How PLAN Works

The high-impact, interdisciplinary and holistic approach to higher education provides students with intellectually challenging, meaningful and project-oriented learning. 

Students graduating in August 2023 are expected to meet the current PLAN requirements, as described in the 2023-2024 catalog.

Current students graduating after August of 2023 may meet either the current PLAN requirements or the new, modified PLAN requirements outlined above. (Note, beginning in Fall 2023 Simmons will no longer offer 3-course, 8-credit Learning Communities, and beginning in Fall 2026, it will no longer be possible to complete a 3D project.)

Any undergraduate student entering Simmons, as a first-year student or a transfer, in the Fall of 2023 or later will be expected to meet the modified PLAN requirements.

Learn about Year 1, Year 2Year 3 and Year 4 of PLAN. You can also learn more about PLAN core requirements, see a full listing of courses and view our graduation requirements.

Year 1

The Boston Course

Fall Semester, 4 credits

In this writing-intensive first-year seminar, students will engage with the City of Boston and develop writing skills, information literacy and critical analysis. Based on faculty expertise and passions, these courses run the gamut of disciplines.

Group photo of the pirate learning community in front of the USS Constitution
The "On the High Seas" class in front of the USS Constitution.

The Simmons Course: Explore

Fall Semester, 2 credits

This course supports Simmons students in their transition to college. The primary goals of the course are to introduce students: to Simmons, to navigating cultural differences, to self-management and to what it means to engage with your community.

The Leadership Course

Spring Semester, 4 credits

This course is designed to begin students’ leadership development journey during their time at Simmons. The course enables students to examine how they think about everyday leadership and how they think about themselves as leaders. Students will develop two basic skills associated with leadership: public speaking and team leadership.

Year 2

Integrated Learning Course

Students working on a video project

Fall or Spring Semester, 4 Credits

The Integrative Learning (IL) course challenges students to study a topic or question through the lenses of multiple disciplines. Taken during a student’s second year, this approach to integrative learning allows students to grasp the habits of mind and the importance of being able to explore topics and issues from different approaches and perspectives.

The Simmons Course: Experience

Fall or Spring Semester, 1 credit

The second year Simmons Course focuses on academic and career planning, further development of self-management skills and developing competencies in diversity, equity and inclusion.

Year 3

The Simmons Course: Excel

Fall or Spring Semester, 1 credit (online)

The course includes a focus on career and life planning, and students engage in a series of self-directed learning assignments designed to help them navigate their professional, financial, academic, and personal futures.

Year 4 

Student presenting at the Undergraduate Symposium
Student presenting at the Undergraduate Symposium

The Capstone

Fall or Spring Semester

All students will take a Capstone experience in their major, which will be designed by individual departments. Regardless of discipline, Capstone experiences will address career and graduate school preparation. (One Capstone in a student’s major is required to fulfill PLAN requirements; students with multiple majors may be required to fulfill Capstones in each major, depending on major requirements.)

Sample Courses

Sample Boston Courses

  • Grassroots Boston (Instructor: Meghan Doran) Boston has a long and storied history of its citizens coming together to make change. How has this activism shaped the City, as we know it today?  In this course we will draw on the interdisciplinary lenses of urban and social movement studies to understand how grassroots community groups have shaped and continue to shape the lived experience of Boston--where people live, how they get around, and where they go to school. Along the way, we will identify some critical elements for understanding the role of activism and consider how we define change and success. We will investigate the City in order to uncover the impacts of efforts to make social change and have an opportunity to learn from grassroots activists.
  • A Field Guide to Art in Boston (Instructor: Helen Popinchalk) A Field Guide to Art in Boston visits Boston’s world-class institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Gardner Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, university and contemporary galleries. The course is about learning to look and express visual concepts through writing and analysis. The study of different times and cultures will enrich understanding of art of our own time.
  • Women Astronomers of Boston, New England, and Beyond (Instructor: Russell Pinizzotto) Women have made pivotal contributions to astronomy for millennia. In Boston, a team of women known as the “Harvard Computers” established principles fundamental to astrophysics. Maria Mitchell of Nantucket became Professor of Astronomy at Vassar College in 1865. Sara Seager is currently a Professor of Physics and Planetary Science at MIT. In this course students will discover the contributions that women have made to astronomy throughout history from Aganice in ancient Egypt to Caroline Herschel, the first woman to receive a salary as a scientist, to Katherine Louise Bouman, who led the development of the algorithm for imaging black holes.

Sample Leadership Courses

  • Leadership Through Storytelling (Instructor: Farooz Rather)
    This course is designed to help students sharpen their writing and reading skills in a way so that they could be used as effective tools for leadership. We’ll read a diverse selection of literary texts that stir significant social debate. Our focus is the writing strategies that the authors of these texts use to persuade their audiences into believing their (and often suppressed) side of the story. We’ll also probe the personal lives of these authors. And having learnt how they employ personal narratives to reflect on their social identity, and to state their position about a public debate, we’ll pen our own opinion pieces. Our goal is to use our voice and storytelling skills to lead our audience into thoughtful reflection and, hopefully, action. Throughout the course—and especially in the team project—we will reflect on our own leadership skills and capabilities, including how our leadership is framed by social projections and conditions related to our identities. One of the many questions we’ll raise and attempt to answer is: Is writing a particularly effective tool of leadership/representation for those belonging to groups that have been silenced by the society and whose voices have not been heard?
  • Civil Discourse: Difficult Conversations in Healthcare (Instructor: Chaluza Kapaale)
    This Leadership Course explores the everyday leadership competencies necessary for engaging in difficult conversations that generate the momentum for building consensus, defining shared outcomes, and fostering mutually respectful relationships. Students will enhance their knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward civil discourse by engaging in meaningful personal reflection, case analysis, simulation, and discussion of topics that include but are not limited to diversity, equity, inclusion, ethics, social identity, patient’s rights, health disparities, and leadership in healthcare. By the end of the course, students will develop an appreciation for engaging in controversy with civility as one of the essential leadership strategies for transcending complex issues in healthcare.
  • Boston Women Leaders (Instructor: Erin DeCurtis) This course will explore women leaders in Boston. The course will identify trends common to these women leaders as well as the unique leadership practices that successful women leaders in Boston enacted that contributed to the social, economic, political and personal successes they achieved. Students will use lessons learned to develop their own leadership philosophy. The course will include interviews with current women leaders in Boston from business, nonprofit and government sectors.
Students sitting in class

PLAN Courses

See a full listing of PLAN courses.

PLAN Courses