James Madison University

Independent Study

PHOTO: Kelly CarrKelly Carr prepares to use a camera that measures skin damage for her research. Independent Study in Psychology at JMU is a formal way that Psychology Majors can apply classroom learning to practical problems and to expand the scope of knowledge in Psychology to areas that are not emphasized in the coursework that we offer. As you participate in these projects, you can work independently with a small group of students with similar interests. You will also interact, and can form mentoring relationships with faculty. The faculty consider these experiences to be an essential part of the undergraduate Psychology experience, and encourage all students to participate. Project Supervisor permission is required to participate in independent study projects. Some projects require specific courses or special skills to qualify. Contact potential supervisors to apply for these experiences. View general descriptions of upcoming activities.  Additional opportunities are announced in Department of Psychology E-mail Newsletter.

Research (Psyc 203 or 403*)


This is an opportunity for students to assist a faculty member with a research project. Students can design their own project, but more typically faculty or faculty working with students develop the project. In some cases students work individually, but often a team that includes several students conduct the project. Students may participate in any or all phases of the research including completion of background research, study design, collection of data, data analysis, and interpretation. Sometimes projects culminate with the development of a professional conference presentation or publication of an article. *Note: Students registering for Psyc 203 or 403 will be assessed a $25 lab fee for each section enrolled, which will be added to the tuition bill.

Practicum (Psyc 202 or 402)


This is an opportunity for students to apply Psychology learning to a field setting. Students may work on projects individually or in groups. Credit is never awarded for fieldwork alone. To earn academic credit, students must integrate their understanding of Psychology with the experiences they have in the field. Often this is accomplished by completing readings, preparing written materials, and participating in discussions with the project supervisor. To enroll, students must have a JMU Psychology faculty sponsor. Discuss the field experience you would like to have with your faculty supervisor first, before contacting field sites.

Teaching (Psyc 202 or 402)


This is an opportunity for students to assist a faculty member with a class. Students may be asked to help with a variety of class activities. For example, students may be asked to create supplemental materials, tutor students, or lead a class activity. Students meet with the instructor of the course regularly.

Readings (Psyc 202 or 402)


This is an opportunity for students to enhance their knowledge of an area of Psychology that is not available in the courses we offer. Typically the student completes extensive readings on a topic, has periodic meetings with their supervisor, and prepares a product that is evaluated by the instructor.

Application Instructions and Forms