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Independent Study Proposal Guidelines, Undergraduate

A Gallatin Independent Study provides students with the opportunity to work one-on-one with an instructor on a particular topic or creative project. Designing the independent study is an important part of the project. The student should work with the instructor to discuss the aims and content of the study and produce the proposal, which consists of: the description; readings; written work to be evaluated; and syllabus. Students are required to receive approval for this study from their adviser, the independent study instructor, and the Gallatin Faculty Committee on Individualized Studies by completing an online Independent Study Proposal Form. Below are the instructions for completing the proposal form. As students begin to work on the Independent Study Proposal, they should refer to the Student Checklist to ensure that they do not miss any important steps or deadlines. 

 

Designing an Independent Study and Completing the Proposal

1. Identify an appropriate instructor: Only instructors within NYU can be the instructor for a Gallatin Independent Study.

2. Provide a description of the study: Like the course description in a college catalog, this part of the proposal should describe the general theme and scope of the independent study. (See Gallatin’s course descriptions for examples.) The theme may be stated as a problem to be investigated, an issue to be explored, or an argument to be defended. The description might indicate where the student is starting out and where the student would like to get in terms of answering a question, exploring a phenomenon, understanding a theory, building a skill or other goal. It should articulate the theme and strategy of the study as clearly as possible within 250 words.

3. Determine the number of Units*: Generally, independent studies are two, three, or four units. The number of units determines the number of readings and amount of work assigned – see the sections below (“Readings” and “Written Work”) for details.

Unit Limitations: While students are encouraged to engage in independent work with the University faculty, the Gallatin program is designed for a careful balance between independent and classroom experience. Undergraduate students, therefore, may register for no more than eight (8) units per term in any combination of independent study and/or tutorial.

*units signify credits

4. Articulate the work to be evaluated by the instructor:

A) Readings: The student must provide a reading list with authors and titles along with the proposal.The list should be comparable to a similar classroom course, which means that a four-unit independent study requires a minimum of 6-10 books. The list of readings may include substantial articles and other secondary readings. (However, a single article is not equivalent to a book; at least 3 articles are needed to equal a book.) Readings may change during the semester as the study evolves, but the preliminary list should be appropriate for the number of units. Proposals for creative projects must include readings, as well.

Below is the required minimum number of books for independent studies of various unit values:

• 4 units: 6-10 books
• 3 units: 4-7 books
• 2 units: 3-5 books

B) Written Work: The proposal should indicate the kinds of work (response papers, research essays, creative works, etc.), which will be evaluated by the instructor. Assignments should be comparable in extent to a similar classroom course. Details should be provided about this work, including the number, length and type of work to be submitted (e.g., two research papers, one 10 pages and the other 15 pages). Students completing creative projects should follow the appropriate guidelines in Section II Creative Independent Study below.


Ultimately, it is up to the student and instructor to determine the specific format of the work to be evaluated by the instructor. The work for the study should be submitted according to the schedule of due dates agreed upon at the outset, and as with a classroom course, late work may be penalized.

I) Academic Independent Study  

Below is the required minimum amount of written academic work for non-creative independent studies of various unit values::

• 4 units: 20-25 pages of written work
• 3 units: 15-20 pages of written work
• 2 units: 10-15 pages of written work

II) Creative Independent Study

An Independent Study can be a creative project, which might be a writing project or a non-writing project. A writing creative project could be screenplays/scripts, novels, essays, blogs, etc. A non-writing project could be photography, film making, painting, etc. All creative projects require academic writing, which must be based on the readings and may take the form of response papers to the readings, or a research or analytical essay based on the readings and theories within those readings.

The Academic Writing for all Creative Projects is in addition to the creative work.

Below are the written requirements for both creative writing projects and non-writing creative projects.

Writing Projects (screenplays/scripts, novels, essays, blogs, etc.) Creative writing projects require both the finished creative product (script, novel, essay, etc.) and academic writing.

Below is the required minimum amount of written work for creative projects of various unit values. Poems, novels, essays, scripts, etc, must be at least this length:

• 4 units: 20-25 pages of written work
• 3 units: 15-20 pages of written work
• 2 units: 10-15 pages of written work

Below is the required minimum amount of academic writing (which must be based on the readings and may take the form of response papers to the readings, or a research or analytical essay based on the readings and theories within those readings) for creative writing independent studiesof various unit values:

• 4 units: 8-10 pages of academic writing
• 3 units: 6-8 pages of academic writing
• 2 units: 4-6 pages of academic writing

Non-writing Creative Projects (photography, film making, painting, etc.)

All creative projects require both the finished creative product (photographs, film, paintings. etc.) and academic writing, which must be based on the readings and may take the form of response papers to the readings, or a research or analytical essay based on the readings and theories within those readings.

Below is the required minimum amount of academic writing for non-writing creative projects (e.g., photography, film making, painting, etc.) of various unit values:


• 4 units: at least 15 pages of academic writing
• 3 units: at least 10-12 pages of academic writing
• 2 units: at least 8-10 pages of academic writing

 

5. Determine the syllabus: Instructors and students are expected to meet regularly throughout the semester. Meeting spaces for an Independent Study are identified and secured by the student and/or instructor. Please note that personal spaces (i.e. an apartment or dorm room) are not suitable. It is recommended that the instructor or student book an NYU space through Bobst Library.

The student must provide a schedule of the meetings with the instructor, which includes the topics, the readings, and assignments to be covered during each session. Students can revise their syllabus with their instructor once the semester begins.

Below is the required minimum number of meetings for independent studies of various unit values:

• 4 units: 7 meetings
• 3 units: 5 meetings
• 2 units: 4 meetings

Please be aware: Students who will be studying at one of the thirteen NYU global locations may not enroll in the standard Gallatin Independent Study option (INDIV-UG 1901). Students are permitted to take only the courses listed in the NYU global site course offerings. Please consult the specific site course offerings by linking to the site page from the Studying Abroad website.) 

 

6. Secure written approvals: Both the instructor’s and adviser’s approval of the proposal are required. While the instructor may agree to supervise the student’s work, the student’s adviser determines whether it is appropriate for the student to undertake an independent study. After submitting the proposal form, the student should follow up with both their adviser and instructor to make sure their approvals have been sent to Gallatin.

Once the completed independent study proposal has been submitted to, and reviewed by, the Gallatin Faculty Committee on Individualized Studies, the committee chair indicates final approval. Please note that submitting a proposal does not guarantee approval.

7. Meet the proposal submission deadlines and requirements: A timeline for planning is available on the Student Checklist. The completed independent study proposal consists of the following seven (7) components, and all must be submitted by the appropriate semester deadlines:

1. adviser’s approval
2. instructor’s approval
3. completed proposal form
4. description of the study
5. readings
6. written work to be evaluated
7. syllabus

8. Title of the Independent Study: If a student chooses, the title of an independent study will appear on the official transcript. Please check the “Title On Transcript” box on the proposal form to indicate this option, and enter the title. It should be a useful, descriptive title that reflects the unifying theme and content of the study. It should not duplicate an existing NYU course. The words “Independent Study” will appear before the title on the transcript: for example, “Independent Study: The Plays of Arthur Miller.” The title is limited to 26 characters including spaces and punctuation.
 


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