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Independent Study/Independent Research

PSY 391/393/493 – Independent Research


  • Minimum GPA of 2.5
  • Sophomore status
  • Sponsorship by faculty member
  • Submission to and approval of a TCNJ Psychology Independent Research (PSY 391/393/493) Proposal Form by the Psychology Department Independent Study Committee.


  • Psychology Major: PSY 393 counts as a Specialized Course; PSY 493 counts as a Senior Experience course.  Students may count up to one 300-level ELOPsy (Experiential Learning Opportunities in Psychology) course at the Specialized level, one ELOPsy as a Psychology Option, and one 400-level ELOPsy course at the Senior Experience level.
  • Psychology Minor: One PSY 393 or PSY 493 will count toward the Psychology minor as a course taken at the 300-level or above.
  • Students may enroll in PSY 391, PSY 393 and/or PSY 493 more than once.
  • Repeat individual studies on the same project must show SUBSTANTIAL change in learning objectives

Course Description

Individual students work with a faculty member on a discrete literature-based or empirical research project.  Such projects may be faculty or student initiated.  In other words, students may apprentice with a faculty member by working on a faculty-initiated research project, or students may propose a research project and seek mentorship by faculty.  In both cases, students will have a substantive and specified role in the research process (and not merely perform support tasks).  Individual instruction of a standard course is not appropriate for Independent Research.

Independent Research may involve one student working on one project or a small group of students (2-5 students) each with substantial independent work (e.g., primary responsibility for specific research questions/hypotheses).  If 2-5 students will be working on the same project, it is the responsibility of the faculty member to clearly identify the ways in which each student will be engaging in independent work.  To protect the interests of both the faculty member and the students, a faculty member sponsoring more than one project in a given semester will provide a plan for supporting these projects including the approximate amount of time per week to be spent meeting with each student or group of students.

Independent Research students will be required to make at least one brief presentation on psychology research at TCNJ in a PSY 101 or PSY 121 class.  If a student is performing data collection as part of their project, this presentation can take the form of describing the study and recruiting participants.

Independent Research requires a formal proposal that is developed in collaboration between the student and faculty mentor and submitted to the departmental Independent Study Committee for approval (see attachment).  The proposal, signed by both the student and faculty mentor, must be submitted by the designated due date in the semester prior to engaging in this learning experience.  This proposal becomes the contract for the Independent Research arrangement.

Downloadable Forms

Application for PSY 391, 393, and 493

Make sure you read all the application instructions before going to the online application system.