Students who take VCU courses without being enrolled in a program are described using numerous terms across campus. The Graduate Studies in Business Office typically uses the terms “Guest Student” or “Non-Degree Seeking Student”. Other common labels include “Special Student” and “Transient Student”.
Registration procedures for non-degree seeking students vary by department. This webpage is dedicated to outlining the policies for students that wish to take graduate-level business courses. If you are interested in taking an undergraduate business course, please visit their online request form here.
The VCU School of Business Graduate Studies office makes an effort to accommodate non-degree seeking student course requests whenever possible. Students are allowed to complete up to six credit hours prior to being admitted into a program. To be awarded a seat, non-degree seeking students must be activated in the VCU system and meet all of the listed course prerequisites.
When registration opens for an academic semester, we publish an online request form that enables non-degree seeking students to enter the course(s) they would like to take that semester. The request form opens on the first day of advance registration for graduate students. It essentially serves as a virtual waiting list for when we may offer seats to non-degree seeking students.
We are able to award seats to non-degree seeking students approximately one week before the semester (or summer session) is set to begin. A precise date is listed on the request form. For a non-degree seeking student to register, our office must first issue a registration override in the system. We will notify the student by email if and when the override has been issued.
There are advantages and disadvantages to consider before taking a course as a non-degree seeking student. Students interested in taking courses, but not in earning a degree, should pursue this avenue of registration. Students that plan to apply for graduate business program admission in the future should consider the pros and cons carefully.
Prospective graduate business program applicants often take courses as a non-degree seeking students because they have not yet officially applied to a program. If the prospective applicant is confident in their ability to be admitted, taking courses as a non-degree seeking student allows the applicant to get an early start on his or her curriculum.
Future applicants also take courses before applying to increase their competiveness for admission. Performing well in graduate courses can certainly bolster one’s application, but it may not be enough to overcome weaker aspects of an application.
There are inherent risks in taking courses toward a program before being admitted. If a student is not able to gain admittance, it is possible that the courses completed will never be applied toward a degree.
Changes to a program’s curriculum may also adversely affect outcomes for non-degree seeking students. The courses required to earn a degree are determined at the time of matriculation to the program, and there would be no “grandfathering” of completed courses that are no longer required for the program.
Non-degree seeking students do not have access to VCU Financial Aid. Other funding sources (e.g., scholarships and employer reimbursement) may also require that a student be enrolled in a degree program in order to receive benefits.