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Undergraduate Handbook

Absences and Excused Absences

If it is necessary for you to miss school because of an illness, please contact Schiffert Health Center at (540) 231-5313 to request an excused absence. Official notification of the excused absence will then be forwarded to your academic dean's office and your professors.

If you have a special circumstance beyond your control that will force you to be away from classes, please contact the Dean of Students Office, at 231-3787 to request an excused absence. Official notification of the excused absence will be forwarded to your academic dean's office and your professors.

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Academic Advising

Academic Advisor: Ultimately, you are responsible for the choices you make in college. However, in order to help you make informed academic choices, the department assigns you an advisor who serves as your primary contact regarding questions of an academic nature. You can expect your advisor to:

  1. Be available during regularly scheduled office hours. At the least, you should always consult with your advisor each term before registering for classes.
  2. Be knowledgeable about university, college, and departmental rules and procedures which pertain to your academic welfare (e.g., graduation requirements and academic eligibility policy).
  3. Help you determine the appropriate approval processes if your program of study varies from standard programs (e.g., course substitutions and transfer credit).
  4. Be knowledgeable about general career opportunities in the computer science field and refer you to the Career and Professional Development as needed.
  5. Refer you to appropriate support agencies and programs within the university, such as the University Counseling Center.

Advisors can help you avoid needless mistakes, but only if you take the initiative to seek their advice. By visiting your advisor regularly, you become more than just an anonymous name on your advisor's list.

Freshman/First-year Advisors: All freshmen who plan to be Computer Science majors at Virginia Tech will start as General Engineers and will be assigned an academic advisor from the Engineering Education faculty as explained in the undergraduate advising section of the Department of Engineering Education website.

Upper-level Advisors: When students transfer from General Engineering to Computer Science, they are assigned an advisor in the Department of Computer Science. If you are unsure of your advisor, please check HokieSpa. For more information about advisors, advising appointments, and advisor availability, see our Undergraduate Advising page.

Second Major Advisor: Check with the department of your second major about assignment of an advisor.

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Academic Eligibility

The following information about academic eligibility is excerpted from the University Catalog and applies only to students entering Virginia Tech in Summer and Fall 1997 and thereafter. Students entering prior to that time should consult their advisor for the academic eligibility policy applicable to them.

Continued enrollment at Virginia Tech is a privilege that is granted as long as the student is making satisfactory progress towards a degree.

The minimum standard for academic good standing is a cumulative GPA of 2.00. Academic probation is imposed when the cumulative GPA is less than 2.00; academic probation is lifted when the cumulative GPA is at least 2.00. Academic performance will be reviewed at the end of each regular semester (fall and spring).

A student on probation:

  1. may take no more than 16 credits per semester;
  2. may be required (at the discretion of individual colleges) to consult with an advisor before beginning a probationary semester, and to sign an academic contract acknowledging his/her performance is not meeting university standards and stating what actions she/he is committed to taking to improve performance. NOTE: Engineering students on Academic Probation or Academic Warning are required to complete the Engineering Academic Success Assessment. The assessment is designed to help students reflect on previous coursework, identify resources on campus that may be helpful, and set goals for improving academic performance moving forward. More information is available here.

First suspension will be imposed whenever one of the following occurs:

  1. A student on academic probation has a cumulative GPA less than 2.00 for the first 2 semesters (fall, spring) of enrollment;
  2. A student has 2 consecutive semesters thereafter with a cumulative GPA below 2.00.

First Suspension (Fall): A student who is placed on first academic suspension at the end of fall semester will be suspended from continued enrollment through the end of the following spring semester. NOTE: Students placed on first academic suspension at the end of fall semester are eligible to return the subsequent first summer, second summer, or fall semester.

First Suspension (Spring): A student who is placed on first academic suspension at the end of spring semester will be suspended from continued enrollment through the end of the following fall semester. Note: Students placed on first academic suspension at the end of spring semester may NOT enroll in the immediately following summer session.

A student must earn a minimum 2.00 semester GPA the first semester back and raise the cumulative GPA to at least 2.00 by the end of the second semester back or earn a 2.50 GPA for every semester following the suspension until the cumulative GPA is 2.00 or greater. A student will be placed on second academic suspension for failure to meet returning performance requirements.

Second Suspension (Fall): A student who is placed on second academic suspension at the end of fall semester will be suspended from continued enrollment through the end of the following fall semester. NOTE: Students placed on second academic suspension at the end of fall semester may NOT enroll in the immediately following summer session.

Second Suspension (Spring): A student who is placed on second academic suspension at the end of spring semester will be suspended from continued enrollment through the end of the following spring semester. NOTE: Students placed on second academic suspension at the end of spring semester may NOT enroll in the immediately following summer session. The same returning performance requirements apply for second suspension as for first suspension.

