Feb 25, 2024  
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Independent Scholars Program

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Dr. Scott Paulson, Academic Unit Head
Dr. Matthew Chamberlin, Director
Dr. Phil Frana, Associate Director
Dr. Fletcher Linder, Professor
Phone: (540) 568-5218
Email: chambema@jmu.edu
Location: Maury Hall, Room 118


The mission of the independent scholars major is to provide students with a learning environment in which they develop and pursue self-designed curricular pathways and research goals, identifying unique domains of inquiry and interweaving multiple modes of thinking. Students are empowered to cultivate their own academic and professional interests in ways that foster the ability to comprehend and contribute uniquely and innovatively to a wide array of topics, questions and problems.


IS majors will: 

  • develop topic-based interests and inquiry strategies to pursue those interests. 
  • enhance creativity, self-directedness and perseverance required for inquiry.
  • learn research, technical and communication skills relevant to their inquiry. 
  • situate their inquiry in relation to contemporary notions of disciplinary thinking. 
  • enhance aptitude and confidence in working independently and collectively. 
  • apply knowledge and skills in experiential-learning settings.

Admission to the Major

Acceptance into IS is competitive and open to all JMU students with a GPA of 3.25 or higher, or by permission.

Interested students will meet with one of the IS coordinators before the end of the first semester of their first year. Based on the advice of IS coordinators, students may then enroll in the IS exploration and major application course (IND 200 ), which is taught each fall. Students whose interests better align with existing JMU majors will be directed to those majors.

Decisions about acceptance into IS will be made by the IND 200  instructor, IS coordinators and a faculty advisory committee at the end of each IND 200  course. Successful applicants will:

  • have a strong academic record that demonstrates exceptional motivation, curiosity, writing ability and independent research potential.
  • have performed well overall in the IND 200  course, which includes writing a convincing inquiry proposal and feasible curriculum.

Students not accepted into IS at the end of IND 200  will be carefully advised into other majors and can use the three IND credits as electives.


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