Graduate Independent Research (GIR)
Graduate students may undertake a Graduate Independent Research project during their degree program. To undertake a Graduate Independent Research project, a student must first identify a faculty member with relevant expertise who is willing to supervise the project. After agreeing upon a topic, the student and the faculty supervisor both sign the registration form.
The standard GIR project receives two credits and requires a paper of at least 6,000 words of text excluding footnotes (about 25 pages). Many GIR papers are longer than this minimum. Students seeking to do a major paper of publishable quality may request a three-credit GIR. The three-credit GIR requires a paper of at least 10,000 words of text excluding footnotes (about 40 pages).
Requests to do a two-credit Graduate Independent Research project must be approved by the student’s academic advisor and approval is not automatic. Students must demonstrate that they have a well-developed topic suitable for a substantial scholarly paper. A three-credit GIR must be approved as such in advance by the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs. Absent such advance approval, a two-credit GIR for which the student submits a paper of 40 or more pages will not be converted to a three-credit GIR.
In addition, Graduate Independent Research projects will usually be approved only if the topic of the project is not adequately addressed in a course or seminar offered at the Law Center. Ordinarily, students are limited to one Graduate Independent Research project during their degree program, but a second project may be approved by the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs.
The student and faculty supervisor must meet regularly to discuss the project. The student must submit an outline and a draft to the faculty supervisor for review and comment on an agreed upon schedule. The final paper must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar. The final paper should be submitted either through the Georgetown Law Online Paper/Exam Management System or in hard copy to the Office of the Registrar. Once a final paper has been submitted for grading, a revised version of that paper may not be submitted. The final paper must be submitted by the date set in the approved proposal, which may be no later than the maximum extensions set by the Registrar for each semester, except that students in their final semester must submit the paper by the date announced in the academic calendar for graduating students. Students who do not receive the approval of the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs for extensions beyond the maximum or who fail to submit a final paper by the due date (including any extension) will be withdrawn from the Graduate Independent Research project. The withdrawal will be reflected as a “W” on the student’s transcript.
Note: International students considering taking a U.S. bar exam should be aware that Graduate Independent Research may not count towards the required number of law credits necessary to be eligible to take the bar exam.