The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (B.I.S.) degree program is tailored to adults who wish to pursue an undergraduate degree through part-time study. Approved in 1999 by the Board of Visitors and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the B.I.S. program makes it possible for students with earned college credits to complete undergraduate degrees. The B.I.S. program offers a challenging and intellectually stimulating curriculum with evening and weekend courses drawn from those already offered at the University or approved by University faculty specifically for this degree program. The program maintains a full course schedule in the summer as well as during the fall and spring semesters.
The interdisciplinary curriculum of the B.I.S. program includes upper-level courses in academic fields that bring together both the range of learning implied by a liberal arts degree and the depth of knowledge associated with study at an advanced undergraduate level. The program emphasizes critical thinking, clear articulation of ideas, and the habits of individual and collective learning that develop and sustain life-long learners. Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies Seminars unique to the program are required of all students. Students will pursue an academic concentration within the degree program and must complete a Proseminar and a Capstone Project to synthesize their educational and professional experiences and demonstrate the depth and breadth of their educational experience. Students have seven years (twenty-two semesters, including fall, spring, and summer) after admission to the program to complete all requirements for the B.I.S. degree.
B.I.S. students are governed by the student-run Honor System and the Standards of Conduct described in Chapter 5 of the University Record, subject to revision from time to time by authorized University offices. Policies and procedures can be obtained from the University Honor Committee and the University Judiciary Committee. Academic policies and regulations of the B.I.S. program are under the aegis of a Faculty Advisory Committee, the dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and the B.I.S. director. To learn more about this undergraduate degree program, or to obtain application information, individuals should contact:
B.I.S. Degree Program
University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies
Zehmer Hall Annex
106 Midmont Lane
P.O. Box 400764
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4764
(434) 982-5274 Fax: (434) 982-5335
Admission The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree program is intended for adults who graduated from high school not less than four years prior to enrollment, have earned sixty transferable semester credits from one or more regionally accredited colleges or universities, and are prepared to enter a rigorous program of study. Half of the 60 transfer credits should satisfy the general education guidelines of the Liberal Studies Core. Applicants must complete a formal application for admission and be in good academic and social standing at the institution they attended most recently. They also must have earned at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point average there. Additionally, applicants must be in good financial standing at the University of Virginia. Prospective students apply to the B.I.S. program rather than to the Office of Undergraduate Admission, and official transcripts must be directed to the B.I.S. office. Before submitting the application, prospective students must meet with a B.I.S. admissions advisor. Applications for fall and spring are due, respectively, by July 1 and November 15 for study in Charlottesville and by July 1 for study in Tidewater. Applicants will be notified of admission decisions by mail. Applicants who are denied admission may reactivate their applications for a period of two calendar years without paying an additional application fee. Students who have been denied admission to another undergraduate program at UVa must wait one year before applying to the B.I.S. program.
Transfer of Credit The University grants transfer credit based on an analysis of the content, level, and comparability of the courses taken, the applicability of the courses to the student’s intended major and degree program, the quality of the student’s performance in the courses, and the accreditation of the institution at which the work was completed. Credits eligible for transfer must have been earned with at least a “C” grade (2.0 or better) and in courses comparable in content and rigor to those offered at the University of Virginia. Credits earned in a pass/fail grading system will only be eligible for transfer if certification is provided that the student earned at least a “C” average. Only credits transfer; grades do not transfer.
Students receive no more, and may receive fewer, than the number of credits earned at the host institutions. No more than 60 semester credits, or half the number of credits required for graduation, transfer from a combination of approved testing programs (Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate) and course credits. Quarter and trimester credits are converted to semester credits. The general University policy on accepting credits from foreign institutions will apply. No transfer credit is granted for College Level Examination Placement credits, life experience credits, correspondence credit, or military education credits. Credit for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate testing is awarded according to guidelines used in the College of Arts and Sciences. Transfer credit is generally not granted for credit passed elsewhere by re-examination.
