Independent Study

Main page content

For spring quarter 2020, SIAS will be accepting fully completed forms via email. Once you have the forms signed, please submit to

One of the most rewarding things you can do while you are a student at UW Tacoma is independent study. Your independent study shows employers and graduate schools that you are better prepared for the world in ways you can't learn in a classroom alone.  Independent work develops your initiative, responsibility and creativity--it shows you can work independently on projects and take pride in your work.

Independent study opportunities allow you to expand your educational experience by trying different jobs or diving deeper into a topic of interest through research. You may earn up to 15 independent study credits at UW Tacoma--with up to 10 of these credits coming from internships. Internships over 10 credits require the approval of the Dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences (SIAS).

The Career Development and Education staff, SIAS Internship Program Manager, or your academic advisor can offer advice on how to find internships and other independent study opportunities.

The following courses are considered Independent Study:

Types of Independent Study

Undergraduate Research/ Creative Project (1-5 credits per quarter, Graded or Credit/No Credit)

Undergraduate Research involves working with a faculty member on an advanced research project of mutual interest. In addition to working on the research project, students will be expected to complete at least one final paper. Generally, a 4-5 page paper equals one (1) credit.

Senior Thesis (5 credits ONLY, Graded ONLY)

Senior Thesis is an independent research project planned and carried out by the student under the direction of a faculty member on a significant scholarly topic selected by the student in consultation with the faculty member. As this thesis is the culmination of your work, it can only be taken for 5 credits and will be graded. Generally, a 35-50 page thesis is expected.

Directed Readings (1-5 credits per quarter, Graded or Credit/No Credit)

Under the supervision of a faculty member, students read advanced scholarly material of mutual interest. Students are expected to submit a bibliography of works to be read along with their completed Independent Study Form for Directed Readings. In addition to other agreed-upon assignments (critical book/film reviews, etc.), students typically are expected to complete a final paper. Generally, a 4-5 page paper equals one (1) credit.

Internships (1-10 credits, Graded or Credit/No Credit)

Internships are a type of independent study. Find out more about the requirements for internships.

How do I register for SIAS Independent Study?*

Please make sure to plan ahead. The information below is only a recommended guide to help you complete forms and register for your independent study. It is recommended that you turn in your form at least 2 business days before you need to register for your independent study.

  1. Select a topic and develop a plan for what you will research, read and write. Starting this early and working with a faculty member will help you create a strong and achievable plan.
  2. For directed reading and undergraduate research, you can select between 1 and 5 credits, as well as graded or credit/no credit grading options. For the senior thesis, you must take 5 credits and the credits will be graded.
  3. Contact a faculty member with your plan of work and study. Consider which member of the SIAS faculty teaches courses in a similar area. It helps to have taken a course from that faculty member and know they have a familiarity with the curriculum that parallels your interests. Please note that part-time faculty are under no obligation to oversee independent study options, and contracts with part-time faculty advisors will require review by the SIAS Associate Dean before an entry code is issued.
  4. Once you and your faculty advisor have agreed on the scope of the independent study, complete the appropriate form. Forms must be typed. It is your responsibility to obtain the appropriate course number and SLN from the quarterly registration guide. Both you and the faculty advisor must sign the completed form.
  5. Check with a SIAS advisor or faculty member about appropriate placement of these independent study credits for your major.
  6. Make copies of the signed form (the original will be kept in the SIAS office) so you have copies for your faculty advisor and yourself. Bring the original signed form to the SIAS office to initiate the entry code issue process.
  7. Depending on your faculty advisor, it may take at least TWO business days to process your entry code. You will receive notification from the SIAS office when your entry code has been processed.
  8. Completion of the form does not mean you are automatically enrolled in the course. Use the entry code to register before the 10th day of the quarter.

*Please visit the SIAS Internships page for registration details.


For spring quarter 2020, SIAS will be accepting fully completed forms via email. Once you have the forms signed, please submit to

Before submitting to the School of IAS office for an entry code, all forms must be signed by you, your faculty advisor and site supervisor (if applicable). Please download and save a copy of the form before you complete it. Forms should be turned in at least 2 business days before you need to register for your independent study. Entry codes must be used before the 10th day of the quarter of registration.

Undergraduate Research form 

Senior Thesis form

Directed Readings form

Internships form