Comparative American Studies

CAST Private Reading Policy

The CAST program supports opportunities for different types of one-on-one or small group work with individual faculty under the title of Private Reading courses. These one-to-one tutorials are offered for half- or full-course credit and are normally conducted at an advanced level.

Students who wish to pursue a topic not covered in the regular curriculum may, in keeping with conditions outlined below, arrange a private reading with a member of the faculty who has agreed to supervise the student and who possesses expertise in the topic of the private reading.

Private readings and many other one-on-one interactions with students are undertaken in addition to the faculty’s regular teaching assignments. The program director therefore monitors the total number of one-on-one activities and must give final approval for all private readings.


  • Students who take private readings are expected to be self-directed and responsible for meeting all pre-established deadlines;
  • If you wish to pursue a private reading, you should prepare for this course the semester before and approach the faculty member early with your request. In advance of meeting with the faculty member, you should prepare a preliminary syllabus that includes amount and types of readings, suggested writing assignments, deadlines and other aspects of this self-designed course. Workload expectations must be established prior to obtaining final approval;
  • CAS sponsors private readings for half- or full-course credit;
  • Only one full private reading can be counted toward the major;
  • The CAS program urges both faculty and students to consider the grading option before finalizing arrangements. We recommend selecting the P/NP option unless specific grading criteria are established in advance;
  • Please bring a syllabus for the private reading with you when you solicit the program director’s approval, prior to the end of add/drop;
  • Individual faculty members may have additional restrictions or requirements;
  • Visiting faculty do not sponsor private readings without approval by the director.

College Requirements and Restrictions

  • The subject matter of the private reading should not duplicate that of a regular course;
  • Private readings must have a clear academic or artistic focus;
  • Except under special departmental arrangements, a faculty member may not supervise private reading courses for more than five students in a given semester;
  • Private reading courses may not be used to fulfill the Curriculum Exploration, Writing, Quantitative and Formal Reasoning, or Cultural Diversity requirements;
  • A student is limited to one private reading per semester and the Academic Advising and Resource Center must approve all exceptions.

Note about registration: Unlike other courses, a student cannot register for a private reading via PRESTO. To register for a private reading, obtain a card from the Office of the Registrar, complete the required information, obtain the faculty member and the program director’s approval for the reading, and return the card to the registrar’s office.