Final Suspension: A student will be permanently dismissed for failure to meet returning performance requirements after a second academic suspension.

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Academic Records

The Registrar's Office is the official keeper of all records that will determine whether or not you receive a degree from Virginia Tech. The Registrar calculates your official GPA, certifies that you have completed requirements (major, minor, curriculum for liberal education/pathways requirements) for graduation, tracks the courses you have taken, monitors academic probation and suspension, changes of major, etc. If you have questions about your official academic records, please contact your advisor.

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Advanced Placement

Credit received by high school students through College Entrance Examination Board tests. Students may obtain course credit for up to 38 semester hours.  For information about how VT awards credit for AP scores, please see the Registrar's website or your academic advisor.

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Applying for your Degree

Students should apply for their degree when they have completed 60 credit hours. To apply for your degree, log on to Hokie SPA and click on "Degree Menu." Step by step instructions on how to apply for your degree can be found here.

For more information:
Office of the University Registrar
Email: registrar@vt.edu
Call: 540-231-6252

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Attendance

It is extremely important that you attend your classes on a regular basis. Many professors cover material in lecture that is not available in your textbook or elsewhere. Professors especially like to test this material on exams. In many courses, a certain percentage of your grade is based on class participation. To earn this credit, you must both be in class and actively participate. Some faculty have a formal attendance policy. If so, it will be stated in the course syllabus distributed at the beginning of the semester. Almost without exception, students who regularly attend classes earn higher grades in those classes than students who do not attend regularly.

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Auditing a Course

A student may enroll as an auditor in any class other than laboratory classes and studio courses, with the permission of both their academic advisor and the class instructor. The lecture portion of laboratory-linked courses and courses with computation periods may be designated as eligible for audit at the request of the academic department head (of the course in question) and on the approval of the student's academic dean. Auditors may not add or drop an audit option after the last day to enter classes. Students will not be allowed to register for credit in any course previously audited.

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Career Advising

It is never too soon to start planning ahead for life after college. There are numerous career and employment resources available to Computer Science majors at VT.

Career and Professional Development offers a variety of services to help students "explore careers and majors, seek experience through co-op or internships, conduct a job search, and plan for graduate or professional school." Career and Professional Development coordinates employment fairs and conducts workshops on several career related skills such as career and major decisions, resumes, interviewing skills and etiquette. Career and Professional Development also posts and distributes employers' job vacancy listings to students via several media. These vacancies include permanent, summer internship, and cooperative education positions.

Several job fairs of interest to Computer Science majors take place on campus each year: Engineering EXPO, CS Career Reception, Business Horizons, the Computer Science CS|Source Career Fairs and the Career Services Connection Job Fairs. All CS majors should take advantage of these important recruiting events.

The Computer Science Department also offers services to help students prepare for careers. Full-time employment opportunities, summer internships, cooperative education positions, and part-time jobs are emailed to all undergraduate students and notices are placed on bulletin boards on the first floor of McBryde.

The CS Department also coordinates recruiting events by employers who are specifically interested in our majors.

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Certification

Virginia Tech has authorized the National Student Clearinghouse to act as agent to provide enrollment verifications.  For details, please see Enrollment Certifications.

For more information:
Office of the University Registrar
Email: registrar@vt.edu
Call: 540-231-6252

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Change of Major

Students have the opportunity to request a change of major three times per year: Fall, Spring and Summer.  When a change of major time opens up, students can request a new primary major through Hokie SPA. Each college will run its own process to determine if it can accept the student and will then notify the student of the decision. This process applies to students who wish to change their primary major. Requests for adding secondary majors will still follow the current paper process.

There are two types of majors at Virginia Tech: restricted and non-restricted. Restricted majors have specific criteria students must meet to be eligible to declare. Please review the restricted majors website for a complete list of restricted majors and their criteria.

Students interested in adding any Computer Science major must meet College of Engineering change of major requirements.  

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Class Level

A student must have received credit for at least 30 hours to be classified as a sophomore, at least 60 hours to be classified as a junior, and at least 90 hours to be classified as a senior. These hours include any hours passed at Virginia Tech, Advanced Standing, Advanced Placement credit, Dual Enrollment, International Baccalaureate credit, and transfer credit.

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Class Schedules

After Course Request, registration drop/add is available on Hokie SPA. If you have a hold on your record, you will not be able to submit course request or access drop/add on Hokie SPA until the hold is resolved. Please note that failure to pay fees on time will cause you to be dropped from all the courses for which you have registered.

