Independent Study Ideas

Instructor: Alyssa Kominsky

Alyssa has taught middle school and high school English and has a bachelor's degree in secondary English education with a minor in creative writing.

Further pursuit of a core subject, the arts, sports, business, technology, and pop culture are just a few of the many choices students can explore when thinking about independent study. Read on for some project ideas and links to resources that can serve as reference materials or give inspiration.

Possible Courses of Independent Study


Continue work on a research paper you have started on a topic of interest, write a play, novel, or series of short stories, create a children's book (complete with illustrations for those who are artistically inclined). Create a Facebook or other social media account for a book character. What would their status updates look like, who would their friends be, and what pages or posts would they 'like'? Create a soundtrack or score for a famous novel, or individual playlists for main characters. offers a number of courses on famous works that can provide a starting point for ideas or a way to further research characters. Check out our courses on The Great Gatsby, Lord of the Flies, and works by Shakespeare.

History/Social Studies

Create a Constitution for the modern United States, start an awareness campaign for an issue that is meaningful to you, or choose a historical event and look at its effect on our world today. Possible historical events to check out include the Civil War, the Great Depression, or the Vietnam War


Build a small-scale roller coaster out of everyday items and objects. (Hint - it's all about the physics!) Start or improve on a recycling or compost program in your school or neighborhood, or track weather and storms for a particular area.


Create a portfolio of paintings, drawings, or sculptures, try your hand at photography, or recreate famous works of art in various ways using household materials, volunteers, etc.


Design a website or app, create an Internet security program, or work out a plan for a video game, a robot, or even a new invention. Learn more about web page design and programming language with this short lesson. You can also check out our course on information systems for more information about computer applications and technology.


Work on product advertisement for an imaginary or existing company or create a stock market portfolio with real or imaginary funds and track the market daily or weekly. You could also do in-depth research a current affairs topic related to business, such as whether globalization and outsourcing helps or hurts America. Find information on globalization or its effects in these lessons. For a more comprehensive review of key business topics, check out our Introduction to Business course.

Pop Culture

Look at the impact of social media on society, study fashion trends across American history and create sketches or replicas of those pieces, or investigate how things like memes, emoticons, and other visuals have affected the way we communicate with one another.


Study and analyze lyrics from various songs by the same artist and compile their meanings. Look for themes and similarities among the lyrics. Learn how to play an instrument, or work on more challenging pieces if you already know how to play. Study the impact of a classical musician on famous artists today.

Tips on Choosing an Independent Study Program

  • Choose something that interests you - Select a course that will continue to interest and inspire you.
  • Pick something new - Choosing something unique will allow for exciting challenges and opportunities for growth.
  • Go as broad and deep as you want - When it comes to independent study opportunities, there are no limits to what you can achieve and learn, so don't be afraid to really dive into a subject.
  • Work on time management and self-motivation - Working independently can offer a lot of opportunity if you take advantage of the time you have. Check out these lessons on time management and Motivation for tips on how to optimize your independent study experience.

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