Jan Term Independent Study Courses

Independent Study courses in January Term are intended to allow students to pursue a course of learning that is not available in normally scheduled courses or to learn by practical experience in addition to methods more commonly used in college courses. Such courses are generated by students out of their own interest in a particular intellectual question or area of study, and they allow students to work independently to pursue knowledge in the chosen area.


THE PROPOSAL FORM CAN BE FOUND HERE. (NOTE: You must submit an attachment including a syllabus, the basis for the final grade, and a mentor note of approval.) 

Proposals for Independent Study courses are restricted to juniors and seniors at the time of registration (NOTE: "At the time of registration" means at the time of registration, not the end of the semester) with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better. In no case are freshmen, sophomores, students on disciplinary probation, or students whose cumulative GPA is less than 2.5 eligible for Independent Study in January.

Qualified students work under the guidance of a faculty sponsor (NOTE: your sponsor must be an SMC faculty member) who advises the student in the preparation of the proposal, monitors the student's progress, and awards the grade and credit. Students are expected to have regular contact with their faculty sponsor, though the focus on the students' independent work and research means that they will meet less frequently than regularly scheduled courses. Independent study courses are NOT intended to allow students to take regularly scheduled classes at a different time or location, they are NOT granted for internships, and they are NOT tutorial courses in which one faculty member teaches a course to a student or a group of students. It is the student's responsibility to find an appropriate faculty sponsor.

Academic credit is granted for demonstrated academic learning. Since Independent Study courses earn college credit equal to normal January Term courses, they must have a clear academic focus and educational goal, and they must require the same quality and quantity of work as a regularly scheduled college course. A specific reading list which indicates academic preparation and preparatory work sufficient to make the successful completion of the project likely, as well as a clear means by which the faculty sponsor can evaluate the quality of the student's work, are required parts of a successful proposal. The proposal is the result of close consultation with the faculty sponsor.

Samples of successful independent study petitions will be available in the January Term Office by mid-September.

The Independent Study Petition is to be submitted online to the Registrar's Office by 4:30 PM on Friday, October 26th. Applicants should attach a proposed syllabus to this form as there is insufficient space to fully delineate the projects on the form itself. No late proposals will be reviewed.

It is strongly recommended that you register in a regular January Term course in case your independent study proposal is not approved.

The January Term Committee will review proposals, and students will normally be notified within two weeks of the deadline whether their proposal has been accepted, rejected, or returned for revision.