Independent Studies

University of Northern Colorado
Independent Study Student Guide

Revised February 2013

This guide is updated annually or when needed. Please keep your copy as a reference. Policies in force at the time you enroll will be honored insofar as possible during the time allotted for you to complete your course work. Procedures and fees, however, may change from year to year, and then current procedures and fees will apply to your transactions.

Welcome to Independent Study!
Independent Study (also known as correspondence or home study) is a form of asynchronous distance education. Whether available as hard copy or a multimedia package, or fully accessible on the World Wide Web, all courses require a syllabus/study guide, textbook(s) or readings, and may include tapes, CDs, DVDs, e-mail exchanges, and phone conferences, as deemed appropriate by your instructor. The syllabus/study guide for each course outlines steps for completing course requirements.

We are privileged to have students enrolled from around the world. We are confident that your will find your course a challenging and rewarding experience to the extent that you make your best efforts, ask questions, and carefully observe procedures and policies governing Independent Study.

Contacting the Independent Study Staff, Registration and Costs

Registration is a simple procedure that you initiate when you complete and submit the registration form found in our publications and on our website. Although registration online is not available at this time, you can register for an Independent Study course anytime by mail or fax, or by phone or in person during our regular office hours, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (MST).

There are several ways to reach us:

            Office of Extended Studies/Independent Study Program
            Campus Box 21, Michener Library, Room L50
            University of Northern Colorado
            Greeley, CO 80639
            Greeley area: (970) 351-2944
            Toll-free: (800) 232-1749
            Fax: (970) 351-2519

Registration does not constitute admission to the university, nor do you need to be admitted as a student in order to enroll in an Independent Study course at UNC.

If you are an undergraduate student at the University of Northern Colorado and enrollment in the course causes you to exceed 18 semester hours, you must print off the Course Overload Form ( and secure permission from your school advisor and school director/chair before we may register you.

Course materials costs (textbooks, CDs, etc.) are assessed by and paid separately at the time you place an order. (See Textbook and Study Guide Purchase below.)

Graduate Course Eligibility Process

Non-UNC undergraduate (junior or senior with a 3.0 or higher gpa) students interested in registering for graduate level Independent Study courses must provide verification of eligibility to enroll in a UNC graduate level course.

1.  Student must send an Official Transcript from his/her institution to:
            UNC Graduate School
            Attn:  Laura Hulsey
            Campus Box 135
            Greeley, CO 80639
2. The student must send Laura Hulsey an email ( with the Independent Study course prefix and course number (i.e. I.S. ASLS555) as the subject line, stating the student’s name and that an official transcript is on its way.
3. When Grad. School staff have reviewed the transcript, the Independent Study staff in the Office of Extended Studies will be notified if the student is clear (or not) to be registered into the course.
4. Independent Study staff will then contact the student to confirm registration and secure payment.

Non-UNC students' registrations must be accompanied by payment in the form of check, money order, or credit card authorization (VISA, MasterCard, Discover). UNC students can be billed for the cost of their independent study registration but are precluded from paying for their independent study tuition with financial aid monies. Independent study course tuition is NOT Colorado Opportunity Fund (COF) supported.

Students with Disabilities

Any student requesting disability accommodation for this class must inform the instructor giving appropriate notice.  Students are encouraged to contact Disability Support Services at (970) 351-2289 to certify documentation of disability and to ensure appropriate accommodations are implemented in a timely manner.

Contacting Your Instructor

Although you will complete your course without attending class, your instructor is available by mail, phone, and by e-mail. Information on reaching him or her is in the course syllabus/study guide. Since most of our instructors teach Independent Study students in addition to their regular, on-campus assignments, you may experience some delays in receiving graded papers, exams, and replies to your questions. This may be especially obvious during on-campus final examination periods and during the breaks between semesters.  We have asked our Independent Study instructors to post within the announcements section of their online courses whether they have special rules for students to complete work at the end of semesters or during break when they might be on vacation.

Drops, Withdrawals and Refunds

If, shortly after registering, you decide to drop your Independent Study course, we can process a 90% tuition credit for you IF you notify the Office of Extended Studies (not the Registrar and Records Office) within 36 days of the date of your registration in that course and if you have not already submitted any course work for grading. Your written request may be mailed, e-mailed or faxed, you may make your request in person, or you may call our receptionist, who will complete a Drop/Withdrawal Request Form on your behalf. See “Contacting the Independent Study Staff” on the first page. The credit will be applied to your UNC account if you currently have a balance due. If you have no balance due, then you will be issued a refund.

