"Special Courses" - Independent, Individual, Selected Topics, and Graduate Research

We get lots of questions about these courses, and here are some tips to help understand when and how to use them.

  • INDIVIDUAL STUDY: When you want to offer a course that IS in the catalog one-on-one with a student, typically when the course is required for the student but not offered as a regular section. Use the USUAL course number/title and fill out a special course form. There is no limit on the number of these that can be used on a program of study, BUT we discourage too many because faculty in most departments must do these as uncompensated overloads.

The following two types of course enrollments are limited on programs of study because the course content has not been vetted outside of the department. The limit is 6 hours of independent study AND no more than 25% of the POS can be independent + selected topics.

  • INDEPENDENT STUDY (5500/6500/7500): When you want to work with a student on a topic that is NOT covered by a course in the catalog. Use the the number 5500 (or 6500/7500 if those numbers exist in your department) for this situation and fill out a special course form.
  • SELECTED TOPICS (5530-49/6530-49/7530-49): If you wish to offer a course section that is NOT covered by a course in the catalog, use a number between 5530 and 5549 (or 6xxx/7xxx if those numbers exist in your department). These courses can be put on the standard course schedule. Please be aware that these courses are repeatable ONLY IF the number/title is different, i.e., students who take 5530 "Extraterrestrial Life" and then take 5540 "Extraterrestrial Life" will be considered to have repeated the course.
  • GRADUATE RESEARCH (5989/7989): This course is designed to be an enrollment placeholder course, and is automatically graded S. As such there are strict rules on what to use it for:
    • Students may use up to 3 hours of grad research to reach appropriate enrollment to hold an assistantship or NC Tuition Scholarship.
    • Grad research can NOT be used on a program of study and are NOT eligible for federal aid.
    • Students may NOT enroll in more than 9 hours total of grad research during their matriculation at Appalachian.
    • Students will be automatically enrolled in 1 hour of the off-campus version of grad research if they apply for graduation and do not enroll in a course that semester. This is the least expensive option to meet the required enrollment in the semester of graduation.