Teaching Policies & Resources — Undergraduate Independent Study Policies

All programs in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that offer regular courses may create these independent offerings for undergraduate students such as the following:

  • Independent study courses. A faculty member and an undergraduate student together negotiate a course of study that can be completed in a single semester.
  • Independent research courses. A faculty member supervises an undergraduate's independent research project.
  • Independent reading courses. An undergraduate student completes an approved set of readings under the supervision of a faculty member.
  • Independent creative project courses.
  • An undergraduate proposes and completes a creative project supervised by a faculty member.

Practica, capstone courses, internships, GIS courses, Senior Thesis, Honors Thesis, and Honors Project hours are not considered undergraduate independent study courses.

Independent study contracts are required for all independent undergraduate courses and must be kept on file by the department.

All undergraduate independent study courses must be reported by the offering department or program to the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum at the end of each academic year or before the beginning of the fall semester. The Undergraduate Independent Study Report may be submitted electronically.

CLAS Independent Study Policies

Unless granted a specific exception by the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Curriculum, departments must comply with the following policies:

  • Only undergraduate students in good standing may enroll in an independent study course.
  • Faculty (tenure-track, clinical-track, or visiting) at the rank of assistant professor or higher and faculty at the rank of lecturer may supervise independent study courses.
  • The content of the independent study should focus on a project proposed by the student under the guidance of a instructor.
  • The content of an independent study course may not duplicate a course offered or a requirement for a major or other program of study. Rather, the independent study gives a student a chance to explore an interest not covered in the curriculum.
  • Likewise, an independent study should not be used for tutoring a student or for offering other remedial instruction. Instead, an independent study allows a student and faculty member to work on projects or areas of study not generally studied in the department’s curriculum.
  • Teaching assistants are not allowed to teach or assist in teaching independent studies.
  • Credit hours earned for an independent study must meet the UI credit hour guidelines.
  • The CLAS independent study contract should be used for any of the above independent courses and should be signed by both the instructor and the student. The contract must specify the content of the independent study. The department must keep all contracts on file.
  • If the student is completing an independent study in a department in which he/she is not a major, a copy of the contract should be sent to the student's advisor in the student's home department.
  • CLAS students may include no more than 9 s.h. of independent study, independent research, independent readings, or independent creative/project courses in the minimum 120 semester hours required for graduation. Practica, capstone courses, internships, GIS courses, and Honors Thesis and Honors Project hours are not considered independent study courses and are not included in the 9 s.h. limit.
  • Hours earned through any independent study offering count toward the CLAS limit of 56 s.h. from one department that may be applied toward the minimum 120 s.h. required for graduation.
  • An independent study does not require a course evaluation or syllabus. Instead, the independent study contract and report are required.
  • For questions about policies and procedures concerning a graduate student independent study, please contact the Graduate College.