Independent Study


Any student may request to undertake independent work after the completion of her freshman year. A maximum of eight credits of such work can be elected in the sophomore and junior years, usually at the 295 level. Seniors may take a flexible range of credits of independent study at either the 295 or 395 levels. In all, a maximum of 16 credits of independent study can be included in the 128 credits required for graduation.

Independent Study Requirements

There are no formal requirements for independent studies in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. These courses are intended to be flexible to cover a range of possible individual projects. However, the department wholeheartedly endorses the suggestions for initiating and completing an independent study included on this site. In the case of an independent study with a view to submitting a thesis, students must meet a more stringent set of requirements. These are laid out in the thesis section of this website.

Initiating and Completing an Independent Study

Note:  students do not need to pre-register for an independent study.

1. The student should get in touch with the faculty member with whom she wishes to work. She needs to secure his or her permission to work with her. Note that there is some demand for faculty supervision of independent work, so the earlier she starts the process, the more likely she is to be accepted for the following semester.

2. The student should submit a one-page statement of interest (300 words) to her independent study adviser in the last week of classes THE SEMESTER BEFORE she wishes to pursue an independent study. The deadline is always the Monday of the last week of classes each semester. The statement should include:

  • a tentative/working title;
  • a description of the research problem or research program;
  • a proposed methodology or research design (e.g., guided reading, participant-observation, survey analysis, ethnographic interviews, library research project, etc.);
  • a completed background information form (listing name, class, advisor, major and minor fields, courses taken in the major, relevant research experience);
  • name of the preferred advisor; and
  • a transcript. In addition, the student is responsible for completing and submitting an Institutional Review Board (IRB) form if she plans to conduct research involving human subjects.

Once approved:

3. Your faculty advisor will request an independent study section from the Registrar, you may then register for your independent study via ISIS.

4. Prepare a timeline for delivering drafts to the advisor.

5. Meet with the adviser in the first week of the semester to approve the timeline and make an agreement about regular meetings to discuss the work. Meeting bi-weekly is common but sometimes meetings are more regular. Exact details are left to the students and faculty members involved.

6. Submit the first full draft to the advisor in the second to last week of classes at the latest. (A complete draft means everything – no holes!! – including references).

7. Submit the final draft of the independent study to the faculty advisor on the first Monday of the final examination period. Note, all independent study papers must meet departmental and disciplinary requirements for referencing.

References and Bibliographies

The paper must be referenced completely, accurately, and according to departmental and disciplinary requirements.

See the American Sociological Association Style Guide.

Manuscript Preparation for Independent Study Papers

The final version of the independent study should be printed on white paper in a readable 12 font script (e.g., Courier, Palatino, Times). Printing should be on one side of the paper only, and the text should be double-spaced throughout, except that the footnotes, references and quotations of five or more lines should be single-spaced. Margins should be at least 1.25 inches all around. All illustrations, tables, maps, etc., should fit within the limits of the page margins. Page numbers, Arabic figures, should appear in the upper right-hand corner of the page in line with the text margin. Pages should be numbered sequentially.

The independent study paper should be submitted to the faculty advisor on the first Monday of the final examination period. Note, all independent study papers must meet departmental and disciplinary requirements for referencing.