If you request withdrawal from the course after the end of the 36-day drop period, or if you have already submitted course work for grading, an account credit or refund will not be processed.

A dropped course does not appear on your UNC transcript. If you withdraw, however, a mark of W will be entered on your student record (transcript) at UNC. The W carries no academic penalty, as it does not affect your grade point average.

Residence Requirements for UNC Degree-Seeking Students

UNC requires that all UNC bachelor’s degree-seeking students complete a minimum of nine (9) upper-division UNC hours in the major, six (6) upper-division UNC hours in the minor, and thirty (30) total semester credit hours from UNC. For a student who exceeds the 30 hour residence requirement, 20 of the last 30 semester credit hours of his/her program must be earned in UNC courses.


You will pay postage on all lessons, exams, and other correspondence you mail to the university, and UNC will pay postage on lessons, exams, etc., that are returned to you.

Textbook and Study Guide Purchase

You may purchase textbooks for Independent Study courses from any source or bookstore you wish to do business with.  Please make sure you have the correct edition before finalizing your business.   

If the course is an online course, the syllabus/study guide will be accessible from the online learning system that UNC uses and we will direct you there after you register.  Your syllabus will explain course requirements and procedures for submitting your written work and projects and for taking examinations.

If the course is paper correspondence, we will mail you the syllabus/study guide.  This syllabus will also explain course requirements and procedures for submitting your written work and projects and for taking examinations.

Some courses may require the additional purchase of CD/DVDs in order to complete the work and payment is required at the time you purchase textbooks and other materials. For some courses, one copy of a CD or DVD will be available from the UNC Michener Library’s for checking out via their reserve section.

We advise you to order your textbook immediately after you register. Because textbooks and other items sometimes go out of print unexpectedly, we cannot guarantee the availability of these materials at a later time.

Independent Study Timeline

Unless otherwise noted in the course description, you may begin an Independent Study course at any time and study at a pace that fits your schedule. This flexibility allows you to acquire additional education while continuing your employment and meeting personal commitments. Unless your syllabus/study guide states otherwise, you are automatically allowed one year (12 months) from the date of enrollment to complete your course(s). Limited time extensions are available (see below).

When you enroll in an Independent Study course you are entered on the university’s student records system. Until you complete the course and a grade is assigned, no grade will be posted on your record.  If you withdraw from a course or are withdrawn for non-completion, a W will be recorded on your transcript..

Student Satisfaction (Course Evaluation)

Upon completing your Independent Study course(s), please take time to evaluate your experience for us. Your frank response will help us continue to improve our services. The Student Satisfaction form is located at the back of your study guide (or within your online course). Please do not fasten the evaluation to any of your lessons, projects or examinations. It is intended to be an anonymous communication.

Hints for Success in Independent Study

Taking a college-level course via Independent Study differs from taking the on-campus version of that course because you will not be bound to the traditional classroom experience. You will need to draw on self-discipline and focus on your educational goals.

We suggest you review the syllabus/study guide carefully and identify the course requirements. Try to determine how much time will be required to complete each section of the course. Use your best judgment, taking into consideration your own schedule and strengths, as you may read and work either faster or slower than the average student.

A study calendar form appears at the end of this guide. You can use it to set some goals for completing each section of the course, if you like, or create one using your own task management software. Begin by dividing the number of units, assignments and exams among the weeks or months during which you intend to finish the course, and you will have a way to mark your own progress. You determine how quickly you complete the course, but do allow at least 3-4 weeks per assignment for grading and mailing. Be sure to write your assignments and their tentative completion or due dates (as decided by you) on your study calendar.

Add time to your calendar to allow for changes in your plans. Depending upon when you register, your course may be completed within a semester just as if it were an on-campus course, although in most cases you have up to a year to complete it if that better suits your personal circumstances. That is one of the advantages of Independent Study!

Most successful students have a special place where they study. They also have a set period of time designated each day for study. They know that this is the time and place to accomplish a certain task. Do whatever works best for you; however, an hour a day on average is an attainable goal for most students.

As you progress through the course, occasionally go back and review what you have learned. This helps you to develop a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the content and structure of the course. Occasionally look forward to future sections of the course to see where you are headed, for the same reason.

Library Services

If your assignments require library services to which you do not have access locally, contact the UNC Michener Library at (970) 351-2562 for assistance or take the link to Special access is provided for individuals living more than 50 miles from UNC. Your syllabus/study guide may have more specific information concerning use of the library, items on reserve, reference resources, etc.

