CS Advising Handbook: Policies and Procedures
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:
- Be available during regularly scheduled office hours. At the least, you should always consult with your advisor each term before registering for classes.
- Be knowledgeable about university, college, and departmental rules and procedures which pertain to your academic welfare (e.g., graduation requirements and academic eligibility policy).
- Help you determine the appropriate approval processes if your program of study varies from standard programs (e.g., course substitutions and transfer credit).
- Be knowledgeable about general career opportunities in the computer science field and refer you to the University Career Services Center as needed.
- 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: Starting Fall 05, 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.
If you have any questions about CS, you can contact one of the department's professional advisors. Ms. Terry Arthur (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ms. Libby Bradford (email@example.com), and Mr. Greg Farris (firstname.lastname@example.org) are located in 114 McBryde Hall.
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 who your advisor is, please check the Hokie Spa.
Advisor Availability: Every advisor has regularly scheduled office hours during the regular academic year. This information can be obtained from the receptionist in the departmental office.
Second Major Advisor: Check with the department of your second major about assignment of an advisor.
Academic Common Market
VT is discontinuing participation in the Academic Common Market. For transition plans and other details, please see Academic Common Market.
For additional information:
250 Student Services Building
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:
- may take no more than 16 credits per semester;
- 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: The College of Engineering requires the filing of a probation packet with the undergraduate dean's office at the beginning of every semester that a students is on probation. Forms are available here.
First suspension will be imposed whenever one of the following occurs:
- A student on academic probation has a cumulative GPA less than 2.00 for the first 2 semesters (fall, spring) of enrollment;
- 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.
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) for graduation, tracks the courses you have taken, monitors academic probation and suspension, changes of major, etc. If the Registrar does not have a record of something you thought you did, then you didn't do it! Keep all records of your actions at the university, including receipts and paper copies of transactions such as course withdrawal and late add/drop, in case you need them to prove a point. And if a faculty member or someone else tells you that it is okay to do something that is an exception to stated rules, be sure to get that approval in writing with a signature and date.
Credit received by high school students through College Entrance Examination Board tests. Students may obtain course credit for up to 38 semester hours. For more information, see your academic advisor.
Applying for your Degree
Students should apply for their degree during the first semester of their junior year. To apply for your degree, log on to Hokie SPA and click on "Degree Menu."
For more information:
250 Student Services Building
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.
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.
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.
Located in the Career Services Building on Washington Street, Career Services 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 Services coordinates employment fairs and conducts workshops on several career related skills such as career and major decisions, resumes, interviewing skills and etiquette. Career Services also posts and distributes employers' job vacancy listings to students via several media. These vacancies include permanent, summer internship, and cooperative education positions.
Five job fairs of interest to Computer Science majors take place on campus each year: Engineering EXPO, CS Career Reception, and Business Horizons in the fall, and the Computer Science Career Night and the Career Services Connection in the spring. 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 posted electronically in the CS Jobs Database and 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.
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:
Registrar's Office - Certifications
250 Student Services Building
Change of Major
In theory, you may change majors at any time. However, those departments designated as restricted majors have specific deadlines and special requirements for admission. These departments are listed in the University Catalog. To find a listing of restricted majors, please refer to the latest University Catalog.
Only restricted major departments can impose specific course and/or GPA requirements prior to admitting you as an internal transfer. To actually execute a change of major you must obtain a Change of Major form, and the signature of the person authorized to admit transfers into your chosen department. To complete the transfer, you must be signed out of Computer Science by one of the advisors in 114 McBryde (either Mrs. Arthur, Ms. Bradford, or Mr. Farris).
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.
A notification from the Registrar's Office will be sent to your university e-mail account notifying you when your course request results are available on Hokie SPA. If for any reason you have a hold on your record, you will not be able to view these results. Please note that failure to pay fees on time will cause you to be dropped from all the courses for which you have registered.
Computer Engineering Substitutions
Computer Science Resource Center
The CS Resource Center is located in 106 McBryde. In addition to a study lounge, GTAs and UTAs hold their office hours in the middle section of the center. The Advising Center is located in 114 McBryde. Mrs. Arthur's, Ms. Bradford's, and Mr. Farris's offices are in 114 McBryde, as is a display containing informational handouts.
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 of work during your academic career. Students must develop learning objectives prior to beginning a work assignment.
