Independent Study


Guidelines for students

Students who would like to focus on a topic not covered by any existing or regularly offered course in the Ph.D. program in English can propose a 3-credit independent study course. Students can take a maximum of two independent study courses during their tenure in the graduate program.

Only students who have completed a full-time semester of graduate studies with at least a 3.0 average and show independence in research skills can request an independent study.

Students who are interested in pursuing an independent study should conceptualize a clear, focused idea for a course of study and meet with a professor in the department with expertise is in the area to discuss the possibility of scheduling an independent study.

Students must submit to the supervising professor a proposal for the study which includes the following:

  • a statement of purpose with a clear justification for the independent study
  • a detailed description of the proposed course of study
  • a list of readings and assignments for the class
  • a working bibliography
  • a tentative schedule of readings and consultations

In most cases, an independent study will result in a seminar paper submitted to the supervising professor for evaluation. Depending on the content of the course, alternative forms of evaluation can be proposed, as will be the case for creative writing students. The student (in consultation with the professor) should clearly include this information in the course proposal.

After revising the proposal according to the input from the supervising professor, students should

submit the proposal to the Graduate Steering Committee for official approval. Proposals must be submitted early in the semester prior to the independent study. Official deadlines for submission of independent study proposals are announced by the Graduate Coordinator at the start of each semester.

Should the Graduate Steering Committee request revisions, the student should make these revisions as soon as possible and resubmit the proposal for reconsideration. Late revisions may result in an independent study being postponed.

Guidelines for professors

1. The student must initiate the proposal for an independent study.

2. The area proposed by the student must fall within the professor’s area of expertise.

3. The professor can have only one student in an independent study course.

4. The professor can have only one independent course per semester.