Independent studies offer a way to earn course credit for exploring an area of writing that isn’t covered somewhere else in our MA program’s curriculum. They allow you to propose projects and readings of your own — basically, to create your own course syllabus. Many students choose to complete independent studies to help them prepare for writing a thesis or building an online portfolio, and they can also be a good solution if you are having trouble finding a course that fits your schedule.
Independent studies are not for everyone, however. Know yourself and your work habits before you propose one! If you know that you need the social interaction of a class that meets regularly to motivate you, this option might not be a good choice. You can fail an independent study if you forget about it or turn in rushed, sloppy work.
Most students who take an independent study sign up for RHET 7350, using the section for the instructor they have asked to supervise the project. Before you register for the course, you must submit an independent study proposal to one of the graduate faculty in the department, and that person must agree to supervise the course and clear you to register for it.
- Content for the proposal:
- The proposal (in memo format) should specify the topic and your interest in the topic; it should also state the purpose and scope for the project and, if applicable, the tentative thesis.
- In addition, the memo should include a working bibliography.
- The proposal, then, becomes a contract between you and the professor, a contract that specifies what you will read and write.
- See a sample independent study proposal.
- After you and the professor have signed the proposal (contract), make two copies and give the original to the professor for safekeeping in his/her files.
- Give/send a copy to the graduate coordinator; keep the last copy for your files.
- Once the proposal is signed, either your supervising professor or the graduate coordinator can clear you to register.