Independent Study

Offered as a one semester class, Independent Study provides an engaging opportunity for seniors to pursue a specific area of interest through dedicated, in-depth study. While students do work closely with a faculty sponsor, Independent Study is appropriate for highly motivated students who have demonstrated the capability to undertake a rigorous course of study without the structure and direction provided by conventional academic classes.

To be eligible for an independent study, a student must have earned a B+ or better in the last course taken in the department from which the proposed independent study would receive credit. To participate in Independent Study, students secure a faculty sponsor and submit a detailed proposal; this process affords students the opportunity to demonstrate initiative and independence.

Generally 25% of Key seniors pursue an Independent Study.

Recent Examples of Independent Study Projects

  • A Mathematical Study of Proof Writing
  • Equine Anatomy and Physiology
  • Behavioral Study of Cetaceans
  • A Study of Mechanics (Physics C)
  • Music Theory 3
  • Stop-Motion Animated Short Film Direction
  • Practicum in Outdoor Leadership
  • Chinese Civilization
  • Decolonization
  • Female Autonomy in 19th and 20th Century Literature
  • Literary Analysis of Works of Walt Whitman
  • The Physiology of Homeostasis

Senior Projects Provide a Further Opportunity for Self-Directed Study

The annual two-week Senior Projects that take place in May is a time for students to go off-campus and explore topics of interest. They spend the time researching intriguing subjects and opening new avenues of potential college majors and even possible professions. This annual tradition has taken students from Turkey to Baltimore and from shadowing surgeons to making a low-budget film in New York City.

Project proposals must be presented and approved, and many times an outside mentor is obtained to oversee the work. During their culminating presentations, each senior gives an overview of their experience to teachers, their peers and younger Upper School students. The sheer diversity of projects embarked upon each year is impressive. Recent projects have included volunteering at a local elementary school; learning to scuba dive then collecting trash from the waters off Florida; making a working laser printer/cutter from scratch—part by part; working at a non-profit to better understand that type of work environment; creating a stock market trading algorithm that actually produced a profit; interning in a surgeon’s office; and, establishing a start-up business.