Independent Study Projects (ISPs)

About ISPs

Independent Study Projects (ISPs) allow individual students to initiate, design, and execute a credit-bearing course with the help of a faculty advisor. The topic of an ISP is generally not offered in the established Brown curriculum and often presents a new and exciting field of study. The student is responsible for designing, implementing, and carrying out the coursework, while the faculty member advises the project and evaluates the student's work.

Getting Started

First, you need an idea, a topic, an orientation, or a subject that you are truly interested in. To jumpstart this process, visit the CRC to look at our collection of previously approved ISPs and talk to the independent studies student coordinators. You can also reach student coordinators by email at [email protected]. Once you have an idea, start talking about it with other people. Visit faculty in their office hours to discuss how you might develop the topic. Run your ideas past other students. Ask one of the academic deans to give you feedback on your idea.

Before deciding to do an ISP, check to see if the appropriate academic department offers an independent research or reading course--or a "Departmental Independent Study (DISP)." Departments that offer such courses structure them in various ways. Some allow as much flexibility as a student-initiated ISP, while others are reserved for concentrators or thesis projects. DISPs can be secured at the start of the semester, while College Curriculum Council (CCC)-CRC approved ISPs must be proposed the semester prior.

CCC-CRC approved ISPs have the benefit of the student planning out the syllabus ahead of time and being able to hit the ground running once the semester begins. As well, ISP course titles appear as such on your transcript.

Remember that ISPs on the same or on very similar topics may not be repeated for credit, except with approval of the College Curriculum Council.