Differences between Independent Study and Directed Study

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Policy Statement

Information on the guidelines for taking an Independent Study or Directed Study

Category Name: Student
Responsible Unit: Office of Registration and Records
Responsible Exec: VP for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
Adoption Date: July 2014
Last Revision Date:
Last Review Date:

Purpose/Scope

Independent study and directed study are frequently confused with one another. They are similar in that they both offer the opportunity to study individually with an instructor on a contractual basis, but they differ in intent.

Applicability

 

Definitions

Directed Study

Directed Study is designed to be a substitute for a traditional course that is not offered in the semester for which the student wishes to enroll. The material covered in such courses is essentially the same as that covered in the traditional course.

Independent Study

Independent Study is intended to be an extension, or "spin-off," of a traditional course. It provides the student with an opportunity to pursue/research a subject in more depth and in a more independent manner than would be possible in a traditional course. Independent study requires an outline form, developed through consultation between the student and the instructor/sponsor, which serves as the official course description.

Policy Procedures

At the Undergraduate Level:

To be eligible for either independent study or directed study, an undergraduate student must have:

  1. Upper-division status (54 or more completed semester hours);

  2. An established Brockport cumulative index (in other words, you must have completed one semester at The College at Brockport) and be currently matriculated at Brockport;

  3. A cumulative index of 2.0 or higher.

There is one exception. If you're a lower-division student (have completed fewer than 54 credits), you may register for a maximum of one independent study per semester if you have met the other criteria listed above and obtain the approval of the department chair. You must support your request with a statement in which you demonstrate your ability to undertake the work and also explain the advantage of taking an independent study as a lower-division student. Lower-division students are not eligible for directed study.

No more than two independent study courses will be approved for any one regular semester (and no more than one in any summer session) and no more than one directed study in a semester. All such courses must be included within the normal course load. An independent study course may not exceed six credits and will be identified as liberal arts (A) credit.

At the Graduate Level:

Independent study courses permit graduate students to pursue previously studied topics in greater depth. A content outline for each independent study course is developed through consultation between the student and the instructor/sponsor to suit the needs and interests of the student and the special competence of the instructor.

To be eligible for independent study:

A non-degree graduate student must:

  1. Have completed six credits of course work at the graduate level at The College at Brockport with minimum grades of "B" in each course; and

  2. Be able to demonstrate adequate background for the area of independent study.

A graduate student enrolled in a degree and/or certificate program must have:

  1. Completed at least six credits of course work at the graduate level at the College at Brockport with minimum grades of "B" in each course; or

  2. Demonstrate adequate background for the area of independent study. Permission to grant an independent study is by discretion of the instructor and department chair.

No more than two independent study courses will be approved for any one regular semester (and no more than one in any summer session) and no more than one directed study in a semester. All such courses must be included within the normal course load. An independent study course may not exceed six credits and will be identified as liberal arts (A) credit. An independent study outline form is required to serve as the official course description.

Students in programs with requirements of 36 credits or less may be allowed to take up to nine credits of independent study. Students in programs with requirements of more than 36 credits may be allowed to take up to twelve credits of independent study. Requests to waive any of the above requirements or restrictions should be made through the department to the dean.

General guidelines for independent and directed study:

  • Students may carry no more than two independent study courses in a regular semester and no more than one directed study course per semester.

  • Students may carry no more than one independent study course and one directed study course during a summer session.

  • Both independent study and directed study courses are only possible by arrangement and at the discretion of the instructor and/or the department. Please remember that these opportunities are a privilege, not a right. Also, be aware that the student may be expected to do this work with much less instructor supervision than is customary for a standard course.

  • Independent study courses will be designated as liberal arts (A) credit. Directed study courses will be designated either as liberal arts (A) or as professional (B) credit depending upon the traditional course's catalog entry.

  • Credits earned in independent study courses may not exceed six credits per semester.

  • Credit assigned for a directed study course will be set equal to the credit value of the traditional course for which it is to be substituted.

Students who wish to take an independent or directed study course should begin the process well in advance of registration since published registration deadlines apply to these courses. The independent study application and outline form may be found from the Office of Academic Advisement's web site under Forms. Directed study uses the same application form but does not require an outline since the course description is the same as the traditional course. Any application must be signed by the student, the instructor/sponsor and the department chairperson.

The student must submit the completed application with any required supporting documents to the Office of Registration and Records for processing by the appropriate registration deadline.

Links to Related Procedures and Information

There are no links for this policy at this time.

Contact Information

There is no contact information for this policy at this time.

History (in descending order)

Item Date Explanation
Next Review Date July 2017  Three year Review
Adoption Date  July 2014 Policy Adopted 

Approval

This policy is approved by:

Last Updated 1/3/18

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