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Computer Engineering Substitutions

See Substitutions, Reciprocal (for ECE)

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Computer Science Undergraduate Learning Center

The CS Undergraduate Learning Center is located in 106 McBryde. In addition to a study lounge, GTAs and UTAs hold their office hours in the ULC. 

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Co-op/Internship Program

You are encouraged to consider participating in the University Cooperative Education/Internship Program. This program allows students to gain practical, on-the-job work experience in their field. A co-op or internship will involve one or more semesters or summers of work during your academic career. Students must develop learning objectives prior to beginning a work assignment.

According to Career and Professional Development, "The number of work periods and the semester in which the work occurs are determined by:

  1. The student's academic requirements.
  2. The employer's needs.
  3. The student's desires."

A traditional co-op usually takes five years to complete. Freshman and senior years are spent on campus. The three years in between are spent alternating between work assignments and school.

Co-oping and interning have many benefits for you. First, you get job experience in your field of study. This experience is extremely useful when you begin looking for a job after graduation. It makes you more competitive than someone who has no work experience. Second, you can earn quite a bit of money. Third, you get a welcome break from school.

For more information about co-oping or interning, contact the Cooperative Education and Internship Program (CEIP) in Career and Professional Development.

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Core Curriculum

The general education program (core curriculum) at Virginia Tech exposes every student to a wide range of disciplines across the university.  All Virginia Tech students take classes in the core curriculum. The core curriculum that a student follows is based on their date of entry to Virginia Tech.

Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE):  This is required for new freshman that entered Virginia Tech prior to Fall 2018 and transfer students who entered prior to Fall 2020.  More information about CLE requirements can be found here.

Pathways to Liberal Education (Pathways):  This is required for new freshman starting in Fall 2018 and transfers starting in Fall 2020.  The Pathways curriculum requires a total of 45 credits to fulfill the seven core concepts and both integrative concepts. Students might pursue a minor or an alternative Pathway as means of completing a portion of the requirements. The Pathways Minors and Courses Crosslist Table can be found here.

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Course Offerings

Starting from the first semester of your freshman year, please work with your academic advisor to develop a tentative long-term plan of study. Blank CS plan of study worksheets can be found here. With regard to CS courses, you can check to see which courses are anticipated to be offered in which semester by viewing the "Computer Science Anticipated Course Offerings." Please note that these are anticipated offerings, so are subject to change based on a variety of factors.

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Course Request

Course request is part one of a two phase course registration process.  Course request happens in March and October each year. This is a student's opportunity to inform the university of the courses they intend to take the following semester. This phase is designed to ensure the departments are planning to offer enough seats in their courses to accommodate the demand.  

It is recommended that a student meet with their academic advisor before course request opens to discuss their plan of study.  This is also a good time to double check that a student is on track for graduation.  A student should come prepared to their advising appointment by reviewing the CS checksheet, reviewing their DARS report and by bringing their plan of study to the appointment.

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Course Withdrawal Policy

After the course drop deadline has passed, students may use a W grade to remove themselves from a course in which they are enrolled. A W grade may be used for a maximum of three courses during the college career (regardless of credit hours). Courses with a W grade will appear on the final transcript, but will not impact the GPA. Deadline to apply for a W grade is on the last day of classes for a term. Students wishing to apply for a W grade must complete the withdrawal form and then schedule an appointment to meet with their advisor to obtain a signature on the form prior to the deadline. It will then be the student's responsibility to submit the signed form to the COE Academic Affairs office in 212 Hancock prior to the deadline. W grade requests cannot be processed if a student has a registration hold.

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Credit by Exam

In special cases, you may receive credit for a course by taking an examination on the course material. Each department determines which of its courses may be taken for credit by exam and the exact nature of the exam. Credit by examination cannot be given if you have previously enrolled in or audited the course. When credit is given, only a grade of Pass/Fail is assigned. No more than 12 credits earned through credit by examination can be applied toward the degree. In Computer Science, you must demonstrate at least C (2.0) level mastery of material in order to receive a grade of Pass.

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CRN

CRN stands for "course request number." This is a five-digit number assigned to each class being offered during a given semester. The first number of the CRN designates the term. (1 or 2 = Spring, 6 = Summer, 8 or 9 = Fall, 12 = Winter).

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Curriculum for Liberal Education

See Core Curriculum

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DARS (Degree Audit Reporting System)

The Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS) is a computer generated report for undergraduate students that matches the requirements of a degree program with a student's course work. The audit identifies requirements that are complete, requirements that are in progress  and requirements that still need to be completed. Step by step instructions on running a DARS report in Hokie SPA can be found here.

