Independent Study Projects

The UW Bothell Business School is committed to providing students with the opportunity to earn independent study credit for working closely with faculty on research projects. Well-designed and implemented independent study projects provide qualified students the opportunity to develop and conduct largely self-designed research projects in collaboration with campus faculty.

Before starting an independent study project, students must demonstrate adequate preparation, as evidenced by grades and/or previous coursework in the area of proposed research. During the project the student will apply, critique and extend knowledge they have gained in the classroom. Students can seek out new theory and findings relevant to the particular context they are researching and produce a final project which presents their insights and recommendations in an academically rigorous, rhetorically competent manner.

The Partners in the Independent Study

The Student

As a part of the independent study, you must complete all assigned tasks meeting mutually agreed upon criteria. It is your responsibility to initiate and complete the development of the research proposal and get approval from a faculty member. It is your responsibility to meet all deadlines as associated with the completion of all assignments and outcomes associated with the project.

The Faculty Sponsor

A faculty member must sponsor your independent study project. The role of the faculty member is to work with you throughout the project, assist you in developing your goals, meet with you on a regular basis to discuss your project, and assess your achievements at the conclusion of the research contract.

Finding an Independent Study

The responsibility of developing your independent study project is up to you! Start talking to a faculty member and planning your research at least a quarter before you plan on registering for the independent study credit. When searching for a faculty member to work with you on your research, talk with faculty who have an interest or expertise in the area that you want to learn more about. Present a potential sponsor with clear goals and structure for your independent study. The clearer you are in presenting your goals, the more likely you are to obtain their guidance.

The Independent Study Proposal

Prior to registration, a faculty sponsor must approve a student-initiated 3 page, typed, double-spaced proposal. The proposal should include: a title, tentative thesis statement, detailed outline of what the student is going to do, theory and methods to be used (where appropriate), plus a one page bibliography of appropriate sources. It also must include your name and student number, the quarter and year of the project, the number of credits for the project, and the name of the faculty sponsor. The proposal must be in the form of an outline that is signed by both the student and the faculty sponsor.

Click here for the Independent Study Contract form.

The Research Paper

For a typical research paper it is expected that a student will write 5 typed, double-spaces pages per credit hour. Faculty sponsors can assist you in structuring your final paper.

Credits and Time Commitment

Independent study projects typically last for an entire quarter. Independent study projects can be taken for a variable amount of credit from 1 to 10 credits. Things to consider when choosing the number of credits for your independent study are 1) the amount of time you have each week to spend working at an independent study, 2) how you want the credits to apply to your degree program, and 3) maximum number of independent study credits allowed.

  • 1) How much time do you have for an independent study? To conform to other course standards, it is expected that the student will participate in 3 hours of research activities per credit. This means that a 5 credit hour independent study will involve 15 hours of research each week (3 x 5 hrs.), in addition to a scheduled meeting with a faculty sponsor.
  • 2) How do independent study credits apply towards my degree? Independent study credits may be used as general elective credits. If you would like to use independent study credit towards a specific concentration or a specific course, your intention must be clearly stated in your proposal and approved by your faculty sponsor and the Assistant Director of the Business School.

    For most students, it makes sense to do an independent study for 5 or 10-credits so that the independent study credit can take the place of another 5-credit course. Although, independent study projects for less then 5 credits can be done.

  • 3) How many independent study credits will count towards my degree? A total of ten credits of internship, independent study, and BBUS 496 (Organizational Design and Consulting), can count toward the Business degree. If more credits are desired you must petition for approval.


Registering for your independent study can only be done once you have developed a proposal that has been signed by yourself, the faculty sponsor, and the Business School Assistant Director. After you and your faculty sponsor have signed it, fill out the Independent Study Online Application to submit your Independent Study Contract and Proposal to the Associate Dean for approval. When it has been approved, the advisor will register you for the course.

Note: Registration for BBUS 499 follows the guidelines in the Time Schedule for registration. If your research proposal is not complete until after the registration deadlines, your registration will be subject to the late registration procedures and fees. If you have not heard back within 3 business days of submitting your information to the Online Application, follow up with your advisor to ensure it is processed in a timely manner. 

Completion Criteria

Your faculty sponsor will grant academic credit when you have submitted your research paper satisfactorily. Independent study projects are graded on the 4.0 point grading scale.