Undergraduate Program - Undergraduate Research Coursework

Undergraduate students who are engaged in research projects supervised by faculty may wish to substitute hours of CSC 499 (Independent Research in Computer Science) for a Computer Science Restricted Elective or Other Restricted Elective.

These substitutions must be approved in writing by the Director of Undergraduate Programs on a case-by-case basis. Substitutions will be evaluated based on a written proposal.  Students are expected to provide a mentor-approved written summary of their research experience to the Office of Undergraduate Advising before credit will be recorded for CSC 499.

Students may substitute a maximum of six hours of CSC 499 for CSC Restricted Elective and/or Other Restricted Elective. CSC 499 is only offered on a credit-only (“S/U”) grading basis.

  1. Establish contact with a Computer Science faculty member, and get agreement to mentor you on a research project of mutual interest. Work with the faculty member to develop a short written proposal. This faculty member must have agreed to work with you, and must have approved the details of the project, grading, and deliverables, prior to you submitting your proposal.
  2. Send your proposal document, roughly one to three pages, as an MS Word (*.doc or *.docx) email attachment to csc-ug-research@lists.ncsu.edu, with the message body telling us what it is. PDF submission is also permitted but makes it harder for us to make minor edits should these be necessary.
  3. The filename of the attachment should be of the form firstname_lastname_csc499_ddmmyy.doc(x), where ddmmyy indicates the date, month, and year the document was created.
  4. The deadlines for enrollment and proposals will be communicated to faculty at the start of each semester. Email csc-ug-research@lists.ncsu.edu with questions on deadlines.

All proposals must contain the following mandatory components:

NAME, TITLE, and MENTOR: List your NAME, the TITLE of the project, and the Computer Science FACULTY member who has agreed to supervise your work.  

SEMESTER: Indicate the semester in which the CSC 499 will be taken.

COURSE: List the COURSE you wish to take (typically CSC 499). List the TYPE OF ELECTIVE you want to substitute for (typically Computer Science Restricted Elective, but in rare cases Other Restricted Elective). List the NUMBER OF SEMESTER HOURS you wish to get credit for (typically 3).

Here is a guide you can use to determine how many credit hours to ask for: The university uses an informal standard that a student should spend two hours outside of class for every hour in class. In the case of independent study, this translates into roughly 45 hours of student effort per credit hour. Therefore, to get three credit hours for CSC 499, you and your advisor should expect that you will spend about 135 hours, or nine hours a week, working on your project during the course of the semester.

PREREQUISITES: A 499 project must depend explicitly on lower-division work. List the lower-division (100- to 300-level) COURSES on which your project work will depend. These courses function as virtual "prerequisites", so they should be courses that you will have completed before the project semester.

DESCRIPTION: Describe the project in detail. Include SUBTASKS, MILESTONES, TIMELINE, and DELIVERABLES as appropriate.  One of the deliverables is the Research Summary (see below).

GRADING: Tell us the basis for your grade. Link the list of deliverables with the grade. Tell us how you and your supervising faculty member will know when you are done.

If approved, a notation and signature are placed on the proposal, which is then included in the student's file. Except in extraordinary circumstances, permission will not be granted to substitute more than three semester hours of CSC 499 on the same project.


Students will submit a 2 - 3 page summary of their research experience to their faculty mentor as part of the completion of the CSC 499 course.  The faculty mentor will submit the research summary to the Office of Undergraduate Advising when providing feedback about the student’s grade.

The research summary should include the following elements:

Identification Elements

  1. Student Name & Student ID #
  2. Mentor Name
  3. Semester

Research & Reflection Elements

  1. Abstract of the research project that includes the problem, research goals/questions, statement of methodology, and summary of results/conclusions/contributions.
  2. Problem Statement
  3. Short Literature Summary
  4. Methodology/Process
  5. Results/Contribution
  6. Reflection on the experience, how the project evolved, and any significant scope change from the proposed project (you should describe why the scope changed and what you learned from it).
  7. Citations

    Substituting courses other than CSC 499, and/or using the substitution for something besides Computer Science Restricted Elective, are subject to the same requirements and approval process as CSC 499 substitutions.


    All requests to use as an elective a non-CSC course that does not appear on the list of Other Restricted Electives must be submitted in writing and will be evaluated by the Director of Undergraduate Programs based on comparative examination of course content, among other criteria. Approvals will be noted in writing for inclusion in the student's file. Requests for these substitutions should be submitted to Dr. B. Jasmine Adams.

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