The Independent Scholar Program is designed to meet the needs of outstanding students who have clearly defined educational goals that cannot be fulfilled within the framework of a normal departmental or interdisciplinary major.
Independent Scholars plan their own curricular programs with the assistance of a faculty adviser. Independent Scholars cannot propose two majors, but can pursue an independent scholar major and one minor. For the 2023-24 academic year, application materials are due to the Curriculum Committee by Monday, October 9, 2023, for fall review; and Monday, February 19, 2024, for spring review.
For an application to be considered, a student must be in the sophomore year and have a GPA of 3.5 or higher. If approved, students must fulfill all requirements for the degree using their approved Independent Scholar plan as their major course of study. Independent Scholar proposals will be evaluated in light of feasibility, academic disciplinary integrity, and demonstrated ability of the student. A successful proposal must articulate a fully developed program of study, must include a methods course, and must demonstrate compellingly that the student’s academic goals cannot be met through existing majors.
To be designated an Independent Scholar, a student must undergo a rigorous approval process overseen by the Curriculum Committee. The process begins with an interview with the dean of curriculum. The student must subsequently prepare and submit a well-defined program to the Curriculum Committee, covering a description of the aim of the program, the independent work, and the courses he or she proposes to comprise the major. The proposal must be accompanied by a written endorsement of a faculty member who is willing and qualified to supervise the student, as well as a statement of support from an alternate faculty member. The Curriculum Committee will review all submitted materials, and if warranted, convene a meeting with the candidate and advisers. Final approval rests with the Curriculum Committee. An applicant whose proposal is denied is entitled to meet with the dean of curriculum or the Curriculum Committee.
The Curriculum Committee will solicit updates from each Independent Scholar twice a year. Changes to the program must also be submitted to the Curriculum Committee, and the faculty supervisor will cosign all registration materials. The Major Declaration Form and Degree Audit Forms will be signed by both the faculty adviser and dean of curriculum. Students who elect to withdraw from the Independent Scholar Program, or who have their independent scholar status withdrawn, may be allowed, at the discretion of the committee, to graduate in general studies, without a formal major in any department.
The INDE 0800 is a culminating experience for this program of study. This project brings together the course work the student has completed and incorporates all aspects of the study into one final project. Students applying to be independent scholars are asked to provide an indication of possible INDE 0800 projects at the time that they submit their proposals. Students are able, however, to change the topic of their INDE 0800 project in order to respond to new interests and information acquired during the course of their study.
The INDE 0800 project is undertaken for one or two terms. Students who wish to be considered for honors must work with a thesis committee. Thesis work most typically follows the procedures for the department most closely related to the project. Others may choose to work with an individual faculty member, usually the student’s adviser. The choice of senior project is flexible. For example, with permission from the adviser, a student in the performing arts might want to incorporate a dance performance, musical composition, or some other feature as part of his or her course of study.
In order to be considered for honors, independent scholars normally must meet two criteria: a minimum average of B+ in courses taken towards the major and a minimum grade of B+ on the senior work component. The Dean of Curriculum oversees the first requirement and will inform the adviser of the student’s eligibility. The senior work component must be evaluated by a committee of three faculty members (one of whom, at the adviser’s request, may be a faculty member on the Curriculum Committee). Minimum thesis grades for each level of honors are B+ (Honors), A- (High Honors), and A (Highest Honors), but the determination of the appropriate level will be made by the thesis committee.
For more information about this program, contact the Dean of Curriculum.