Independent Study

Statistical Science Master's students pursue independent studies to augment or extend work beyond the set curriculum. The Independent Study course allows students to do individual research in a field of special interest under the supervision of a Statistical Science faculty member, resulting in a substantive paper, project, or written report containing significant analysis and interpretation of a previously approved topic.

The independent study course STA 693 is a three-credit graded course that is reserved for Master's students. Students can take STA 693 twice and count up to six credits towards their degree as long as the course topic and the content is different each time.  

If needed, Master's students can request the Ph.D. level Independent Study courses STA 993 and STA 994 which can be set for 1, 2,  3, or 4 credits, and can be graded or ungraded depending on how much time will be dedicated to the course. The number of credits and graded/ungraded status should be discussed with the instructor and specified in the form under "Type of Study".

The following policies apply to independent studies:

Approval—the independent study must be approved by the instructor(s) involved as well as by the Director of the Master's program.

Faculty appointment—the instructor (supervising faculty member) must hold a regular rank faculty appointment at Duke. In someNote that STA 693 is a three-credit graded course.   cases, there may be an additional instructor who mentors the bulk of the independent study and holds an appointment outside the sponsoring department or program. If this is the case, the supervising faculty member is responsible for submitting the final grade, and ensuring that the instructor adheres to academic standards, policies, and procedures pertaining to graduate students of Duke University.

Non-Regular Rank Faculty/Staff- NRR Faculty and Staff have restrictions on the number and types of independent studies they can have with students. Please check with Lori Rauch and with the DGS for your program to ensure your independent study is allowed.

Course Content / Quality—the independent study must provide a rigorous academic experience equivalent to that of any other Duke graduate course. Independent study courses may not duplicate available course offerings in the semester or summer term in which the independent study is being taken, nor may independent study be used simply to provide low-level support for other projects or to observe or shadow the work of others.

Final product—the student will produce a final academic and/or artistic product to be completed during the semester for which the student is registered for the course.

Grading—the instructor will evaluate the work, including the final product, associated with the independent study, and submit a grade by the end of the semester. If the instructor is someone other than the supervising faculty member, the instructor will consult on the final grade with the supervising faculty member from the sponsoring department or program, who will submit the final grade.


  1. Students wishing to register for an independent study or research independent study must first make arrangements with a faculty member having expertise in the desired area. The student and instructor should agree on the course title, plan of study, objectives and expectations, as well as on the nature of the final product and evaluation criteria. 
  2. Students should first obtain a signature from the instructor of the course before obtaining a signature from the MS Director. Once all form is signed and completed, the student submits the Independent Study Request Form (attached here) to Lori Rauch. The form is due before the end of the drop/add period of the term in which the independent study is to be taken. If approved, the student will receive a completed Independent Study form with your permission number to register for the course from Karen Whitesell.