Current Students

Choosing Courses and Individualized Learning Plans

The registration period is long enough to allow students to “shop” for classes before making a final decision.  Students should meet with their advisor each semester for the first two years to discuss Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs).  The advisor will recommend and approve course choices and sign the ILP that the student will return to the PhD Program Manager by the final day of registration. The Heller School reserves the right to cancel courses that fall below an enrollment of five matriculated students.

ILPs for Students who Entered the Program in 2023

ILPs For Students who Entered the Program in 2022

ILPs For Students who Entered the Program in 2021

ILPs For Students who Entered the Program in 2020


A student might wish to design an independent study project that allows a more in-depth approach to a topic than is offered by an existing course, or that allows exploration of some topic for which there is no appropriate course offering.  Normally, a student should not take a tutorial until he or she has completed a semester (or four courses) at The Heller School.

Credit for a tutorial is equivalent to either one full-semester (4 credits) or half-semester module course (2 credits) and should include the equivalent amount of reading and writing as a regular course.  A course usually involves 42 hours of class time, 50-60 readings and several papers.  Written work might be in the form of one longer paper, several shorter papers, critical essays on a body of literature, or appropriate data analysis exercises.  To take a tutorial, a student must complete the instructions on the PhD Tutorial Request form by the final day of registration.

Consortium Schools and Cross-Registration

The Heller School has cross-registration agreements with Babson College, Bentley University School of Business Administration, Boston College, Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Urban Studies), Regis College, and Tufts University (excluding the Fletcher School). A full-time graduate student at the Heller School may enroll in one graduate-level course per term (excluding the summer term) at any one of these institutions. Information on courses for cross-registration at each of the host institutions is available at the graduate school office of each institution. 

Students may take any graduate-level course at these schools that fits reasonably into their educational goals and does not duplicate a course offered at Brandeis, with several provisos:

  • Consortium schools do not allow cross-registration in some of their graduate programs, or in particular courses.
  • Students need the permission of the instructor to register.
  • Outside courses may not be used to substitute for courses offered in The Heller School's curriculum unless there are serious and unavoidable extenuating circumstances. In such cases, the student should secure the approval of their faculty advisor and the Program Director.  The approval should be put in writing in the student’s official file.
  • Full-time students are permitted to take a maximum of four courses outside The Heller School and may take no more than one consortium course per semester. These consortium privileges are not applicable to part-time students.
  • Students should obtain a copy of the course description from the school, discuss with advisor and list on Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) in the semester the course is taken.
  • Consortium privileges do not extend to the summer term. If a student wishes to enroll for a summer course at one of the consortium schools, he or she will be responsible for paying full tuition to that school.

The consortium schools have a tuition sharing agreement, so students who register for a course at one of the consortium schools do not have to pay tuition there but must still pay full tuition at Brandeis.

A student should follow these instructions to register for a course at one of the consortium schools.

Frequently Asked Questions on Cross-Registration

Course Waivers

To obtain a course waiver, the student must fill out a Petition for Waiver of a Required Course and submit the form, along with a transcript and a course syllabus, to the course instructor and the Program Director.  The course instructor will review the syllabus and make a recommendation to the Program Director who will make the final decision and inform the student.  Students must have received a grade of B or higher to be eligible for a waiver.  Once the student receives written approval they must send the approval, transcript, and syllabus to the PhD Program Office to be placed in the student’s official file.

Students who waive a requirement must replace the waived course with another graduate course appropriate for credit within the program.  When initiating the course waiver request, the student should discuss with his or her advisor or the Program Director what alternative course is of interest.  In the written request for waiver made to the course instructor and Program Director, each alternative course should be named and, if not taught at Heller, its catalogue course description or syllabus should be attached.