Independent Studies - Policies and Recommendations

The following information does not apply to internships. For more information on internships (courses ending with 93, or the Capstone Internship 698 course) see:



General Policies

Independent Study is an extended exploration of a topic under supervision of a School of Information full-time faculty member. Students engaged in study under the supervision of a full-time faculty member that is not directed research will register for Independent Study 499, 599 or 699. University and Board of Regents policies on independent studies apply – See

To summarize:

Students are responsible for finding a faculty member whose research is aligned with the student’s interests and should keep in mind that faculty members are not obligated to supervise independent studies. Should a faculty member agree to supervise an independent study, the student and faculty member will draft a contract/syllabus specifying in detail materials to be read, research to be conducted, assignments to be completed, exams to be taken, any tangible work products that the student will produce, and the basis for grading. Learning objectives and outcomes should be clearly defined. Graduate students in the MA-LIS program should align the independent study with one or more of the MA Competencies. Graduate students in the MS-I program should align the independent study with one or more of the MS Student Competencies and Outcomes. PhD students should align the independent study with their research topic.

The University and Board of Regents require a minimum of 45 hours of course work for each unit of credit awarded, or 135 hours for a 3-unit independent study. The contract/syllabus drafted should specify how the hours will be expended and tracked. The content of an Independent Study course must not significantly duplicate material offered in a regularly scheduled course in the department in the current semester; any exceptions must be approved by the college dean. Master's students see also additional School of Information policies and limitations on Individual Study, Internships and Practica at

SI Advising Policies and Recommendations

  • Independent studies are discouraged for most students, who are better served by structured coursework in defined areas of information studies where topical areas appear on the student’s transcript, or internships under the supervision of library and information professionals.
  • The independent studies option is primarily of benefit for those students who already have a well-defined research path or prior and established interest in an area of library or information studies not covered by current School of Information course offerings.
  • Independent studies may be of particular benefit to graduate students who plan on pursuing the PhD or a research career but who do not want to pursue a full thesis option. Independent studies are discouraged for the purpose of studying for comprehensive exams.
  • Independent studies are not advised for students with a GPA of less than 3.5 or students who possess less than stellar research skills.
  • Undergraduates are required to have completed 12 units of School of Information Coursework
  • Master's students are required to have completed 506/507 and 12 units in order to register for an IS.
  • Doctoral students require the approval of their committee chair in addition to the regular approval process. 

Steps to apply, register, and complete an Independent Study*

How to apply:

Documentation required with your application:

  • In most cases, students applying for Independent Study are required to attach a Work/Project plan, syllabus, schedule, and/or other planning documentation to their application in order to be registered.
  • In cases in which the supervisor agrees to accept forms after the registration process, all proposal forms and project plans must be signed by the instructor and the student and filed in the department or program office within a week after the term commences.
  • Once you are registered, the course will appear in Uaccess. In most cases, your Site Supervisor will be Instructor of Record.

At the end of the term or project:

  • When the term ends or whenever the student completes the project, the Instructor or project advisor must complete a record of the outcome that explains the grade submitted. The record of outcome form with the instructor’s signature should be filed in the department or program office when the course grade is submitted. For more information on this requirement contact the student's academic Advisor.

More information

For more information, see



*A note on Graduate Individual Study courses not listed above (692, 900, 920, H [Honors] courses): Specific information on these courses can be found at The application process for these courses is in Handshake and for the most part is identical to applying for other types of Independent Study.

Related Topic(s): 

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences