Independent Study

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Unique and Rigorous Curriculum

WNA’s Independent Study Certificate Program provides an opportunity for students to enter a rigorous exploratory and academic learning experience in one of three signature academic areas:

For students truly passionate about STEM, Sustainability, or Visual Arts, our Independent Study Certificate Program offers the opportunity for research and real-world experiences as well as potential professional connections in relevant fields.

Students may apply for entry into one of our Signature Programs at the end of their sophomore or the beginning of their junior year. 

Independent Study Certificate Program Requirements

  • Specific course work per signature area
  • Specific extra-curricular participation per signature area
  • Experiential learning and research
  • Professional mentorship from an outside professional mentor in the student’s chosen field of research
  • Summer program and/or internship
  • Final Project and presentation of the project at a school-wide symposium


Students in the STEM Independent Study Certificate Program utilize WNA’s well-equipped Innovation Center and science labs as home base for research, experimentation, innovation, and production of imaginative projects in engineering, biology, chemistry, and so much more. From designing your own artificial limbs to growing hydroponics in our biology lab greenhouse, the possibilities for unique exploration abound.

Program Requirements:

  • Principles of Science and Engineering and/or Physics-Robotics
  • AP Computer Science, AP Biology, or AP Physics
  • Calculus or AP Calculus (AB or BC)  (AP Statistics suggested but not required)
  • Obtain Innovation Center level one-three years training in 3-D printing, laser cutting, video editing, and podcasting
  • Participate in one relevant summer program (two-seven weeks in length) with department head approval.
  • Participate in at least one year (two full seasons) of Robotics
  • Participate in at least one year of Model U.N.
  • Conduct original research and produce a paper and/or project under the guidance of an outside mentor and internal advisor
  •  Attend one relevant professional conference
  •  Present research project at the WNA Symposium


Students in the Sustainability Independent Study Certificate Program have opportunities to explore diverse areas of environmental sustainability from climate change to public health to water quality, waste reduction, environmental advocacy and more.  WNA’s active Student Environmental Council and vibrant partnerships in the conservation community mean numerous opportunities to research and learn about all facets of the environmental sustainability field.

Program requirements: 

  • Environmental Science or AP Environmental Science
  • Environmental Policy and Action Class junior or senior year
  • At least two seasons of Student Environmental Council (extra-curricular activity)
  • Participate in at least one sustained community partnership activity
  • Participate in one relevant summer program two-seven weeks in length
  • Participate in at least one year of Model U.N.
  • Conduct original research and produce a paper and/or project under the guidance of an outside mentor and internal advisor
  • Attend one relevant professional conference
  • Present research project at the WNA Symposium

Visual Arts

Students in the Visual Arts Independent Study Certificate Program have access to talented and experienced artists, both those working as faculty at West Nottingham and those who visit our campus through the Eric Fischl ’66 Artist-in-Residence Teaching Program.  This program invites classically trained artists from the New York Academy of Art to work and live on our campus as visiting teachers, giving students a glimpse into the dedication it takes to produce great works of modern art.

Program requirements:

Complete the following courses:

  • A combination of two of the following courses: Studio Art I and II, Photography I and II
  • Art History and/or Anatomy
  • AP Studio Art
  • Participate in experiential learning with community partners
  • Attend a summer program, two to seven weeks long, in a related field
  • Attend two to four art exhibits, shows, or conferences
  • Conduct an original research project, supported by an external mentor and internal advisory
  • Present original work outside of the school
  • Present original research project at the WNA Symposium

Creative Writing

Students in the Creative Writing Independent Study Certificate Program have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich and wonderful world of literature and writing. Students are mentored by faculty members who are teacher-writers themselves and join a cohort of other students invested in supporting and developing their own creative voice to tell the stories of our time.

WNA is committed to giving Creative Writing Certificate Program students the tools they need to thrive as an individual and as a member of the writing community. Students who participate in the program are passionate about discovering and refining their own voice, as well as reading and critically interpreting literary works around them. They are dedicated members of a cohort who engage in the full-writing process: drafting, peer critique, revising, and editing. They are also committed to submitting polished work to audiences both large and small, ranging from in-class publications to school-wide performances, as well as publisher submissions.

Program Requirements:

  • Prerequisites:
    • A or B average in all English courses
    • Application, including sample work submission
  • Course Requirements:
    • Maintain 80+ average in all English courses
    • Take the following courses:
      • Advanced-level English 11 and 12 courses
      • Creative Writing Elective
    • Experiential learning:
      • Attend 2-4 outside readings or performances in your literary focus area
      • Participate in Creative Writing Club, Yearbook, and/or Drama
      • Become a writing tutor at the Writing Center
      • Participate in all school reading and writing functions (2-3 per year)
      • 2-7 week summer internship between Junior and Senior Year
    • Portfolio:
      • Complete a portfolio of original work, supported by a faculty mentor and community mentor who is an expert in the field
      • Present or publish original work outside of school
      • Present original work at the WNA Symposium

Upon Graduation

Participating students receive the following:

  • Diploma with a Certificate of Achievement in Signature Area
  • Independent Study listed as individual courses on transcripts
  • Program achievements delineated in college letters of recommendation

Opportunity awaits you at West Nottingham Academy!

Every day, in every activity, from the classroom to the playing fields, art studios, and club gatherings, students are exposed to a diverse community of learners from all walks of life.

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