Upper School
Upper School

Independent Study

The idea behind Independent Study is to provide an opportunity for juniors and seniors who are in good academic standing to go beyond the boundaries of the curriculum offered by The Ethel Walker School and pursue a topic of great personal interest to them. An Independent Study is not the same thing as taking an existing course at a special time by special arrangement with a teacher.  An Independent Study usually does not constitute one of the 5 required academic courses students take each semester. Before beginning an independent study project, students must have completed all the required courses in the subject area of the independent study as well as any relevant courses needed as background preparation.

The Proposal

The student and a teacher who has agreed to be the sponsor should write the Independent Study proposal. It should address in some detail:

  • Goals and primary topics/questions to be explored
  • Materials and texts to be used
  • Meeting times and deadlines to be met
  • Assessment and standards

Number of credits (1 semester = ½ credit: 2 semesters = 1 credit)

The proposal first must be submitted to the appropriate academic department for review and then to the Dean of Studies for approval. Independent Study projects that are to begin in the fall semester must be submitted by May 31 of the previous school year. Proposals for projects beginning in the second semester must be submitted by January 4 of the same school year.

The Independent Study Sponsor

The teacher who is working with a particular independent study student is expected to:

  • Meet with the student on a regular basis
  • Hold the student accountable for meeting incremental deadlines
  • Keep a log documenting the progress of the independent study
  • Give the student quarter grades and comments

The Independent Study Student

The student who is doing an independent study is expected to:

  • Meet with the sponsor on a regular basis
  • Meet incremental deadlines as outlined in the proposal
  • Understand that her independent study project is another class and be prepared to put in the necessary time and effort


Quarter grades will be determined by the teacher/sponsor, who will assess student progress: how well deadlines are being met, the quality of the work, etc. 

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