Independent Study

Indpendent Study Contract Form | LLM Programs Independent Study Contract

LLM students: Please note that your independent study contract and requirements differ from the JD independent study contract and requirements listed on this page. Please refer any questions to your individual LLM programs.



    The Washington College of Law's Independent Study Program is designed to provide students the opportunity to engage in independent research with a faculty member. It is the intent of the program that all Independent study projects approved under this Policy Statement be capable of effective critique and evaluation, and that the resources of the law school be exceedingly helpful for the accomplishment of the educational goals of each project.

    An independent study permits a student to engage in supervised research with a faculty member in an area of interest to both. The end product of such research is expected to be a classic single-topic research paper, which is the basis of faculty evaluation of the student's work. Empirical research may be involved in such a project.


    1. Faculty Sponsor
      1. Every Independent Study project must be supervised by a member of the faculty, with strong preference given to full-time faculty members.
        1. Faculty members are not required to assume the sponsorship of any project; because of the time required to be spent on each project, they are urged to regulate carefully the number of projects they agree to sponsor.
        2. An adjunct faculty member may supervise an Independent Study project under the following conditions only: 1) no member of the full-time faculty has agreed to sponsor the project; 2) the project falls squarely within either the subject matter of the course taught at WCL by the adjunct faculty member, or is his or her area of specialization; 3) the project is undertaken in an academic period in which the adjunct faculty member is teaching at WCL.
    2. Credit Hour Allocation
      1. Overall Maximum Allocation
        A student may earn a maximum of 12 hours of academic credit that will count toward JD requirements through non-classroom contact courses. These include, but are not limited to independent study projects, field components of the Externship program, moot court and journal participation, singly or in combination. In planning their curricula, students should be aware that some states have limits on the number of non-classroom hours they will accept in satisfaction of their bar admission requirements.
      2. Semester/Summer Session and Academic Year Maximum Allocation
        1. A student may earn a maximum of 6 hours of independent study, field component, and externship credit in any academic year.
        2. A student may earn a maximum of 3 hours of independent study, field component, and externship credit in any semester or summer session.
        3. For good cause shown, the associate dean of student affairs may allow a student to vary the maximum allocations, so long as the overall 12 credit hour allocation is not exceeded.
    3. Page Length
      The following page lengths set the basic scheme. They may be increased or decreased to reflect unique characteristics of a particular project, such as degree of difficulty, availability of existing authority on the subject, etc. in the judgment of the faculty sponsor and with the consent of the associate dean:
      1. 1 credit hour: 20-25 pages
      2. 2 credit hours: 26-50 pages
      3. 3 credit hours: 51-75 pages
      4. 4+ credit hours: 20 pages additional per hour.
      All written work product must be typed in standard legal format.
    4. Educational Value
      1. The nature of the product must be educationally meritorious, that is, its intellectual rigor must meet law school standards for the granting of academic credit.
      2. The proposed project must be capable of critique and evaluation, and the resources of the law school project be exceedingly helpful, and preferably necessary, in seeing that the educational goals of the project are accomplished.
      3. The quantity of the work proposed to be done, expressed in usefully spent learning time, justifies the number of credit hours sought to be assigned to the project.
      4. A student must have completed the first year of required courses and must not be on academic probation.
      5. In the case of a project greater than 4 credit hours, the student must be in the fourth or fifth semester if a full-time student, or in the fifth or sixth semester if a part-time student.

    1. Design of Project
      1. The student must affirmatively seek out an appropriate faculty sponsor and project topic to assist in the design of the project.
      2. The student and faculty sponsor must agree in advance on the dates at which the paper will reach various stages of completion, all relevant due dates, and frequency of meeting during the academic period in which the project is undertaken. This master timetable must appear in the contract discussed infra.
    2. Independent Study Contract
      1. The student and faculty sponsor must execute an Independent Study Contract, available in the Office of Student Affairs.
      2. The associate dean for student affairs will approve the contract only after it has been signed by all other necessary parties.
      3. The contract will be accompanied by a brief but inclusive description of the work to be done.
    3. Grading
      All independent study projects shall be graded; however, in exceptional circumstances, and with the concurrence of the faculty sponsor and the associate dean for student affairs, a pass/fail grade may be given.
    4. Compensation
      No student may receive financial compensation for engaging in an Independent Study project.