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Topics courses are offered in a wide variety of disciplines. These courses identify areas within the discipline that are not part of the regularly offered courses.

The faculty of St. John Fisher College recognizes the value of the academic experience of working independently on a topic of interest with a supervising faculty member and uses independent study courses to allow students to explore areas of study not regularly available. To avail themselves of these experiences, students may register for independent study courses in most academic departments and programs. These courses carry the subject code of the sponsoring department and are usually numbered 496.

Since these courses are offered in response to a particular student need and involve significant amounts of close faculty-student interaction, faculty are under no obligation to supervise an independent study.

Independent study courses are of variable credit to accommodate a variety of experiences. The quality and quantity of work expected in an independent study project must be equivalent to expectations in regular classroom and laboratory courses. For each credit of independent study, a minimum of 45 clock hours in a combination of meetings and supplementary assignments are required. The College limits to six, the number of credits of independent study that may be applied to a degree program.

Independent study projects are open only to students who have completed at least 12 credits and earned at least a 2.50 GPA in the field in which the independent study is to be undertaken. At least six of these credits must have been completed at St. John Fisher College. Individual departments may develop more specific or rigorous regulations.

Part-time students may enroll for independent study projects providing the total number of credit hours for which they are enrolled, including the independent study, does not exceed 11.

Independent study projects cannot duplicate an offered course at the College. Similarly, independent study courses may not be used to repeat a course in which a student has previously enrolled and earned a grade of less than “C” (unless it is the same independent study). The provost or his designee and appropriate department chair must approve exceptions.

To enroll in an independent study course:

  • The student meets with an appropriate faculty member to discuss the possibility of independent work.
  • If the faculty member agrees to the independent study, the student submits a written proposal to the appropriate faculty member. The student and faculty member agree on a timeline and means of assessment.
  • The student completes an Independent Study/Tutorial Authorization form and secures the signature of the supervising faculty member.
  • The authorization form and proposal are delivered to the department chair for approval.
  • If the proposal is approved by the department chair, the paperwork will be sent to the school dean for approval. If approved, the forms will be sent to the Registrar’s Office for processing.
  • If adding the independent study course does not increase the student’s tuition liability, the student will be registered in the independent study.
  • The faculty member will not begin working with the student until the registration has been processed and the instructor can view the class list in Fish ‘R’ Net.
  • Notification will be sent by Fisher email when the paperwork has been processed and the registration completed.

The faculty member supervising the project will maintain a detailed record of the work carried out, including a list of assignments and the frequency and duration of meetings, as well as identification of methods of evaluation used. A copy of the proposal will be maintained in the student’s academic folder and kept in accordance with the College’s records-retention policy. Students are advised to keep a copy of the proposal for their records.

Note: Projects of three credits must be registered for within the first two weeks of the beginning of the semester in which the project is undertaken. Projects of two credits must be registered for within the first five weeks, and projects of one credit must be registered for within the first seven weeks of the semester.