Independent studies are faculty-mentored, individually structured courses or research or creative projects designed and scheduled outside of the standard course grid. Independent study allows for investigations beyond the structured curriculum and classroom and exploration of content material that closely relates to faculty and student interest. However, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences does not guarantee that credit earned through an independent study will count toward graduation requirements or be accepted as transfer credits.

The CU Denver campus requires manual registration using a Special Processing Form for students participating in independent study. This form constitutes the course syllabus agreement between faculty and student. The Special Processing Form requires (1) project title, (2) short, detailed project description, including texts and practical application of skills, and (3) explicit performance or grading criteria. The faculty should separately negotiate a schedule of meetings and deadlines with the student. The form is reviewed and approved by a CLAS Associate Dean/Assistant Dean prior to student registration.

The College faculty developed the following requirements relating to student and faculty participation in independent study. Faculty seeking to waive or modify any of the policies below should work with the appropriate CLAS Associate Dean/Assistant Dean.

Student Requirements

  • Enrollment as a CLAS student or, if enrolled in another major/minor, school/college, or institution, signed authorization on the Special Processing Form by the advisor/chair/dean of the originating school/college or institution prior to review by the CLAS associate or assistant dean.
  • Graduate student status for 5840 (or higher), junior or senior status for 4840, sophomore status for 2840.
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5 for undergraduates and 3.0 for graduate students.
  • Submission of the Special Processing Form prior to the third week of a regular semester. After the third week a petition to add is required. Summer and intensive sessions will have different deadlines.

Faculty Requirements

  • CLAS tenured, tenure-track, Clinical Teaching Track, Senior Instructor, or Instructor rank.
  • CLAS graduate faculty status for faculty sponsoring graduate independent study.
  • Direct, not indirect, supervision by the designated CLAS faculty member.
  • For instructor-rank faculty, approval by the department chair, though all untenured faculty should limit the number of independent studies and are advised to consult with the chair before taking them on.

Project Requirements

  • CLAS discipline or directly discipline related content, though may be interdisciplinary.
  • Unique or individually executed project content for each student.
  • Not available as, or part of, a structured course offered during the same term.
  • 3 student participation hours per week for each credit hour requested. Note: 4:1 ratio in summer.