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Here are some answers to common questions about the purpose of and logistics surrounding CSCI 0500: Independent Study in Computer Science.

  • Who can take it?

Technically anyone, but we generally reserve it for students who have exhausted the major and/or who wish to pursue specific directions of study that lie within computer science but outside the normal course offerings.

  • How do I take it?

You need to find a faculty member willing to advise your project. It is highly probable that any prospective advisor will expect a fair amount of detail from you about your intended work before agreeing. Once a faculty member has agreed to advise your project, they will need to enter a registration waiver for you to enroll. That is the only official paperwork necessary (unless you need it to count for CS elective credit---see below).

  • How is my grade assigned?

That is for you and the advisor to decide as part of your discussions before officially registering for the course.

  • Why might a professor decline?

One reason is load. Advising projects and theses can be a lot of work, and a general rule of thumb is that more than two per semester is placing unreasonable expectations on the faculty member. Additionally, if a professor anticipates a particularly busy semester for other reasons, they may wish to balance it out by declining to take independent study and thesis students.

Alternatively, after hearing about your planned course of study, a professor might deem themselves insufficiently familiar with your area of interest to provide the kind of guidance expected in advanced study.

In any case, please be understanding of a professor's decision to decline your request. We're people, too.

  • Does it count for credit?

Yes, it counts towards the College's number of credits required for graduation. If you want/need it to count as an elective towards the Computer Science major as well, some extra conditions apply: see next question.

  • Does it count for CS elective credit?

Maybe. For your independent study to count as an elective, you must submit a document describing your intended work and how it will be assessed (graded) by the faculty advisor. You must discuss and agree upon this with that advisor, and have it approved by the department as a whole, before registration begins. Retroactive requests for CSCI 0500 to count for elective credit will not be considered.

  • What are some independent study projects students have done in the past?