Independent Study Guidelines

student working in a labIndependent study is an educational experience (taken for credit) which occurs outside the traditional "classroom/laboratory" setting. These experiences are considered to be serious programs of study and will include an experiential component which is not simply a report of information gathered from books and other sources. The project is faculty supervised and tailored to fit the interests of a specific student and those of the sponsoring faculty member. Along with course credit, students may apply for stipends through the college's Summer Scholar program or the departmental William Carroll fund. Research projects can be extended to a second term and can lead to Honors in the Major. Students will be encouraged to submit their work to a refereed journal for publication. Examples of past independent studies in each of physics, computer science and mathematics can be found here.


General Policy

Students are encouraged to find an area of interest to them and to work with a faculty mentor with either expertise or interest in that area.

  1. Criteria for approval of projects will include the appropriateness of the plan of study and the student's ability to carry out the plan of study.
  2. Independent study credit, in general, is not given for activity for which the student is being paid.
  3. Independent study credit is not given for the study of material normally offered in a regular course offering.
  4. An independent study is a 400-level course and will be treated as such. The work is graded according to the standards and scale of regular course work.
    Students planning to register for an independent study must have at least a 3.0 GPA in the major and have completed the sophomore level major courses.
  5. Up to two units of independent study may be offered towards the degree requirements.


  1. Prior to enrollment in an independent study, the student must discuss their intention with their advisor, faculty sponsor, and the department chairperson.
  2. In the semester prior to the semester in which an independent study is to be taken, the student is required to submit a specific plan which must include, but not be limited to, the following:

    a) Project title.
    b) A clear and complete statement of project objectives.
    c) A concise statement of the plans and methods to be used in order to accomplish each objective.
    d) A time plan indicating when various parts of the work are to be completed.
    e) A schedule for meetings with the faculty sponsor to discuss progress.

  3. The plan must be approved by the faculty sponsor and the department chair prior to the beginning of the semester in which the student plans to register for the independent study. The proposal agreed upon will be signed by the student, faculty sponsor, department chair, and the student's academic advisor and will serve as a contract among all parties.
  4. Prior to the end of the withdrawal period, the student must demonstrate sufficient progress has been made towards the completion of their work. If insufficient progress has been made, the student may be withdrawn from the course.
  5. The student must submit a final written report on the project or course of study to his/her faculty sponsor for distribution to the department faculty one week prior to the student's oral presentation.
  6. An oral presentation on the project must be given to the department faculty and interested students before the end of the term.
  7. In consultation with the department faculty, a grade on the project will be determined by the faculty sponsor, with final approval by the chairperson.