College Catalog

Special Course Work

  • Independent Study

    Independent study, under the guidance and supervision of faculty members, offers challenging opportunities for investigating areas beyond the limits of regular courses. A student may engage in independent study for credit, given the availability and approval of a faculty member knowledgeable in the chosen subject matter.

    A total of seven independent study credits, including internships, may count toward graduation. Students are expected to arrange each independent study program before the end of the previous semester. A written proposal signed by the relevant faculty member must be submitted to the Dean of the Faculty for review. Proposal forms are available from the Students tab on Independent Studies do not have established meeting dates/times. The learning objectives and academic requirements for these courses are determined by the faculty member and the student, with the expectation that the total work completed shall approximate that expected for a regular semester course (see “Definition of a Lake Forest Credit.”)

    The following are the four basic types of independent study: tutorial, research project, senior thesis, and creative project.


    A tutorial is a course on a special topic not covered in a regularly offered course. Students meet regularly, usually individually, with their faculty supervisor to discuss the readings and are normally assigned a number of short papers. Recent tutorials have dealt with such topics as advanced Japanese, New Testament Greek, advanced Chinese, mysticism, European industrial revolution, recent bioethical issues, song writing. Students may take one tutorial a year beginning with the second semester of the first year, for a total of four tutorials.

    Research Project

    A research project is more specialized and usually more advanced than a tutorial, requiring greater independence and originality on the part of the student. Students conduct scholarly research with a view to producing substantial work in the form of a term paper or report. Among recent projects undertaken were studies involving ethical issues on intellectual property, weblogs and their implications concerning cultural values and global business, the U.S. Social Security system, and mestastable hydrogen atom collisions. Juniors and seniors are eligible to undertake research projects. A maximum of four research project course credits is allowed toward graduation, no more than two in a semester and no more than three in a year.

    Senior Thesis

    A senior thesis is original scholarly research undertaken in the student’s senior year, usually over two terms. The research culminates in a formal written dissertation and oral examination that is evaluated by a faculty committee. Outstanding theses are awarded distinction at graduation. Senior theses may be undertaken for one or two course credits; normally two course credits will not be awarded in the same semester.

    Creative Project

    A creative project is an independent course of work, under faculty supervision, in a creative medium such as painting, fiction, sculpture, poetry, photography, or music. Creative project credits are limited in the same way as tutorials; senior projects in studio art may be approved for a maximum of two course credits.

    Program Leaves

    A student may enroll during the fall or spring semester for one course at another institution while remaining registered for three courses at Lake Forest College for that term. If approved by the student’s advisor, the program must be confirmed by the registrar to assure transferability of the work. If the work is satisfactorily completed with a grade of C- or better in each course and the credits are transferred to Lake Forest College, the student will be reimbursed for the per-course cost of the tuition at the other institution (up to the per-course cost of tuition at Lake Forest College for the same period).