Political Science Major

Independent Study Policy


Students who have a well-thought-out study project and a full-time member of the Political Science faculty willing to supervise it may obtain credit for independent study by requesting registration in POS 395 (Independent Study I).  Undergraduates may complete up to three independent study projects.  Students working on a second or third independent study register for POS 396 (Independent Study II) or POS 397 (Independent Study III).  Each independent study will earn three credits.

Independent study means exactly that: the responsibility for doing the work, securing and meeting with a faculty supervisor, creating and giving structure to the entire project rests largely on the shoulders of the individual student.  The faculty supervisor will meet periodically with the student, make suggestions, propose readings, and grade the final project.  The student, largely on his/her own, will create the initial proposal, comb through the library for sources and materials related to the project, and do all other necessary work to complete, by the end of one semester, an acceptable independent study product.

In addition to the above guidelines, the following steps must be completed for a student to earn course credit in POS 395, POS 396, or POS 397.

1.     By the end of the first week of the semester the student must obtain Department approval of his/her independent study proposal.  This approval is obtained in the following way:

a.     A student should first consult with full-time faculty member in the Department who may be willing to supervise the project.  Normally, this faculty supervisor has special expertise in the area of the project.  Faculty may or may not agree to supervise an independent study course, at their sole discretion.

b.     The student should then submit to that faculty member a serious 3-5 page academic proposal concerning the project.  The proposal should delineate important theoretical questions the student wishes to examine, explain how the research will shed light on these questions, and describe a final product.  In other words, how will the proposed research help us learn more about how politics works?

c.    If the faculty supervisor is satisfied the student can complete the research and has a significant project under way, he/she may accept supervision of the project.  The student should then file a copy of the proposal with the Department Chair, signed by both the student and the faculty supervisor, and may register for independent study credit.  The signed proposal will be placed in the student's file for future reference.  [The student must also complete the College's Independent Study Approval Form to formally register for the course].                

2.    After the student is registered for independent study credit, he/she will meet about once every two weeks with the faculty supervisor, or more frequently if necessary.

3.    The student will complete a major research product or paper by the end of the semester, and present a 10-15 minute summary of the main findings obtained in his/her research in a Department faculty meeting at the end of the semester.  At that time faculty may wish to question the student about the findings or interesting points raised in the course of the research.  The research product and presentation must be acceptable to the faculty supervisor, who is solely responsible for the student's grade on the paper.