Independent study is the special investigation of a selected topic. It may be undertaken by a junior or senior student whose academic requirements cannot be met by regular catalog offerings. Only elective credits may be used for independent study. Depending on the depth and scope of an independent study, anywhere from one to six credits may be earned (determination of assigned credits is made by the appropriate department chair and faculty member).
Students who wish to apply for an independent study must have at least a 3.0 GPA. The student must have demonstrated the ability to pursue independent work. To apply for independent study, students must (a) define the topic or issue to be pursued; (b) discuss their plan with their advisor; (c) contact the chairperson of the appropriate department/program to request approval of their proposal; (d) if the independent study is approved, the student will approach a faculty member in the department that sponsors the independent study to serve as a mentor. Faculty are free to choose whether or not to mentor a student for independent study.
Part of the intent of an independent study is to foster self-directed learning. Therefore, after a student has specified the content area to be studied and has diagnosed his/her learning needs, the faculty member and student will jointly negotiate course objectives; learning resources and methodology; and procedures for evaluation. The minimum number of meeting times will also be specified. A written contract, which includes these areas, is to be drafted and signed by the faculty member and student. Copies are to be forwarded to the vice president of academic affairs, the student’s advisor, the mentor, and the registrar.
Independent work is not governed by the academic calendar. A project may be started and ended at any point during the semester. Students should register for an independent study when their work is initiated; if the project extends beyond the end of a given semester, an in progress (IP) can be issued.
Independent study application forms may be obtained from the offices of the registrar, the Center for Adult and Continuing Education, and online through the e-MU portal.