Students who live within the 50-mile radius are expected to visit the UNC Michener Library in person. To borrow materials from the Michener Library in person, bring positive identification and your confirmation/receipt from registration for your independent study course.  Students residing greater than 50 miles from campus may request that materials be delivered to them. All requests must include complete citations. Articles will be delivered via U.S. mail or fax based on student preference. Books will be mailed first class. Delivery time by U.S. postal service is approximately 1 week. It is the responsibility of the student to return books by the date due. UNC does not pay return postage on books. For information on document delivery, call (970) 351-2580.

Use your local area libraries as your primary resource. When there is a choice, an academic library is more likely to have the indexes and other resources you will need for college-level research. Because many libraries provide remote access, you can search various library databases from your home or business, at your own convenience if you have access via the Internet. You can also search library databases from the UNC Libraries website and get online access to many journal articles. Start at

If the materials you need are not available through your local area libraries or if you need additional assistance, contact the UNC Michener Library. When placing requests, please remember to include the complete citation information. You can check the UNC Libraries online catalog at to find out if the materials you need are available at Michener Library. If they aren’t, library personnel will order them from another library for your use.

Requests for the following materials may be made through the following methods:

By email:
By fax: (970) 351-2540
By mail: Interlibrary Loan, Michener Library, UNC Campus, Box 48, Greeley, CO 80639


If you have a deadline related to an event such as admission, graduation, license renewal, hiring, etc., be sure to complete your last assignment and/or exam at least six weeks before your deadline to allow your instructor adequate time to complete the evaluation of your lessons, exams and projects. Write a note or send e-mail to your instructor early in your studies to let him/her know of your situation, and do not plan to submit all your lessons and exams at once. Independent Study instruction is nearly always done as an overload assignment and our instructors typically need two or three weeks to grade and return each lesson or exam.

We work with you to help you accomplish your goals and meet your deadlines, but your coordination of this effort and timely submission of course work is critical!  Please allow 7-10 days for mail traveling by first class within the U.S.A. to reach us or return to you.

Examinations and Securing a Proctor

Independent Study examinations are completed in a variety of ways, depending upon the choice of the instructor who wrote the course study guide you are using. While most courses require a supervised exam, some include self-administered, open-book examinations, and some may not have any traditional tests. Your study guide will tell you about any testing requirements and procedures that apply for your course(s).

Instructions may indicate that your test is to be “proctored”; it is your responsibility to identify an individual who will proctor your examinations. Make sure this person agrees to do so. Select your exam proctor from one of the following categories, preferably #1

  1. Assigned staff in an office of independent study, continuing education or extension division at a post-secondary institution (a college, university, or community college) or nursing administrator.

  2. Assigned staff in a testing center or counseling services center at a college, university or community college.

  3. A school district administrator.

  4. A school building principal, assistant principal or counselor.

  5. A member of the clergy.

The person you identify must currently hold the position described in the categories above, and cannot be your relative.  The test should be administered in a professional setting and not in a private home.  Please provide a work address and telephone number for your proctor.

For those taking “paper tests”, if you do not reside in Greeley and your course work has been completed and submitted for grading, the Request for Exam form has been properly filled out and received by our office, we will forward the test to the person you have selected.  A note will be mailed to you at the same time.  Please make arrangements to take the examination as soon as possible within a month of submitting this request.

Students who wish to take their exams in Greeley on the UNC Campus are directed to contact the UNC Testing Services coordinator at (970) 351-2790 to schedule exam appointments. The Testing Services Center provides a quiet, well-lit testing area in which distractions can be kept to a minimum.

Reinstatement (Time Extension)

Unless otherwise stated in the course description or course syllabus/study guide, you have a full year (12 months) to complete your Independent Study course(s). If you have not completed the course within that year, you will have two options as the year’s end approaches:

  • You may purchase a six-month extension for a fee of $15 per semester hour (for example, $45 for a three-hour course).
  • You may ask to be withdrawn and receive a mark of W on your student record.

In most cases, a second six-month extension may be purchased just prior to the end of the first six-month extension.  The request must be made in a timely manner.


1.   Enter the transcript system by executing this link:   The link is also available in Ursa on the student tab under the important links section.
2.   Enter your Bear Number and Birthdate.  You will be prompted for either your last name or the last 4 digits of your SSN.
3.   If you do not know your Bear Number, choose the "Forgot Your Bear Number?" link.
4.   Fill out all required information, number of copies, recipient, mailing address, and mail or hold for grades or degree directive. Click the "Add to Order" button. Enter the same required information and "Add to Order" for each additional request. 
5.   When finished entering all requests "Check Out".
6.   Verify and select payment method by using the "Continue" button.
7.   Enter and verify your credit card information.
8.   Print your receipt and exit using the "Quit" button.
9.   Transcripts will be mailed within 3 business days unless instructed to hold for term grades or degree information.

