Independent Studies allow Honors students to work closely with UTSA faculty both inside and outside of their major. Under the guidance of a faculty member, students engage in independent reading, research, and writing. An independent study may be repeated for credit, but not more than 6 semester credit hours of independent study, regardless of discipline, will apply to a bachelor’s degree. An independent study counts as an Honors Experience.
Independent study courses can be either HON or discipline-based (ex: HON 4913 or BIO 4913). While all independent study courses count towards Honors experiences, the same may not be true for HON independent study courses counting towards major requirements in the degree. Students completing an HON section should meet with their Academic Advisor to inquire about their specific degree requirements.
Benefits of doing an independent study
Independent studies are a great way for students to have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a special topic or field of interest. They can help build your resume as a way of demonstrating your developed skills and personal interests that transcend the traditional or standard curriculum. They are also a great way to build valuable mentoring and networking relationships with faculty.
How to enroll in an Independent Study
Students interested in pursuing an independent study should first research the professional area of the faculty for which they want to do the independent study topic in, then contact the faculty member they wish to work with. Students will need to complete and submit an independent study course form prior to registration. Students should also meet with their Academic Advisor to discuss how an independent study can be applied towards their degree requirements.
Tips on how to propose an independent study with a faculty member
- Students should have an idea of the special topic they would like to study, and the type of work they would like to perform (ex: research in a lab or special term paper).
- Write a proposal that includes a description of the specific area of study, a statement of how it fits both your academic and professional goals, what learning outcomes you would like to achieve (specific skill sets, such as research or publication), and ideas for assignments/tasks (reading lists, projects, academic content).
- Research the professional areas of the faculty you are interested in working with to make sure their expertise area matches your topic of interest.
- Contact the faculty member directly to request a meeting. Make sure you address them with the appropriate title (ex: Professor or Dr.). Be sure to include your full name, major, and brief statement of your independent study interest.
- When you meet with the faculty member, be open to their feedback and expert advice.
How an independent study differs from an Honors contract
While both an Honors contract and an independent study are ways to work on special topics, an Honors contract is one additional assignment to an established course. An independent study is a course that is not offered in the established curriculum. The structure of it is designed around agreed upon learning outcomes established by the student and instructor. Refer to the independent study course registration form for details on course requirements.