The University of Texas at Dallas

School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences

Independent Study

Independent Study

An independent study is a course that involves independent work by an individual student under the supervision of a faculty member.  Students typically read and/or conduct research on a topic relevant to their major that either is not covered in an available organized course or that is advanced work that builds on material already covered in an organized course the student has already completed.

What are the academic requirements for completing an Independent Study?

The academic requirements are negotiated between the student and the supervising professor.  In many cases, students will prepare a major research paper, typically far more extensive than a normal paper assignment for an organized course.  In other cases, students may prepare a series of shorter papers. 

How is an Independent Study different from an Internship?

Independent studies involve individual academic work, while internships involve paid or volunteer work in an organization, usually outside of the university, that apply knowledge and skills from the student’s work in courses. Information on internships at UT-Dallas is available at the Career Center and from your Academic Advisor.

How is an Independent Study used on a student’s degree plan?

With prior approval by the program director and/or academic advisor, the credit can be used as “Major and Related Course” credit. Otherwise, the credit may be used as a free elective. 

How many semester credit hours can be given for an Independent Study?

Most independent studies are for three semester credit hours (SCHs).  A total of six SCHs of independent study may be applied to a student’s degree plan, but the combined number of SCHs for all independent studies and internships on a degree plan can be no more than nine.

Which faculty can supervise an Independent Study?

Only full-time School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences faculty — including tenured/ tenure-track faculty and senior lecturers — can supervise independent studies. Only program faculty can supervise independent studies to be used as Major and Related courses.  Many faculty members devote their summers to full-time research and writing, and are unavailable for supervision of independent studies in the summer. For a summer independent study, ask faculty members who are teaching summer courses.

How should I go about finding and registering for an Independent Study?

First, think about what topic(s) you would like to study. Next, find out which full-time members of your program faculty would be the most appropriate supervisor.  You can find out about the research and teaching interests of your program faculty by looking at their websites, talking to your academic advisor or program director or asking your instructors. Then, make an appointment to discuss your idea with the faculty member. You should have some suggestions prepared based on your academic interests and/or background to bring to the meeting — if you simply ask faculty members for their ideas, they may not respond positively.

Finally, complete the form for Independent Studies available from your academic advisor so that you can register for the course. (Note: registration requires a special advising code and is typically done through your academic advisor; it cannot be conducted online and requires the approval of your academic advisor and the supervising professor.)

Under what course number should I register for an Independent Study?

Students seeking “major and related” credit should register under the Independent Study course number for their major: CRIM 4V97, ECON 4V97, GEOG 4V97, GISC 4V97, IPE 4V97, PSCI 4V97, PA 4V97, or SOC 4V97.  Students seeking elective credit normally register under the course prefix for the program with which the supervising professor is affiliated. Fast track undergraduate students may not register for graduate independent studies.