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Department of English UMD College of Liberal Arts


Directed reading, research, or involvement in social action leading to preparation of a paper or other product.

(Instructor consent required to register; cannot apply credit to a Graduate School Program)

Independent Study offers the opportunity to pursue your interests in areas of the department where we do not offer introductory or advanced courses. It also allows you to do original research in an area of interest. A maximum of 6 total Independent Study credits can be taken. The typical Independent Study project is conducted for 3 academic credits. An Independent Study can be pursued in any of our departmental programs:

Research topics more appropriate to other disciplines should first be explored through Independent Study options in those areas.


INSTRUCTOR: Any department faculty member willing to supervise an independent study project.


A. Meet with one of the faculty to discuss your proposed independent study project. Select a questions which interests you, and which you can complete in one or two semesters.

B. If you have any questions about how independent study works, ask about them before you sign up.

C. Prepare a written proposal outlining your project (2-4 pages). Include in the proposal the following information:

1. Statement of research problem or project including objective of project,
2. Method of achieving objective,
3. Preliminary literature review with bibliography (if applicable),
4. Procedure for evaluation of project.
5. The number of credits needed to complete the project. You are expected to do 35 - 37 hours of work per credit. NOTE: Credits relate to the quantity of work; grades relate to its quality.

D. A Contract for Independent Study must be signed by the supervising faculty member and the student. The faculty member will keep one copy of the contract, the student will keep the second copy, and the department will keep the third copy.

E. Bring the third copy of the Contract to the Department office (Cina 228) so that you can receive a permission number to register.


Investigating, discussing, and writing a research paper is the central focus of Independent Study research. Research papers do not simply paraphrase information found in printed and audiovisual sources. They involve gathering evidence, analyzing information, developing a thesis, and discovering an appropriate way to report the results. Writing the paper is part of a process which involves periodically getting feedback from others with similar interests. The process is as important as the product.

You need not limit your Independent Study to producing a library-oriented research paper like a course term paper. You have other options. You can, for example, do a field research project. You can also pursue directed readings, assembling a carefully annotated bibliography and preparing a summary of research area problems as part of your study.


You must plan a work schedule with the faculty member supervising your independent study. This schedule should identify tasks for each week of the semester, and it also should include regular meetings with the faculty member.

Independent Study projects normally should be completed in one fifteen-week semester or during a summer session. It is expected that you check with your instructor each week you are enrolled in Independent Study. NOTE: Simply turning in a paper at the end of the semester does not in itself satisfy the requirements of this course. Unless you make other arrangements before your sign up for the course, 5% of your final grade will be subtracted from your paper grade for every scheduled semester meeting you miss with your instructor with the required materials (a larger percentage will be subtracted if you are completing this in the summer). These meetings may be brief, but they must be regular.

If you would like your final grade sent to you, please provide a stamped self-addressed envelope or postcard. The departmental secretary may not give out grades, and grades will not be given out over the telephone.


In order to receive an "Incomplete" in this course you must make prior arrangements. In general, you will qualify for an incomplete only if you have a very good reason for requesting one, and you have completed most (e.g., 85%) of the course work.


Click here for a Contract for Independent Study

* Submit 3 copies - faculty, student, department


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