By the time a student has completed 60 credit hours, they should apply for their degree in Hokie SPA stating the semester and year in which they intend to graduate. After a student has applied for their degree, they can then request a DARS report on Hokie SPA. The DARS report should serve as a basis for scheduling your courses each semester.  Students should check the report carefully and work with their advisor if there are any questions.

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Dean's List

Undergraduate students who attempt at least 12 credit hours graded on the A-F option and who earn a 3.4 GPA for either spring or fall semester will be included on the Dean's List for that term. The Deans' Lists are not compiled for summer sessions. Any notifications or certificates indicating inclusion on the Dean's List for a particular term are issued by the student's academic dean.

Students will not appear on the dean's list if:

  1. The student is listed as confidential
  2. A student is not full time (audit hours do not count towards the minimum 12 credit hours needed)
  3. The student is not an undergraduate
  4. The student does not have an active permanent address

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Degree Requirements for Computer Science

To earn a degree, Computer Science majors must complete 123 credit hours with both an overall and an in-major GPA of 2.0 or above. In addition, the student must successfully fulfill all requirements for their declared major, all requirements for any declared minors and all requirements for a student's Core Curriculum (Curriculum for Liberal Education or Pathways to Liberal Education depending on date of entry).

Degree requirements for all undergraduate Computer Science majors can be found here. There is also additional information about the undergraduate Computer Science majors here.

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Diploma

Computer Science students receive a copy of their diploma at graduation.  If students are unable to attend graduation, a copy of their diploma will be mailed to them by the Office of the University Registrar.  Students can request to receive a Ce-Diploma (Certified Electronic diploma) for a fee. 

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DropAdd

The second phase of course registration is known as drop/add and opens about a month after course request each semester. During drop/add, a student will be able to build on the courses they received through course request to finalize the next semester's class schedule.

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Enrollment Verification

Virginia Tech has authorized the National Student Clearinghouse to act as agent to provide enrollment verifications. If you need to verify your Virginia Tech current or previous enrollment or anticipated date of graduation, an "Enrollment Verification Certificate" may be obtained by completing the following:

  1. Log into Hokie SPA
  2. Select "Transcripts and Enrollment Verifications"
  3. Select "Request Enrollment Verification Certificate"

More information can be found about obtaining an enrollment verification here.

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Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are a great way for students to get involved on campus.  There are many organizations both inside and outside of Computer Science for students to get involved in.  It is recommended that students work to balance their academics with their extracurricular activities.  Students can find a listing of all organizations on campus through GobblerConnect.

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FERPA

Federal law that deals with the release and access to a student’s educational records. The law requires that students give authorization to the university prior to release of any academic record information (grades, class schedule, etc.) to a third party, including parents. Students may complete an online form in Hokie SPA to provide access to parents or guardians.

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Final Examinations

Final examinations are held at the close of each term according to a schedule established by the university. An instructor may not change the date or time of a final exam without the approval of the dean of the college. Students may request permission from their college dean to reschedule a final exam if they have conflicting exams or if they have three final exams in 24 hours. Otherwise, permission to reschedule a final exam is granted by the dean only in very unusual circumstances. Deferred final exams may be authorized only by the student's academic dean or by the Office of Student Health Services.

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Final Exam Overload

If you have conflicting exams or three or more exams within twenty-four hours, you may request an exam change for one exam. Click here for a copy of the Exam Change Request Form and the instructions on how to complete the form. Complete the form, have the instructor of the changed exam approve it and sign it, and return the form to 212 Hancock Hall. Your request will be processed and ready for you to pick up in the Dean's Office within a week.

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Five Year Bachelors/Masters Degree Program

To enable the completion of both a bachelor's and a master's degree in five years, Virginia Tech allows students with at least a 3.5 GPA to apply for admission to the Graduate School on the completion of seventy-five hours of undergraduate study.

Computer Science students in this program may take up to four graduate courses during their senior year in place of required CS 4000-level courses. These courses will "double-count" toward a Master's degree in Computer Science as well.  Students in this program should discuss the "double-count" courses with their advisor. You can find out more information on this program here

More information on the graduate school application can be found here.

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Force Adds

If a class you need to add is full, you may be able to force/add the class. Each department at VT establishes its own force/add request policy.  Please check each department web site for force/add procedures. 

If a student is not able to course request or add a required CS course, they can submit the CS Online Force/Add Request Form to request a seat in the course. Dates and deadlines will be posted on the CS force/add policy website. The force/add request form should only be used for required CS courses (courses that do not have alternate options, ex: CS 2505). The force/add request form is not intended for course requirements that have multiple options, such as CS elective courses. Force/add requests serve as a type of wait list for CS courses and are not a guarantee of getting into a course. Some courses may be filled to capacity and may not have openings. Submitting course request and then monitoring drop/add are still the best ways to get a seat in a CS course.

