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Independent Study

Independent study is graded, 1 or 3 credit semester-long project on a topic area chosen by a student in conjunction with a faculty advisor in the Department. It may comprise a research project or a set of guided readings around a theme, resulting in either a series of papers or a single major paper. Government 494 allows a student to pursue in greater detail an interest developed in previous courses, provided the subject is distinct from that covered by an existing class. Independent Study is an excellent chance to conduct research and/or read in-depth on a topic area. It is also a good chance to get faculty feedback on both analysis and writing.

Please note that GOVT 494: Independent Study does not satisfy the government major's capstone seminar requirement. 

Who is eligible for Independent Study in Government?

Academic juniors or seniors (including non-majors) may enroll; non-majors are eligible, assuming they have a faculty advisor willing to supervise the project and contingent upon Departmental approval.

How much work is involved?

Students doing Independent Study, whether at the College or in a study abroad program, are expected to complete work equivalent to that of a lecture or seminar course. A 1 credit version requires at least 10 pages of original written work (excluding appendices, attachments, etc.) A 3 credit variant requires at least 25 pages of original written work.

What about credits and grading?

Independent Study is available on a graded basis only, for 1 or 3 credits as outlined above. There is no pass-fail variant.

May an internship be counted as an independent study?

Participation in an internship or seminar/workshop alone does not qualify; a project based on such an experience must still involve work equivalent to that of other 400-level courses (i.e., a written project proposal, bibliography, and one or more papers, minimum of 25 pages total, excluding initial drafts). Information on receiving credit for work done in conjunction with an internship.

What role does the advisor play?

A faculty member with relevant expertise must be willing to supervise; the student is required to meet regularly with the supervisor to discuss his/her progress.

When and how often may an Independent Study be done?

A student may take Government 494 multiple times, but no more than six credits total taken in Government 498 and 494 combined may count to the major. Also, no more than three credits of Govt. 494 may be counted for students also counting Govt. 495-96, Honors, to the major. These stipulations also apply to equivalents taken elsewhere and transferred in.

Does Independent Study meet the Department's 400-level requirement?

GOVT 494: Independent Study is not a seminar and does not satisfy the government major's capstone seminar requirement. 

Which materials/forms do you need in order to register?

Once you have decided to do an Independent Study, chose a topic, and found a faculty member who will serve as an advisor, it is time to begin the paperwork. Click on the link above for the form; it should be turned into the Government Department office before the end of Add/Drop period of the semester in which you will be doing an Independent Study. Note: Do not try adding into Government 494, Independent Study, during preregistration.

The Associate Chair of Government reviews and approves GOVT 494: Independent Study forms.  The Government Department then issues the student an override into GOVT 494.  After the course override is issued, it is the student’s responsibility to register for the course, including choosing the appropriate number of academic credits in Banner from the drop-down academic credit menu.

Is credit possible for independent studies abroad or at another US university?

Students seeking credit for independent study courses to be taken abroad or elsewhere in the US (including at programs in Washington DC) should submit materials describing the academic/research work involved to the Department in advance. Pre-approval will be granted for GOVT ELEC (which counts toward the 120 credits for graduation but not to the Government major).

Upon returning to the College, students may seek to have that credit converted to Government 494, Independent Study (which counts toward the 120 graduation credits and the major): doing so requires submitting all academic work completed/submitted, along with a copy of the College's Transfer Credit Request Form (available at the Registrar's office), to the Department, which will evaluate it based on the criteria for Govt. 494 credit above.

No more than 6 total credits in Government 498, Internship and Government 494, Independent Study (including those transferred in) combined may be counted toward a major in Government; credit beyond 6 may count to the 120 needed for graduation.