Courses required for an academic concentration do not typically transfer to the B.I.S. degree. Credits earned in courses taken at other institutions while the student is enrolled in the B.I.S. program are only eligible for transfer if the student is fulfilling admission requirements or requests special permission by completing the appropriate paperwork and receives permission to transfer the credits before enrolling in the course(s).
The Liberal Studies Core The Liberal Studies Core demonstrates that students have studied a broad range of academic disciplines and are prepared for study at a more advanced level. Transfer credits must satisfy the following liberal studies guidelines:
English Composition: generally six semester credits of college composition. With sufficient supporting evidence, it may be possible for a student to satisfy this requirement with fewer than six credits.
Humanities: at least six semester credits earned in art history, selected architectural history courses, classics, literature, drama, film studies, fine arts, music (exclusive of performance), philosophy, political theory, religious studies, or western or eastern civilization or similar courses.
Social Sciences: at least six semester credits earned in anthropology, economics, government and foreign affairs (except political theory), history (exclusive of western, eastern, or other civilization courses, which are considered humanities courses), psychology, or sociology.
Math and/or Natural Science: at least twelve semester credits earned in math, astronomy, biology, chemistry, environmental science, or physics. Only courses comparable to those that satisfy an area requirement for the College of Arts and Sciences satisfy the Core; for example, precalculus may transfer but will not satisfy the area requirement.
Computer Competency Requirement Expectation While the B.I.S. program does not have a formal computer competency requirement, all students have the responsibility to gain the computer skills needed to perform well in any B.I.S. course. Those skills include the following: e-mail; word processing; use of the Internet, especially for academic research; and use of Excel and Powerpoint in some courses (these expectations will be noted on specific course syllabi). The B.I.S. staff can provide suggestions for course work that can help strengthen these computer skills prior to applying to the program. Access to a high-speed Internet connection is strongly recommended and will optimize access to the UVa web learning tools including electronic course materials, the U Va libraries, Blackboard, and Toolkit.
Demonstrating Success in B.I.S. To continue in the program, all B.I.S. students must maintain good financial and social standing at the University and complete the following academic requirements by the end of the fourth consecutive semester after B.I.S. matriculation:
- To be completed within two consecutive semesters of enrollment: Any missing concentration prerequisites
- Four courses (a minimum of 12 credits) each with a grade of C (2.0) or better, to include two 300-level Liberal Studies Seminars, one 400-level Liberal Studies Seminar, and one other B.I.S./B.I.S.-approved UVa course. Students are required to take a 300-level Liberal Studies Seminar in their first semester in the program and must successfully complete a 300-level seminar with a C or better before enrolling in a 400-level seminar.
- Cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 on all UVa course work (including courses completed prior to B.I.S. matriculation);
- A detailed concentration proposal if pursuing an Individualized Concentration (due by the time the student completes 12 credits in the B.I.S. program);
- A minimum of 72 total credits toward the B.I.S. degree (including transfer credits);
- Any credits or liberal studies core requirement missing upon B.I.S. admission (note: any concentration prerequisite missing at the time of admission must be satisfied by the end of the second semester after B.I.S. matriculation).
Students who are unable to satisfy these requirements by the end of the fourth consecutive semester after B.I.S. matriculation may be required to leave the program or may be placed on Academic Warning. A student who is asked to withdraw from the program may, after waiting one full year, petition to re-apply.
Academic Regulations and Options
In addition to University-wide policies and procedures, the following academic requirements and options apply to students in the B.I.S. program. Students who have questions about any such policies should contact the B.I.S. office.
Add/Drop Regulations Students may add courses until the published deadline for the semester, which is approximately two weeks from the day classes begin. The add deadline is also the last day to change the grading option for courses. Students may drop courses without penalty until the published drop deadline, which is usually two days before the add deadline. Students who withdraw from an individual course or all courses after the semester has begun will be charged tuition for the semester on a prorated scale.
To enroll in courses restricted by permission of the instructor, a student must submit to the B.I.S. office a course action form signed by the instructor. An e-mail communication directly from the instructor may substitute.