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Foreign Language

The minimum foreign language requirement may be met in high school by completing two units of a single foreign or classical language. The requirement may also be met after admission by one of the following:

  1. Earning 6 semester hours of college-level foreign or classical language credit. Such credits are in addition to thr number normally required for graduation in a student's program of study.
  2. Receiving credit by examination for a foreign or classical language. Please contact your advisor for more information about this option.

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Full-time Status

To qualify as a full-time student, you must be enrolled in at least 12 hours. Students who fall below 12 hours could lose their financial aid, be ineligible to stay in the dorms, become disqualified under NCAA sports eligibility requirements, lose insurance benefits that are based on full-time enrollment, and jeopardize international student visa status. Dropping below full time could also change your anticipated graduation date. You should discuss your decision to drop below 12 hours with your academic advisor.

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General Electives (Non-Technical Electives)

CS majors must complete 30 credit hours of general/non-technical electives. For a complete list of approved courses, please see the definition of "non-technical courses" in the footnotes of the CS checksheet for your graduation year.

The 30 credit hours of general/non-technical electives must be college-level credit that has been:

  1. earned at Virginia Tech OR
  2. transferred to Virginia Tech from another institution OR
  3. earned as AP or IB credit

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G.I. Bill Benefits

The Office of Veteran Services works with Virginia Tech’s Bursar’s Office, Registrar’s Office, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Services to receive and process all documentation related to veteran and military student educational benefits. We also collaborate with university and community partners to ensure that veterans and military dependents are connected to the financial, academic, and social resources necessary for a successful transition to and through their course of study at Virginia Tech.

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GPA

Students have two GPAs (Grade Point Average) which are tracked at the university: overall GPA and in-major GPA.  Both must be at least 2.0000 in order to graduate. Overall GPA is the grade point average earned on all courses taken at the university. 

The CS in-major GPA is calculated by using only courses beginning with "CS" (e.g. CS 1114). If a student has to repeat a CS course after not earning the prerequisite "C" or better, both grades count in the GPA calculation, but credit hours are only earned for one attempt.

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Grade Appeal

University policy states that the assignment of a grade is the sole prerogative of the instructor of the class. It is incumbent on the instructor to establish the criteria for grading in the syllabus that is distributed at the beginning of the term. All grades are to be based on established grading criteria and not on personal conduct or opinions unrelated to academic standards. A student may not do extra work to raise his/her grade. If a student feels that a grade has been calculated incorrectly or has been assigned in a prejudiced or capricious manner, the student should discuss the matter with the instructor. If discussion between the instructor and the student cannot resolve the issue, the student should appeal to the department/division head. In the unusual circumstance that resolution does not occur at the departmental/division level, the student may appeal to the college dean who will attempt to reconcile the matter by whatever mechanism seems most appropriate for the college and for that case. A grade appeal must be made by the student as soon as possible but no later than the end of the student's subsequent term of enrollment after the grade in question has been assigned.

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Graduate Courses

Seniors not participating in the five-year bachelor's/master's program may nevertheless take CS graduate courses, provided they receive the permission of the instructor. Only students with an in-major GPA above 3.0 should attempt this. To register, simply add the course using DROPADD. Then ask the instructor no later than the first day of classes for permission to take the class. The course may be taken for undergraduate credit as a free elective or as a CS 4000-level elective. If taken as a CS 4000-level elective, you should see your advisor about an official substitution for B.S. graduation requirements.

Students within their last semester of completing the B.S. and having a GPA of at least 3.0 may dual register and begin taking graduate courses for graduate credit. This requires formal admission to the graduate program.

See also Five Year Bachelors/Masters Degree Program

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Graduate School

As you progress through your undergraduate studies, you may discover that there is an area of computer science in which you would like to specialize, or you may decide that you would like to go into research in computer science or to teach computer science at a college or university. To achieve any of these goals, you will need an advanced degree.

A master's degree, which takes 1.5 to 2.5 years to earn, generally provides you with about thirty credits of computer science training beyond the bachelor's degree. Depending on the master's program you select, you will receive either additional breadth of computer science knowledge, or depth in one or two areas, or a combination of breadth and depth. A master's degree will qualify you for some jobs not open to holders of a bachelor's degree and should generally enhance your career opportunities.

If your ultimate goal is research, either in an industrial or an academic setting, or college teaching, then you will need a doctoral (Ph.D.) degree. Earning a Ph.D. takes at least four to five years beyond the baccalaureate. In general, the undergraduate curriculum in Computer Science at Virginia Tech will prepare you well for graduate studies.

