2023-2024 Catalog

Independent Study

Independent Study courses are designed for self-reliant and motivated students to pursue intellectual inquiry outside of regularly scheduled course offerings. These are to be supervised by faculty members, generally involving substantial, close student-faculty interactions. Each course shall be initiated on an individual basis between a student and a faculty member. Enrollment shall be through courses numbered 197 or 297 (lower division), 397 or 497 (upper division), or 597 (graduate) in the respective subject, and must be accompanied by a completed independent study contract.

Advanced planning is essential. There should be some evidence that the student’s background is adequate for the proposed study. The independent study contract must be completed, signed, and submitted to the Office of the Registrar by the 2- or 4-unit add deadline published in the academic calendar. Students must attach a syllabus, including a reading list, or equivalent, and the breakdown of how a grade will be determined. Independent study projects that require Institutional Review Board (IRB) review will not be added to a student’s schedule until the IRB has also approved the study. Sophomore, junior, and senior students may enroll in four units of independent study per semester. Frosh interested in enrolling in an independent study must submit a petition for special consideration for approval. Students are required to have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or better.

A maximum of eight units of independent study may be applied toward the degree. Exceptions may be made only for students that have been approved to complete an honors independent study project. 

All independent study courses are expected to be offered for two units and graded CR/NC. Exceptions are outlined below:

  • A 2-unit independent study may be completed for a letter grade only if the contract indicates the course is originally approved by the department as satisfying a declared major or minor program requirement.
  • A 4-unit independent study may be approved only in cases where the course has been approved for fulfillment of a declared major or minor program requirement. All 4-unit independent study courses will be assigned a letter grade.
  • A 2- or 4-unit independent study may be approved for a letter grade if the contract indicates that it is a substitute for a specific, approved Occidental course listed in the current catalog. The independent study must follow all requirements and grading policies of the regular course.
An independent study course cannot be used to satisfy Core requirements. 

It is expected that students will satisfy Core, foreign language, and academic major and minor course requirements through regularly scheduled courses. For those completing an independent study as CR/NC, you should familiarize yourself with the restrictions outlined in the CR/NC policy.