James Madison University

Independent Study

PHOTO: Kelly Carr
Halley Barton presenting research at the Psychology Symposium 2016.

With an independent study course, Psychology majors can apply classroom learning to practical problems and research questions.  As students participate in these projects, they may work individually or with a small group of students. The faculty consider these experiences an important part of the undergraduate Psychology experience. Some projects require specific courses or special skills to qualify. Contact potential supervisors to apply for these experiences. Descriptions can be found in our faculty research inventory, and faculty advertise for openings with descriptions of upcoming projects and training opportunities

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