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MSE Independent Study

Course Description

An Independent Study course is one that is designed by the student to pursue in-depth study in a particular area of interest. An Independent Study can be taken for 9 or 12 units. Each Independent Study, regardless of the proposed units, fulfills the requirement of one elective course only. A maximum of two Independent Studies are permitted to apply toward degree completion requirements.

The purpose of the Independent Study is for the student to further explore an area of interest that he or she may have just scratched the surface of while taking one of the core courses.

While the Independent Study is intended for individual students, it may be completed in very small teams. All members of the team must have completed the core courses in the MSE/MSIT program. A team project must be more significant in scope than an individual effort.

Note: All Independent Study proposals are due no less than 2 weeks prior to the completion of the semester preceding the semester in which the proposed Independent Study course will take place.

The steps for the Independent Study are as follows:

  • Propose a project. This will take the form of a formal document and will be considered the first deliverable of the project. The proposal must include:
    • an executive summary
      • a definition of the work to be completed, including
      • deliverables
      • timelines
      • reviews
      • final report
    • an advisor (a Carnegie Mellon faculty member)
    • a proposal of how you want the grade to be generated from the independent material
    • Click here to download the Independent Study Proposal Form
  • Deliverables will always include a report that summarizes the strengths and weaknesses of the technique in the chosen domain and relate what went well and poorly during the Independent Study.
  • Discuss the project.
  • Receive approval.
  • Begin the project.
  • Report periodically to your faculty mentor.


Independent Study Samples

Effort Estimation of Software Projects (2012)

This project examined the cost estimation practices of the student’s sponsoring company. Project sought to gain a broad, detailed understanding of current estimation approaches and the development of estimation models. Additionally, the project sought to bootstrap the sponsoring organization’s efforts to embrace a process improvement initiative related with software project estimation.


Instructor: Eduardo Miranda

Estimating Software Development Projects (2009)

To learn how to produce defensible estimates using a variety of techniques including functional sizing, parametric models, and expert input. To learn how to develop an estimation model using historical data.


Instructor: Eduardo Miranda

Service Oriented Architecture (2008)

Analysis of heterogeneous information—eliciting, assessing, resolving, and predicting the problems from different knowledge source and models—is gaining importance in governmental, defense, academic, and industrial organizations. Some of these problems have been addressed by ORA and Automap. However, the underlying problems stem from the lack of a coherent and flexible architectural framework that will allow tools to be seamlessly incorporated and configurable for specific domains. CMU’s current work in providing such infrastructure includes proposing a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and a prototype to incorporate the existing analysis tools – (ORA and Automap) to demonstrate the feasibility of the approach. The objective of the independent study is to evaluate the above mentioned problem.


Instructor: David Garlan

Specification of Security Policies in Architectural Design (2007)

To learn how to specify security policies and how to specify this in an architectural design.


Instructor: David Garlan

Transactional Memory (2007)

To acquire a fundamental knowledge of Transactional Memory (TM) and establish a base framework for further implementation.


Instructor: Jonathan Aldrich