Independent Studies are voluntary agreements between individual faculty members and individual students, in which students complete a course of study and assignment. The course of study and assignment for a three-point independent study typically consists of a reading list comparable to that required for a regular three-point course, which can range from 75 to 150 pages per week, and a research paper (at least 20 pages). Independent study courses can also be taken for 1.5 points; in this case, the reading and research paper are customarily half the length of a three-point course. Because independent studies (particularly for three-points) are intensive activities, faculty members regard them as a significant commitment. Faculty members are not obligated to supervise independent studies, and they typically do so with students who have completed a class or other educational/research activity under their supervision.
If a SIPA faculty member is willing to supervise an independent study, the student should ask the faculty member to sign this form, the “Application for Individual Research Course,” and then submit the signed application to the Office of Student Affairs no later than the change of program deadline. Full-time faculty members who are not appointed at SIPA, but are appointed in other schools, are also eligible to supervise independent studies with SIPA students. Non-SIPA faculty follow the policies and procedures established by their schools, not SIPA. SIPA students typically ask SIPA faculty members or other faculty with whom they have taken a class to serve as their independent study faculty supervisor. On occasion, adjunct faculty members currently teaching at SIPA supervise independent studies. Since adjunct faculty receive no additional compensation for supervising independent studies and are generally engaged in full-time activities outside of SIPA, many adjunct faculty are reluctant to undertake this obligation. If a student approaches an adjunct faculty member about supervising an independent study and is interested in learning more, they should contact the SIPA Office of Academic Affairs.