Return to: School of Continuing and Professional Studies: Departments/Programs
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, weekend and online 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 Capstone Project I and Capstone Project II 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 the University Regulations section 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 the B.I.S. Academic Oversight 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
104 Midmont Lane
P.O. Box 400764
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4764
Admission The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree program is intended for adults who earned a high school diploma 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 are to satisfy the general education guidelines of the Liberal Studies Core. Applicants to the B.I.S. programs in partnership with Tidewater Community College or Northern Virginia Community College need to have earned at least fifteen of the sixty transferable semester credits from the respective partnership institution. Applicants must complete a formal application for admission, be in good academic and social standing, and have earned at least a 2.0 cumulative grade point average at the institution they attended most recently. Additionally, applicants must be in good financial as well as academic and social standing at the University of Virginia. Prospective students apply through the School of Continuing and Professional Studies’ Office of Admission Services rather than to the Office of Undergraduate Admission. Although applicants submit official transcripts as part of their application, prospective students should submit unofficial transcripts of all previously attended college course work for a pre-application evaluation and feedback. A personal interview with a B.I.S. representative is a required component of the application process. Students who have been denied admission to another undergraduate program at the University must wait one year before applying to the B.I.S. program.
Degree Requirements To be awarded the B.I.S. degree, students must present 120 approved 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.
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. Credit for College Level Examination Placement credits, life experience credits, correspondence credits, military education credits, Advanced Placement or 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. Occasionally, credits earned through special programs such as Prior Learning Activities for Credit Evaluation (PLACE) at Northern Virginia Community College are considered.
Courses required for a B.I.S. concentration do not typically transfer from other institutions into 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 receives permission from B.I.S. administration 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 in a liberal arts program. 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 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 UVa libraries, and UVa Collab, the University course management system.
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. In certain circumstances, extensions of the first four term requirements may be extended to students by permission of the BIS program.
- Four courses (a minimum of 12 credits). Business concentrators must take two 3000-level Liberal Studies Seminars, one 4000-level Liberal Studies Seminar or 4000-level Conduct of Inquiry class, and one other B.I.S./B.I.S.-approved UVa course. Liberal Arts concentrators must take two 3000-level Liberal Studies Seminars and one 4000 level Conduct of Inquiry: Humanities course and one Conduct of Inquiry: Social Sciences course. Students must receive a grade of C (2.0) or better in the Liberal Studies seminars to fulfill the first four term requirements. Starting in fall, 2016, students are required to take ISLS 3000: Transformations: Reading, Thinking, and Communicating in the Liberal Arts. Students must take an additional 3000-level Liberal Studies course. Students must get a C or better in the first Liberal Studies Seminar before enrolling in a 4000-level Liberal Studies Seminar or a Conduct of Inquiry course.
- 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.
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 Probation. A student who is asked to withdraw from the program may, after waiting one full year, petition to re-apply.
Academic Regulations and Options
All students are subject to the academic policies specified in the section titled “University Regulations”. The following academic requirements and options apply to students in the B.I.S. program along with regulations listed in this Record under SCPS Academic Policies, Rules, and Regulations. Students who have questions about any such policies should contact the B.I.S. office.
Add/Drop Regulations Students may add courses, with instructor and academic advisor permission, until the published deadline for the semester. 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. 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 responsible for the accuracy of their course enrollment record; changes to course enrollment may be made online, through the Student Center in SIS, before the published deadlines.
Advising Providing advice related to academic matters and student services is an important element of the B.I.S. degree program. All students receive individual academic advising prior to their first term of enrollment in B.I.S., and will receive a faculty advisor before their second term of enrollment. Students are responsible for consulting with their advisors each semester before enrolling in courses. Academic advisors work closely with the student to plan the program of study, to monitor the student’s progress, and provide advice on matters pertaining to B.I.S. academic policies and procedures. Students and advisors should use the student’s unofficial transcript to help monitor progress toward fulfilling 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 and then must contact the B.I.S. office to gain approval. Students must complete a Leave of Absence form, which is provided in SIS.
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, and students auditing courses are expected to meet all academic requirements of the course. Audited courses do not apply toward minimum or maximum credits when calculating course loads.
