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The Independent Study is available to students to engage in independent work for academic credit over the course of one semester and with the oversight of a Faculty Advisor. The nature and extent of this independent study are determined by the student and a Faculty Advisor. A student may register for an Independent Study worth either 1.5 or 3.0 credits, and no more than 6.0 credits of total Independent Study will be counted toward the MBA degree.
The following are recommended categories of Independent Study and typical scope and deliverables.
|CATEGORY||TYPE||TYPICAL SCOPE||TYPICAL DELIVERABLE|
|Academic Study||Independent Research||Student researches an industry, company, country, or other relevant topic of interest||Paper, PowerPoint presentation, Case Study describing the analysis and its business implications (sometimes including financial model / data analysis)|
|Class Extension||Student engages in a project our coursework that builds upon learning from a CBS class they completed||Paper or PowerPoint presentation demonstrating applied learnings and self-reflection|
|Work Study||Field Study Project*||Students engage with a client or group of clients on a discrete project requested by the company(ies) / organization(s); Often conducted in association with CBS programs, courses, or student clubs||Paper or PowerPoint presentation for the client, usually accompanied by an in-person presentation, and sometimes including financial model / data analysis; Plus additional deliverable for CBS program, course, or student club connecting field study learning to academic coursework|
|CBS Academic Improvement Project*||Students engage with a CBS faculty member on a project related to improving academics which may include research study, curriculum feedback, and case or curriculum development||Paper, PowerPoint presentation, Case Study, Curriculum, Faculty Recommendation, New Course Proposal, Pilot Course Feedback|
|Developing Your Own Start-Up*||Students perform market sizing, prototyping, or other analysis and for their own existing or potential business ventures||Paper, PowerPoint presentation, Business Plan, sometimes accompanied by a presentation to potential investors and/or financial model|
* Students may participate in Independent Study via project teams if appropriate. Independent studies should typically involve one student, but group studies involving multiple students may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Note: The time commitment per student should match that of a single student study and the deliverable will likely be more extensive than that of a single student study.
Independent Study Origination
In most cases, the study request will be originated by a student (based on their own academic or work study idea). In some cases, a CBS faculty member or administrator may identify a study and solicit student engagement. In the latter case, we highly recommend faculty members use a selective application process.
The Faculty Advisor will thought partner and agree on the project prior to the student submitting the application and then will be available as a resource and for feedback during the Independent Study; receive, review, and give feedback on the final deliverable; determine and submit a final grade. Faculty Advisors will dedicate at least 3-10 hours to the student as agreed upon up front.
The Faculty Directory can be searched by name, division or area of expertise, and is a useful resource when exploring possible faculty sponsors.
Faculty members can accept or decline independent studies based on their discretion and in consideration of the quality of the proposed study and the faculty member’s availability during the semester requested.
The student and Faculty Advisor should agree on the credit hours associated with the Independent Study prior to submitting the application. A 3.0 credit is appropriate for studies that will include about 50-70 hours of work or more during the semester. A 1.5 credit is appropriate for work that will include about 25-40 hours of work during the semester.
Note: Applications submitted after the mid-point of the semester are only eligible for 1.5 credits in that semester.
Deliverable and Grading
Upon completion of the independent study, students must submit their deliverable(s) to the Faculty Advisor.
Upon reviewing the final deliverable, the Faculty Advisor will communicate and submit a final grade for the Independent Study. The grading scale is the same as with other electives (though not subject to a curve): H+: 11, H: 10, H-: 9, HP+: 8, HP: 7, HP-: 6, P1+: 5, P1: 4, P1-: 3, LP: 1, F: 0. The Faculty Advisor has discretion over grading and will likely give grades of H (+/-) for projects that exceed expectations, HP (+/-) for projects that meet expectations, and P/LP/F for projects that fall short of expectations. Over time, faculty members will be taking into account the elective grading curve in their individual project grading decisions.
Students are expected to commit to the original project plan approved by the Faculty Advisor; any change to the topic or scope of the project must be agreed to by the professor. Students who fail to obtain this approval risk not receiving academic credit for the course.
Process for Student-Originated Independent Study Application
1. Draft the purpose, scope, and potential deliverable(s) for your study.
2. Identify a relevant potential Faculty Advisor and draft rationale for why this Faculty Advisor is the best fit to sponsor you. Consider how your study might be mutually beneficial for you and the Faculty Advisor based on their coursework and focus of research or industry expertise.
3. Reach out to the potential Faculty Advisor directly to ask if they are interested and available to sponsor your study (sample template).
4. If the potential Faculty Advisor agrees, meet to discuss and refine your study proposal based on your conversation.
If the potential Faculty Advisor does not agree to sponsor your study, consider reaching out to a different faculty member. If they do agree, use the form below to submit the Independent Study application. Please note that you should prepare to attach a copy of an email or signed letter in which the Faculty Advisor agrees to sponsor your study.
Independent Study Application Form
If you are an EMBA student, please use the form below to submit an Independent Study application. This form will be reviewed and processed by the EMBA Office of Student Affairs and may also be reviewed by the Samberg Institute for appropriateness and rigor. The application deadline for a 3 credit spring Independent Study is January 18th. If you have any questions, please email AskEMBA-NewYork@gsb.columbia.edu.
If you are an MBA student, do not use the form below. Please refer to this page for application instructions.
Executive MBA Independent Study