Resources for... William & Mary
William & Mary W&M menu close William & Mary

Independent Study

There may come a day when you may want to study topics in economics that are not covered in a course. Or, you might want to conduct independent research to expand on an economic topic discussed in class. Once you have completed ECON 303 and ECON 304, you may design an independent study course (ECON 490) to accommodate these interests.

Depending on the workload associated with the course, you can earn between 3 and 4 credits for ECON 490. In general, a 3 credit independent study should include significant written output: either one paper in the 15 to 20-page range, or a series of shorter papers. Courses with fewer credits have smaller workloads.

All independent study courses must have a faculty advisor. Before you can register for ECON 490, you must submit a brief proposal to your advisor. The proposal will delineate

  • the purpose of the course (area of study),
  • the general format of the course (e.g., weekly email exchanges, biweekly meetings in person, etc.),
  • the final output of the course (e.g., 15 page research paper, 20 page literature review, oral presentation, etc.),
  • dates for any interim outputs (drafts, etc.), and
  • the number of credits.

In addition, the student and the faculty member should have a clear understanding of the grading policy. This does not need to be included in the written proposal.

The faculty advisor must sign this proposal and submit it to the department chair. Once the proposal is approved, you may register for ECON 490.

You may take only one independent study course per semester. No more than 6 independent study credits count toward the economics major.

If your topic is one that will take more than a semester to cover, you might consider an Honors project.