According to Career Services, "The number of work periods and the semester in which the work occurs are determined by:
- The student's academic requirements.
- The employer's needs.
- 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 University Co-op/Internship Program in the Student Services building, or contact Mrs. Arthur, Ms. Bradford, or Mr. Farris, who are the CS co-op/intern liaisons.
Please see Curriculum for Liberal Education.
From your freshman year on, you should always have a tentative long-term schedule of classes you plan to take and the semester in which you intend to take them. With regard to CS courses, you can check to see which courses are likely to be offered in which semester by viewing the "Computer Science Anticipated Course Offerings."
Students will enter course requests during fall and spring terms for the next term. These are only requests and are not a guarantee that you will get these courses. After all students have placed their requests, a program will run that assigns students to courses based on a hierarchy of student status.
The week of course request is an eight-day period in the middle of each semester during which students choose their class schedule for the following semester. During spring semester, students request courses for both summer school (if they plan to attend) and for fall semester of the following school year. Course Request runs from Tuesday of one week through Tuesday of the following week in mid-October and mid-March. Exact dates are listed in the calendar section of the current Timetable.
Please make sure your proposed schedule realistically reflects courses you plan to take:
- Do not request more courses than you plan to take just to allow options for a convenient schedule. This can distort class numbers and prohibit enrollment of students who might actually need the course.
For details, please see Course Requests and Restrictions.
Course Withdrawal Policy (a.k.a “Late Drop”)
The Course Withdrawal Policy is intended to assist undergraduate students who find themselves enrolled in undergraduate level courses for which they are insufficiently prepared, or for those who initially enroll in majors that they subsequently change. Presidential Policy 196 allows currently enrolled students to designate a course status of “Course Withdrawn.” A maximum of six (6) hours of undergraduate level coursework may be dropped beyond the normal six-week drop deadline date during a student's undergraduate academic career at Virginia Tech subject to the following stipulations:
- This option may be exercised up through the Friday of the last full week of classes of each term, prior to a student's scheduled graduation.
- Students must formally request to apply the Course Withdrawal to a course by the Friday of the last full week of the classes of each term. The deadline appears in the deadlines listing of the online Timetable of Classes.
- Courses from which a student withdraws under the terms of this policy will appear on their transcript with a “W” grade, but will not count in the GPA hours nor in any GPA calculations. The “W” signifies that this policy was invoked and does not reach the rationale for its use. The reasons for use remain the student's responsibility.
- A student decision to invoke this policy is irrevocable and unappealable.
- Withdrawals under this policy may not be employed to reduce or obviate any penalty otherwise accruing to students under the University Honor System.
- Students may request withdrawal from any course, irrespective of the evaluation earned in it up to the point of their request for withdrawal. However, if a registration hold exists at the time of application of this policy, the student must take action to remove the hold within five (5) working days of the application or the request will be voided. Students are responsible for resolving their registration holds with the appropriate university office.
- Students already enrolled when this policy takes effect who have exercised their option to use the previously existing Freshman Rule shall not be eligible to use this policy.
To exercise this option, interested students should see their academic advisor to obtain a course withdrawal form and submit it to their designated departmental representative and academic dean for approval.
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.
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=Spring, 6=Summer 1, 7=Summer 2, 9=Fall).
Curriculum for Liberal Education
The Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) is a general education requirement mandating that all students graduating from Virginia Tech must have passed approved courses in specifically defined areas in addition to the courses required for their major. For students in Computer Science, the relevant requirements are the University Curriculum for Liberal Education. Freshmen fulfill the CLE requirements in effect on their date of entry into Virginia Tech. Transfer students fulfill the requirements in effect for students at the class level, i.e., sophomore, junior, or senior, at which the transfer enters Virginia Tech. For the CLE requirements applicable to you, check the University Undergraduate Catalog effective for your freshman year.
A complete list of all courses approved for the CLE is available in the University Curriculum for Liberal Education Guide and in the University Catalog. Since the list is updated annually, you should occasionally check on-line for the .
In fulfilling Area 4, Scientific Reasoning and Discovery, you should be aware that Computer Science students are restricted to certain natural science courses; see your checksheet for a complete list. For CLE, you must take 2 semesters (8 credits) of lecture and lab in one discipline.
