Independent Study

Students interested in gaining research experience during their degree may choose to register for HCC 700 and complete an independent study with a faculty member or post doctoral scholar.

Depending on the student’s interest and graduation timeline, an independent study can be a great way to “try out” research before committing to a masters thesis, or exploring PhD programs. Many students have been able to turn the results from an independent study into a research publication.

Registering for an MS Thesis

Students working on an independent study should register for HCC 700 with their project mentor. Only one semester of HCC 700 credit can be applied towards graduation as an elective. Students interested in continuing their research for credit are encouraged to pursue a masters thesis. 

Selecting an Independent Study Topic, and Finding a Mentor

Independent studies are completed under the supervision of a mentor. Students who want to enroll in HCC 700 must first identify and get approval from a  faculty member or post doctoral scholar experienced with the HCC graduate program who will advise them. However, students in the HCC program are welcome to take an independent study with faculty from another department as an elective.

The student and mentor should discuss the scope and goals of the independent study, as these are more flexible than the requirements of an masters thesis. Independent studies can make an intellectual contribution to the larger field of Human-Centered Computing, or be a demonstration of an advanced skill taught in a course, or an exploration of a new topic area.


It is up to the student and their mentor to determine a schedule for the semester that works for them and results in completed work. Unlike a masters thesis, the graduate school does not have schedule requirements for an independent study.

We recommend the student and mentor determine a meeting and communication schedule early in the semester to ensure there is consistent progress.