A student studying in the library.

Tulane University will award academic credit for research experiences through Independent  Study courses.  Every department has its own course number and procedures for seeking approval to take an Independent Study course.  Nevertheless, here are some general guidelines.

You should start working on this the semester before you wish to enroll in the Independent Study course.

One way you can get academic credit is to seek out a research position in a lab or to be recruited as a research assistant in a faculty research project.  Often you are one member of a research team working in a laboratory or field environment. This is common in the sciences, engineering and medicine, but faculty in any field could be working on a research project which would benefit with some student help.  Your professor will set up the course and tell you the course number you will use, when to register, grading policies, etc.

Another model, perhaps more common in the humanities, arts or social sciences (and the Honors program) is for you (the student) to propose a research project. 

  1. Write a one paragraph description of your project:  What question do you wish to study? What is your hypothesis, or your theme?  What are the steps in your research project?   The Research Engagement section of CELT can help you clarify your idea.
  2. Sell your idea. You must first find a faculty member who is interested in your idea and who agrees to supervise your research.  You can ask a professor teaching a course you really enjoy. Alternatively, you can research faculty interests to find a Tulane faculty member with expertise in your research topic.  (See the database of Faculty Research Interests. )  Meet with a professor and present your idea for a research project.    Do not be discouraged if the first professor does not have the time or interest in your project.  Ask anyone else that might need help and try another professor. You should recognize, however, that if you have an extremely rare or arcane topic it might not be appropriate.  Be open minded; you may need to revise your topic or find a new topic.
  3. After the professor agrees to supervise you in an independent study course, you may need to revise your research description.  At that point your professor will work through the department to have the course approved.
  4. Register for the independent study course as you would any other course.  (An independent study course is usually one semester.)

Some Resources are available to students from the Center for Public Service:

Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-314-7698