Each year, many Carleton students develop and carry out their own, independent research projects. Some of these are term-long or Comps-related projects, and some are projects that unfold over the course of two years. Some are more exploratory in nature, and some are undertaken simply because they are of interest to the student. Some involve travel to distant parts of the world, while some take place right on campus.

“Independent” means that the research project is student-initiated and student-driven; however, it still involves regular consultation with faculty or other mentors.

Examples of Independent Research Projects

Information about Developing Independent Research Projects

Independent Research During the Academic Term

Students can receive academic credit for independent research projects they pursue during the term by enrolling in either Independent Research (course number 292 or 392) or Comps (course number 400). These require that students identify a faculty member who agrees to supervise their research. In general, they should reach out to faculty during the term before they want to do research or earlier, in order to define an appropriate project and secure the faculty member’s approval.

Independent Research During Academic Breaks

For projects that take place during summer or winter break, students can apply for funding to support their research activities, travel, and living expenses. Carleton-funded fellowships, open only to Carleton students, are one of the most important sources of funding for independent research projects. The Office of Student Fellowships is a good first stop if you are considering independent research or an independent artistic project and looking to fund the work. Keep in mind that Carleton-funded fellowship applications are generally due during Winter Term each year, so please plan ahead accordingly.

Funding is also available through individual departments at Carleton, so it’s always a good idea to check in with the department office and/or your advisor as part of your search for funding.

Carleton funding is generally available to all students, regardless of citizenship.

Independent Research with Human Subjects

If your independent research project involves human subjects, be prepared to consult with and seek approval for your project from the Institutional Review Board.