The program consists of three core courses, three systems seminars, eight elective courses, and one systems research course. Combining this course work with the 18 credits of dissertation research (SYSM 798) makes the program a total of 57 credits.

For the first year or 18 credits of the program, students will be advised by the program director. After completing 18 credits, students should form a committee of an advisor and two other faculty members. The committee will approve coursework and advise the student on research. This commitee will later be expanded to form their dissertation committee.

A student may have not taken one or more of the preparatory graduate courses listed in the admissions requirements prior to enrolling in the program, but they may have taken one or more core or elective courses as part of a previous degree. The student may count a preparatory course towards the 57 required credits of the program for each core or elective course that they have taken as part of a previous degree.

According to VCU's graduation requirements in the Graduate Bulletin, all students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and no more than six credit hours or 20 percent of total credit hours attempted (whichever greater) at C or below level (C, D, F). The academic standing of any student who receives multiple grades of C or grades of D or F will be reviewed for possible termination from the program. Although the grade of U in dissertation research is not included in the calculation of the graduate GPA, students who receive one or more grades of U will be considered for possible termination.