Independent Minds, Working Together
Professor and student working in the Chemistry lab

How I.S. Works

It's called Independent Study, but you're not in it alone. This is a journey that you and your faculty adviser take together.

In weekly, hour-long, one-on-one meetings, your adviser will help you refine and focus your topic, suggest areas for exploration, ask questions that provoke your thought and creativity, and evaluate your progress toward the project's completion.

The Project

You, in turn will review and synthesize literature related to your subject, plan and conduct your research in the lab, or work to realize your creative vision in the studio, recital hall, or theatre. You'll present drafts of your work to your adviser, who will offer extensive, thoughtful feedback as a close collaborator. Over the course of the year, you may make presentations on your work to other students in your major.

Through it all, you'll be learning not just about a specific topic, but about how to break down any complex project into manageable pieces, develop a plan of action, and follow it through. You'll learn how to analyze a problem, gather and evaluate information, propose a solution, test its validity, and communicate your results clearly and persuasively.

Lasting Results

By the time your project is due (on I.S. Monday, the Monday after spring break), your sense of accomplishment will be accompanied by the knowledge that, just in time for graduation, you have earned your independence.

You also will have demonstrated skills and abilities that employers value. As the president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities told a recent graduating class, "Employers want employees who can write…who possess analytical skills, creativity…and a multidisciplinary perspective." Most of all, they want people with the capacity for continuous innovation, which she likened to "an everyday exercise in I.S."