Independent Study courses of various sorts, and with various credit loads, are regularly included among Department course listings. The purpose of such automatic listings is in part for clerical convenience and is not to be construed as a blanket right to take an independent-study course in a given term. In principle, students will be advised to take regular department offerings unless these clearly coincide with courses already taken. This principle holds regardless of the status of the student concerned.
The opportunity to take Independent Study courses is usually extended to advanced (normally, Ph.D.) students with special needs and interests not met by departmental offerings. Occasionally a student who, through no fault of his or her own, has been unable to take a course required for a degree may petition to take such a course through Independent Study. Otherwise, Independent Sudy is not offered in subject areas regularly taught by the Department. In order to obtain approval for an Independent Study course, a student must present to the graduate adviser a) sufficient rationale; b) a statement from the faculty member who has agreed to undertake and supervise the Independent Study.
A faculty member agreeing to undertake supervision of Independent Study should, as a minimum, provide a list of readings or agree to supervise progress through a student-provided list. Except for dissertation research, the Independent Study course should typically result in a graded research paper of significant length or in a graded comprehensive examination.
An exception may be made when the student has satisfied all course and credit requirements (at least 60 credits) for the comprehensive examinations and wishes to enroll for 3 credits toward preparing for examinations scheduled in the same term. In such a case, the student registers for 3 credits of Independent Study with the examination chair, and receives a grade for the course (Credit/Audit) according to whether or not the examinations are passed.
Students may not undertake study under the rubric Dissertation Research until they have been formally advanced to candidacy.