Course Load A B.I.S. student may not enroll in more than six credits in the first semester of enrollment, or in the semester in which the student is enrolled in Capstone Project II. In other semesters, students may not exceed the nine-credit limit without permission of his or her academic advisor. Students who are on academic probation will not be allowed to enroll in more than nine credits.
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. http://sfs.virginia.edu
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, Conduct of Inquiry courses, concentration courses, Capstone Project I, and Capstone Project II 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.
Honor System The Honor System is one of the University’s oldest and most venerated traditions. Based on the fundamental assumption that anyone who enrolls at the University subscribes to a code of ethics forbidding lying, cheating, and stealing, the Honor System allows students the kind of personal freedom possible only in an environment where respect and trust are assumed. For nearly 160 years, students have administered this system at the University.
While the Honor System applies to students enrolled on- and off-Grounds through the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, some procedures for administration of the system to continuing and professional studies students differ from those governing on-Grounds full time students. Off-Grounds students should consult the School of Continuing and Professional Studies website www.scps.virginia.edu or visit The Honor Committee website www.virginia.edu/honor for a copy of the By-laws under Governing Documents.
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. Beginning Fall 2010, this proposed plan must be approved by the B.I.S. Director no later than the mid-point of the semester prior to the semester in which the proposed independent study is to be undertaken. 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. Approval of Independent Studies is at the discretion of the B.I.S. Director. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss their independent study idea with the Director before preparing a proposal.
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 (contact B.I.S. office) and receive approval from the academic advisor and the B.I.S. Director. 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. The University policy on Leaves of Absence may be found at http://policy.itc.virginia.edu/policy/policydisplay?id-PROV-011.
Minimum Grades The following courses must be completed with a grade of C or better: two 3000-level Liberal Studies Seminars; one 4000-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; and Capstone Project I and Capstone Project II courses. 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 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. B.I.S. students pursuing an Individualized Concentration may be granted permission to take additional non-B.I.S. UVa courses for the concentration (3000 level and above) and/or for degree electives after enrolling in the B.I.S. program.
Probation and Suspension Students may be placed on academic probation, with a notation appearing on their transcripts, if they:
- Fail to earn a minimum grade point average of 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 probation are expected to meet with their academic advisors prior to the end of the add/drop period so they may remedy their academic shortcoming(s). Students on academic probation who withdraw or take leaves of absence are eligible to return but do so on academic probation and are subject to suspension if they do not attain good standing within the first semester of their return.
Suspension involves enforced withdrawal from the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. A student placed on probation in any semester may be suspended if he or she does not regain good standing at the end of the next semester. A student who has been suspended may apply for readmission after one regular semester has elapsed since the date of suspension. If readmitted, the student will remain on probation and will be suspended again if not in good standing.
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 student will take over the remaining semesters to qualify for a degree.
Refunds The refund schedule for classes offered through the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies is governed by the University’s refund schedule. For more information, please visit Student Financial Services http://sfs.virginia.edu
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 after they have consulted with their academic advisor.
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.
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 “Withdrawn [date]” recorded on his or her permanent academic record.
B.I.S. students interested in applying for financial aid should consult the information provided by the office of Student Financial Services http://sfs.virginia.edu In general, requests for consideration of aid require that the student 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 http://sfs.virginia.edu or by calling (434) 982-6000.
Orientation for new students is a key to success in the B.I.S. program. New students are required to participate in all scheduled B.I.S. orientation activities, generally involving individual meetings with B.I.S. staff as well as Saturday and evening 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 as academic advising.
Student Activities and Services
B.I.S. students have 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 offering a type of support for students that can be most effectively provided by peers, but they do not substitute as academic advisors.
Awards, Honors and Scholarships
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.
Osher Reentry Scholarship To be eligible for consideration in the Fall and Spring semesters, reentry students applying for this scholarship in B.I.S. must be pursuing their first baccalaureate degree, and must have experienced a cumulative gap of five or more years between their first pursuit of an undergraduate degree and their current enrollment in the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies program.
Raven Society B.I.S. is eligible to nominate one student in the fall and one in the spring semesters for membership to the Society, based on evidence of strong commitment to the University and academic excellence.
Stephen T. Thornton Outstanding Capstone Project Award This award is given at graduation each year to the graduating student who has produced the best capstone project in B.I.S., as elected by a committee of faculty members in the program.