Directed study

Directed study is intended to provide an opportunity for students to investigate a topic related to Communication Studies that is not covered fully in available coursework. The department is limited to the number of courses and topics it can offer each semester and the depth to which it would like to offer classes. Directed study allows students the opportunity to research wider and probe deeper than scheduled class work allows. Because the department cannot offer an individualized course on any particular topic to each student who requests it, the student is expected to carry out his or her directed study course as independently as possible.


Directed study is open primarily to COMS majors during their senior year. It is available only to students who have already tapped the department's existing coursework offerings, who have some background in the Communication Studies field, and who are committed to intensive study in a certain Communication Studies topic. It is not intended to be a substitute for a dropped COMS class, a way to avoid coming regularly to campus, or a source of credits to meet graduation requirements.


Directed study can be taken for 1-3 credit hours. The number of credits is determined by the amount of time the project will take to complete. Time allocated for directed study should be equivalent to a regular classroom course. Students can figure 15 hours of in-class time, and 30 hours of outside time per credit hour.


Because of the amount of time it takes to complete a directed study, the student should be able to work independently, have a very strong interest in the topic he or she plans to investigate and ample resources for research. Ultimately, the student will produce a significant project report. Because directed study is to be done independently, the project must be carefully planned from the start. The student ought to have some knowledge about the topic before presenting the plan to his or her advisor. The preliminary plan for the directed study project on should cover at least four areas. Students may want to ask themselves the following questions when planning a directed study project:

  1. Topic - What topic will I study? What question(s) will I answer? What do I hope to accomplish? This statement ought to include the reason the student wants to undertake the project, the content he or she wants to cover, and the process in which the student intends to complete the project.

  2. Resources - What resources do I plan to use to gather information for the project. The list may include any books, articles, lectures, community experiences, interviews, observations, etc.

  3. Product - What will the final project look like at the end? Will I write a paper or prepare some other form of presentation? What will the final product include? To make sure the project becomes more than an academic exercise, students are especially encouraged to produce something that will be of value to an audience other than the advisor.

  4. Time Line - To make sure the project is done in a timely manner, the student should break down the project into natural segments and set deadlines for each segment's completion.


The Communication Studies faculty member who is best informed about the topic should be the students' advisor. This may not be the first person the student contacts or the faculty member who is most liked by the student. The directed study advisor will review the student's plan and help refine it to help the student achieve his or her goal. After a plan is developed, the student is encouraged to meet with his or her advisor during the semester to explore ideas or procedures, or to ask for assistance. Occasionally, the advisor will have a project which he or she may need some help. The student may want to consider helping with the advisor's project to receive directed study credit. It is important to keep in mind that to plan, advise and evaluate a student's directed study is an extra responsibility in a faculty member's already very busy schedule. Students are expected to work on his or her directed study course as independently as possible.


  1. Students MUST get an advisor's approval before enrolling in directed study.

  2. There is a three hour directed study limit that can be applied to a COMS major requirement.

  3. The project should be completed before the end of the semester in which the student enrolls. It is recommended that the student does most of the work at the beginning and middle of the semester, before the final crunch hits.