St. Mary's College of Maryland

Independent Study

Independent studies provide a means for students to pursue subjects in greater depth than otherwise provided by the curriculum. Independent studies can be used to satisfy Core Curriculum requirements if approved as such.

  1. Mentors must have faculty status.
  2. To register for an independent study, a student must complete a learning contract. An official form for such contracts is available in each administrative office of each academic building or in the Registrar's Office. The level of study (that is, 100, 200, 300, or 400) is determined by the faculty supervisor. The learning contract must be approved by the appropriate department chair and filed with the Office of the Registrar, ordinarily by the last day of the schedule-adjustment period.
  3. Independent studies may not be substituted in place of courses offered on a regular basis in the College curriculum. In cases of unusual need, exception may be granted by the appropriate department chair.
  4. A maximum of eight semester-hours of such work may be applied toward fulfillment of the student's major requirements. Independent study taken to fulfill major requirements must be taken for a letter grade.
  5. Inasmuch as first-year students are encouraged to pursue basic courses, only sophomores, juniors, and seniors are normally allowed to register for independent study. First-year students wanting to take an independent study should petition the appropriate department chair, offering evidence of sufficient academic preparation.
  6. A student may not take more than eight semester-hours of independent study or field study during any semester, and the student is limited to a maximum of four semester-hours of independent study during a summer session.
  7. To be eligible to enroll for independent study, a student must be in good academic standing.
  8. As a condition for independent study, the student and the instructor must contract to meet no less than twice during the session (in addition to the first and final meetings) to discuss and assess the progress of the project.
  9. The details of the independent study are determined by the faculty mentor who works within the guidelines of departmental requirements for independent studies. The underlying requirement is that the academic work must be of the same quality and quantity as a regular course of the same number of credits and level (200, 300, 400).
  10. An independent study project is contracted for a specific period of time and is assessed at its contracted date of completion. The grade category "Incomplete" is assigned to a student carrying independent study only when extenuating circumstances have made substantial completion of the project impossible.