College Science Scholars is a program designed to enhance research opportunities and training for exceptional students in the sciences and mathematics. The program is overseen by the Associate Dean for the Sciences and directed by a small group of science and mathematics faculty members. There is no application form; students are selected based on information contained in their applications for admission. Students also may be invited to the CSS program by the Program Directors at the start of their second year, after review of nominations by professors who observe outstanding performance by individuals in their science/math courses or laboratories.
Unlike the situation found at many large research universities, the program is designed to give each student individual attention and close interaction with research faculty. Scholars have a science faculty member serving as their advisor-mentor from the very beginning of their program of study. All participants have the opportunity to become a member of a research lab or group as early as the first semester so that advanced research experience can begin quickly. During the first year, all scholars enroll in the 2 credit CSS seminar (both fall and spring semesters), where they meet internationally-renowned science/math faculty from each of the participating departments, hear talks on issues in the forefront of science, visit research laboratories, and see scientific demonstrations of research concepts under study. Informal seminars and laboratory tours with faculty researchers continue in the second year of the program. Students also participate in casual receptions several times a year with CSS upperclassmen and science/math faculty to facilitate networking and peer mentoring.
College Science Scholars usually choose a traditional major or minor in a science department. However, the program also encourages multidisciplinary education. For example, students may follow interdisciplinary tracks, majoring in topics such as Biophysics, Biochemistry, Astrophysics, and Neuroscience. Scholars in good standing (i.e., GPA 3.40 or higher) within their host department are guaranteed admission into a 5th-year Master’s degree program in those disciplines where the degree is available. For more details of the program, please see sciencescholars.clas.virginia.edu.