Students are expected to ensure that their course enrollment record is correct; changes to course enrollment may be made online, www.virginia.edu/registrar, before the published deadlines.
Advising Advising students about academic matters and student services is an important element of the B.I.S. degree program. During the first semester of enrollment in the B.I.S. program, a student is assigned a faculty advisor. Students are responsible for consulting with their faculty advisors each semester before enrolling in courses. It is the responsibility of the academic advisor to work closely with the student to plan the program of study, to monitor the student’s progress, and to provide advice on matters pertaining to B.I.S. academic policies and procedures. Students and advisors should use VISTAA, the University’s on-line academic advising tool, and the student’s unofficial transcript to help monitor progress toward degree requirements.
The academic advisor may also assist the student in identifying a faculty mentor to work with the student on the Capstone Project that is undertaken near the completion of the B.I.S. degree program. A student who wishes to take a non-B.I.S. UVa course for credit or who wishes to take more than nine credits in a semester, or a leave of absence from the program must secure approval from the academic advisor before notifying the B.I.S. director.
Students should consult with B.I.S. staff regarding matters pertaining to student services.
Auditing A student enrolled in the B.I.S. program may audit B.I.S. program courses with the permission of the course instructor. Courses successfully completed on an audit basis have the AU recorded as the grade on the academic record. Because audited courses earn no credits or grade points, they are not applicable to the B.I.S. degree. The course instructor is the sole determinant of whether a student can take the course on an audit basis. The approved B.I.S. tuition and fee rates apply to audited courses. Audited courses do not apply toward minimum or maximum credits when calculating course loads.
Course Load B.I.S. students must register for a minimum of three credits per semester. A B.I.S. student may not enroll in more than nine credits in the first semester of enrollment, or in the semester in which the student is enrolled in the Capstone Project. In other semesters, students may not exceed the nine-credit limit without permission of his or her advisor. Students who fail to earn a semester GPA of at least 2.0 a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0, or who are on academic warning will not be allowed to enroll in more than nine credits the following semester.
Students who plan to apply for financial aid through the University need to carry a minimum of six credits per semester in order to be eligible for financial aid through the University. These students should contact the Office of Financial Aid to determine what the specific requirements are for the various types of aid they wish to receive.
Credit/No Credit Option Students may choose a credit/no credit (CR/NC) grading option up until the add deadline for courses. Instructors have the right to prohibit students from taking courses on a CR/NC basis. The three required Liberal Studies Seminars, concentration courses, the Proseminar, and the Capstone Project must be graded and may not be taken CR/NC. B.I.S. students may take no more than one course per semester on a CR/NC basis, and a maximum of nine credits may be taken on a CR/NC basis during a student’s tenure in the B.I.S. program.
Grade Changes No grade may be changed after it has been submitted to the university registrar without the approval of the dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. The dean is not authorized by the faculty to change a grade submitted to the university registrar except when an instructor certifies that, because of an error in calculation or transcription, an incorrect grade has been submitted.
Incompletes Circumstances beyond a student’s control may arise that necessitate his or her requesting an incomplete (IN). An incomplete should be a rare occurrence. It is intended to provide a modest extension for a student who, late in the term, encounters some extraordinary circumstance making it impossible to complete the course work. In these cases, the transcript records “IN” to indicate that the course grade is being withheld until the student completes all course requirements. The student must initiate the request for an IN, and the instructor must agree. The request must be made in a timely manner such that the professor has time to inform the student of the decision prior to the final exam for the course. The Request for an Incomplete Grade Form (available on-line) must be completed and signed by both the student and instructor prior to the last class meeting and will be kept on file in the B.I.S. office. The student must complete all course requirements and deliver the completed work to the instructor before the instructor’s imposed deadline (to be no later than the end of the next semester), at which time the instructor replaces the IN with a letter grade. If the work is not completed by the designated agreed upon deadline, the IN becomes an F. A degree will not be awarded while an incomplete remains on the transcript.
A student may not request an incomplete in an attempt to raise his or her grade.
