To enroll in an independent study, a student must find a faculty member to sponsor the project. Students are encouraged to approach individual faculty based on their interests, although many of these projects get started after a student takes a course with a particular faculty member. Many students use this as an opportunity to get involved in research, which helps prepare a student for graduate school.
Setting up an independent study involves agreeing on a topic, and preparing a one-page outline of the intended study area. There is a form available in Hill 390 which must be completed by the student and the faculty member, and approved by the Department Chair or Undergraduate Chair. The faculty member will monitor the work, evaluate the final product, and assign a grade.
This course can be used to satisfy a CS upper-level elective requirement (this must be agreed upon in advance). The course number is 493 in the fall, and 494 in the spring.
Students whose project ideas are not currently part of any course syllabus, may be interested in setting up an independent study. The faculty sponsor will likely have their own research interests in the student effort, and the project will be of interest to both. In general, the 1-4 credits granted will be equivalent in effort and academic content to a regular classroom course, though certainly more specialized, and with perhaps a larger experimental component.
The structure of the work in an independent study varies. It typically consists of activities such as reading, programming, modeling, experimentation, and writing.