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Build your independent project

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A toy building block staircase with 6 steps: 1) background work, 2) idea for project, 3) Faculty mentor meeting, 4) Project plan, 5) Grant proposal if needed, 6) Your Project


Building on your course work or earlier research experiences, you may have an idea for an independent project in your field. It is important to consider the time scale and resources you will have to work on such a project. Begin by meeting with faculty mentors who have expertise on the topic. It may take time and several meetings to create a plan for success.

How to plan a successful project

Every project is unique, but successful projects have one thing in common: they are developed with the help of a faculty mentor. As you begin to plan your project, here are some things you might discuss with your mentor.

  • How your idea fits within the larger framework of your faculty mentor’s research or artistic expertise
  • How to focus your project idea into a well-defined topic
  • What steps you will take to investigate the research question or to create your art
  • What additional preparation you will need before starting the work
  • How your topic relates to existing works in the field, and what additional works you should examine
  • How to create a feasible timeline for the project

Build your project

  • Learn about past work on your topic and build a foundation for your project.
  • Develop a central idea.
  • Meet with your faculty mentors to seek feedback on your ideas and guidance for next steps. (You will need to do this more than once as you develop your ideas and plan further.)
  • Create a project plan and evaluate your ideas. 
  • Use all this preparation to develop a grant proposal if your project requires funding. 

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