Independent Study A B.I.S. student who wishes to receive degree credit for an independent study must submit, with a faculty member’s endorsement, a proposed plan of study to include a course syllabus. The student should have taken at least one course with that professor prior to submitting a proposal. In most circumstances, a maximum of three credits of independent study after matriculation to the program may be counted toward the B.I.S. degree.
Intra-University Transfer B.I.S. students, as degree candidates at the University of Virginia, have the opportunity to apply for transfer to other schools of the University through the Intra-University Transfer process. Each school establishes its own criteria and procedures, and students in all schools are subject to them.
Students interested in Intra-University Transfer are to discuss their intentions and reasons with their academic advisor and with the B.I.S. director; contact the appropriate committee of the school to which the student seeks transfer in order to learn what is required; if the student is prepared to apply for transfer, write to the B.I.S. director to state those intentions; follow that particular school’s steps to apply for transfer; and continue to function as a B.I.S. student until such time as a transfer application may be accepted and matriculation in a new degree program commences.
Leaves of Absence A student who wishes to take a one-semester leave of absence must complete and submit a Leave of Absence request form (available on-line) and receive approval from the academic advisor and the B.I.S. director. A fee is charged and the student is billed by the registrar’s office. Payment must be made prior to the next semester registration. This fee serves as a place holder for the student in the program and keeps the student active in the University system. The student’s UVa e-mail accounts and I.D. card remain active.
B.I.S. candidates who wish to take a leave of absence for a second consecutive semester should follow the process outlined above; the request must be approved by the academic advisor and B.I.S. director. Students on approved leaves of absence are not required to apply for readmission to the B.I.S. program prior to their return but should notify the B.I.S. director of their intended return at least 30 days before the published date of final registration for that semester.
Minimum Grades The following courses must be completed with a grade of C or better: two 300-level Liberal Studies Seminars; one 400-level Liberal Studies Seminar, and any one other B.I.S. or B.I.S.-approved UVa course by the end of the fourth semester after B.I.S. matriculation; the Proseminar; and the Capstone Project. Courses taken to meet the concentration requirements must be completed with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0.
Non-B.I.S. Courses Students enrolled in the B.I.S. program normally will complete their degree requirements by taking B.I.S. courses. Beginning with the second semester of B.I.S. enrollment, a student may be granted permission to take a course in another school or college of the University and to have that course count toward B.I.S. degree requirements. Before registering for non-B.I.S. courses, however, B.I.S. students must obtain approval from their academic advisor and inform the B.I.S. director of their intentions. Students seeking to enroll in courses offered by the Curry School of Education also must secure permission of the instructor. If advance approval is not obtained, non-B.I.S. courses may not be applied toward degree requirements. Students pursuing the Individualized Concentration in Education may take up to twenty-four credits of non-B.I.S. UVa courses for the concentration (300 level and above) and up to nine credits of non-B.I.S. UVa courses for degree electives after enrolling in the B.I.S. program. All other B.I.S. students may apply a maximum of 18 credits of non-B.I.S. UVa courses to the B.I.S. degree after enrolling in the program.
Readmission Students who do not enroll at the University for more than two semesters, and who are not on an approved leave of absence, may be required to apply for readmission. Application for readmission must be made to the B.I.S. director at least 30 days in advance of the next University registration period. Students should include with their applications a statement that (1) addresses their readiness to return to the program in light of any serious difficulties during their most recent enrollment (e.g., financial, medical, or personal hardship) and (2) outlines those courses that the students will take over the remaining semesters to qualify for a degree.
Students who have been placed on suspension by the B.I.S. program, or who have been asked to withdraw, may petition the B.I.S. director and the dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies for readmission to the B.I.S. program after one calendar year. These students should follow steps 1 and 2 outlined above.
Repeated Courses Two essentially identical courses, whether under the same course number or not, may not both be counted for degree credit. If a course is passed and repeated, only the first grade received is entered in the computation of the grade point average and counts toward the 120 credits required for graduation, although the repeated course and its grade do appear on the student’s transcript. If a course is failed and then repeated, both courses and grades appear on the transcript and are computed in the grade point average.
