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Independent Studies

Independent Study in the Slavic Department

Independent study (RUSS 499, SLAV 499) primarily provides advanced undergraduates and graduate students with the opportunity to work closely with individual faculty members on an area of shared interest. Independent studies are designed to complement and expand on existing courses, not substitute for them, and as such are only open to students who have already completed a number of the department’s required and elective courses. In certain cases, an independent study may be used to provide additional material to a student enrolled concurrently in a Slavic Department course, or as a form of service learning (see under “Internships”). Independent studies are not intended to ease scheduling conflicts, “top up” credit requirements, or enable students to qualify for financial aid.

Who can apply for an independent study?

Juniors, senior and graduate students who have already completed coursework in the Slavic Department and have a degree of familiarity with their chosen subject area may apply for an independent study. Students who do not fit this profile should talk to the Undergraduate Advisor to determine their eligibility.

Who can supervise an independent study?

Only faculty at the rank of lecturer or above may supervise independent studies, and only in areas of their teaching or research expertise. Faculty are under no obligation to supervise independent studies, and may only offer 10 credits of independent study in any one quarter.

How does a student go about applying for an independent study?

Students should have a research topic in mind that cannot be explored in existing Slavic Department courses, either because such a course does not exist, or because it has not been offered for several years. Please note that independent studies cannot be offered simply because of a student’s scheduling conflict. An independent study cannot be substituted for any course that is offered regularly by the Slavic Department.

Students should consult faculty members’ CVs on the departmental website to see who might serve as their supervisor: Slavic Department Directory. The student should then email or make an appointment to see both the Undergraduate Advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies to discuss their project and to determine its feasibility.

Should the project be approved, the Undergraduate Advisor will obtain the necessary signatures on the Independent Study Application (PDF) and facilitate a meeting between the student and their faculty supervisor.

When should a student begin applying for an independent study?

Students should begin planning their research project well in advance of a new quarter, and should apply to the Undergraduate Advisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies at least 30 days before the start of the next quarter. A project should be approved, an advisor selected, signatures obtained, and the necessary paperwork filed no later than the first day of a new quarter. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that a program of study has been approved, and all signatures obtained before the quarter has begun.

How much work is involved in an independent study? How many credits is it worth?

These two things are directly connected. Based on the student’s research project, the student and the faculty supervisor will agree on the number of credits sought.

  • Literature and linguistics topics:
    Generally, 1 credit hour = 1-2 books to be read, 3-5 pages to be written. 2 credits = 3-4 books, 6-8 pages; 3 credits = 5-6 books, 9-11 pages, and so on, up to a maximum of 5 credits. Students and supervisors will arrive at a mutually agreed-upon syllabus and reading list, and arrange how often to meet during the quarter.
  • Language study
    Students undertaking language study will complete a specified number of written assignments, tests, and essays, as determined by their supervisor. Meetings for language study may include more than one student.


The Polish Home Association offers internships working for the Association and its Board, for the Polish Home Foundation, and other affiliated organizations (such as Seattle-Gdynia Sister City Association, UW Polish Studies Endowment Committee, etc.). Duties might include administrative and fundraising activities, archiving and digitizing documents and photographs relating to the history of the PHA, and the Seattle-Gdynia Sister City Association’s Seattle Polish Film Festival. For a 5-credit independent study, students should complete approximately 15 hours a week at their internship.

Additionally, students are expected to write a paper relating to the internship and the student’s interests. The paper must be a minimum of 5 pages for 1 to 2-credit internships, 7-10 pages for 3-4 credits, and 12-15 pages for 5-6 credits. It must include a bibliography with at least three academic sources. Mr. John Golubiec, PHA president, will direct and oversee the student’s work. Prof. Katarzyna Dziwirek is responsible for monitoring the progress of the academic component of the project, and assigning a grade.

For more information please see the following: Careers and Internships

How often do students and supervisors meet for an independent study?

This varies depending on both a supervisor’s and a student’s course load and class hours, and the nature of the material to be covered. Students should be prepared to be flexible in their hours, as a faculty member’s first duty is to students enrolled in their regular Slavic Department courses, and there may be weeks when supervisors are unable to meet with independent study students.

Do independent study credits count towards a major in the Slavic Department?

Undergraduates may earn no more than 15 independent study credits in the Slavic Department, and because independent study is NOT a substitute for required coursework towards a major or minor, independent study credits may only count towards elective requirements.