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Independent study courses provide an opportunity for students to pursue a special research or academic interest under the direction of a faculty member of the Department of Political Science. Beginning in Fall 2018, there are two independent study options for political science majors:

POLIĀ 395. Mentored Research in Political Science: In this course, students carry out a research project under the direct supervision of a faculty mentor. The student can either be working on an independent project or providing research assistantship on a faculty-led project. In either case, there is the expectation that the student is actively engaging in research. This course meets the Experiential Education (EE) general education requirement.

POLIĀ 396. Directed Readings in Political Science. In this course, students work through a syllabus in a special field under the direction of a faculty member. The topic of a directed reading course should be different from courses we already offer in a traditional classroom setting.

Both POLI 395 and 396 are only available to political science majors. The research and writing entailed in an independent study course must be equivalent to the workload of a regular course. In particular, at least three hours of independent work per week is required for each unit of credit, and students must submit a final research paper at the end of the semester.

A student who wishes to pursue an independent study should write a research proposal and contact a faculty member who teaches in the research area of interest to supervise the project. After identifying a faculty supervisor, the student must complete an Independent Study Learning Contract through the Online Learning Contract Manager (OLCM) and a research proposal outlining the specific details of the semester-long project. Students should complete this process before the semester begins.

Deadline: The Independent Study Learning Contract must be completed and approved by both the faculty supervisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies by the Friday of the second week of classes for fall and spring semesters; for summer semesters, the contracts must be completed and approved by the Friday of the first week of classes. Students will not be able to register for POLI 395 or 396 after the add period.


If you have questions about independent study or the approval process for POLI 395 or 396, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies,Christopher Clark.


Click here to access the Online Learning Contract Manager

Click here to access OLCM instructions