Including independent study credits can help you individualize your program of study so you can delve more deeply into an area of interest. You get to work closely with a faculty mentor to essentially create and complete a course that is tailored for you. Different course numbers are used depending on the type of work you are doing, and the number of credits varies.
To set up an independent study:
- Identify your area of interest and potential mentors.
- Contact faculty, present your proposed independent study, and gain approval.
- Complete and submit the appropriate enrollment authorization form.
- Complete and submit a Contract Form specifying the work to be completed.
Can It Be a Clinical Experience?
While an independent study experience may include a clinical component, clinically focused independent study experiences are very rare and are offered at the discretion of individual faculty members. This is in part because clinical placements and expert preceptors are a valued and scarce resource for the School of Nursing. We engage most all willing clinical partners to offer the required clinical courses within the curriculum. It is rare that a site or preceptor has the capacity to engage a student in an independent study experience.
How Do I Find a Mentor?
To identify potential faculty mentors, students should review the School of Nursing faculty web pages. Students may also seek recommendations from their program advisor or course/clinical instructors. Any faculty member with an appointment in the School of Nursing may oversee independent study experiences.
How Do I Decide How Many Credits?
UW-Madison defines a credit hour as the learning that takes place in at least 45 hours of learning activities, which include time in lectures or class meetings, in-person or online, laboratories, examinations, presentations, tutorials, preparation, reading, studying, hands-on experiences, and other learning activities; or a demonstration by the student of learning equivalent to that established as the expected product of such a period of study. Therefore, each credit of independent study will require at least 45 hours of student engagement over the course of the semester.
How Do I Enroll?
The student completes the authorization to enroll for the agreed upon course (299, 698, or 699) and submits it to the faculty mentor for signature. (See Related Links for Enrollment Authorization Forms). The form is then submitted to the Academic Programs Student Services, suite 1100. The deadline for enrolling is prior to the end of the course add period, usually the end of the second week for fall and spring semesters.
NOTE: If the independent study involves a patient contact/clinical experience, the authorization to enroll form must be completed four weeks in advance of the semester in order to provide time for checking agency contracts and requirements and providing notification to the agency of the planned experience.
Staff in the Academic Programs Office will create a section for the independent study course as needed, review student compliance and agency requirements (if clinical independent study), authorize the student to enroll, and communicate the enrollment number to students.
N299: Independent Reading
Independent Reading provides an opportunity for lower-division undergraduate students to read in a particular area of nursing under the guidance of a faculty member who has expertise in the area.
Credits: Variable credits 1-3
N698: Directed Study in Nursing
Directed Study in Nursing provides an opportunity for self-directed upper-division undergraduate students to explore questions and interests that are not addressed currently in nursing courses with faculty members who have similar interests.
Grading: Credit/No Credit
Credits: 1 to 6 credits
N699: Directed Study in Nursing
Directed Study in Nursing provides an opportunity for self-directed upper-division undergraduate students to explore questions and interests that are not addressed currently in nursing courses with faculty members who have similar interests. Early Entry Option/PhD students are encouraged to complete an N699. N699 credits count towards graduate research independent study.
Credits: 1 to 4 credits
- N299 is appropriate for pre-nursing students.
- Upper level course, designed to permit advanced undergraduate students to pursue an area of professional interest under expert guidance.
- Intended to be tutorial in nature, and shall not be used for remediation purposes.
- Faculty prepared at the master’s level or higher should be the mentors for students.
- The faculty-student ratio shall be flexible but should be not greater than 1:6.
- Student responsibility is substantial, requiring self-directed planning and selection of learning activities to meet the goals mutually agreed upon by student and instructor.
- Credits granted are nursing elective credits.
- Not be used to allow students to take the clinical component of established courses.