Requests for Exceptions and Appeals Students who believe they should be exempted from prerequisite courses or other B.I.S. requirements or regulations may petition for an exception to the B.I.S. director and to the B.I.S. Faculty Advisory Committee after they have consulted with their academic advisor.
Academic Grievance Procedure A student enrolled in the B.I.S. program who has a grievance with a faculty member, the B.I.S. director, the Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, or the Vice President and Provost of the University is invited to discuss the grievance in the following manner:
- Concerns related to a faculty member that cannot be resolved by the two parties should be discussed with the B.I.S. director.
- If the concern relates to the director, the student should file a grievance with the Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
- If the concern relates to the Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, the student should file a grievance with the Vice President and Provost.
- If the concern relates to the Vice President and Provost, the student should present appropriate documentation in writing to the President of the University.
Satisfactory Academic Performance Students admitted to the B.I.S. program are expected to complete all degree requirements within seven years (i.e., twenty-two consecutive semesters including fall, spring, and summer) of matriculation into the program. Leaves of absence and suspensions do not change the requirement to complete all degree requirements within these parameters. All B.I.S. students are expected to maintain satisfactory academic progress toward the degree. To that end, each student’s academic standing is reviewed at the conclusion of each semester.
Academic Warning Students may be placed on academic warning, with a notation appearing on their transcripts, if they:
- Fail to earn a 1.800 for the semester;
- Fail to maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000;
- Earn more than one grade below C- in any given semester;
- Earn a grade below D in any course during two consecutive semesters;
- Fail to complete the requirements of the first two or first four semesters on time.
Students on academic warning are expected to meet with their academic advisors no later than the third week of the next semester to discuss their plans to remedy their academic shortcoming(s). Students on academic warning who withdraw or take leaves of absence are eligible to return but do so on academic warning and are subject to suspension if they do not attain good standing within the first semester of their return.
Suspension Students are subject to suspension after two consecutive semesters on academic warning. Students who have been suspended from the B.I.S. program may apply for readmission after one calendar year. While on suspension, students may not earn credits to advance their progress toward the B.I.S. degree. Readmission must be approved by the Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. Application for readmission is made to the Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at least 30 days before the next University registration period in which the student is eligible to reapply. Students should include with their applications a statement that (1) addresses their readiness to return to regular study (i.e., 3-9 credits per semester) in light of any serious difficulties during their most recent enrollment (e.g., financial, medical, or personal hardship) and (2) outlines those courses that the students will take over the remaining semesters to qualify for a degree. B.I.S. candidates may petition the Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies for a waiver of the suspension, citing extenuating circumstances. Such appeals should be addressed to the Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, P.O. Box 400764, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4764. Students who are readmitted after being on suspension must meet specified academic objectives.
Withdrawal The following policies govern withdrawal from the B.I.S. Program as well as from individual courses:
Course Withdrawal With the instructor’s permission, B.I.S. students may withdraw from a course with a grade of W, up to the midpoint of the course. After this cutoff, students must complete the course. With an endorsement from the professor, the B.I.S. director will consider a student’s petition to withdraw from a course after the deadline because of compelling and highly unusual circumstances. Students who discontinue a course at any point without complying with the proper procedure are subject to a failing grade.
Enforced Withdrawal The Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies may compel a student to withdraw from the B.I.S. program for good cause. A student who is asked to withdraw from the program may petition the dean for readmission after one calendar year.
Medical Withdrawal A student may withdraw from the B.I.S. program for reasons of health with the approval of the Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies and B.I.S. director. A notation of Medical Withdrawal will appear on the student’s transcript.
Voluntary Withdrawal A B.I.S. student who wishes to withdraw from the program must formally withdraw from the University. The student is encouraged to meet first with the academic advisor of record; the student must meet with the B.I.S. director for an exit interview, fill out the appropriate paperwork, and turn in the University identification card. Leaving the program without following the requisite process results in the student’s receiving a grade of F in all courses that he or she fails to complete. A student who withdraws from the University voluntarily has the notation “Withdrew [date]” recorded on his or her permanent academic record.
