Through independent study, you can earn course credit while pursuing your own individual interests under the supervision of a faculty member. There are two types of independent study:
Independent Study (non-research), and
Research Independent Study.
The following policies apply to both types of independent study:
Approval — The independent study must be approved by the instructor(s) involved as well as by the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the relevant department or program.
Faculty appointment — The instructor of record (supervising faculty member) must hold a regular rank faculty appointment at Duke within the department or program sponsoring the independent study. In some cases, there may be an additional instructor who mentors the bulk of the independent study and holds an appointment outside the sponsoring department or program. If this is the case, the supervising faculty member is responsible for submitting the final grade, and ensuring that the instructor adheres to academic standards, policies, and procedures pertaining to undergraduate students in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.
Course Content / Quality — The independent study must provide a rigorous academic experience equivalent to that of any other undergraduate Duke course. Independent study courses may not duplicate available course offerings in the semester or summer term in which the independent study is being taken, nor may independent study be used simply to provide low-level support for other projects or to observe or shadow the work of others.
Meeting schedule — In addition to the individual effort of the student, which normally entails ~10 hours per week, the student will meet with the instructor of the independent study at least once every two weeks during the fall or spring semester (at least once a week during the summer).
Final product — The student will produce a final academic and/or artistic product to be completed during the semester for which the student is registered for the course.
Grading — The instructor will evaluate the work, including the final product, associated with the independent study, and submit a grade by the end of the semester. If the instructor is someone other than the supervising faculty member, the instructor will consult on the final grade with the supervising faculty member from the sponsoring department or program, who will submit the final grade.
Procedure to Apply:
- Students wishing to register for an independent study or research independent study must first contact the DUS before they meet with a regular rank faculty member with expertise in the desired area.
- The student and instructor should agree on the course title, a comprehensive description, a detailed list of proposed readings, objectives and expectations, the nature of the final product, as well as a calendar of meeting sessions and evaluation criteria.
- The student submits the Independent Study Permission Form (attached here) to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for final approval before the end of registration for the term in which the independent study is to be taken. If approved, the student will receive a permission number from the Program Coordinator to register for the course.
Please also consider Graduation with Distinction!