Independent Study

Independent studies provide students opportunities to explore their interests deeper and make important decisions about how and where they will direct their talents in the future.

Independent Study provides an intermediate or advanced student opportunity to: (a) undertake the study of a topic not otherwise offered in the curriculum, or (b) pursue a topic beyond or in greater depth than is possible within the context of a regular course.

Independent Study should be seen as a rigorous investigation of a highly specific topic, calling for student initiative, and requiring a formal structure overseen by faculty.

Economics Independent Studies for Undergraduate Students take many forms, and opportunities are coordinated between the student and faculty, with support from the Undergraduate Studies Office.

ECON 199/399 Independent Study Form

Types of Independent Studies

An Independent Study may be approved for course credit as ECON 199 or 399 (coordinated through the Economics Undergraduate Studies Office, see below), or faculty may pay students using their research funds (coordinate with Budgeting in the Economics Main Office). Unpaid students (those receiving course credit) should be completing a project or working on items building their academic development, not just cleaning data or smaller administrative tasks.

Please Note: Independent Study is in addition to curriculum requirements and meant for students who are interested in gaining experience beyond what they learn within class, and not a supplement for class. They are not an alternative version of a course otherwise offered on a regular basis by the Department, and will not replace a course in the Economics curriculum.

Does not count as Advanced Hours. Credit will go towards overall student hours. There may be a limit to the number of independent study hours a student may use towards graduation. Students should meet with an advisor to ensure Independent Study fits in their academic plan.

ECON 199
  • Credit: 0 TO 5 hours
  • Approved for both letter and Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) grading
    • If taking for a grade, students must take between 1-5 credit hours.
    • 0 hours must be S/U grading
  • May be repeated
  • Recommended for students in conjunction with or after having taken ECON 102 and ECON 103
  • Teaching Assistants (TAs) always receive 199 credit
ECON 399
  • Credit: 0 TO 9 hours
  • Approved for both letter and S/U grading.
    • If taking for a grade, students must take between 1-5 credit hours.
    • 0 hours must be S/U grading.
  • May be repeated
  • Junior or senior standing
  • ECON 302 (Inter Microeconomic Theory) required as a prerequisite
  • A more advanced student project
  • Student TAs should only sign-up for ECON 199 unless they are completing an independent research project
Independent Study Limitation
  • Projects may be completed within one semester, or completed over several semesters and re-registered for each semester in which work is being completed
  • No more than 18 hours independent study credit may count towards graduation
  • Only 12 hours of 199 credit may be applied to the total 18 semester hours
Recommendations on Credit

The amount of credit a student receives for an independent study is approved by the overseeing faculty member, determined by the number of hours the student is expected to work on the independent study and what is approved by the faculty.

  • 0 hours – Student will do about 1 hour of work per week (or they are only working for part of the semester). Students may do this if they do not need the credit hours, but would like to have an official Independent Study on their transcript and a formalized experience. Some students may opt for 0 credits, even if they are working more as it may put them over the maximum number of hours, or they may wish to pay less tuition (if during the summer or they are part-time).
  • 1 hour –2-3 hours of work per week
  • 2 hours – 4-5 hours of work per week
  • 3 hours – 6-7 hours per week

Everything is pretty much doubled based on the expected number of hours the student would be working each week throughout the semester. Typically, students will not do more than 3 hours, but it could be possible if they were doing additional work (specifically for the 399). 

Procedure for Receiving Credit
  1. Student and faculty discuss the independent study, including the number of credit hours, level of course (199 or 399), and put together a learning agreement and/or list of expectations and activities along with the timeline for completion
  2. Student completes Independent Study Form, has faculty member sign, then submit to the Economics Undergraduate Studies Office (if after the add deadline, the student must also complete the late course add form~ see section below)
  3. Office will provide an override to the student into the Faculty’s 199 or 399 section, and notify the student with the process to officially add the section and adjust the credit hours
  4. Faculty responsible for the coordination with the student on the independent study, progress, and final grade
    • Final grade must be entered at the end of each semester (Deferred grades are not allowed; Projects may continue for several semesters, but a grade must be provided for the work within each semester)
Economics Distinction

Students who meet certain criteria have the opportunity to receive this high honor given by the Department and added to their official academic record. Distinction shows a student has achieved high academically both in the Department and also overall and they have a strong understanding of economic research.


  • Student must complete a research project under the supervision of a faculty member in the Department of Economics as a ECON 399 for at least 3 credit hours AND be recommended by that faculty member for graduation with distinction.
    • The research project should consist of a component that is the student’s own work, in the form of a paper. The parameters of the paper are decided on by the faculty. This is similar to a senior thesis or capstone project, where the student shows they are able to conduct research and use their expertise in a subject to impact the field of economics.
  • Certain GPA requirements must also be met by the student (verified by the Department in the last semester prior to graduation) View Graduation with Distinction Page
  • Students should notify the Economics Department Undergraduate Studies Office if they intend on graduating with distinction, or have questions.