Directed study guidelines

A directed study is intended to give a student the opportunity to conduct research in an area of interest to them under the supervision of a faculty member. If, while taking courses you have found a problem or a subject matter of interest and never had the opportunity to pursue it in more depth, then here is an opportunity to do so. You can work with a professor and study the issue or subject more fully than may be possible in a regular course. You can learn how to conduct research, use various research methodologies and arrive at meaningful conclusions. A directed study also gives you the opportunity to work very closely with a professor whose expertise and research interests match your interests. A directed study is not intended to duplicate or act as a substitute for a regular course and this will not be approved.

A typical directed study is student-driven. You are responsible for choosing the subject matter you wish to study, the method, data sources and theoretical question(s), all under the direction of a faculty member. Because a directed study is generally limited to one specific topic, it allows you to examine one question or issue in depth. Choosing the topic or subject matter is probably the most important part of a directed study. You should choose a topic in which you are interested, and toward which your courses and/or experiences have drawn you. You should also consider such things as the availability of research material and data if the study requires data, the timeliness of your subject, and your ability to complete the study in a timely manner.

Directed study expectations

  • The topic selected and the research conducted should lead to new learning, discovery or growth for the student and contribute toward the student's academic program.
  • The directed study should result in a substantial and significant paper or series of papers. The paper should reflect the significant amount work that was performed in the directed study and should approximate 25 pages or more for undergraduate students and 35 pages or more for graduate students.

Course information

A student can earn one to three (1-3) credits as an upper division elective for a directed study depending on the amount of time and effort to be spent on the study. A student should be prepared to spend a minimum of 30 hours for each hour of credit to be earned. A student, graduate or undergraduate, is limited to no more than three (3) credit hours of directed study per term. Only full-time faculty in the School of Business Administration may supervise a directed study.


An undergraduate student must meet the following criteria to participate in a directed study:

  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Senior status or higher
  • Completed a minimum of 12 credit hours of business course work at Wayne State University with a passing grade
  • Completed the core courses in the chosen major or obtain the approval of the chair of the respective department

Transfer students are not eligible for a directed study in their first year at Wayne State University. Guest students are not eligible for a directed study.

A graduate student must meet the following criteria to participate in a directed study:

  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Completed all core courses in the respective graduate program at Wayne State University with a passing grade other than the capstone course
  • If enrolled in the Master of Science in Accounting or Master of Science in Taxation program, completed at least 12 credit hours of graduate accounting courses or obtain the approval of the chair of the Department of Accounting

Registering for the course

A student must follow the following procedures to obtain approval for a directed study and to enroll in the respective course:

  • Choose a topic or issue in which you are interested and toward which your courses and/or experiences have drawn you. Keep in mind the availability of data and research materials, the timeliness of your topic, and your ability to address the topic or issue in the time available.
  • Make an appointment with a full-time faculty member to discuss your topic and seek their approval to direct your study. Before you approach a faculty member, be sure you are well-prepared and remember that this is a voluntary activity on their part. Be prepared to convince him or her that you are highly motivated, capable of working on your own, and have a sincere interest in your proposed topic. Your draft proposal should focus on the learning you seek that is NOT represented in the available courses offered. You should NOT approach a faculty member or the chairperson with the simple statement that you need some credit hours or the course you need is not offered this semester. If you are unsure of which faculty member to approach for a directed study, contact the department chair.
  • Complete a project outline for your directed study with the concurrence of the faculty member which should include:
    • Statement of your topic/issue
    • Importance and/or relevance of the topic
    • Your learning objectives
    • Resources and/or data you plan to use
    • Statement of expected results or conclusion
    • Proposed bibliography
    • Milestones and times for reporting against those milestones
    • Description of the end product, i.e., paper, report, article, number of pages, presentation, etc. It is expected that any final paper should be substantive in length and content, approximately 25-35 pages is typical.
  • Complete the directed study proposal form.
  • Submit the completed directed study proposal form that has been signed by the respective faculty member and a current copy of your transcript to the respective department, and schedule an appointment to discuss your directed study with the chair of the department or their designee.
  • Obtain the signature of the respective department chair or associate chair.
  • The department will deliver the approved directed study proposal form to the Frederick Hessler Student Success Center for authorization. Please allow at least 2 days before trying to register. Proposals for directed study must be approved prior to commencement of the directed study.

Proposals for directed study will not be approved for studies that have already been completed or are in progress. The proposal form must be approved and submitted before classes begin for the respective semester.

Course grade

The directed study course will be graded by the faculty member who has agreed to direct the student's study. Failure to complete the directed study and/or submit the agreed upon work product by the end of the respective semester will result in an incomplete (I) for the final grade.