Independent Studies

Do you have an idea for an independent study?

An independent study begins with you. We invite you to conceive and propose a guided academic project whose reading and research stems from and develops the concepts, theories, or practices you have encountered in Communication courses.

About credits

A typical semester-long independent study is 3 credits. And only 3 credits of COMM 396: Independent Study can be counted toward the major. Any additional COMM 396 credits are treated as elective credits.


Each 3-credit independent study should be similar to a 3-credit course in terms of workload. In all cases, the independent study will require a formal written component (one or more research papers). Video or audiotapes, films, portfolios, and the like may also be submitted for evaluation, as determined by you and your sponsor.

What an independent study is not

Field experiences, such as internships and co-ops, cannot be used as independent studies. Field or work experience in organizational, institutional, or professional contexts earns internship credits, not Communication course credits, and cannot be used towards the major.

How to propose an independent study: 3 steps

1. Write a formal proposal in consultation with your faculty sponsor
Include a title and separate, numbered sections for each of the following six elements:

•  a statement of the purpose/goals of the project
•  a description of the subject matter
•  an explanation of its relevance to your interests and/or major area of study
•  a description of your proposed research methodology
•  a preliminary working bibliography
•  information on the form and length of the final report

View several proposal samples.

2. Complete a "Cover Sheet for Independent Study Proposal" form
Your faculty sponsor must sign it. Be sure to specify the number of credits you want to earn. The maximum (and typical) number of credits for a semester-long independent study is 3. Fewer credits are possible, with proportionally less work.

Download the PDF at the top of the page on the right.

3. Submit the proposal and cover sheet to the Undergraduate Studies Office
Your completed proposal must be received by Director of Undergraduate Advising Marianne Neal-Joyce at least three workdays before the end of registration. If your proposal is accepted, you will be registered you for COMM 396. If it is incomplete or fails to follow the guidelines outlined here, the UPD may ask you to revise it.