Students who complete the CS degree in 2011 or thereafter can fulfill Core Area 4 and the CS science requirement with one semester of chemistry and two semesters of physics (CHEM 1035 & 45 and PHYS 2305-6), or two semesters of chemistry and one semester of physics (CHEM 1035-6 & 1045-6, and PHYS 2305), or one semester of chemistry (CHEM 1035 & 45), one semester of physics (PHYS 2305), and two semesters of biology ((BIOL 1005-6 & 1015-6) or (BIOL 1105-6 & BIOL 1115-6) or (BIOL 1105-6 & 1125-6))
By no later than the first semester of your junior year, you should apply for your degree on Hokie SPA stating the semester and year in which you intend to graduate. After you have applied for your degree, you can then request a DARS (Degree Audit Report System) report on Hokie SPA, which shows how the courses you have taken match the requirements you must meet to graduate. The report also will indicate what requirements have not been met. Your DARS report should serve as a basis for scheduling your courses in your senior year. Check your report carefully and, if you have questions, see your advisor.
Students who have not yet applied for their degree can choose to create a "What If" DARS on Hokie SPA. The "What If" DARS will allow a student to check the degree requirements for different graduation terms. Please be aware that the "What If" DARS is not always accurate, as degree requirements are only encoded two years prior to a graduation date. For example, selecting a "What If" DARS with a 2013 graduation date, will not be accurate until 2011. Students should always check with their advisor to verify which degree requirements are applicable for their intended graduation term.
For more information
Registrar's Office - DARS
250 Student Services Building
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.
Degree Requirements for Computer Science
To earn a degree, Computer Science majors must complete 123 hours (graduating in 2011 and thereafter) with both an overall and an in-major GPA of 2.0 or above. In addition, the student must successfully fulfill all requirements for his/her declared major and for the Curriculum for Liberal Education (previously known as the Core Curriculum).
Computer Science courses are designed to give you a broad background in the fundamentals of the field. At the junior level you take a combination of required courses and elective courses from a restricted list. Then, in your senior year, you have more choice, selecting three specialty courses in areas of your interest plus one from among three theory courses. The senior-level elective courses reflect the full range of computer science sub-disciplines: algorithm analysis, computer architecture, artificial intelligence, compiler design, computability, database systems, formal languages, graphics, modeling and simulation, multimedia, parallel computation, networks, and software engineering.
Computer science is a relatively young, and still developing, field. Because of this, the department constantly monitors its curriculum and regularly updates it as appropriate. Therefore, it is possible that requirements for your degree may change during the time you are at Virginia Tech. Either these changes will be on work you have yet to take, or the department will make appropriate substitutions for work previously completed. In any event, the changes will never be on such short notice that you cannot complete them and stay on track for your expected date of graduation. However, it is your responsibility to keep informed of any changes that may occur after you enter the university. You can do this by reading official e-mail sent to the CS undergraduate listserv and by picking up the checksheet for your year of graduation from 114 McBryde or here. You must meet the departmental requirements for the calendar year in which you graduate.
Diploma or Double Major Certificate
If you would like to have a duplicate copy of your diploma or double major certificate, you may request one from the Registrar's Office. There is a charge for duplicates. More information is available at the Registrar's website.
250 Student Services Building
DropAdd is the process to use on Hokie SPA to make changes to an existing schedule. It is available for about three weeks at the end of fall and spring semester, after schedules for the following semester have been posted on Hokie SPA. It also is available from two weeks before the beginning of each semester until the last date to drop classes for the semester.
After grades are received, if you discover that you have pre-registered for courses for which you will not have met the prerequisite, please adjust your schedule as soon as possible to allow for accurate enrollment and to make room for other students who need to add the course.
For more information please see Dropping and Adding Classes in Hokie SPA.
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 visiting the Registrar's Office "Certifications & Eligibility."
250 Student Services Building
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.
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.
Participating in various clubs around campus is a good way to make friends and discover your interests. However, while you are encouraged to become active in various clubs and organizations, you should keep your outside activities in perspective and not allow the multitude of social activities at the university to distract you from achieving a solid academic record.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records. For more information, see "Notification of Rights under FERPA" in the University Undergraduate Catalog.
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.
