Independent Study Guidelines


Students may undertake an Independent Study (CS495), Research (CS498) or Practicum (CS486) course under the supervision of a computer science faculty member. Credit is variable, but normally no more than 4 credits are taken in any one semester.

Under no circumstances may Practicum, Research, or Independent Study credit count towards CS major Group I or Group II requirements or ACT major Advanced Technology Electives.

It is the student's responsibility to locate an appropriate faculty sponsor and to contract with that faculty member in advance what work will be completed, for how much credit, as well as how grades will be assigned. The computer science advising office will help students if possible to identify appropriate faculty members. There are no guarantees whatsoever that an appropriate match with the student's interests will be found. Moreover, student's should be aware that tutorial coursework is not a right, but a privilege dependent upon the full agreement of all parties involved.

For both independent study and practicum credit, the following procedures must be followed:

  1. Students contact computer science faculty to discuss the independent study topic or on-the-job educational experience.

  2. Once an agreement is reached, it is the student's responsibility to draw up a written contract laying out the nature of the topic, the nature and quantity of the work to be evaluated, and how grades are to be assigned. This contract must be signed by both student and faculty member, and a copy filed with the computer science advising office.

Practicum: Students may earn practicum credit in conjunction with appropriate employment, co-op or internship. Practicum credit is not awarded simply on the basis of normal employment, but rather for academically defensible activities in conjunction with and in addition to appropriate employment experiences. Faculty members must assess the suitability of a student's employment experiences as a background for practicum credit in computer science. Practicum activities must relate to bona fide areas of computer science to be eligible for computer science practicum credit. Practicum credit is subject to rules (1) and (2) above. Under no circumstances will practicum credit be awarded for past employment.

Research: Students may earn credit for their involvement in CS Department research programs. This is a way for students to get credit for their research involvement with faculty, and help them determine if a career in research is of interest to them. This credit is particularly useful for students considering graduate school in computer science. Students shold make contact with CS faculty engaged in research topics that are of interest to them. The CS Department encourages undergraduate students to become involved in the research of faculty within the Department. Research credit is subject to rules (1) and (2) above.

Independent Study: Students wishing to arrange for an independent study course with a computer science faculty member should identify in advance the general topic area in which research will be done, as well as realistic goals for sponsored independent work. Potential faculty sponsors must ensure that the topic is appropriate for computer science credit and that the nature and amount of work required is commensurate with the work/credit ratio found in other computer science courses. Independent study arrangements must also follow procedures (1) and (2) above.