As a Public Health Science student, you are encouraged to become involved in research. If this research is with one of the faculty at the University of Maryland, students may be able to earn credit, including up to 6 PHSC options credits. Research must be related to the Public Health Science Program Competencies. Students will not only gain invaluable research skills but also contribute to the field of public health science research. 

To receive independent study credit, students must be simultaneously enrolled in an independent study course that is approved in advance by the Independent Study Coordinator.  Many students enroll in PHSC389 offered at 1-6 credits per semester, and the course is repeatable for up to 6 credits.  PHSC389 and other approved independent study courses at UMD may be used for PHSC options credit.  Of note, no more than 6 combined credits of independent study and internship may be counted toward PHSC options, regardless of course prefix. Additional credits over 6 will apply toward general electives.

Students in independent study must work the following hours to meet the University of Maryland credit requirements listed below:

Independent Study Credits Fall & Spring Weekly Hours (15 wks) Summer Weekly Hours (12 wks) Total Hours
1 3 4 45
2 6 7.5 90
3 9 11.5 135
4 12 15 180
5 15 19 225
6 18+ 22.5+ 270+


How do I secure an independent study experience?

To secure an independent study, we suggest you reach out to professors who teach classes you find interesting or search the SPH faculty list. From the SPH faculty list you can use the filter to find potential mentors based on areas of expertise. You may also want to search for faculty in other schools, such as CMNS or BSOS, conducting research relevant to public health science. Keep in mind that many faculty are busy and may not be in a position to accept an undergraduate into their research team. Expect to reach out to multiple faculty members. The Maryland Center for Undergraduate Research also maintains a database of research opportunities across the university.

How do I get credit for my independent study? 

Before requesting permission for PHSC credit, a student must already have a research opportunity and mentor identified and secured. In order to receive credit for independent study a student must complete the PHSC Independent Study Contract, which requires a signature from your research mentor. To avoid any problems or delays in receiving credit, please submit the contract by the beginning of the semester you wish to receive credit. If you have any questions about whether your research is appropriate for Public Health Science please feel to reach out to Nancy Smith, the Independent Study Coordinator. Once the contract is submitted you will receive permission to enroll in either PHSC389 or another independent study course with your research mentor. 

During the independent study, you will be expected to

  • Complete the required weekly hours of research
  • Submit a final written summary of your research, and
  • Secure an evaluation of your work from your mentor

If you have any questions about PHSC independent studies or need more information, please contact the Independent Study Coordinator, Nancy Smith.

Nancy Gray Smith, Ph.D
Associate Clinical Professor
Public Health Science Program
SPH Building, Room 2314
4200 Valley Drive
College Park, MD 20742