English Department

Handbook for Graduate Students in English


The primary function of independent study (ENG 596) is to allow the student to examine in some depth a topic growing out of 500- or 600- level English courses or topics not available in the department's regular offerings. All independent study courses must be approved by the department's Committee on Graduate Studies. Independent studies are not designed to help students overcome scheduling difficulties, including the need to graduate within a certain time. The committee will not approve independent studies on these grounds. The following regulations govern independent study:

  1. Independent study is for regular graduate students of proven ability who have demonstrated a readiness to undertake the proposed projects.
  2. The proposed course must not duplicate a course already in the Bulletin, whether or not that course is being given in the semester/year for which the Independent Study is proposed. If the proposed independent study appears to be a duplicate but is not, the difference should be made clear.
  3. The student should demonstrate to the instructor supervising the study that she/he has the necessary background to undertake the proposed course of study.
  4. No more than four credits of Independent Study may be taken at one time. The total of Independent Study course work may not exceed 8 credits. Independent Study counts only for elective credit; under no circumstances can it be used to substitute for core courses or seminars.
  5. The student must submit to the instructor supervising the study a proposal including the following details:
    • a justification for the proposed Independent Study, in terms of the student's special interest or experience, the course's significance, etc.
    • a list of readings (tentative, if necessary) and of the requirements agreed to by instructor and student (typically this includes at least a one-hour meeting each week and a substantial amount of writing)
    • a list of English courses already taken by the student, including current courses

    The instructor will then forward the student's request, along with a note of the instructor's approval, to the Director of Graduate Studies.

  6. Any independent study proposal must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies NO LATER than two weeks before the end of the term preceding the semester in which the course is to be taken. Please bear in mind that the two-week deadline is the minimum amount of time needed; if a proposal can be submitted earlier, then it can be returned for clarification or further data if necessary without jeopardizing the student's enrolling in the course.
  7. Under NO circumstances can a student enroll for ENG 596 without a letter signed by the Director of Graduate Studies and the approval of the Graduate Committee. Notes from an instructor will NOT satisfy the Registrar.