departments (which you may wish to do in order to receive departmental recognition for your own teaching effort or so students on the team can earn credit in a particular subject area), you should reach out to the academic coordinator in your department or school to initiate this process. It is important to specify that you will need research independent study listings at both the undergraduate and graduate levels so all your students will be able to enroll for credit.

If a Bass Connections Open team opts to add a research independent study to their crediting options, the research independent study must be listed through a team leader’s department.

Special Topics Courses

Some team leaders may want to set up a special topics course affiliated with their project team. Special topics courses are courses offered on a one-time basis that are not part of a department’s or program’s normal curricular offerings. They must be proposed through Trinity’s online course request process and should be listed in a team leader’s home department. Special topics courses may carry curricular codes upon request.

Setting up a special topics course: Team leaders who want to set up a special topics course must consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in the relevant department or school and complete Trinity’s online course request form. When setting up the course, you will need to limit enrollment to instructor consent (so that only students who have been accepted onto your team will be able to enroll in the course) and ensure that the course name and description clarify that the course is a Bass Connections project team. During this process, you should consider the following:

  • Course level: To accommodate graduate and undergraduate students, you can either list the course at the graduate/advanced undergraduate level (500-699), or propose two courses meeting at the same time, with one listed at the undergraduate (1-499) and one at the graduate (700-999) level. In this case, the graduate section must have clearly differentiated, advanced assignments and expectations.
  • Curricular codes: Faculty may request that their course carry specific curricular codes (including areas of knowledge and modes of inquiry) that satisfy general education requirements for undergraduates in Trinity (see the Trinity curriculum for an overview and list of codes). Each requested code will require clear justification. Please note that unlike research independent study courses, special topics courses do not automatically carry a Research (R) curriculum code. Team leaders must request and provide justification for the Research code as they would other curricular codes.
  • Semester outlay: Consider whether you will propose a special topics course for both semesters, or whether you will use a tutorial or research independent study for the other semester. Please note that if you intend to use a special topics course for both semesters, you will need to complete the course request form in advance of each semester and each course must have a unique course number.

Student Expectations and Grading

Student Commitment

While Bass Connections project teams are not standard courses and have unique requirements, you should expect students to commit about the same amount of time to your project team per week as they would a course – roughly 10 hours/week. You should also expect students to commit to your project team for the entire academic year (i.e., both the fall and spring semesters). On occasion, however, there are legitimate reasons why students may need to leave the team after the fall semester (e.g., scheduling conflicts with required courses).

When students are thinking about joining a project team, we advise that they:

  • Plan to commit two semesters and approximately 10 hours/week to their project team
  • Talk with their advisor(s) to understand how participating aligns with their degree requirements
  • Understand the requirements and expectations of a project before applying
  • Are prepared to actively participate in all team meetings and activities over the course of the project
  • Are prepared to grapple with ambiguity and a dynamic research landscape

Grading Options

Because most students participate on project teams for credit, they must receive a grade at the end of each semester of participation. Team leaders should be clear and transparent about how they plan to assess and provide feedback to students. Lack of clarity around expectations can frustrate students and may lead to issues around motivation, accountability and performance (see additional guidance on grading for your project team).

Letter Grades

Typically, team leaders give students letter grades for their work on project teams. Team leaders should use the following grading standards when issuing letter grades.

Passing Grades

  • A (Exceptional)
  • B (Superior)
  • C (Satisfactory)
  • D (Low pass)

Failing Grades

  • F (Failing)

While it is not the norm, team leaders may allow students to participate on their project team on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) basis. We generally discourage this practice because we believe it can lead to lower student engagement and it can also have negative implications for students. We encourage team leaders who are considering this option to first discuss the trade-offs with their theme leader or administrator. If there is good cause for using this option, S/U grades can be established in one of two ways:

  1. Team leaders can opt to set up the course as S/U for all participating students. Please note that you must do this when proposing the course, and you must make sure students are aware of this during enrollment.
  2. Individual students on the team can enroll for credit using the S/U option. In order to do this, the student must submit a Declaration of S/U Grading Basis Form to their academic dean by 5:00 p.m. on the withdrawal deadline (usually set four weeks before the end of courses). Please note that there are restrictions and considerations that students should be made aware of before choosing this option.  

When grading students on an S/U basis:

  • S (Satisfactory) is equivalent to a grade of C- or higher
  • U (Unsatisfactory) is equivalent to a grade of D+, D, D-, or F (Note: Within Trinity’s standards, U is a failing grade