Independent study credits are not required for graduation but generally enhance a student’s education by providing experiences that are not a regular class offering. Students are encouraged to initiate and complete an independent study experience during their degree.


After ensuring you meet all of the following guidelines, print and fill out the Independent Study Course Form before returning it to SEFS student advisors.


This course form applies to the following SEFS students:

ESRM/BSE 490 Special Topics (one to five credits; max 15)

Special Topics allows students to explore a topic of their choosing within the major that does not already have a designated course. Topics vary widely and students and faculty identify the scope of study and determine academic requirements showing proficiency of knowledge (readings, projects, research report, writings, etc.). Numerically graded.

ESRM 491 Field Studies (one to five credits, max 10)

Field Studies credit is designed for students who have field intensive studies under the direction of a faculty member. Numerically graded.

ESRM/BSE 499 Undergraduate Research (one to five credits, max 15)

Students interested in assisting with an existing research project may also earn credit under ESRM/BSE 499A. Data collection, field work, or other tasks related to the project may be used towards research hours. All research credits are supervised by an ESRM/BSE faculty and students may be asked to submit a written summary of work completed. CR/NC.

Credits and Registration

Students should outline their ideas for independent study in advance of meeting with a faculty member knowledgeable about the study topic. Upon receiving approval by the supervising faculty, the student submits this form to the Office of Student and Academic Services for a faculty registration code. Students are expected to spend approximately three hours of work/study each week for each credit earned.


Students should check in with their supervising faculty throughout the quarter to ensure work completed meets approval and is submitted by the deadline.

Conduct and Safety in Research

Students are representing the UW and SEFS during their research work and are expected to behave professionally and practice good field and lab safety. Reports to the contrary may result in the student being asked to stop the independent study course without receiving credit.

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