Independent Study

Independent Study

DEL-MEM students may undertake an independent study with a Duke faculty member during the spring semester. Students seeking to enroll in an independent study are responsible for developing an acceptable proposal for the course of study and identifying a faculty member willing to engage in such a course. Students must also complete the independent study request form for submission to the Nicholas registrar.  Independent studies at the graduate level at Duke University must be designed to delve deeply into a particular issue or concept with a faculty expert. They should not be considered a vehicle to study topics covered in established coursework or as a means of obtaining general education on a topic.

All independent study courses must meet the following four requirements:

  1. The independent study must be approved by the instructor involved as well as by the faculty director of the DEL-MEM program
  2. The student will meet with the instructor of the independent study course at least once every two weeks during the spring semester.
  3. The final product must be submitted during the semester of enrollment in the course; and
  4. The instructor will evaluate the work, including the final product, associated with the independent study.

Procedure:  Contact the faculty member with whom you would like to undertake an independent study. Provide a course proposal built around a specific purpose or question and based on a review of the literature. The proposal should include a suggested reading list and a description of the final product. The final product may not be an examination. Once the faculty member has reviewed the proposal you must schedule a meeting to discuss the objectives of the course, how much of a time commitment the faculty member expects you to make for the course (generally 10–15 hours per week), and what the requirements for the final product may be. At the conclusion of the meeting the faculty member will make a decision about whether he or she will engage in the independent study.

Schedule: Independent study proposals should be submitted to faculty members at least three weeks prior to registration for spring semester. Final course proposals, which indicate faculty consent, should be submitted to the DEL Faculty Director no later than one week prior to spring semester registration.


Sample IS Proposals:
Review these IS proposals to get an idea of what is expected in regards to format and credit value.

Brayley_Conservation Easement Stewardship_1 Credit
Fowler_Energy, Environment, and Policy_2 Credits
Holt_Environmental Journalism_1 Credit
Lewandowski_Sustainability Planning_1 Credit
McKoy_Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Legislation_3 Credits