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Undergraduate Communication Experience + Theory

COM 491: Directed Study

In addition to internship credit (COM 49000), the School offers students two other ways to pursue their interests in more depth: research credit and directed studies.  Both are available for 1-3 hours (variable credit), both require faculty advisors, and the forms for both are available below and on the research credit page.

Directed Study (COM 49100)

Directed studies give students the chance to design their own classes.  With the help of their faculty advisors, students can investigate topics of interest that are not covered in regularly scheduled course offerings.  The directed study format allows students to gain expertise in a specialized subject, design assignments that best fit their learning styles, and work more closely with faculty than in a regular classroom setting.


Before registering for the course, a student must find a faculty member who is willing to advise the student on the chosen topic.  The student and faculty member will work together to develop a syllabus for the class based on the guidelines in the first document below, and then they will both complete and sign the second document below for submission to the undergraduate committee. 

Students wishing to take directed studies must follow all instructions on the application page. A completed application packet includes the following items:

  1. The completed application page  https://cla.purdue.edu/communication/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/COM491.DirectedStudyApplicationCoverPage.pdf
  2. A statement of purpose: why is this course needed? How will it contribute to your education?
  3. A copy of the student’s transcript (an unofficial copy is fine)
  4. A proposed syllabus/plan for the class that includes information about assignments and grading standards

Incomplete packets will be returned to students.

This, then, is how a student can pursue a directed study:

  1. The student takes the completed packet to the instructor to sign no later than the Friday of the first week of classes.
  2. The Student or instructor takes the completed and signed packet to BRNG 2114 and leaves it for the undergraduate director.
  3. The undergraduate director approves the packet or contacts the student about revisions.
  4. If approved, the undergraduate director passes the packet to the assistant schedule deputy.
  5. The assistant schedule deputy informs the student via email that the directed study has been approved and provides instructions on how to request a variable title (VT) course in Scheduling Assistant. Here is a video about how to request a VT course: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TL_P6UQuWdg 
  6. After the student submits the VT request, his or her advisor, the instructor, the assistant schedule deputy, and the registrar will be prompted for approval.

COM 491 Directed Study Application Cover Page   COM491.DirectedStudyApplicationCoverPage


  • The course can be taken as pass/no pass OR for a grade.
  • The course can be taken for 1-3 credit hours in spring, summer, or fall sessions.
  • The course can be repeated for credit up to a total of 9 credit hours.  Note:  occasionally, special topics courses are sometimes offered under this number, in a normal classroom arrangement, in the regular schedule of classes.  These 49100 classes also count against the 9-hour maximum.