The College of New Jersey

Apply     Visit     Give     |     Alumni     Parents     Offices     TCNJ Today     

Independent Study/Independent Research (PSY391/393/493)

Course Description

These courses allow individual students to 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.

These courses 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.

Please see the restrictions section below for clarification on how these different course options satisfy graduation requirements for Psychology majors and minors. In general, PSY391 (Independent Study) is used for projects that require less faculty involvement and oversight, such as non-empirical literature reviews, whereas PSY393 or 493 (Independent Research) are used for projects that involve regular faculty involvement. Your faculty sponsor will help you determine which course number option is most appropriate for your project.

All of these course options require 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 then acts as the syllabus for the course.



  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 (or special permission)
  • Completed 12 units (with at least 4 units at TCNJ)
  • 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 391 and 393 count 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 391, 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

Downloadable Forms

Application for PSY 391, 393, and 493

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