Three requirements for entrance into a graduate program are the GRE (Graduate Record Examination, which is the graduate school equivalent of the SAT), a high grade point average, and good letters of recommendation from professors.

The GRE should be taken early in your senior year (or possibly late in your junior year). This will allow enough time for the test results to be sent to the graduate schools to which you are applying. Applications are usually due to the school's graduate office by the first of January or February.

Letters of recommendation are extremely important and should be written by professors who know you well enough that they can write something more in their letter than just the grade you made in their class. Therefore it is important that you take the initiative to get to know some of your professors personally by talking with them after class, going to their office hours, and being involved in departmental activities like ACM and service learning.

If you have at least a 3.5 GPA by the middle of your junior year and are interested in a graduate degree, you may want to consider the five-year bachelor's/master's program mentioned in this handbook. For information about graduate degree requirements please see the Computer Science Department graduate pages.

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Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) and Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA)

Many of CS professors will have GTAs and UTAs assigned to their classes to help with grading and answering student questions. Some laboratories will have GTAs as instructors. Both GTAs and UTAs are usually busy balancing their studies and assistantship assignments, so please observe their office hours.

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Graduating with Distinction

A student who has completed at least 60 credit hours at Virginia Tech may be graduated with distinction under the following conditions:

  1. Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.8 or greater are graduated Summa Cum Laude.
  2. Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.6 - 3.7999 are graduated Magna Cum Laude.
  3. Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.4 - 3.5999 are graduated Cum Laude.

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Hold (Blocked, Purged, and Held Registrations)

The University, Colleges, and Departments have the ability to place a hold on a student's account based on various factors.  These include nonpayment of fees other than tuition (e.g., parking tickets), for Honor Code violations, for academic ineligibility (due to academic suspension), or failure to make progress toward a degree.  When a hold is placed on an account, students are unable to see their schedule, participate in course request, drop/add or use a late course withdrawal (CW grade).  The student should check with the office imposing the hold, as only that office is authorized to remove the hold.

Failure to pay tuition bills by a posted deadline results in the student's schedule being purged (removed from the system).  For a student to be reinstated after being purged, they must follow the directions outlined in the notification sent to them.

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Honor Code

The Virginia Tech Undergraduate Honor Code is the University policy that defines the expected standards of conduct in academic affairs. All students, upon admission to this university, pledge to abide by this Code, which applies to all assignments, examinations, and other academic exercises.

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Incompletes

A grade of "I" (incomplete) may be given when the requirements of a course other than the final examination have not been completed due to illness or extenuating circumstances beyond the student's control. The "I" grade is the prerogative of the instructor.

To remove an "I" grade, lecture course requirements must be satisfied during the student's first subsequent term of enrollment, and laboratory course requirements must be satisfied prior to the end of the first term during which the course is offered and the student is enrolled. Incomplete and "X" grades are automatically converted to "F" if requirements are not fully satisfied during the period of time allowed.

A grade of "I" does NOT meet the requirement of a "C" or better in CS courses used as a prerequisite or corequisite for other Computer Science courses.

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Independent Study/Undergraduate Research

If you are interested in becoming involved in research as an undergraduate, you have the opportunity to do so by pursuing either an Independent Study (IS) or Undergraduate Research (UR) course. CS faculty research areas can be found here. Also, the VTURCS program has a project database that lists opportunities for undergraduates.

After determining which faculty member is working in an area of interest to you, visit that faculty member during his/her office hours or set up an appointment to discuss doing some sort of research under his/her supervision.

The departmental policy on Independent Study/Undergraduate Research courses is that the study must not repeat work of an earlier course (even if more complex) and is not a substitute for a regular course on the same topic. For an Independent Study (2974 or 4974), you must have both an overall and an in-major GPA of at least 2.5. For Undergraduate Research (4994), you must have a 2.5 overall and an in-major of a 3.0 GPA.  CS 4974 and 4994 also require completion of CS 3114 with a grade of "C" or better.  No more than 6 semester hours of IS/UR total at the 4000 level may be used to satisfy the Computer Science degree requirements. Requests for IS/UR must be submitted, with all necessary signatures except that of the CS Department head, to the departmental office in 114 McBryde by the end of the second day of the first week of classes in the semester in which you wish to do the IS/UR. Forms are available online at the Academic Affairs' forms page and in 114 McBryde Hall.

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Limits on Courses/Hours

There are limits on the number of certain types of hours that will count toward the 123 needed for the B.S. degree. You need to be careful not to exceed these limits, since hours beyond the limits will not count toward the degree.

