Independent study is an opportunity to engage in intensive one-on-one research with a member of the faculty and earn academic credit outside the formal classroom structure. A student interested in knowing more about a topic not covered in the regular curriculum may propose a research project to any regular full-time member of the Program faculty.  For approval, the student and the faculty sponsor must agree that the topic is worth investigating, that it is not covered (or is not covered in sufficient depth) by Program courses, and that both the student and the sponsor share sufficient interest in the topic to sustain an independent study project.

Policies regarding acceptability for independent study credit

No independent study credit may be obtained for topics already being taught in the Program during the normal period of a student’s career as an undergraduate or graduate at CU. College and campus policies also prohibit the awarding of independent study credit for any of the following: internships, work in a university program or department, as a substitute for regular coursework, to meet College List or Core requirements. The Humanities Program may sometimes grant, following petition to the Chair, independent study credit for work completed at another institution or for extra work performed in the framework of a regular course (in the latter case, all procedures for setting up independent study must be completed before work begins). No Program credit will be granted for volunteer work, work in business or non-academic work of any kind performed abroad.

The Department Independent Study Agreement

Students must first acquire the sponsorship of a regular full-time member of the Program faculty. In consultation with the proposed instructor, the student draws up a plan of study, including a definition of the topic, a preliminary bibliography, the number of semester hours for which credit is sought, and the type of outcome (research paper, research paper plus presentation, etc.) that is expected. In calculating the number of credit hours for which credit is requested, students and their faculty sponsors should remember that the College requires a minimum of 25 hours of work (including reading and writing time) per hour of credit. The final plan is then recorded on a Program Independent Study Agreement form. Once the form is complete, it is submitted for approval to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The signatures of both the faculty sponsor and the DUS are required for registration. When all necessary signatures are obtained, the form is brought to the Program office and the student is registered by a member of the office staff, who in turn signs the form in the appropriate space.

Semester hours of credit allowed

Students may take no more than 9 credit hours of independent study in fulfillment of requirements for the Humanities major, no more than 6 semester hours during any one term, and no more than 16 hours toward any one degree. Moreover, no more than 8 credit hours of independent study taken in a single department or program can be applied toward the total hours needed for graduation. Finally, Humanities majors and minors may normally take no more than 3 credit hours of independent study in fulfillment of their upper division Humanities requirements.


Normally, only Humanities majors and minors are eligible for independent study.  There are no specific grade point or class standing requirements.


In accordance with College and campus rules, registration for independent study requires departmental approval. In the case of The Humanities Program, such approval must be obtained from the DUS, who reviews all requests for independent study at the undergraduate level. The object of review by the DUS is to ensure: (a) the intellectual validity of the proposed project, (b) that the number of semester hours of credit requested is appropriate, and (c) that the project has the requisite faculty sponsorship. All requests for Independent Study must use the Independent Study Agreement described above. Students should also remember: (a) that the Independent Study Agreement must be completed, signed, and approved prior to the initiation of the project—credit may not be obtained retroactively; and (b) registration for independent study must occur according to the deadlines for all other courses. to register for Independent Study Agreement, the student should bring the approved Independent Study Agreement to The Humanities Program Main Office.

Independent Study Agreement