Independent Study

  1. Any student may request the independent course option in her sophomore, junior, or senior years. The College limits the number of independent credits to eight in the sophomore and junior years. A senior may take an independent course in the fall and change the course status to honors in the spring. The procedures to follow are detailed below. (See Theses and Theses Procedures)
  2. Majors and minors should always take courses when they are offered as part of the department's curriculum. If, however, the student's area of interest is not covered in any of those courses, or if the subject will not be offered during her time at Mount Holyoke, she may then propose to study it in a tutorial (Greek or Latin 350). If a course on the same topic is already being offered in the department, students should not request an independent study. Independent study 395 entails research towards the goal of writing a thesis and should be in addition to the advanced courses regularly offered in the related languages and literature.
  3. Independent study students must work on topics and areas of research that fall within the professor's field of specialization or interest. The department offers the possibility of research on ancient Greek or Roman rhetoric, epic, tragedy, history and historiography, as well as individual Greek and Roman authors. Students may also do interdisciplinary research involving, for example, history, art, religion, or other related disciplines. In such cases, the student should select an advisor in each of the disciplines.
  4. The professor and the student together should determine the scope and range of the topic or area of concentration and discuss a tentative list of readings, the course expectations, and the work required.
  5. Before the end of the semester prior to the independent study, the student should submit to her professor an abstract describing the course of study she proposes to follow together with a preliminary bibliography. The abstract should explain why she wants to take an independent course and why she has selected the subject matter. Once the professor has agreed to supervise the independent course, the student should submit a copy of her abstract to the chair for discussion and approval by the department as a whole.
  6. An independent study student must meet with her advisor regularly, at least every two weeks. These meetings should focus on materials read, critical analysis, discussion of assigned short papers, etc. The professor may or may not elect to assign papers during the semester, but a final paper or detailed thesis proposal is required.
  7. Finally, an independent course is not simply a list of books to be read. It is a dedicated dialogue between a student and a professor that will stimulate intellectual curiosity and original thinking, improve reading, writing and research skills, and encourage critical analysis. In the case of students intending to continue the project as a thesis, by the end of the independent study a student should have articulated clearly a problem that can be solved or question that can be answered in the following semester, and have advanced significantly toward that goal.

Independent study takes extra time and energy on all sides. Students should be aware that professors are not obligated to supervise independent course work.