Independent Academic Work

Independent academic work is a hallmark of a Johns Hopkins University education. Many students engage in some kind of research, independent study, or internship work during their undergraduate careers. Faculty members at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine regularly have openings for qualified undergraduates to participate in these endeavors.

Points to keep in mind:

  • All Public Health Studies independent academic work must have stated public health relevance.
  • You should be able to commit to working for more than one semester on a research project. It usually takes several months of training before students are able to work on their own project, so plan to work for at least a year on a specific project.
  • 40 hours of work is expected for each earned academic credit and translates to approximately 3 hours of work per week.
  • A maximum of 3 academic credits can be earned during the semester, with a maximum of 6 academic credits being earned in an entire year (summer to spring). Typically, 2 credits representing 80 hours of work at approximately 6 hours a week is reasonable for undergraduates taking a full course load.
  • All work done for credit must be unpaid.
  • Research can only be taken as S/U.
  • Academic internships can only be taken as S/U and for 1 credit.
  • All independent work done for credit must have a final academic product, as determined by the mentor and student and approved by the faculty sponsor.
  • Students are expected to prioritize their independent academic work as they do their other course work by meeting deadlines and showing dedication to purpose.
  • All work must be completed and submitted to the faculty sponsor by December 10 for fall semester, May 10 for spring semester, and August 10 for summer.
  • For more specifics on the requirements and guidelines, please see the JHU Undergraduate & Graduate Academic Catalog.

Finding Independent Academic Work

When attempting to identify potential independent work supervisors, students should consult departmental websites and other online information for research being conducted at Johns Hopkins. In addition, the Undergraduate Program in Public Health Studies sends out weekly announcements to PHS majors with leads on independent academic work opportunities.

You may also learn about possible openings through your PHS adviser and your own contacts with faculty. The Career Center is another source of available opportunities. Word of mouth is an especially effective way to learn about opportunities; therefore, talk with friends, RAs, teammates, and classmates.

Once you have identified faculty members with whom you would like to work:

  • Narrow your preferences by looking at faculty publications (listed on faculty websites and available in the library) to gain insights into the types of research they conduct.
  • Prepare your résumé, listing academic qualifications and previous experience.
  • Contact the faculty member(s) to inquire about a position. Be brief, send your résumé, and ask for an interview. Remember, most faculty are working with grant money; therefore, available openings can be unpredictable. Be prepared to be flexible: they may know of a colleague who could use help even if they do not currently have funding.
  • Wait at least a week before re-contacting faculty if you have not received a reply.
  • Be prepared to provide your schedule of availability at the interview.

How to Register for Independent Academic Work

If the supervisor or mentor is not a full-time faculty member on the Homewood campus, students can register with a PHS adviser as their Homewood faculty sponsor. Students who want to register for PHS independent academic work in this manner should contact their PHS adviser. Students will be advised to use the PHS Independent Academic Work Agreement form to work with their supervisor or mentor to outline the work that will be done. Once the work is approved, students will fill out the Undergraduate Research, Independent Study, Internship, and Departmental Thesis Form with their PHS adviser. Copies of this form can be found in the PHS office.