Independent Study

HIST 495 Independent Study (2 or 4 credit hours) offers students the opportunity for an individualized program of reading, research, and writing on a particular topic.

Recent independent studies have included “Women in Medieval Europe,” "Lincoln ’s Presidential Cabinet,” “Mao Zedong,” and “A Historiographical Study of Ibn Khaldun.”

Independent Study Eligibility

  1. Independent Study is primarily for Junior and Senior Majors and is encouraged for those planning graduate study.
  2. Independent study is not to be used as a substitute for courses or seminars already in the curriculum, but for independent reading and research in areas not covered by our regular course offerings.
  3. Independent study may be available to non-majors at the discretion of the department chair assuming availability of supervising faculty.


  1. The student and instructor will define the study topic during pre-registration or no later than the end of the semester preceding the independent study. The initiative for requesting and defining an independent study belongs to the student.
    The supervising faculty will approve a working bibliography or research program defined by the student in consultation with his professor no later than the beginning of the second week. The student bears primary responsibility for compiling the initial bibliography.
  2. Usually the student will write a 15 to 20-page paper based on about 2,500 pages of reading on the topic, emphasizing analysis and interpretation of the subject rather than mere description. These requirements will be halved for 2 credit hours.
  3. Option: The instructor may substitute oral evaluations, essays, and/or projects in lieu of the paper. The amount of reading and objectives of the research will remain essentially the same.
  4. The student must take the initiative to report on the progress of his/her research every two or three weeks to the faculty supervisor.


  1. It is the student’s responsibility to talk with the appropriate professor about an independent study. This should be done as early as possible, either during pre-registration or no later than the first week of classes. The student should contact the professor in the department most qualified to direct the study. Either student or professor should consult with the department chair if there is any question about the appropriateness of the independent study or its impact on the professor’s work load.
  2. Once the professor has agreed to the independent study, the student registers, using the form available from the Registrar’s Office. Both student and professor also must sign a copy of this form, indicating their awareness of these guidelines.
  3. The student is solely responsible for meeting deadlines, completing assignments, and regularly reporting to the instructor. By mid-term approximately 1/2 of the work should be completed. Failure to meet deadlines may result in a lowered grade. No independent study or tutorial may be taken pass-fail.
  4. If there are clear signs that a student is not fulfilling his/her responsibilities for the independent study, the course may be terminated at the discretion of the professor.
  5. No professor should supervise more than three independent studies, including an Honors project, in any semester without load compensation.
  6. Tutorials for catalog courses may be arranged under these guidelines when approved by the Department Chair and with the consent of appropriate supervising faculty. The tutorial is permitted only in emergency situations and only with departmental approval. Its use is limited to severe scheduling difficulties or to meet curricular requirements during summer.