Independent Research

Independent research provides an opportunity to conduct in-depth investigations in areas of specific interest selected by the student.

Independent research is an individual effort and may be undertaken for academic credit with the prior approval of a faculty adviser selected by the student, the appropriate division chair, and Graduate Academic Services. Authorization for such a project requires submission of a formal proposal written in accordance with standards set forth by the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business. Proposals are submitted online through the Independent Research Proposal Form.

Students work closely with a faculty adviser throughout the project. Please note that a student is responsible for recruiting a faculty adviser through the student’s initiative and obtain the adviser’s prior consent/commitment before applying for an independent research project.

Each independent research project can provide only 1.5 or 3 course credits. If a student wishes to complete more than 3 credits of independent research, he or she must contract for more than one project. Students can receive a maximum of 6 credits toward the degree for independent research project(s).


  • Students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00 for approval for Independent Study.
  • Part-time MBA students must have completed at least half of their degree requirements.
  • Full-time MBA students must have completed the first semester of core courses.
  • MS Students: Varying degree requirements. Contact Graduate Academic Services for requirements.

Due Dates

All independent research proposals are due the last day of the add/drop period during the semester the project will be completed. Please refer to the Registrar’s website for the deadline.

Registration Process

Once the faculty adviser, the academic division chairperson, and the program adviser from Graduate Academic Services have approved the project, notification that the proposal has been accepted will be sent to the student. The student does not register for the project using the normal registration system. The Registrar’s Office and Student Financial Services are automatically notified of the approved project through the Independent Research Proposal System.


The tuition for an independent research project is assessed at the current per-credit rate.

Students Receiving Financial Aid

For those students receiving full tuition fellowships or borrowing loans to cover their MBA expenses, please let Student Financial Services know your plans to enroll in an independent research project before the end of the add/drop registration period. This will allow Student Financial Services to factor in the credits to your total cost of attendance. For more information, please contact Student Financial Services at

Graduate Independent Research Procedure for Students

The following is a step-by-step guide of how the Independent Research (IR) process works.

  1. Student either has an idea in mind or needs help formulating a project
  2. Student asks a professor in appropriate division to act as faculty adviser for the project
  3. Once the project idea has been formulated and a faculty member is on board to serve as the adviser, the student writes a project proposal and submits the Online Independent Research Proposal Form located in the Babson Portal.
  4. If the student is using the research project toward his/her Global Management Concentration, he/she must note it in the project application.
  5. If the proposal is approved by the faculty adviser, division chair, and Graduate Academic Services the student is notified of final approval via e-mail. An e-mail also is sent to the Registrar’s Office, Student Financial Services, the faculty adviser, and the division chair.
  6. Student must pay for the credits of the project within two weeks of receipt of the confirmation e-mail from Graduate Academic Services.
  7. Student is then registered for the project.
  8. Faculty adviser turns in grade to the Registrar’s Office.

Research Proposal Guide




The abstract should be a 100- to 200-word statement covering the purpose and the method of the research to be conducted. It should be complete enough so that any reader, regardless of his/her knowledge of the subject areas, will know the general plan of the investigation without further study of the proposal.

Studies vary in type: some are case studies, some are statistical, some primarily aim at the general exploration to open up the problem while others seek to arrive at definite conclusions in a more enlightened area. This statement, then, should make clear the general methodological intention and scope of the academic research to be conducted.


This section of the body of the proposal should indicate the relation of this study to the developing stream of management thinking. This statement should not exceed 500 words. It may discuss the prior studies in the same area, a field situation to which the study relates, or the conceptual framework out of which the study arises. This section should make clear why the study is of value in management theory and practice. In some studies this will be fairly obvious, but in others the implications will require further explanation.


The specific assignment to be undertaken should be stated explicitly in this section. This would involve the definition of any crucial terms or concepts involved in defining the problem, and a statement of the major problems to be investigated. One of the best ways to state the problem is to list one or more questions which the study is intended to answer. It also is possible to state these as the hypotheses to be tested.


This section should explain exactly how the study is to be explored. It will be necessary to define the specific questions to be answered in operational terms. The following points must be considered:

  1. Sources of Data
  2. The discussion should point out what persons, documents, or other sources will be used in gathering data for the study. In most investigations, it is necessary to indicate the approximate number of cases to be studied. A bibliography and texts used in the investigation also must be provided. The discussion should point out any sampling assumptions made and any characteristics of the groups selected which limit the applicability of the findings to other groups. The proposal should discuss what generalizations are possible from a sample of the type used.
  3. Procedures for Collecting Data; Evidence to be Obtained
  4. The proposal should describe in detail the procedures to be used to obtain data. The discussion should point out what precautions are being taken to ensure reliability, validity, and objectivity. Any study of reliability or validity or agreement of judges is part of the experimental procedure and should be recorded. The student, of course, need not discuss reliability of standard techniques and sources of data.
  5. Treatment of Data
  6. The student needs to explain at length how he/she intends to proceed from the data collected to the conclusions. Any notable assumptions made in the study should be clarified. It is not important to list a large number of conventional assumptions, but the student should indicate what assumptions about management, human nature, or the data used are necessary and critical in interpreting that data as well as in accepting the findings of the study.


The student should address faculty adviser involvement and establish a proposed time line for completion of the project.

In conclusion, the student needs to clearly define the output to be graded (paper, case study, presentation, etc.)