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3General Degree Requirements

 University of Colorado, Boulder

Independent Study

Purpose of independent study

Independent Study is an opportunity to earn academic credit for learning outside the formal class structure. A student who is interested in knowing more about a topic not covered in the regular Film Studies curriculum may propose a research project to any rostered department faculty member. If the student and faculty member can agree that the topic is worth investigating, it is not covered (or not covered in sufficient depth) in departmental courses, and that they share sufficient interest in the topic to sustain an independent study project, the student and faculty member may prepare an independent study contract.

Policies regarding what is and is not acceptable for independent study credit

Some experiences are not appropriate for independent study credit and, in fact, are prohibited by College policy. Please note that independent study projects are generally approved when a student’s graduation is held up by a 1-2 credit hours. A 3-credit-hour project is approved only in exceptional circumstances. The following experiences are not appropriate for independent study credit.

  1. Internship type experiences - Prohibited by College policy.
  2. Work in a University department - Prohibited by College policy.
  3. Substitute for regular course work - Prohibited by College policy.
  4. To meet College List or Core requirement - Prohibited by College policy.
  5. Work completed elsewhere (e.g. out of state) unless approved by department before initiating project.
  6. Volunteer work — unless work is part of and germane to an appropriate independent study project.
  7. Work in business — unless work is part of and germane to an appropriate independent study project.
  8. Extra work performed in association with a regular course — unless all procedures in setting up the independent study are followed prior to the course being started.

Description of Contract

A Film Studies Program Independent Study Contract must be filled out and signed by all required individuals before the student can register for the independent study. In this contract the student must provide a description of the topic that will be pursued in the independent study (under “DESCRIPTION OF COURSE WORK”). The student also must note what type of “product” or “products” will be completed at the end of the term. Finally, as noted on the contract, the expectation is that a minimum of 25 hours (1500 minutes) of study time is required for each 1 semester hour of credit.

Semester hours of credit allowed

The maximum hours allowed in independent study are as follows for undergraduates:

1. 16 hours towards degree
2.  8 hours in the Film Studies Program
3. Max of 3 hours in any single semester.

Independent credit earned in Film Studies can be used as general upper division credit for the undergraduate major requirement. It cannot be used to fulfill any of the specific upper division requirements (i.e., Film History, Film Theory).


Independent study in Film Studies is usually restricted to majors because it is assumed that to conduct an independent study in Film Studies the student must have the relevant background knowledge in this discipline. Independent study in Film Studies is also usually restricted to juniors and seniors with a grade point average of 3.00 or higher. Finally, for the critical studies independent study, students must have completed FILM 1502, 3051, and 3061. For the production independent study, students must have completed FILM 2000, 2500 or 2600, and 3400 or 3600. Independent study cannot be done retroactively. That is, the contract for independent study is to be completed, signed and approved prior to the initiation of the project, not after it has been completed. Also, independent study is to be enrolled for in the same time frame as all other courses.


After consulting with the faculty sponsor the student should complete the pertinent portions of the independent study form (description of the product to be completed at end of term). A staff person will evaluate the student’s eligibility and fill out and initial the appropriate section of the contract. The faculty sponsor and the student will discuss the number of credits to be contracted. The faculty sponsor will provide the student with the appropriate course number. After the faculty sponsor signs the contract, the student should also sign it and return it to the Departmental Office. The Associate Director of Film Studies will evaluate the contract and approve it as it fulfills the requirements described above. Finally, as noted above, independent study is to be enrolled for in the same time frame as all other courses. When all appropriate signatures are obtained the student will be registered by a member of the Film Studies Program staff.

Technical Policies of College Of Arts And Sciences

  1. Student may not register for more than 6 semester hours of Independent Study credit for any one term.
  2. No more than 8 semester hours of Independent Study credit my be taken in a single department or program.
  3. A maximum of 16 credit hours of Independent Study may count toward the degree.
  4. Independent Study credit is not be used to fulfill College List or Core Curriculum requirements.

Independent Study Coordinator Responsibilities

The Coordinator of Independent Study in the Film Studies Program will be the Associate Director. The Coordinator will review the Independent Study Contract before the student is registered for credit. This review will ensure: the appropriate course number is being used, that an appropriate number of credit hours are being awarded, and that only rostered faculty members are signing contracts and sponsoring Independent Study.. The coordinator will also make occasional checks on the quality of independent study projects, verify that sponsors are keeping to the terms of the contracts, and check the grade rosters to confirm that no one faculty member is supervising an unreasonable number of independent study hours. Because each faculty member in the department is assigned a section number and receives a separate Independent Study grade roster, checking the number of students registered with a particular faculty and the timely completion of the contracts will be routine. Finally, the coordinator will evaluate significant changes to the independent study contract, will be in charge of training sponsors and staff, and will develop record keeping procedures.

Only rostered faculty members in the Film Studies Program may act as Sponsor of an Independent Study project. It is the duty of faculty sponsors to sign only contracts that conform to departmental policy. Sponsors will notify and work with the independent study coordinator if substantive changes to an independent study project occur during its completion. Sponsors are also responsible for the evaluation of Independent Study projects, entering grades on the grade rosters, keeping appropriate records, and verifying the accuracy of both personal independent study rosters and grades entered in the student’s record. Staff will be responsible for verifying the student’s major, class standing, GPA and previous independent study record. Staff will also be responsible for verifying the sponsor’s and coordinator’s signatures on Independent Study contracts, for registering the student for the hours indicated on a properly signed contract, and distributing grade rosters to the faculty. Staff also collect the grade rosters, verify that they are properly filled out and forward them to the registrar, and distribute grade verification reports. Under no circumstances will staff be asked to evaluate a student project or determine the grade assigned.

Granting Independent Study credit is not an appropriate way for faculty or the department to compensate a student for doing routine work, grading papers, proctoring exams or assisting with the faculty member’s research. The student, after all, pays tuition for these credits and the grade on the transcript presumably reflects a significant academic experience.

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Film Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder
Film Studies Program, ATLAS room 329, Film Studies, , Campus Box 316, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0316. ph 303.492.7574 fx 303.492.1362