Five Year Bachelors/Masters Degree Program
Academically strong students (minimum overall GPA >= 3.50) can earn both the bachelor's and the master's degrees in five years. This is accomplished by replacing the four 4000-level required CS courses with graduate-level courses. Formal admission to the program is required. Application is made during the junior year, after completion of 75 hours toward the B.S. and before any 4000-level CS courses are taken. The Graduate School application form is available online.
If a class you wish to add is full, you may be able to force-add the class. In the case of Computer Science courses, attend the first class meeting and the instructor will have the forms with him/her in class. Details of the CS force-add procedure in effect for any specific semester will be posted on the home page in the weeks prior to and during the first week of classes. For departments other than CS and Math, inquire in the appropriate departmental office for information about how force-adds are handled.
The Mathematics Department, because of the high demand for its courses, currently has strict limitations on section changes. On designated days before classes begin, 1/2000-level math courses can be added only through the Math Department office (4th floor of McBryde). Requests will be accepted only from students who have compelling reasons for adding or changing a course, e.g., failed a math course the previous semester and need to change registration in order to retake the course. NO convenience changes will be accepted. After the first two days of classes, all remaining seats in Math courses will be made directly available through the regular DROPADD process and no further force-adds will be processed by the Math Department.
For CS majors entering Spring 2003 and prior to that time:
The foreign language requirement for Computer Science majors may be fulfilled by successful completion of one of the following:
- The third year (level III) of one foreign language in secondary school.
- The 1106 course in Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish, including any prerequisites.
NOTE: Students who have not completed two (2) units of a single foreign language in high school must earn six (6) semester hours of college level credit in a foreign language (i.e., both 1105 and 1106). These six hours are in addition to the 120 hours required for graduation.
- A score of 500 or better on the CEEB Achievement Test (does not carry college credit).
- Credit by examination for a foreign or classical language. The credit by exam option is available only to students who have gained knowledge of a foreign language without the benefit of formal training. This privilege is intended to recognize informal, non-academic learning experience and is not offered to a student who has had regular classroom instruction in that foreign language.
- Students whose native language is not English may be exempted from the foreign language requirement through demonstrating satisfactory knowledge of the foreign language as prescribed by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. All requests for exemption should be addressed to and must be approved by the head of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures. (No credit is granted in such cases).
- Students who have completed two years of two different foreign languages in high school can appeal, in writing, to the Head of the Foreign Language Department for approval of these courses for the Arts and Sciences Foreign Language requirement. For information on this appeal, contact the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.
For CS majors entering Summer 2003 and after:
The minimum foreign language requirement may be met in high school by completing 2 units of a single foreign or classical language. The requirement also may be met after admission by one of the following:
- Earning 6 semester hours of college-level foreign or classical language credit. Such credits are in addition to that number normally required for graduation in a student's program of study.
- Receiving credit by examination for a foreign or classical language.
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.
(see Non-Technical Elective)
(see Veterans Affairs )
You have two GPAs (Grade Point Average) which are tracked at the university, overall GPA and in-major. Both must be at least 2.0000 in order for you to graduate. Your overall GPA is the grade average earned on all courses taken at the university. See Grades and Grade Points for an explanation of in-major GPA.
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.
Grades and Grade Points
To calculate your "in-major" grade point average (GPA), use only courses beginning with "CS," e.g., CS 1114. If you have to repeat a course after not earning the prerequisite "C" or better, both grades count in the GPA calculation, but you earn the credit hours for only one attempt.
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 10 hours 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.
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.
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Many of your professors will have GTAs assigned to their classes to help with grading and answering your questions. Some laboratories will have GTAs as instructors. GTAs are usually busy balancing their studies and GTA assignments, so please observe their office hours.
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:
- Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.8 or greater are graduated Summa Cum Laude.
- Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.6 - 3.7999 are graduated Magna Cum Laude.
- Students with a cumulative GPA of 3.4 - 3.5999 are graduated Cum Laude.
Hold (Blocked, Purged, and Held Registrations)
Failure to pay tuition bills by a posted deadline results in the student's schedule being purged (removed from the system). A schedule may be held (made inaccessible to terminal operators, as well as to students using DROPADD, thereby precluding transactions of any type) for 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. The student should check with the office imposing the hold, as only that office is authorized to remove the hold.
Honor Code and CS Courses
The University Honor System applies to all academic work at the university, including Computer Science courses and their assignments.
