Independent Studies

Independent study courses may be elected in the fall and winter terms. Only rarely would a student be able to take an independent study course during the spring or summer half terms. You are eligible if you are currently enrolled at U-M, and have satisfied the necessary prerequisites for the independent study course level you wish to take. Undergraduates may only take an independent study course if the course-level prerequisites in the appropriate language have been completed.

An independent study course is designed by you, the student, to investigate an area or field of specialization not normally covered in a regularly scheduled course offering by the department.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Independent study applications are due on the LAST DAY OF CLASSES of the WINTER SEMESTER for Spring, Summer, and Fall independent studies, and the LAST DAY OF THE FALL SEMESTER for Winter independent studies.

Forms

Spanish Independent Study Proposal Form

French and Italian Independent Study Proposal Form

Instructions and Guidelines for Independent Study

  • Make a research proposal to a faculty member with whom you would like to take the independent study course. Our directory of faculty members and their areas of interest may help you. Only individuals with a title of Lecturer III, Lecturer IV, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, or Professor are eligible to sponsor independent studies.
  • You and the instructor should agree on course details, including the material to be covered; course format; sources to be used; and method of evaluation. Select the independent study course number appropriate to your level and needs. A complete listing of course numbers is available in the proposal form (included in the Form.pdf above).
  • If you plan to use an internship course number (French 381, Italian 346, Spanish 428), be sure to review the course description in the LSA Course Guide for the term in which you wish to enroll. These courses may have additional paperwork that needs to be submitted along with your independent study contract.
  • Complete a proposal form (included in the Form.pdf above). Return the completed proposal form, with the instructor's signature, to the department main office, 4108 MLB. (Be sure to include additional paperwork as needed if you are applying to use an internship course number.) Forms will then be submitted to the appropriate committee for final approval.
  • Once final approval has been obtained, you will receive an e-mail with instructions for registering.
  • Please note: faculty members are not required to direct independent studies and will normally limit the number of independent study courses they supervise per semester to one.
  • Students may only count one independent study toward the completion of their major or minor requirements. If your project requires two semesters of independent work, you are encouraged to consider applying for the honors program in your language.
  • All proposals need to articulate themselves in relation to the student's course of study in the major/minor as a whole: in other words, how will this independent study build upon your previous course work?
  • The faculty expect that a course of independent study normally contain 50% more reading than a regularly scheduled course because you will not be spending time in a formal class. In your regular meetings with your supervisor, you should come prepared to present the work you have completed and its results.

Any questions about this procedure should be directed to the instructor with whom you are working.

Additional Guidelines for French and Italian Independent Study Applications 

Please be advised of the following important reminders:

  • The deadline for independent study applications is the last day of classes of the winter semester for Spring, Summer, and Fall independent studies, and the last day of the Fall semester for Winter independent studies.
  • Faculty is not required to direct independent study and will normally limit the number of independent study courses they supervise per semester to one. Students may only count one independent study toward the completion of their major/minor requirements (if your project requires two semesters of independent work, you might consider applying to write a senior honors thesis).
  • All proposals for independent study needs to articulate itself in relation to the student's course of study in the major/minor as a whole—how would this course build upon previous coursework?
  • The faculty expects that a course of independent study normally contain 50% more reading than a regularly scheduled course, in light of the fact that less time is spent in class. Students should come to meetings with the supervising faculty member, prepared to present work they have completed and to discuss their results. All proposals should be accompanied by a bi-weekly breakdown of work, including reading, writing, research and any other relevant responsibilities (see page four of the independent study application form).