University of Colorado at Boulder
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Psychology
Advising Center
Muenzinger D243
(303) 492-1234

Independent Study
PSYC 2841/4841


Nature of Independent Study:

Independent Study is an opportunity to earn academic credit for learning outside the formal class structure. A student who is interested in knowing more about a topic not covered in the regular curriculum may propose a research project to any department faculty member. If a student and faculty member can agree that the topic is worth investigating, that it is not covered (or not covered in sufficient depth) in departmental courses, and that they share sufficient interest in the topic to sustain an independent study project, they may submit an Independent Study Agreement form. A brochure listing all of the psychology department faculty and their research interests are available in the Psychology Advising Center, Muenzinger D243.

Psychology Independent Study is an opportunity for students to work with individual direction from a faculty member on a topic of mutual interest in psychology. Students are presumed to have had all previous pertinent work in the subject matter leading up to the chosen topic. Thus, Independent Study is reserved for advanced specialties or for intermediate study in areas in which the department does not normally offer course credit. Faculty members are under no compulsion to accept Independent Study students, but do so as their other course and research load permits.


Requirements for Independent Study in Psychology:

The student must have some relevant background knowledge and/or experience in the subject matter. Students receiving credit for Independent Study in psychology must be a psychology major. PSYC 2841 is reserved for freshmen and sophomores with an overall grade point average of at least 2.5. Students enrolling in PSYC 2841 are expected to have completed General Psychology (PSYC 1001) and an additional 3 hours in psychology. PSYC 4841 is reserved for juniors or seniors with an overall grade point average of at least 2.5 or a minimum psychology grade point average of 3.0. Students enrolling in PSYC 4841 are expected to have completed General Psychology (PSYC 1001) , Biological Psychology (PSYC 2012), Psychology statistics and research methods (PSYC 2101/3101), and should have an overall minimum of 12 hours in psychology.


The Independent Study Agreement Form:

Students must complete the Independent Study Agreement form. It is important to be explicit about the project. It is the responsibility of the faculty member to be explicit in the method of evaluation. A minimum of 25 hours (1500 minutes) of time is required for each semester hour of credit. This means that for three hours of credit the student must provide documentation for 75 hours of work. A written report of the independent study experience and/or a copy of the final project is required upon completion of the course. A copy must first be given to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, as well as the faculty supervisor before a grade is submitted on behalf of the student.

A student may pick up the Independent Study Agreement form in the Psychology Advising Center, Muenzinger D243. After completing the required information, the student must secure the signature of a faculty member who has agreed to sponsor the student, as well as the signature of the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the psychology department. After these signatures are obtained, the form should be brought to the student's assigned Academic Advisor in Muenzinger D243 who will, in turn, register the student into the course.


Limitations to Independent Study:

Some experiences are not appropriate for Independent Study credit and, in fact, are prohibited by College policy: internship type experiences; experiences for which the student will receive compensation; as a substitute for regular course work; or to meet College List or Core Curriculum requirements. Students may receive credit for extra work performed in association with a regular class only if all procedures of the Independent Study agreement are followed prior to the work being initiated.

The psychology department will not give Independent Study credit for work completed elsewhere (e.g. out of state). However, students may receive Independent Study credit for volunteer work in the local community or on the Boulder campus if the faculty member agrees that the agency(ies) will comply with the requirements as set forth by the faculty member outlined in the Independent Study Agreement form.

Independent Study may not be done retroactively. That is, the agreement form for Independent Study is to be completed, signed and approved prior to the initiation of the project, not after it has been completed. Enrollment in Independent Study subject to the same registration deadlines established by the University for other courses. The deadline for enrolling is census date (about two weeks after the start of the semester). Independent Study is not to be added as an afterthought "because I need one more hour this semester." Requests to "late add" Independent Study are subject to the petition process, and the petition must be accompanied by a copy of the signed Independent Study Agreement form.

The maximum hours allowed in Independent Study by College policy are as follows: 16 hours total towards degree, eight in any one department, six in any single semester. The psychology department recommends a maximum of three hours per semester. Students will receive grades of pass/fail for Independent Study (PSYC 2841/4841); therefore, the Independent Study hours cannot be used to fulfill the 30/31 hours of requirements for a degree in psychology. However the independent study hours are included in the maximum 45 hours allowed in one department.

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