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  graded, three-credit course 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 differs each time.   

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 main instructor must hold a regular rank faculty appointment at Duke.  In some cases, the instructor who mentors the bulk of the independent study holds an appointment outside the Statistical Science Department. If this is the case, the student is responsible for finding a supervising faculty member who needs to be a regular rank faculty (or secondary faculty) of Statistical Science. Supervising faculty 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 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 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, expectations, and the nature of the final product and evaluation criteria.  For more information, please see the Independent Study Proposal Form below.
  2. Students should first obtain a signature from the course instructors(s) before submitting the approval form via Qualtrics, including the attached Independent Study Proposal form (below). The form is due on the first Friday of classes of the term in which the independent study is to be taken. All forms will be evaluated right after this due date by the Master's director and signed if approved. Next, the student will receive a completed Independent Study form with your permission number to register for the course from Karen Whitesell.