Honors Program in CS
The Computer Science Department offers academically outstanding students the opportunity to earn their B.S. in honors. To do this, a student must meet special grade requirements, be accepted into the University Honors Program, take a certain number of Honors colloquia or courses, and write an Honors thesis. Interested students should see Dr. Ribbens, the CS Honors Advisor.
IB (International Baccalaureate) credit
Please have the IB (International Baccalaureate) transcript sent from the IB Headquarters in New York directly to the University Registrar, Virginia Tech, 250 Student Services Building, Blacksburg, VA 24061.
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.
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. Faculty research interests are listed under his or her name. 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 noon of the third 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.
(see Cooperative Education)
A koofer is a test for a course in a previous term/year. Koofers may be helpful in studying for a test because they often highlight the most important material of a course. Some instructors will make their koofers available, but usually you get them from friends who have already taken the course. Many fraternities/sororities have koofer files - the Corps of Cadets is famous for its extensive file.
Late Adds and Drops
The current Timetable for each semester contains the final dates for adding and dropping courses in that semester. If you however have extenuating circumstances that did not allow you to make changes to your schedule before the deadlines, you can submit a "Late Request Form" available in 212 Hancock. All late requests must go through the Associated Dean for Academic Affairs office if you are a student in the College of Engineering.
Students may drop a course through Hokie SPA through the date indicated by the Timetable. After that date, a student may consider course withdrawal if that policy applies to them. Please see "Course Withdrawal."
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.
- Health and Physical Education: No more than 2 hours can be counted toward the degree.
- Independent Study/Undergraduate Research: No more than 6 hours can be used at the 4000 level to satisfy the Computer Science degree requirements.
- 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."
- 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. The College of Engineering updates this list yearly.
Math Prerequisite and Duplication Chart
|Prerequisites||Duplication-Credit for only one|
|Math 1015||placement by the Math Department||Math 1504, 1525|
|Math 1016||Math 1015||Math 1205, Math 1526|
|Math 1114||Math 2524|
|Math 1205||placement by the Math Department||Math 1016, Math 1526|
|Math 1206||Math 1205||Math 2015|
|Math 1224||Math 1205 (Math 1206 as coreq)|
|Math 2214||Math 1114, Math 1206||Partially duplicates Math 2514 and 4544|
|Math 2224||Math 1224, Math 1206||Math 2016|
|Math 2534*||Math 3034|
|Math 3134||Math 1206, Math 2534, or Math 3034|
|Math/CS 3414||Math 2214, Math 2224, CS 1044||Math 4554|
|*Math 2534 (or substitute Math 3034) is co-requisite for CS 2505; it is a prerequisite for CS 2506 and CS 3114.|
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.
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 minor should be submitted at the CS Advising Center, 114 McBryde, after completion of at least CS 15 with a grade of "C" or better and a CS GPA of a 2.0 or better.
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 in the departmental office of the disciplines in which you wish to minor.
Math: CS students should consider a minor in mathematics. This minor requires only one additional three-credit math course at the 3000/4000 level beyond those math courses necessary to meet CS requirements. A handout with recommendations for the math minor is available in 114 McBryde.
English: The English Department offers a minor in Professional Writing and Language. The requirements are 18 semester hours of English courses above the freshman level. A checksheet listing the required courses is available from the English Department. This minor is viewed very favorably by many employers.
CS majors must complete 30 hours of 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.
These 30 hours must be college-level credit that has been:
- earned at Virginia Tech,
- transferred to Virginia Tech from another institution, or
- earned as AP or IB credit.
Office Hours for Faculty and GTAs
Office hours are times when faculty and GTAs are available for discussing course-related or academic problems. Faculty and GTAs have many responsibilities besides teaching. Therefore, unless you have an appointment, please do not disturb your instructors or GTAs outside office hours even if you see that they are in their offices.
Overloads (more than 19 hours per semester or 7 each summer session) require permission of the student's academic dean. Unless such permission has been obtained in advance, the request for an overload will not be honored; the student will be scheduled for the first available 19 hours (7 in summer) requested.
To request permission for overloads, download the form from the Academic Affairs' forms page, follow the instructions, and return it to Hancock Hall
A limited pass/fail (P/F) grading system is available to encourage students to enrich their academic programs and explore more challenging courses outside their majors, without the pressures and demands of the regular grading system. 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.
