Independent Study Projects (ISP) / Collaborative Study Projects (CSP)

Independent Study Projects (ISP) allow students to complete a supervised project for credit in a specific area of interest to supplement the established curriculum. The project requires independent study but also includes tutorial supervision; its purpose is to meet individual student needs by providing an alternative to regularly offered courses.

A Collaborative Study Project (CSP) allows two students to work collaboratively to complete a faculty supervised project of independent study. Usually, a CSP is supervised by two faculty members, but with approval it may be supervised by one faculty member.

Each ISP/CSP may receive 3 credits. A combined total of 9 credits of Independent Study/Collaborative Study work may be credited toward any four- or five-year undergraduate degree. ISPs are available Fall, Wintersession, and Spring. They may not be taken during the summer.

Students (sophomores and above) with an accumulative grade point average of 3.00 or above may register for a particular ISP/CSP by requesting the assistance of a faculty member with appropriate interests and competencies to serve as a tutor. With the consent and assistance of the faculty member, a student should prepare a proposal and an application for the work to be accomplished (Independent Study Application). The student will be properly enrolled once the form is completed and approved and notification is sent to the Registrar’s office. Approval for an ISP/CSP must be submitted to the Registrar in accordance with the timeline outlined in the Academic Calendar . In order to meet this deadline, students are encouraged to meet with their chosen tutor as soon as they know they desire an ISP/CSP in the semester prior.


Guidelines for Studio Independent Study and Collaborative Study Projects

The total amount of work involved (including meeting times, research, and writing) must be roughly equivalent to the amount of work the student or students would do in a typical studio course. For example, if a course meets for 5 hours per week, with an expectation of at least 5 additional hours of out-of-class work, students will typically be doing a total 10 hours of work per week or 120 hours in a 12-week term. The equivalent amount of time and effort must take place for shorter semesters, such as Wintersession.

The student, or students, and tutor must meet on a regular basis for discussion–usually, 6-12 times per term. The ISP or CSP should occur on campus. If students plan to travel or work off-campus, there must be a good rationale for the travel or off campus site in terms of the content of the proposal including how the travel or location contributes to the project in an essential way and how the “meetings” will take place. Email as the sole form of weekly communication with the instructor is not acceptable, although videoconference or similar technology could be.

The description and rationale of the ISP or CSP, the schedule and manner of work to be produced, the meeting schedule, and the method of evaluation should be articulated very clearly and thoroughly in the Independent Study Application or the Collaborative Study Application.


There is a criteria checklist available for Independent Study in Liberal Arts which may be found at <risd.edu/registrar> in the Students > Independent Study section.

There is a criteria checklist available for Independent Study in Liberal Arts which may be found at Registrar's website in the Students Independent Study section.