Independent Study

Independent Study Project Instructions

Eligibility: To be eligible to register for Independent Study, a student must:

  • Earn a cumulative weighted average of 80 or better by the end of their second year;
  • Secure a written agreement from a full-time faculty member to supervise the project; and
  • Submit a written proposal for approval to the Academic and Joint Degree Programs Committee (“Committee”).
    • Request must be made in the semester preceding the commencement of an independent study (deadline will be published in the Academic Calendar).

Written Proposal: The proposal may be in the form of a memorandum that describes the problem or issue that will be addressed in the independent study project (“project”). The student must set forth a description of the anticipated objective(s) of the project in terms of potential issues that will be addressed and proposed solution(s) and a research plan that demonstrates that some preliminary research has been done. The memorandum must be a minimum of two pages, single spaced, and include the following:

  1. a statement of the legal problem or issue the project addresses[1];
  2. a research plan; and
  3. a preliminary annotated bibliography.

The bibliography must include both the sources of law cited in your statement of the legal problem or issue your project addresses and secondary legal sources, e.g. law review and journal articles, books (monographs and anthologies).  Students should limit their reliance on websites and other internet sources.  In addition, some projects will require students to read and cite scholarly literature from other disciplines.  Students should discuss any interdisciplinary research with their faculty advisors before submitting their written proposals. 

Faculty Advisor: Each project must be supervised by a full time HUSL professor. The student must meet with the faculty advisor to ensure the focus and scope of the project is clearly laid out in the proposal. The faculty member must provide both a written approval of the project and a written commitment to supervise and evaluate the project. The professor may either sign the student’s proposal or submit a separate statement (submission by email to the Academic Dean is acceptable). If the professor’s commitment is in a separate document, then it should be attached to the student’s proposal when it is submitted to the Committee. The student must carefully select their advisor as they must complete the project with the same professor granting approval. Finally, the faculty advisor will provide the grade for this project.

Proposal Notice: The Academic Dean will provide written notice, typically by email, to the student on actions taken by the Committee on the project. The student may register for Independent Study only with a written approval, typically by email, from the Office of Academic Affairs. This approval will be copied to the Faculty Advisor and the Office of Records.   

Registration: The student can only register for the Independent Study course through the Office of Records.  Registration must occur no later than the last day of the add/drop period of the semester in which the student intends to complete their approved project.  Timely registration is the student’s sole responsibility. Upon successful completion, he student will receive either two credit hours for Independent Study (Fall or Spring semester) or four credit hours (Summer semester only).  A student may count credits from only one semester of Independent Student towards the 88 total credit hours required for the Juris Doctor degree. 

Completed Paper Requirements: The minimum number of pages of text required for Independent Study is 20 pages for two credits and 40 pages for four credits.  These page counts exclude footnotes/endnotes, title pages, abstracts, tables (including tables of contents or authorities), bibliographies, and graphics. All papers must be double spaced and in 12-point font with standard (1 inch) margins.  


[1]This statement must include the law(s) your project examines with citations to any relevant treaties, constitutions, statutes, ordinances, rules, regulations, and/or cases.