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.
University Policy on Course Prerequisites:
Students are permitted to take courses without having the specified prerequisites only upon obtaining the consent of the instructor. Students who enroll in a course for which they clearly have not satisfied the prerequisites or equivalent or obtained the appropriate permission may be dropped from the course. Deliberately false statements testifying to the satisfaction of prerequisites constitute a violation of the honor code. The students have the right to appeal a decision about prerequisites to the head of the department offering a course. Students should recognize that 3000- and 4000-level courses assume a certain level of maturity and general background regardless of the stated prerequisites. The course instructor can be consulted regarding the implications of this expectation for a specific course.
CS Policy on Course Prerequisites:
Most CS courses have other CS courses or certain math, statistics, or computer engineering courses as prerequisites. It is your responsibility to insure that you meet all the necessary prerequisites for a course since the Registrar's computer program does not check that prerequisites have been met when students schedule courses. CS majors and minors must earn a C (2.0) or better in all CS courses used as a prerequisite or corequisite for other Computer Science courses. A student who takes a course without having the prerequisites, or, in lieu of the prerequisites, a signed statement of exception from the instructor, will be charged with violation of the Honor Code.
|Course||Title||Prerequisites||Duplications-Credit for one only|
|CS 1044||Intro to Prog in C||none||ECE 1574|
|CS 1054||Intro to Programming in Java||none||CS 1705 (not for major or minor credit)|
|CS 1114||Intro to Software Design||EngE 1024 or programming experience||CS 1054, 1124, and 1705|
|CS 1124||Intro to Media Comp||none||CS 1054, 1114, and 1705|
|CS 1604||Intro to the Internet||none||CS 1204, CS 1205|
|CS 1944||First Year Seminar (Sophomore Seminar)||none||none|
|CS 2104||Intro to Prob Solv in CS||Math 1205 or 1526; EngE 1024 or programming experience|
|CS 2114||Softw Des & Data Structures||
Math 1205; "C" or better in CS 1705, 1114 or 1124
|CS 2304||"C" or better in CS 2114|
|CS 2505||Intro Computer Organization I||
"C" or better in 2114
Co: Math 2534
|CS 2506||Intro Computer Organization II||Math 2534; "C" or better in CS 2114 and 2505|
|CS 2974||Independent Study||2.5 GPA overall and in-major|
|Note: CS Majors are required to have a "C" or better in CS 2104 before taking any CS 3/4000 level course|
|CS 3114||Data Structures and Algorithms||Math 2534; "C" or better in CS 2114 and 2505|
|CS 3214||Computer Systems||"C" or better in CS 2114 and 2506|
|CS 3304||Comparative Languages||"C" or better in (CS 2606 or 3114)|
|CS 3414||Numerical Methods||MATH 2224 & 2214; "C" or better in (CS 1044, 1114, 1124, or 1705)||MATH 4445-6|
|CS 3604||Professionalism in Computing||COMM 2004; "C" or better in (CS 2606 or 3114)|
|CS 3704||Intermed Software Des||"C" or better in (2606 or 3114)|
|CS 3724||Human-Computer Interaction||Pre: "C" or better in CS 2114; Co: CS 3744|
|CS 3744||GUI Programming and Graphics||Math 1114 and 1224; "C" or better in CS 2114|
|CS 3824||Intro Computational Biology and Bioinformatics||"C" or better in CS 3114|
|CS 4104||Data and Algorithm Analysis||MATH 3134 or 3034; "C" or better in (CS 2604, 2606, or 3114)|
|CS 4114||Formal Languages||MATH 3134 or 3034|
|CS 4124||Theory of Computation||MATH 3134 or 3034|
|CS 4204||Computer Graphics||"C" or better in CS 3114 and CS 3744|
|CS 4214||Simulation and Modeling||STAT 4714; "C" or better in CS 2114|
|CS 4234||Parallel Computation||"C" or better in CS 3204 or 3214|
|CS 4244||Internet Software Development||"C" or better in CS 3204 or 3214|
|CS 4254||Network Arch Prog||"C" or better in CS 3204 or 3214|
|CS 4284||Systems & Networking Capstone||"C" or better in CS 3114 and (CS 3204 or 3214)|
|CS 4304||Compiler Design||"C" or better in CS 3204 or 3214|
|CS 4504||Computer Organization||"C" or better in CS 3204 or 3214|
|CS 4570||Wireless Nets & Mobile Systems||ECE 4564 or CS 4254|
|CS 4604||Int Data Base Mgt Sys||"C" or better in (CS 2604, 2606 or 3114)|
|CS 4624||Multimedia/Hypertext||"C" or better in (CS 2606 or 3114)|
|CS 4634||Design of Information||"C" or better in (CS 2606 or 3114) and CS 3724|
|CS 4644||Creative Computing Studio||"C" or better in CS 3724 and senior standing|
|CS 4704||Software Engineering||"C" or better in CS 3704|
|Human-Computer Interaction Capstone||"C" or better in both CS 3724 and 3744|
|CS 4804||Introduction to AI||"C" or better in (CS 2606 or 3114)|
|CS 4974||Independent Study||Two CS 3000-level courses; overall and in-major GPA 2.5 or higher|
|CS 4994||Undergraduate Research||Two CS 3000-level courses; overall GPA 2.5 and in-major GPA 3.0|
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 meet these expectations will receive a written notification from the department. The student will be asked to see her/his advisor by a certain date. Failure to see the advisor by the specified date automatically results in a hold being placed on the student's records until the student transfers out of CS.
