Watson Institute at Brown University
International and Public Affairs

Independent Research

The IAPA concentration offers numerous opportunities for students to develop their research and writing skills while working closely with faculty. Students are challenged to critically apply their knowledge and to think creatively about international issues through their research projects. 

Senior Seminar

Senior seminars are offered on different topics every semester and provide an opportunity for students to integrate and build upon their interdisciplinary coursework in international relations by focusing in depth on a specific topic. Limited to 20 students, the seminar fulfills the required capstone experience in the concentration. Seminars emphasize student discussion, have advanced readings, and require students to complete a major research project that demonstrates their skills in a second language.

Independent Study (DISP, GISP)

Independent study projects allow students, either individually (DISP) or in small groups (GISP), to initiate coursework that in content, emphasis, or procedure, is not duplicated in the established curriculum and involves working closely with a faculty member for one semester. Students are responsible for designing the course syllabus which involves extensive reading followed by a major piece of scholarly writing (e.g. 25-30 page research paper). Independent study may also be an academic follow-up to an internship. Students with advanced language capabilities are encouraged to use these skills in their research. IAPA 1818A must be taken for a grade.

Independent Study Research Project Approval Form (DISP, GISP, GLISP, CPT)  

Global Independent Study Project (GLISP)

A GLISP combines independent research with the study abroad experience. Students design a project to be undertaken outside the United States under the sponsorship of a Brown faculty member. GLISP projects last one-semester and typically incorporate archival work in their host university or other local institutions as well as interviews.

Independent Study Research Project Approval Form (ISP, GISP, GLISP, CPT)

Visit the Office of International Programs to learn more about the GLISP.

IAPA Honors Program

An honors degree in International and Public Affairs requires successful completion of a thesis of original research on a pressing global problem. The thesis is undertaken both semesters of senior year and fulfills the IAPA capstone requirement. 

Download the Application.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

For international students. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is work authorization for off-campus employment in the student’s field of study. To qualify for CPT academic credit, students enroll in  an independent study course based on the internship the following semester.

To request a CPT, students must submit to their IAPA faculty track director the following:

  • Copy of letter of internship offer.
  • CPT Authorization Approval Form that includes description of how the internship and the subsequent course are INTEGRAL to your concentration.
  • Completed Independent Study Form signed by a Watson-affiliated faculty member. The independent study course must be taken in the semester following the internship.
  • Week-by-week syllabus of topics and readings (approximately 150-200 pages per week) either attached separately or pasted into the Independent Study Form. Syllabus course description must include how the course relates to your internship as well as how the course is evaluated (20-25 page paper).
  • Copy of letter from faculty sponsor.

Once CPT is approved, by the IAPA faculty track director and Dean of the College, obtain an override for IAPA 181A (Independent Study) from the Undergraduate Concentrations Manager, Anita Nester, and register for IAPA 1818A under your sponsor's section.

For additional information see the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS).