Independent Study


Independent Study may be appropriate where students wish to study a particular substantive area of law that is not currently covered in the School’s existing curriculum. However, in order to assure appropriate academic rigor for such courses, any Independent Study, in addition to being supervised by any current faculty member, must meet the following guidelines:

1. The class must be designed by arrangement between the student wishing to take the Independent Study and the faculty member who has agreed to supervise it. If the student wishes to have as a supervisor an adjunct faculty member who is currently teaching, the student must seek approval from the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

2. The project must result in a paper which is either analytical or argumentative writing:

a.  For one credit, the paper must be at least 5,000 words (exclusive of footnotes or endnotes), double-spaced, and word-processed.

b.  For two credits, the paper must be 8,750 words (exclusive of footnotes or endnotes), double spaced, and word-processed; the student must keep time records and record at least 100 hours of work; and, the student must submit an outline of the paper in advance of approval of the project showing what the paper will cover.

c.  In exceptional circumstances, three hours of credit may be approved; however, approval of a three-credit Independent Study requires separate approval of the proposed course by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in conjunction with the full Curriculum Committee.

3. The design of the Independent Study must require that interim drafts of the writing assignment be turned in at specified intervals and reviewed by the faculty member.

4. The design must require regular meetings (preferably weekly) between the student and the faculty member which would justify the credit request.

5. A student must have satisfactorily completed all first-year courses and be in good academic standing before enrolling in an Independent Study. Given the rigorous course requirements, use of Independent Study should be avoided where the student’s time commitment to the course is likely to jeopardize the student’s academic standing by diverting attention from other courses.

6. Each Independent Study design proposal must be submitted by the student to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs by August 1 for the fall semester in which the student wishes to do the independent study, by December 1 for the spring semester in which the student wishes to do the independent study, or by April 15 for the summer semester in which the student wishes to do the independent study. The request form for Independent Study is posted below.

7. Independent Study is not allowed for a topic taught at the Charleston School of Law. Rather, it is for the purpose of allowing a student to pursue a legal topic not taught at the Charleston School of Law. An independent study proposal can, however, be taught on a topic at the Charleston School of Law if the student has taken that course and the topic is on an advanced subject in that field.

8. Independent Study course is offered on a Pass/Fail basis. However, to satisfy the Upper-Level Writing Requirement, the supervising professor must certify that the student has complied with all the requirements set forth in the Upper-Level Writing Requirement and that the completed paper is of sufficient quality that the student would have received a grade of B or better if the paper had been submitted for a graded course.

9. Independent Study is subject to all regular class record-keeping requirements.

10. Supervision of Independent Study does not count toward faculty teaching load requirements and does not provide a basis for a salary supplement for an adjunct professor.  Faculty members should only supervise two credit hours of independent study per semester, unless permission is granted by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Absent extraordinary circumstances, such approval will not be granted.

11. In computing the required number of credits for graduation, no more than a total of four of the required 90 credit hours may be in the form of Law Review, Moot Court, or Independent Study credit. A student will not be approved for independent study if the granting of such a request would move that student from part-time to full-time student status.

Request form for Independent Study