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
A student enrolled in the B.I.S. program, or a person applying to enter the B.I.S. program, must inform the University of the need for academic accommodation due to a qualifying disability. Requests for accommodation should be supported by appropriate documentation of the relevant disability filed with the University Learning Needs and Evaluation Center. Requests for reasonable variation in degree requirements to accommodate a student’s disability should be submitted in writing to the LNEC and will be subject to review by the Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
Personnel at the LNEC are available to counsel the student or applicant in preparing his or her request for academic accommodations and to help him or her secure other necessary support services. A deaf or hearing-impaired student or applicant may dial (434) 243-5189 to receive telecommunications accessibility.
A student who has disabilities that may interfere with his or her performance in a course, or who requires special and reasonable accommodation in the conduct of the course, must inform the instructor of that fact at the beginning of the course in order to be assured of any special accommodation. Any questions concerning the propriety of particular accommodations should be referred to the Dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies or to the assistant director of the Learning Needs and Evaluation Center (434) 243-5181 or (434) 243-5189.
Accuracy of Student Records
Students are responsible for the accuracy of their academic records. The Office of the University Registrar provides access to ISIS, the student information system, via the Internet (www.virginia.edu/registrar). Students may access their grades and their unofficial transcripts by connecting to ISIS. While not an official record, VISTAA serves as an advising tool for both student and academic advisor. It is the student’s responsibility to point out errors in the record to the B.I.S. office and to do so in a timely manner.
B.I.S. students interested in applying for financial aid should file the federal Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the UVa Undergraduate Financial Aid Application. Minimum semester credit requirements for federal financial aid may be greater than those required by the degree program. Information about the FAFSA can be found at www.fafsa.ed.gov; information about the Office of Financial Aid is available at www.virginia.edu/financialaid or by calling (434) 982-6000.
New students entering the program must participate in all scheduled B.I.S. orientation activities, generally involving individual meetings with B.I.S. staff as well as Saturday group sessions prior to the beginning of the semester and occasionally during the first semester. Prior to the beginning of classes, students are provided with information about registration, University e-mail accounts, student services, as well a academic advising.
Student Activities and Services
B.I.S. students have full access to intramural and recreation activities and facilities, University Career Services, electronic mail, the Information Technology Center and its services, and other non-curricular activities.
Peer Mentor Program
The Peer Mentor Program is a student-run program that helps introduce and integrate new students into B.I.S. and the wider UVa community by providing support and information from a student perspective. The program is structured to ensure that each new student has at least one experienced B.I.S. person to whom he or she can turn for appropriate advice. Peer Mentors complement the Faculty Advisor and the B.I.S. staff in the advising process by offering a type of support for students that can be most effectively provided by peers.
To be awarded the B.I.S. degree, students must present 120 semester credits, including 60 credits earned at the University of Virginia, and successfully complete the B.I.S. curriculum, as outlined below in “Curriculum.” At least 51 credits taken at the University must have been completed on a graded (A+ to D-) basis. Students must have earned a 2.000 cumulative grade point average on all work taken at the University. Students are subject to the degree and curricular requirements in effect for the semester in which they were admitted to the B.I.S. program.
Awards and Honors
Alpha Sigma Lambda The University of Virginia hosts the Beta Iota Sigma chapter of Alpha Sigma Lambda, a national academic honor society for adult students in baccalaureate degree programs. B.I.S. students who have completed at least twenty-four credits at UVa since B.I.S. matriculation with a cumulative grade point average of 3.400 or higher are eligible to be considered for membership in the society. The cumulative grade point average will be calculated at the conclusion of the fall semester, with induction occurring in the spring.
Final Honors Degrees with distinction, with high distinction, and with highest distinction are awarded to B.I.S. students who have earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.400, 3.600, and 3.800, respectively, on all UVa course work.