Independent Study

In addition to carrying out research under the guidance of a faculty member, you can initiate your own study of a subject that isn't regularly offered, with the support of a faculty adviser (see faculty interests).

A proposal for Directed Study (EngL 3993) with a faculty member should be a two- to three-page document. The more innovative, interesting, and detailed the plan, the greater the chance it will be accepted. You should submit the proposal to a professor at least two months before the beginning of a semester.

All proposals should have at least the following components:

  • A clearly developed plan. What will you do during the directed study? What resources will you use and what research (if any) do you plan to do? How often do you expect to meet with your professor?
  • A clearly developed rationale. Why are you studying this topic? What background do you have to do the work? How will the directed study fit in with your general career goals?
  • A clearly developed workload. These details should be extensive and realistic. A typical three-credit University course requires roughly ten hours of work per week minimum.
  • Defined evaluation tools. Specify, in as much detail as possible, what sort of performance in a Directed Study would receive an A, a B, and so on. Consider, too, how many credits you should receive for your project and why.
  • Defined writing formats. A detailed "journal" of your thinking during the directed study is usually expected. Explain in your proposal what the term paper will try to do, specifically, and what the journal will be used for.

If a professor agrees to work with you on a directed study, you will initiate the online contract work flow at z.umn.edu/Directed_Activity. You will need to know the faculty internet ID in order to have the contract electronically approved by faculty. Once the online contract is approved by all parties (faculty, department and CLA) you will be emailed a permission number to register for the course.