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The purpose of independent study is to allow a student (undergraduate or graduate) to pursue an academic interest that is not available in the regular course offerings. The student will work independently but also meet regularly with the professor supervising the independent study.

Independent study should not be used to address scheduling problems. No independent study will be allowed with similar material to an existing course, even in a semester when the existing course is not being offered.

If you wish to do an independent study in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, you will need to

  1. Plan in advance!  Each semester’s deadline for independent study enrollment is the same as the last day students can add classes online, typically a week into the semester.  We recommend planning and submitting your proposal during the previous semester.
  1. Have a GPA of at least 3.3 if you are an undergraduate.
  1. Find a professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies who is willing to supervise your independent study.

Note that a professor’s decision about working with you on an independent study won’t depend solely on how serious you are and how worthy your project is. It’s also about whether your intended research topic is close enough to their area of expertise that they feel qualified to guide you in it, and whether they have the time to spend on this on top of their other obligations. There are also University restrictions on how many independent studies a professor can supervise at a time.

  1. Work out a plan for the independent study with the professor. You should figure out what it’s going to be about, what readings you’ll do, when assignments will be due, what you’ll be graded on, and a schedule of when the two of you will meet. When you do the online proposal, you will have the choice of responding to these questions in a webform, or just uploading a syllabus that addresses all the required points. If you submit a syllabus, your document should be in pdf format if possible.
  1. Go to to submit your independent study proposal. You can refer to this help document for step-by-step instructions. Choose the course number according to whether your independent study will be in English (ASIA 496), Arabic (ARAB 496), Chinese (CHIN 496), Hindi-Urdu (HNUR 496), Japanese (JAPN 496), or Korean (KOR 496).

Once you have submitted your proposal, it will route to the professor for approval, and then on to the department’s independent study coordinator (in DAMES, that’s the Director of Undergraduate Studies for undergrads and the Director of Graduate Studies for grad students) for final approval. Then you will be enrolled in the appropriate course section.

If you have questions about any part of this process, contact Lori Harris.