  1. Health and Physical Education: No more than 2 hours can be counted toward the degree.
  2. Independent Study/Undergraduate Research: No more than 6 hours can be used at the 4000 level to satisfy the Computer Science degree requirements.
  3. Pass/Fail: No more than 10% of the total hours taken at Virginia Tech may be taken Pass/Fail. Be sure to observe the other restrictions on P/F hours covered under the heading "Pass/Fail."
  4. Please be aware that not all courses for which you have credit at Virginia Tech will count toward a CS degree. Such courses may not be used to satisfy any graduation requirement for any degree in the College of Engineering. The College of Engineering provides a list of non-degree courses (list of courses which cannot apply towards engineering degree.)
  5. Students with entry dates 2006 and later may not exceed attempted hours that total 125% of the minimum credit hours needed for a specific degree program and retain in-state tuition eligibility.  The Registrar's Office can provide information about the 125% Rule for In-State Tuition

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Midterm Grades

Midterm grades in fall semester are produced for freshmen and transfer students whose first term of enrollment is either summer or fall. "Satisfactory" is given for work earning a grade of C or better and "unsatisfactory" is given for work earning a grade of C- or below. The midterm grade is not part of the student's permanent academic record and is only intended to be an early indication of the student's progress.

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Minor in Computer Science

For non-majors seeking a strong background in computer science, the department offers a CS minor. The minor checksheets are available online.  Applications for the CS minor should be submitted through the Engineering Education Change of Major process during posted dates. 

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Minors in Other Disciplines

To earn a minor in a field, you need to complete the requirements specified on that department's minor Checksheet (usually at least 18 hours) and attain a minimum GPA of 2.0 on those courses. Minor checksheets are available online.

Math: CS students should consider a minor in mathematics.  A checksheet for the mathematics minor can be found here.

The Office of the University Registrar maintains a list of all minors and their requirements.

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Office Hours for Faculty and GTAs

Office hours are times when faculty and GTAs are available for discussing course-related or academic problems. Please refer to your course syllabi for more information about office hours or contact your instructors directly.

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Overloads

Overloads (more than 19 hours per semester or 7 each summer session) require permission of the student's academic dean.  

To request permission for overloads, download the form from the College of Engineering Academic Affairs' forms page, follow the instructions, and return the form to 212 Hancock Hall.

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Pass/Fail Option

The P/F grading option is available to all undergraduates who have completed a minimum of 30 credit hours at Virginia Tech and have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above. These restrictions do not apply to courses that are only offered P/F. No required course or course used for the university core curriculum may be taken on a "P/F" basis.

A student is permitted to take up to 10 percent of the requirements for graduation completed at Virginia Tech under the P/F grading system option. This includes elective courses and also any course that may be required by a department and offered only on a P/F basis. No more than two courses per term may be taken P/F, excluding physical education activity courses and required courses offered on a P/F basis only.

Under the P/F grading system, a "P" is granted for earning a "D" or better in the course; otherwise, an "F" is given. A "D-" is a failing grade under the P/F option. The "P" or "F" is recorded on the student's transcript and credit is given if the course is passed. If the course is failed, the "F" is considered equivalent to an "F" received under the "A-F" grading system and is included in calculation of the GPA. Once credit is received for a course taken under the P/F system, the course cannot be repeated under the "A-F" grading system.

Any course to be taken under the P/F option should be designated as such upon request for the course. The student may change grading options to P/F until the drop deadline and to A-F until the deadline for resigning without penalty.

No course required for major, minor, or university core curriculum requirements may be taken on a P/F basis.

NOTE: The student registration system does not monitor eligibility for the P/F grade option; it is the student's responsibility to meet requirements for this option.

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Pathways to General Education (Pathways)

See Core Curriculum

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Policy 91

Policy 91: Failure to comply with Department of Computer Science standards of progress toward the degree as stated on departmental checksheets may result in a student being ineligible for enrollment according to Virginia Tech's Policy 91. Students will be notified of non-compliance by the Academic Dean of the College of Engineering.

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Prerequisites

Prerequisites for courses can be found in the current Undergraduate Course Catalog or on the timetable. If you have questions about the prerequisites for a course, please contact your academic advisor.

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Probation, Academic

See Academic Eligibility Policy

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Progress Toward the Computer Science Degree

You must demonstrate progress toward the degree in accordance with departmental requirements.

A Computer Science major must do the following in order to maintain satisfactory progress towards a degree:

  • be registered in at least one 3-credit course required in the major during each on-campus semester of the regular academic year;
  • achieve a GPA of 2.0 or better in the major;
  • not take any CS course required in the major more than twice, including attempts ending in course withdrawal; and
  • not repeat more than 3 CS courses required in the major, including attempts ending in course withdrawal.

