Directed and Independent Studies

Definition of a Directed Study:

A directed study is an individualized learning experience in which the student works through the course content of a regular course on her or his own under the direction of one of the instructors who regularly teaches the course.

Background:

Sometimes a student needs to take a required course in her or his last term, but the course is not offered in that term either in the classroom or online. The most common reason for this is that the course in question is an advanced course offered only once per year and the student could not take it when it was last offered because of a conflict with another required course. This can happen if the student is taking a double major and the conflicting courses are from the two different majors. Another possibility is if the student receives an unsatisfactory grade in such a course and cannot wait until it is offered again to repeat it. In such cases, we may allow the student take the course as a directed study.

Policy:

The university has no obligation to approve requests for directed studies, and it may not be possible to accommodate such requests, for example, it may not be possible to find an appropriate instructor to carry out the requested study. A directed study may be approved if and only if the student has a valid reason for not being able to take the course in question the next time it is offered either in the classroom or online. A directed study may be conducted only by a qualified instructor who has taught the course in question either in the classroom or online. The course requirements for a directed study are twofold: the student must complete all the usual requirements of the course, including all exams, and s/he must in addition complete a project to make up for the loss of 32 contact hours in the classroom with the instructor and other students (36 hours in the case of graduate directed studies).

Procedure:

A student requesting a directed study should submit the request to her or his academic advisor one term in advance of the term in which the directed study should be carried out. The advisor vets the need for the directed study, and if s/he cannot find a suitable in class or online alternative solution, s/he forwards the request to the respective Department Head. If no alternative can be found and the student can adequately document her or his need to take the requested course before it is offered again either in the classroom or online, and the respective Department Head can identify an appropriate instructor to conduct the directed study, s/he will tentatively approve the request subject to the concurrence of the instructor. The academic advisor then contacts the designated instructor to get her or his agreement. If s/he does not agree, the respective Department Head will try to find another appropriate instructor to conduct the directed study. If an appropriate instructor can be found who is willing to conduct the study, the advisor will put the student in contact with the instructor at least 6 weeks before the term in which the directed study should be carried out.

Conduct of Directed Study:

The instructor prepares a study plan for the directed study, which may consist of her or his regular syllabus for the course, adapted as necessary to the needs of the directed study, including the requirement of an additional project to make up for the loss of 32 contact hours in the classroom with the instructor and other students (36 hours in the case of graduate directed studies). The instructor then meets with the student before the term in which the directed study is to be carried out to present the study plan, make arrangements for the
student to procure the textbook and/or other course reading materials, and to agree on a regular meeting time or means of communicating with the student during the term to make and collect course assignments, answer any questions the student may have, and to return graded work. The instructor also sends the study plan to the advisor so it can be attached to the student’s  directed study registration form. The University’s expectation is that the instructor would meet with the student for an hour each week or every second week during the term, or arrange to provide comparable access through email correspondence. We can facilitate the proctoring of exams for the directed study by finding a class during the midterm and final exam weeks (and possibly at  other times as well) in which the student could take the directed study exams. Please contact the Academic Coordinators' Office.
if you would like to take advantage of this possibility.

Definition of an Independent Study:

An independent study is an individualized learning experience in which the student works independently on a topic of her or his own choice, which is not offered as a regular course, under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member. Background, Policy, and Procedure Our policy is that an independent study may be approved only in extraordinary circumstances. The approval procedure and the procedure for conducting an independent study is basically the same as the corresponding procedures for a directed study as described above.