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What is an Independent Study Module, Concentration?


Being educated in the American system, doing independent studies was one of my favorite pursuits. I created eight independent classes from scratch and delved into different topics, from educational studies to non-profits to historical video games.

For those unfamiliar, independent studies are simple enough. If there is a topic a student is interested in, he can speak to a professor about it. If the professor agrees, there is a course topic. At many universities, there is even a course code within each department.

For example, when I was interested in historical video games, I found a professor with whom I was already taking classes. We discussed what my goals would be for the class. There was a designated classification under the "history" course registration: "history: independent study." Expectations were listed in writing. We had once-weekly meetings. Once expectations were completed, I was given a grade. Similar things occurred in my other independent study courses in engineering and education.

I believe we all have naturally curious minds. Independent studies allow us to structure a pursuit we are genuinely curious about, whether a theme of movies, T.V. shows, video games, or intellectual interest in something commonplace like coffee, fashion, etc. Being supervised by a professor, showing signs of academic rigor through a reading list, critical thinking through an essay, and the like shows genuine intellectual development.

For independent concentrations, each university has its own policy. There is a lengthy approval process, and perfectly valid contributions can be denied for petty reasons. Often, an advisor must walk a student through the process of teaching a class or pursuing an independently designed major.

Despite any hurdles to go through at your university, independent studies are a great path for those genuinely curious about something not yet defined!

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