Independent Study

(approved by Undergraduate Committee 2/2/12)

Independent study refers to these courses: CISC 366, CISC 466, and UNIV 401 and UNIV 402 (senior thesis). Independent study can be a rich and rewarding form of learning. Detailed arrangements vary considerably. The one requirement for a student to receive independent study credit is that the student must obtain the approval of a regular full time CIS faculty member and sign up for independent study with the course number associated with that faculty member.


  • Independent study credit, in general, is not given for activity for which the student is being paid.
  • Independent study credit, in general, is not given for the study of material normally offered in a regular course offering.
  • Independent study normally includes three major components: (1) reading of relevant literature, (2) completing a significant computer project, and (3) formally summarizing the results. Item (3) usually includes a final report which includes a summary of the relevant literature and an explanation and evaluation of the project.
  • Independent study normally involves regular meetings between student and supervisor, usually including one or more presentations by the student.
  • Independent study usually begins with the student presenting a fairly detailed proposal to a professor whose interests relate to the proposed study.
  • Independent study may be supervised by a professional who is not a regular faculty member. However, a full time faculty member must agree to oversee the arrangement, and provide the final evaluation and grade. In such cases, the student, professional, and faculty member must have a clear agreement as to the terms of the project and the evaluation procedure.

Credit Usage:

  • With your CISC faculty advisor’s approval, a single independent study course may be used to satisfy one of the courses in your concentration or focus area, but should not be used in place of a technical elective.

  • Two independent studies may be used toward the traditional BS Computer Science focus area, e.g., when the scope of the project is such that the project cannot be completed in one semester. Recall that focus areas require faculty approval.  Approval for the use of two independent study courses in the focus area will be dependent on the particular situation and the rationale for the focus area.

  • Any exceptions to the above rules need to be referred to the CIS undergraduate committee for approval.