MES 598 – Directed Study in Maine Studies


MES 598 is the Maine Studies Program’s course for individual students to pursue work on a topic of interest under the supervision of a faculty member. It provides advanced graduate students with the opportunity to design and complete a course that meets their specific needs and interests, and which is otherwise not offered at the University of Maine (or potentially as a transfer course).

Students may register for 1-3 credits of MES 598, and may take no more than six credits total over their MAIS career. In most cases, however, students will take it for three credits, and only complete it one time. MES 598 requires forethought, planning, organization and self-discipline. It requires submission of a proposal to the Maine Studies Coordinator using the proposal form below, and acceptance of this proposal for a specific semester.

Several types of courses could fit under the Directed Study designation. They include:

  1. A literature review course on a specialized topic of the student’s choosing. The student identifies and completes the readings, which should relate to the student’s eventual master’s project. In addition to a preliminary list provided in the application, readings may be added during the semester as the student delves more deeply into the subject. The quantity of reading should be high (8-10 books and/or 20 or more articles), as this will be the only goal of the course. The final project should be a detailed annotated bibliography of the readings, and/or the literature review chapter for a thesis-like master’s project.
  2. A course that combines readings on a theme with one or more writing assignments. This course might be on a topic related to the master’s project, but this is not required. The readings will be selected by the student and approved by the instructor in advance, along with the plan for writing assignments, of which there might be several spaced out over the semester. Normally this would culminate in a formal research paper of 15-20 pages, which could become one chapter in a thesis-like master’s project.
  3. A project-based course that involves creating something that could incorporate media such as video, audio, photography, text, or a combination of these or others. The project could include media the student is familiar with, or that they must learn. The final product, however, must be new and original to this course. The product could be related in some way to a master’s project.
  4. A course that involves learning a new skill or technology that will be used in the student’s master’s project. This could be video or audio editing, website design, or other skill that a student will need and can learn largely on their own. As there are often courses in such topics offered at UMaine, the student would have to demonstrate that such courses are unavailable to them for some reason, but that they are able to learn the skills they need in a self-directed course.
  5. A course that involves work experience related to their Program of Study. This might be an internship, for example, that would provide them with information and ideas for their master’s project. Students will be expected to submit regular activity reports to the instructor, and prepare a final paper that describes what they learned and accomplished during the experience.

Whatever the outcome, MES 598 is not intended to give credit for work that the student has already completed, skills they already have, or work experience they have previously gained. For options 1 and 2, readings should NOT include anything the student has previously read, whether for another class or independently. For option 3, the project must not be one that the student has completed previously, or a continuation of a project done in another class. For option 4, the skill learned must be new to the student. For option 5, the work must be outside of their normal position, involve new responsibilities, or otherwise be something they are not already doing.

Requirements for Taking MES 598

Requirements for taking MES 598 as one of your courses are normally as follows. Exceptions to these guidelines may be made at the discretion of the MES Director.

  1. Prior completion of at least 12 credits in the MAIS degree, including at least six (6) credits of MES graduate-level courses.
  2. Grades of B- or higher in all classes in the MAIS, and a GPA of 3.0 or above.
  3. No unresolved Incomplete (I) grades on the student’s transcript.
  4. If the student has any L or F grades on their transcript, these must be explained on the course application form, and may be sufficient reason to deny the application.
  5. Identification of a graduate faculty member willing to act as “instructor of record” for the course. This can be the MES Coordinator or other faculty member, but they must be familiar with the student and wiling to serve in this role.
  6. Completion of the MES 598 proposal form, which includes information on readings, assignments, and other course requirements.
  7. Pre-approval of the topic and course goals by the Coordinator of Maine Studies, along with the instructor if this is a different person.

Proposing a Section of MES 598

Registering for MES 598 requires department permission, which comes from the MES Program Coordinator. To propose taking a section of MES 598, please go to the following page and complete the Proposal Form there.

MES 598 Proposal Form

Note that you will need a password to access this page. The MES Coordinator will send that to you once you have contacted them to express your interest in taking MES 598. This is to prevent spammers from having access to the form, and to ensure that you communicate your interests to the Coordinator. You can use the Contact Us section, or email the Coordinator directly.