Purpose of Independent Study

Independent study is an opportunity for students to work under individual direction with a faculty member on a topic of mutual interest in economics. Independent study is reserved for advanced specialties or for intermediate study in areas in which the Department does not normally offer course credit. At minimum, seventy-five hours of time is required for each course (25 hours per credit).

  1. Faculty members are not obligated to sponsor students for independent study but may do so as their workload permits.
  2. Graduate independent study in economics is only allowed in extraordinary circumstances.
  3. Graduate independent study in economics is generally reserved for situations in which a student must develop a skill set for dissertation research (e.g. calibration) that is not normally taught in the graduate curriculum and requires considerable time and faculty input beyond what is typically involved in dissertation research and advising. 
  4. Graduate independent study in economics should not be used for a student to read a literature related to their dissertation research. It is expected that all students will read a wide literature while conducting dissertation research in addition to their seven elective field courses. Reading the literature for one's dissertation research should not replace one of the seven elective field courses.
  5. Graduate independent study should not be pursued, and will not be granted, simply because a student is not interested in the field course offerings in a particular semester.


In order to be eligible for independent study, ECON graduate students must have earned at least twelve (12) ECON graduate credit hours, must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, and cannot have more than three (3) previous hours of graduate independent study credit.

Policy Regarding Credit

The following rules govern the appropriateness of certain independent study experiences.

  1. Internship-type experiences are prohibited.
  2. Work in a University Department is prohibited.
  3. Substitute for core coursework is prohibited.
  4. Extra work performed in association with a regular class is prohibited.

Semester Hours of Credit Allowed

The maximum number of credit graduate students may take in independent study is six (6) hours. No more (and no less) than three (3) credit hours are allowed in any one semester.


  • Obtain a Graduate Independent Study Contract (see "Contract" section, below).
  • The Contract should be reviewed and discussed by you and your faculty sponsor.
  • After reviewing the contract, you and your faculty sponsor must reach an agreement about a course plan.
  • Take the contract to the Graduate Program Coordinator, who will verify eligibility (see "Eligibility" section, above, and at bottom of page 1 of the contract).
  • Complete the Graduate Independent Study Contract, attaching a detailed course plan.
  • Both you and your faculty sponsor must agree to the course plan, sign the contract, and initial where indicated under section 1 on page 3.
  • After you and your faculty sponsor have signed the contract, you must obtain approval from the associate chair of graduate studies.
  • Once all signatures have been obtained, take the form to the Graduate Program Coordinator who will set up the course and get you enrolled.
  • At the end of the semester, your faculty sponsor will submit a grade based on expectations outlined in the course plan.


A contract must be signed by you, your faculty sponsor and the associate chair for graduate studies. The contract must explain the topic, the nature of the project and the type of outcome expected (e.g. paper, presentation, etc.) See Item #1, page 1 in the contract. At minimum, seventy-five hours of time is required for each course (25 hours per credit).

Independent Study Contract (PDF)