Independent Study

Independent Study in Philosophy
Purpose, Eligibility and Procedures

Purpose: Independent study provides you with the opportunity to explore areas or topics in philosophy outside the regular curriculum. This program is designed primarily, although not exclusively, for philosophy majors and minors. Independent studies are not normally granted on topics which we teach.

Eligibility: A 3.0 cumulative grade point average. Independent study in philosophy is intended only for students pursuing advanced or upper-level work. In addition, you should be a self-motivated student who is self-disciplined and intellectually independent. You are responsible for your work. Your advisor will not organize your project for you but will advise you as you carry out your project.


  1. Faculty Advisor, and Study Topic. You need to have a faculty member in the philosophy department agree to serve as your independent study advisor. Make an appointment with the faculty member you would like to work, present verbally and somewhat informally your proposal for an independent research topic or project. You will need to have a fairly definite study topic, or project, in mind before this meeting. Do not expect your advisor to come up with a topic or project for you. The faculty member may either tentatively accept your verbal proposal, or decline your verbal proposal. If your verbal proposal is accepted, you must write a "study proposal" and submit it to your (tentative) faculty advisor for approval. (Note that your study topic should not duplicate what is covered in the regular course offerings.)
  2. Study Proposal, and Approval. After your verbal proposal has been tentatively approved, you must write a "study proposal." The study proposal should be no more than one page in length, and should include: a summary statement of the area you want to explore or the problem or issue you intend to work on; a reading list or bibliography; and a description of the work you will do (e.g. the number and types of papers you will write, or oral reports you will give, etc.). Your written study proposal must be approved and signed by your faculty advisor. You do not have approval for an independent study unless and until a faculty member has signed your study proposal. (You are not bound to adhere to the letter of your study proposal. You may, with your advisor’s permission, deviate from your original study proposal.)
  3. Work Schedule. You and your advisor must agree in writing on a work schedule. Your schedule will state when you will meet and the due dates for your papers, journals or oral reports. It is your responsibility to adhere to this schedule. If you fail to adhere to it, you advisor may elect to drop you from independent study. Note that you will be expected to work largely on your own. In particular, your faculty advisor should not be put in the position of having to make sure you do your work on schedule.
  4. Grades and Credit. When you do an independent study in philosophy you are officially taking the philosophy "course" "380/381 Independent Studies in Philosophy." Thus, once your project has been approved, you must register for this "course." You will receive standard credit, and your faculty advisor will assign you a standard grade at the end of the semester.