Any student who fails to fulfill these departmental requirements will receive a written notification from the department and will need to appeal to be on an academic contract. Contract stipulations will be determined by the student's academic advisor and reviewed with the student. Failure to fulfill the requirements of the academic contract will result in dismissal from the CS program.

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Resignations/Withdrawal from Class

If you want to withdraw from all courses through the first day of class, please go to the Registrar's Office, 250 Student Services Building. If you wish to resign after the first day of class, please download the resignation/withdrawal form from the College of Engineering Academic Affairs' forms page, complete it, and then take the form to the College of Engineering Academic Affairs Office in 212 Hancock.

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Study Abroad

Virginia Tech sponsors a wide diversity of study abroad programs to provide opportunities for the intercultural experience that is becoming more important in all disciplines. Click here for more information.

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Student Success

The Student Success Center offers many programs for students including study skills, time management, test-taking skills, etc. These resources are available at no charge to VT undergraduate students. Please see the Student Success Center website for the complete list of their offerings.

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Substitutions

Substitutions of CS degree requirements require departmental approval.  To discuss CS degree substitutions, a student should contact their advisor.

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Substitutions, Reciprocal (for ECE)

The CS and ECE Departments have agreed to a reciprocal substitution agreement, listed below on behalf of each department. There are two important caveats for these substitutions:

- CS 1114 and 2114 are taught using Java; ECE 1574 and 2574 use C++. If you use one of these substitutions, be aware that subsequent courses will assume you have sufficient background in that language. For example, students proceeding to CS 2114 having had ECE 1574 will be assumed to know introductory Java.

- The CS Department will accept the courses listed below from ECE as long as they meet the same grade minimum, ("C" 2.0), required for CS majors.

The CS Department will approve the following substitutions:

  • ECE 1574 will substitute for CS 1114.
  • ECE 2574 will substitute for CS 2114.
  • ECE 2504 and 2524 and one of (2500 or 2534) will substitute for CS 2505-06. Students must complete all three ECE courses in order to receive credit for the two CS courses.

The ECE Department will approve the following substitutions:

  • CS 1114 will substitute for ECE 1574.
  • CS 2114 will substitute for ECE 2574.
  • CS 2505-2506 will substitute for ECE 2504-2500.  Students must complete both CS courses in order to receive credit for the two ECE courses.

The CS Department accepts these substitutions for CS major and minor requirements and for satisfying prerequisites, but does not accept ECE substitutions to add the CS minor.

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Suspension, Academic

See Academic Eligibility Policy

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Taking courses elsewhere

To take a course at another institution, students should make sure before they attempt a course that it will transfer by completing the following three steps:

  1. Refer to the Virginia Tech Transfer Guide to determine if the course you intend to take has a VT equivalent.
  2. Obtain the appropriate form from the College of Engineering Academic Affairs' page.  Follow the instructions to complete the form.
  3. After the course has been completed, have a copy of your official transcript sent to the Virginia Tech Registrar's Office at:
    Office of the University Registrar
    250 Student Services Building, Mail Code 0134
    Virginia Tech
    Blacksburg, VA 24061

A student may not receive credit for course work taken at another college or university during any period in which the student has been placed on suspension by Virginia Tech for academic or disciplinary reasons.

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Timetable

The Timetable (schedule of courses) is available online through Hokie SPA. The online Timetable allows students to search for courses by campus, term, subject, course number, and general education requirement. Each course has a designated CRN. By using the online Timetable, students can get a class description (taken from the University Catalog), prerequisites, the instructor's name, offering day/time and location, and the exam time of the course.

During  the drop/add period, registration is in real time and he Timetable updates immediately.

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Transcripts

To get a copy of your official Virginia Tech transcript, please follow the instructions on the Office of the University Registrar site to make a request. Information about fees is also included on this site.

To have a transcript sent to Virginia Tech from another institution, have the Registrar's Office at that institution send an official transcript to:

Office of the University Registrar
250 Student Services Building, Mail Code 0134
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0134

For more information:
250 Student Services Building
540-231-6252
registrar@vt.edu

Unofficial transcripts are available on Hokie SPA.

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Transfer Courses

(see Taking Courses Elsewhere)

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Transferring to other majors

Please contact your advisor if you are interested in transferring to a different major.

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University Catalog

The Catalog (Undergraduate Course Catalog and Academic Policies) is your official guide to the university. It covers course descriptions and prerequisites, university rules and regulations, financial information, faculty degrees, and more.

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VTURCS

Information on Virginia Tech Undergraduate Research in Computer Science (VTURCS) can be found here.

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