see Course Request
It is extremely important that you register for the following semester during the week of course request. Departments use the course request numbers to make decisions about adding sections of a course with high demand or canceling a course with low request numbers.
General Engineers who plan to be CS majors should plan to attend the CS Advising Meeting spring semester of their freshman year for important information about the CS major. This meeting will be announced on the General Engineering listserv.
Your current schedule can be found online through Hokie SPA. If it is not correct, you should have corrections made in the Dean's Office.
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 form from the Academic Affairs' forms webpage, complete it, and call to schedule an apointment with Christi Boone
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.
Study Skills and Time Management
Cook Counseling Center provides many services for students. Sessions include:
- Concentration and Memory Improvement
- Coping with Test Anxiety
- Exam Preparation
- Getting Organized for the Semester
- Learning Style Analysis
- Managing Academic Stress
- Test Preparation & Test Taking
- Textbook Reading & Note Taking
- Time Management
For more information:
240 McComas Hall
Substitutions and Waivers
Substitutions for CS courses and waivers of departmental requirements need departmental approval. Students should complete the form "Request for Approval of Course Substitution" and submit the form at the CS Advising Center.
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 some background in that language. For example, students proceeding to CS 2114 having had ECE 1574 will be assumed to know some 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 2504-2524-(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 for internal transfer purposes.
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:
- Contact the college or university that they would like to attend to determine what courses will be offered.
- Obtain the appropriate form from the Academic Affairs' "Transferring Credits" page. Follow the instructioins to complete the form.
- 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
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.
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 core area. Each course has its designated CRN. By using the online Timetable, students can get a class description (taken from the University Catalog), prerequisites, the instructor's name, day/time that the course meets, its location, and the exam time of the course.
During the time of DropAdd, registration is real time; the Timetable updates immediately.
To get a copy of your official Virginia Tech transcript, please see the Registrar's Office. Fees may be applicable.
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
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0134
For more information:
250 Student Services Building
Unofficial transcripts are available on Hokie SPA.
(see Taking Courses Elsewhere)
Transferring to other majors
Resources for undecided students
- University Studies
117 Femoyer, 231-8440
- College of Business:
Changing into the College of Business is quite competitive. For specific information about transferring to the College of Business, click above. You also are advised to speak with an advisor in the College of Business in 1046 Pamplin Hall.
- Visual Communication Design/Graphic Design (Art Department):
Betsy Bannon email@example.com
460 McBryde Hall
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.
Information on Virginia Tech Undergraduate Research in Computer Science (VTURCS) can be found here.
Visual Expression, Written and Spoken (ViEWS) Requirement. ViEWS requirements are applicable to all students entering Fall 2005 and thereafter. See the checksheet for the year in which you graduate to determine your ViEWS requirements.
Withdrawal from the University
Writing Intensive courses for CS majors
Students who entered Virginia Tech prior to Fall 2005 are required to complete the Writing Intensive requirement. A list of the writing intensive courses that will fulfill Area 1 of the Core for CS majors can found on the major checksheet for 2007 and thereafter.