Special Courses of Undergraduate Study
Field Study, Independent Study, Special Study, and Undergraduate Research
Virginia Tech offers several types of courses that can be tailored to the needs of individual students or specific groups of students. Students develop a plan of work to reach particular objectives, obtain approval of both the department and a faculty member who will supervise the work, and work with them to arrange hours and credits.
By allowing students to pursue topics in which formal courses are not available, these programs provide greater academic flexibility for undergraduate students at Virginia Tech. They also provide students an opportunity to assume a greater share of the responsibility for their own education, outside the traditional classroom environment.
Students must submit an official approval form prior to registration. In most cases, the student's first contact for an independent study, field study, or undergraduate research course is the department offering the course. Registration is through the student's dean's office. Special study courses are set up by the department, and the student registers through web course request. Some colleges and departments have restrictions on eligibility to register for these courses, and limit the number of hours that can be used toward graduation.
- Field Study (X964) courses are work experiences approved by some departments and are selected to augment traditional classroom activities. The student is evaluated on the knowledge and skills acquired as a result of the experience. Emphasis is placed on the academic and practical value of the work.
- Independent Study (X974) courses generally involve extensive reading and tutorial sessions with the faculty supervisor and also may involve written papers. The subject of Independent Study usually is a continuation in greater depth of a topic covered in a regular course, allowing students to study topics of particular individual interest.
- Special Study (X984) courses are designed for a group of students, rather than for a single individual. This type of course may be used to study a timely topic, one in which there is current, but not necessarily lasting, interest. It also may be used to launch an experimental course before the course is incorporated into the regular curriculum.
- Undergraduate Research (X994) courses are individual research projects carried out by students under faculty supervision. The student defines the research topic, proposes a methodology, carries out the research, and writes a report.