Rutgers School of Business–Camden
What is an Independent Study?
Independent Study is a course proposed and designed by a student for in-depth study of a unique area or subject.
How do Independent Studies work?
The student makes the initial proposal, and approaches a suitable School of Business faculty sponsor to serve as a guide, mentor, and/or facilitator. The final design of the course plan will be worked out between the faculty member and student. Ultimately, it is up to the student to manage their own work in the designated time frame.
Who is eligible?
Are there other considerations?
It is important to understand that faculty members are not required to take on any Independent Study proposals, and they receive no extra compensation for doing so. This type of one-to-one mentoring is a personal investment made by the faculty member, based on the assumption that the student will effectively manage the process and produce high-quality work. Just as with any other professional mentoring situation, it is important for the student to recognize and respect the level of trust placed in them, and make every effort to meet—or exceed—expectations.
Is Independent Study the same as Honors Thesis?
No, they are two separate programs. The information on this page is for the Independent Study Course only. You can find information on the Honors Thesis Program here.
How do I submit a proposal?
Following are four recommended steps that take Independent Study candidates from an idea through the proposal and to enrollment in an Independent Study.
The two most common types of Independent Study are:
- Specify a research question—a clear statement of the specific issue or issues you plan to investigate, and what makes it interesting and important. The best research subjects have both practical and theoretical significance. As a best practice, provide strong documentation of your own personal interest in the subject matter.
- Provide background to this question via a brief summary of previous related research. Include a reference list from both academic journals, such as the Journal of Finance and Economics, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Business Ethics; and from business publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and Fortune.
- Explain the methodology that you plan to use in your investigation. Methodologies can incorporate surveys, readings, interviews, etc. The more detail you can provide, the better you will make your case for the importance of the study.
- Provide a clear timeline showing your deliverables on specific dates throughout the duration of the project. Deliverables include any written work or presentations. Make sure to schedule in progress meetings where you can review portions of your work and receive feedback.
- Describe the anticipated benefits of the project, such as any expected outcomes for your own learning and how it fits in your educational program. Other benefits can be the potential contribution for other researchers and business people.
- Describe the body of knowledge you want to study, making clear why it is important to you. Include an overview of available courses that you have investigated, and verify they do not cover the topic you are proposing.
- List proposed sources for information you want to study. This could include books, articles in professional journals, academic research articles, and others. For each source, make sure to include full bibliographic information along with your reasoning.
- Describe the final product of your work and intended audience. For example, is it a paper or chapter on the topic? Is it an oral presentation? A related business proposal?
- Provide a clear timeline with specific dates for deliverables throughout the time of the project. These might include deadlines for written work or presentations, or scheduled progress meetings at which to review specific portions of the work and receive feedback.
- Describe the anticipated benefits of the project. This includes your expected outcomes for your own learning and its fit in both your degree program and your career goals after graduation.
No matter which Independent Study format is chosen, it is the student’s responsibility to initiate the discussion with the prospective faculty sponsor. Ideally the student will seek out a faculty advisor who does related research and/or teaching in a field closely related to your proposed Independent Study topic.
Submit the following information to a full-time faculty member during the preregistration period for the semester:
- Completed application form
- Unofficial transcript
- Your proposal, closely following the guidelines above.
What happens after my proposal is accepted?
With enrollment complete, you will begin your work on your Independent Study. Please note that it is solely your responsibility to set the necessary appointments with your faculty mentor and adhere to the proposal timeline.
What happens when the work is finished?
Upon completion, you will provide all deliverables to your faculty mentor, in accordance with the descriptions and deadlines put forth in the final, approved proposal.
Simply completing the work is no guarantee of an A grade. High-quality work is expected. When the student and the faculty mentor agree that the work is complete, the faculty member assigns a grade and submits that to the registrar for posting to your record. To allow for any needed discussions at this point in the process, it is wise to schedule completion of the planned work a week or more before the standard grade submissions for that semester.
Students are asked to sign a permission form stating that their project will be retained for future reference and may be used as a sample or guide for other students considering independent study.
Each area coordinator maintains a file of Independent Study Projects. This should contain the original agreement document, a copy of the final written outcome of the project and a copy of the student’s signed permission to use as guide for future projects. As area coordinator responsibilities are passed to another individual, this file will also be handed over to the new coordinator. Project samples are to be retained for two years.