Brown University School of Engineering

Independent Study

Independent Study in Engineering

'Independent Study' courses are created by students who work with a faculty member to explore topics of mutual interest. Students and faculty in Engineering use independent study courses for several purposes, including research partnerships, capstone design projects, and as a way for students to complete an honors thesis.

Satisfactorily completed independent study courses always receive Brown course credit. They can also be used to meet concentration requirements with approval of the concentration advisor. Approved independent study courses may also qualify as a capstone course in engineering, as long as they are completed in senior year, and involve a significant engineering design project that incorporates realistic constraints.

Registering for an Independent Study

Follow this procedure to register for an independent study:

  1. Identify a faculty advisor, and work with him or her to decide on the content and structure for your course, including: 
    (i) A way to assess your work, and the grade option ( ABC/NC or S/NC)   
    (ii) Whether you will use the course to meet a concentration requirement 
    (iii) If so, whether your course will count for capstone design credit
  2. Complete the independent study proposal form
  3. Once your form is submitted, your faculty advisor (and if you are using the course for concentration credit, the concentration advisor) will review the application. They will either issue the appropriate override for Banner registration, or ask you to revise and resubmit your application. You will be notified by email once you can register for the course.
  4. Register in Banner for the appropriate section of Engineering Independent Study (see below for a list).

Please note that

  • An independent study for credit cannot involve any payment (e.g., paid internship, work, etc.)
  • Submitting the online form is not equivalent to registering for independent study. Once the independent study is approved, you must register through Banner.
  • If you are seeking Curricular Practical Training (CPT), you must be either an engineering or BEO concentrator in order to register for ENGN independent study. If you are neither of these, you should register for an Independent Study through your concentration department.

Independent Study FAQs

Which Independent Study section should I register for?

Section Degree Program Suitable for Concentration Credit?
S01 Biomedical Engineering Yes
S02 Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Yes
S04 Computer Engineering Yes
S05 Electrical Engineering Yes
S06 Materials Engineering Yes
S07 Mechanical Engineering Yes
S08 Engineering Physics Yes
S10 Environmental Engineering Yes
S11 Other Topics Related to Engineering No

If I am completing an Independent Study for an Honors Thesis (but not for concentration credit or Capstone design), which section do I register for?
You should register for Section 11 - Other Topics Related to Engineering (not suitable for concentration credit).

Who determines the grade for my Independent Study?
Your faculty advisor is solely responsible for supervising your project, evaluating your accomplishments, and for assigning a grade (ABC/NC or S/NC - your choice). However, if you are requesting concentration credit or capstone design credit, the concentration advisor will also consult with your advisor to ensure that the appropriate concentration and/or design requirements have been satisfied.

I need Curricular Practical Training (CPT). What do I do?
If you are an engineering concentrator or a BEO concentrator, then you submit a proposal as described above. If you are pursuing any other concentration, then you must go through that department or consult with the CPT advisor in the office of the Dean of the College.