Transcripts are $10.00 per official copy, payable by check, money order or credit card (include the credit card number, three-digit verification number on the back of the card and expiration date). Your request must include the number of copies you are ordering, name and address where they are to be mailed, your Bear number or last four digits of your social security number, daytime telephone, your signature and payment.

Mail your request to: UNC Registrar's Office, Campus Box 50, Greeley , CO 80639  Transcripts are mailed out within three business days. Two or more transcripts mailed directly to the student will be mailed in separate sealed envelopes. Download form at:  

Transcripts are $10.00 per official copy, payable by credit card (include the credit card number, three-digit verification number on the back of the card and expiration date). Your request must include the number of copies you are ordering, name and address where they need to be mailed, your Bear number or last four digits of your social security number, daytime telephone, your signature and payment.  Download form at:  

Unofficial Transcripts
If you are a current student you may obtain your unofficial transcript from the student tab of your URSA account under important links. If you are an Alumni and former student you may obtain your unofficial transcripts by mail, fax or email Please include the following information:

  • Full name while in attendance at UNC
  • Birthdate
  • Bear number or last four digits of social security number
  • Years attended
  • Area of study
  • Current phone number we may reach you at for confirmation of identity

If the request is made by email, Registrar’s Office staff will return the transcript in PDF format to the email addressed used in the request.
If you have any questions or need assistance in ordering your transcript, please call 970-351-2231.

Academic Conduct

The Independent Study program subscribes and adheres to campus policies related to academic conduct as written in the current UNC Student Handbook, accessible on the web at The UNC community, of which you are a part, is expected to adhere to the UNC Honor Code, which states:
All members of the University of Northern Colorado community are entrusted with the responsibility to uphold and promote five fundamental values: Honesty, Trust, Respect, Fairness, and Responsibility. These core elements foster an atmosphere, inside and outside of the classroom, which serves as a foundation and guides the UNC community’s academic, professional, and personal growth. Endorsement of these core elements by students, faculty, staff, administration, and trustees strengthens the integrity and value of our academic climate. (April 2002:

Academic Approval of Credit Courses

Credit courses and instructors have been approved by the appropriate academic units, curriculum committees, and colleges of the University of Northern Colorado. Independent Study course credits receive the same academic recognition as those earned in on-campus classes and are granted when you meet the same academic standards and expectations as your on-campus counterparts.

Occasionally non-credit courses are approved by the professional staff of the Office of Extended Studies. Courses that carry CEUs (Continuing Education Units) are approved following the guidelines of the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).


Activating your UNC student account

In order to successfully participate in your online course, you must first activate your student account at UNC.

Go to the UNC site at If you have not been an “active” student or are a new UNC student, follow directions at the bottom left hand side of this page; or click on ‘new student’ on the top left side of this page. If you have a pop-up blocker installed on your computer you will need to follow the instructions on the screen to remove the pop-up blocker in order to access Ursa. (Be sure you have your Bear number ready, which will be mailed to you through the mail. You will need it to activate your Bearmail information and password.)

In the Secure Access Login area of you will need to enter your User Name (the first eight characters of your Bearmail) and Password (the same password that is used to access Bearmail) and then click the Login button.        

If you have problems activating your account or securing your Bearmail, please call our Technical Support Center staff available 7 days a week. Online technical support is a new service accessible at all times through the SupportU portal: You can also continue to dial (970) 351-(HELP) or 1-800-545-2331 to contact any one of our support representatives.

Accessing your UNC online course

Access your online/Blackboard course by using a browser and typing in the following URL:

USERNAME:                 first 8 characters of the UNC generated email/Bearmail address

PASSWORD:                is the same as you use to access URSA and your bear email account

Please consider logging onto the UNC Blackboard Help site for more assistance with your online course at: and click on Student Support. 

Technical Support Center staff and services are available 7 days a week. Online technical support is a new service accessible at all times through the SupportU portal: You can also continue to dial (970) 351-(HELP) or 1-800-545-2331 to contact any one of our support representatives.


UNC has been a member of the Colorado Statewide Extended Studies Program under the policies of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education since the early 1970s. To learn more about the Colorado Online and Distance Education (CODE) Program and the public colleges and universities that participate, visit the CDE website at: