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Independent Study Courses

The Math Department offers a number of undergraduate-level independent study courses. This provides an opportunity for students to receive course credit for the academic component of their work when they are:

  • Working in a research lab
  • Conducting their own research
  • Performing an in-depth study on a mathematical topic
  • Participating in an internship or volunteer opportunity

When a particular area of mathematics is not covered by a regular course offering, an independent study course provides students knowledge and experience in that area. Course content, assignments, meeting times and grade requirements are arranged with a mathematics faculty member.

If you have questions about independent study, contact the math undergraduate office at math-undergrad-office@umich.edu.

REQUIRED TRAINING for All Undergraduates Engaged in Research

All students engaged in research are required to complete Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship (RCRS) training. This certification is valid for 3 years. If you've already completed the training, please ensure that your certification is still valid. If your certification expires before the end of the current semester, you will need to retake the RCRS training. Click here to check the expiration date for your existing certificationStudents who do not complete the required training within 30 days of beginning research may be dropped from their independent study credit. For more information about the RCRS requirement, visit the Research Ethics and Compliance website.

How to Find a Research Mentor or Faculty Sponsor

Research Areas: This website will allow you to search for faculty who are doing research with your topic of interest. If a list of faculty appears after your search, check their research and teaching interests description on their profile. Contact the faculty if you want to know more about their research project or want to ask for opportunities to work in their lab.

What if my Mentor/Sponsor is not in the Mathematics Department?

There must be a faculty member affiliated with Math involved in your project/research for you to be able to receive credit through the Math Department. If your primary mentor/sponsor is not affiliated with the Math Department, you will need to find a co-mentor/co-sponsor within Math. Your co-mentor/co-sponsor should be someone with experience with the topic you are planning to research, and should verify that your project is Math-related. The Math faculty member would be responsible for entering your electronic course permission request (if applicable), entering your grade, and answering Math-specific questions. You should coordinate with your primary mentor/sponsor and your co-mentor/co-sponsor to make sure you are all aware of the work to be submitted, how you will be graded, and how you will keep in touch to review your progress. To find a co-mentor/co-sponsor, use the resources posted above under "How to find a Research Mentor of Faculty Sponsor."

Independent Study Class Options

Directed Research Courses (Math 399, 499)

Independent Study in Mathematics (1-3 credits)

This course allows a student to focus on a Mathematical Issue of personal interest, under the supervision of a Math faculty member. Completion of an introductory math course is recommended. Advisor approval must be obtained to use this for Math Major requirements. This course may be taken for a maximum of 3 credits. Letter graded (A-E).

How to Register for Math 399 or 499

Once you have found a faculty member to work with, the faculty member will need to contact math-undergrad-office@umich.edu to request a permission. Once the permission is processed, you will receive an email indicating that you are eligible to register in Wolverine Access. You will choose your credit hours when registering. 


How to Determine the Number of Credits to Register For

It is up to your mentor/lab to keep track of your hours and make sure you are fulfilling this requirement. You may work more hours some weeks and fewer others, as long as it balances out. Another way to view this requirement is that you must complete 60 hours over the course of the semester per credit earned, regardless of whether it is a full or half-term.

During a full term (Fall, Winter, or Spring/Summer semesters), this averages to at least 4 hours working on the project/research each week for each credit hour (i.e. 3 credits = 12 hours a week and 4 credits = 16 hours a week). For Spring or Summer half-terms, this averages to at least 8 hours of work per week for each credit hour. 

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for F-1 Students (Math 429)

Prerequisites: Major in Mathematics
Credit: 1 Credit (Credit/No Credit grading scheme)

Background and Goals: Credit is granted for a full-time internship of at least eight weeks that is used to enrich a student's academic experience and/or allows the student to explore careers related to his/her academic studies. Internship credit is not retroactive and must be prearranged.

Content: Course content is determined by student's internship.

Math 429 exists only to serve international students who study mathematics and have an internship. Other students will not be approved. Students should have an internship lined up and have a detailed description of what they will be working on. Students should reach out to the Undergraduate Program Director (UPD) or the Actuarial Program Director (APD) to request an Academic/Faculty Advisor Recommendation Form. It is the student's responsibility to submit all required documentation to the International Center for final approval. Once approval is obtained from the UPD/APD, a permission will be granted to register for the course.

Upon completion of the internship, the student should write a 2-page report about their experience and how it relates to being a Math Major and submit it to the UPD or APD. Once received the UPD or APD will enter a grade.

International Center CPT Guidelines: https://internationalcenter.umich.edu/students/f1-students/cpt

International Center Optional Practical Training (OPT) Guidelines: https://internationalcenter.umich.edu/students/f1-students/opt