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Independent Study Proposal Guidelines

Independent Study provides the student with the opportunity to work with a faculty member on a specific topic or issue of interest that might not otherwise be available in a structured course. Independent study courses are typically not available to students until they have completed the foundation curriculum. Independent study courses count toward the degree as would any elective.

Start with the MSW Independent Study Intent Form (due November 1st for Spring registration and April 1st for Summer/Fall registration. 

To plan an Independent Study, follow these steps:

1. Contact the faculty member you wish to work with on this course and present your idea(s) for an Independent Study. Discuss what you would like to study and how you propose to approach the learning process. If you and the faculty member are in agreement, you will need to develop a one page proposal which includes the following:

  • Statement of purpose – what do you plan to study and why
  • Identify the specific learning objectives you will pursue
  • List specific texts or other readings you will complete
  • Identify the outcome or product – e.g., a formal paper, a research proposal, a data analysis and summary, an annotated bibliography, a journal, a program evaluation report, etc.
  • Identify the grading or evaluation criteria for the project (i.e., how will your grade be determined? what percentage will come from the final product, from meetings with the faculty, from other sources?)
  • Indicate how often you and the faculty member plan to meet over the course of the Independent Study.
2. After the supervising faculty has reviewed your proposal, obtain their signature on the proposal to indicate their approval.

3. Route the completed form to the Office of Academic Affairs at where your proposal will be reviewed and a course and section number will be assigned. 


This process requires planning. You will need time to discuss your work with faculty, time to develop a proposal, and time for review and approval. Independent Study Intent Forms are due on November 1st for the Spring semester and April 1st  for Fall and Summer semesters. The Independent Study proposal, with approvals, must be finalized two weeks prior to the first day of class in the semester in which you want to enroll. If the proposal is not completed, with all required approvals, by that time, the request will be denied.