Graduate Independent Research (GIR)
Graduate students may undertake a Graduate Independent Research course during their degree program. To undertake a Graduate Independent Research course, a student must first identify a faculty member with relevant expertise who is willing to supervise the course. After agreeing upon a topic, the student and the faculty supervisor both sign the registration form found on the right-hand column of this page. The registration form is due no later than the first day of class of each semester.
The standard Graduate Independent Research course receives 2 credits and requires a paper of at least 6,000 words of text excluding footnotes (about 25 pages). Many Graduate Independent Research papers are longer than this minimum. Students seeking to do a major paper of publishable quality may request a 3-credit Graduate Independent Research course. The 3-credit Graduate Independent Research course requires a paper of at least 10,000 words of text excluding footnotes (about 40 pages). Students should expect that they will produce a complete first draft, receive comments from their professor, and revise the paper in light of those comments.
Requests to do a 2-credit Graduate Independent Research course 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 3-credit Graduate Independent Research course must be approved as such in advance by the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs. Absent such advance approval, a 2-credit Graduate Independent Research course for which the student submits a paper of 40 or more pages will not be converted to a 3-credit Graduate Independent Research course.
In addition, Graduate Independent Research courses will usually be approved only if the topic of the course is not adequately addressed in a course or seminar offered at the Law Center. Ordinarily, students are limited to one Graduate Independent Research course during their degree program, but a second course may be approved by the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs.
The student and faculty supervisor must meet regularly to discuss the course. 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, not directly to the professor. The final paper should be submitted either through the Georgetown Law Online Paper/Exam Management System, at http://apps.law.georgetown.edu/exams/, or in hard copy to the Office of the Registrar. Once a final paper has been submitted for grading, no amendments, revisions, or supplements will be permitted or accepted. 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 and who fail to submit a final paper by the due date (including any extension) will receive an AF for the Graduate Independent Research course. The AF will be reflected on the student’s transcript and factored into the student’s cumulative grade point average as an earned F. In no instance will an extension be granted beyond April 15 for papers due the preceding Fall semester, August 15 for papers due the preceding Spring semester, or October 15 for papers due the preceding Summer session.
Note: International students considering taking a U.S. bar exam should be aware that credits earned in a Graduate Independent Research course may not count toward the required number of law credits necessary to be eligible to take the bar exam. Please consult the Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs for more information.