Guided Study Procedures

    What is a guided study? 

    Sometimes called an independent study, it is an academic course option to allow students an opportunity to pursue intensive study in an area that is relevant to their degree, but not exhaustively covered in their standard curriculum.

    Masters-level business students are generally allowed to complete no more than one (3-credit) guided study course as an approved elective requirement in their program. Ph.D. students may take multiple courses as approved by their department.


    When should a guided study be considered? 

    For masters-level students, a guided study is best utilized near the end of their academic program, when they have a sense of a valuable topic can be fully researched and which faculty member may be willing to supervise their project. Ph.D. students may begin guided study courses earlier in their program.


    How is a guided study course considered? 

    The student must conceive of a guided study topic and approach a faculty member with a fully formed proposal for consideration. The topic area must fall within the faculty member's area of expertise. Faculty members are under no obligation to agree to supervise a guided study request. 


    What should be included in the course proposal? 

    The course proposal serves as an agreement of expectations for both the student and supervising faculty member. A proposal must include the learning objectives of the course, meeting expectations throughout the semester, deliverable submission deadline(s), and how the course will be counted toward the student's curriculum requirements. The initial proposal offered by the student will likely need edits before the formal approval process begins.


    How is the formal approval process started? 


    After a student and faculty member agree on a written proposal, and at least 5 days before the start of the given semester, the student may begin the formal approval process in DocuSign. The student will enter the names and email addresses of the relevant approvers and attach the final proposal document.

    School of Business Graduate Studies Guided Study Approval Form



    DocuSign FAQ:

    Q. Who is my Faculty Advisor? 
    A. For MBA programs, your Faculty Advisor is your Program Manager (e.g., Crystal Alawi, Emory Gunn, Robert Clarkson). For Ph.D. or Specialized Master's programs, your Faculty Advisor is the faculty member that serves this role within your program's department. Listing here.

    Q. Who is the Department Chair?
    A. The Department Chair is the person that serves as chair of the department of the Supervising Faculty member. Listing here.

    Q. Who is the Associate Dean?
    A. The Associate Dean for all graduate business programs is Jayaraman Vijayakumar <jvijayak@vcu.edu>.

    Q. Which department should I select?
    A. The academic department of your supervising faculty member.

    Q. Which research course should I select?
    A. Individual guided studies will be 697. This is the most common type. Guided Studies with more than one student will be 693, but each student must receive advanced approval from the supervising faculty member's department. Ph.D. dissertation requirements are 898.

    Q. May I enter more or less than 3 credit hours?
    A. Masters-level students will typically pursue a 3-credit guided study. Fewer hours may be possible, but would require a discussion. Any credits above 3 are only for 898 dissertation research hours. 

    Q. When will I be able to register for the course?
    A. Only after all approval signatures have been received and before the add deadline of the given semester. Graduate Studies will notify you when the course override has been issued.