For students with well-defined goals and motivation, independent study provides a way to earn academic credit while pursuing a topic or project of particular interest.
Not all graduate degree plans in the School of Arts and Humanities allow independent study courses as part of their curriculum, and those degree plans that do allow independent study courses limit the number of these courses that are applicable to the degree. Always be sure to check your specific degree plan if you are interested in undertaking an independent study course.
The subject of an independent study may arise from a student's own experience and interests or may derive from a class. A course of independent study might comprise a research topic culminating in one or several papers, a series of readings accompanied by short papers or an annotated bibliography, artistic explorations in the visual arts or creative writing, or other academically appropriate activities.
Students considering a course of independent study should identify for themselves their area of interest and contact a faculty member appropriate to this area of interest to act as faculty supervisor. Normally, a student should approach a faculty member with whom he or she has already taken at least one class. Students should note that faculty members are under no particular obligation to accept students for independent study, since these are always an addition to the faculty member's teaching load. Therefore, students should be prepared to demonstrate that they are capable of defining, organizing, and completing an independent course of study.
Once a faculty member has agreed to supervise a course of independent study, the student and faculty member should come to a clear understanding of the nature and scope of the project and its goals. In some cases, this will involve frequent and regular meetings; in others, the student may meet with the faculty supervisor only a few times during the semester. In all cases, however, the requirements of the independent study should be clear to both parties and specified in writing in the Application and Registration for Independent Study.
To register, students should complete an Application and Registration for Independent Study, which is signed by the faculty supervisor and turned in to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies when the student registers. Students will normally register for three hours of credit under the independent studies course number in their area of study. Once the faculty supervisor has signed the application, the student will receive the appropriate CRN and section number and may register for the independent studies course.
Normally, only regular Arts and Humanities faculty members supervise independent study. Visiting faculty, part-time lecturers and teaching assistants do not normally take on independent study, though in certain circumstances they may agree to act as faculty supervisors. Students may consult the Arts and Humanities Office to determine which graduate instructors are regular members of the Arts and Humanities faculty.