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2011-2012 Undergraduate Course Catalog & Academic Policies

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College of Science


Dean, Lay Nam Chang
Associate Dean for Curriculum, Instruction and Advising:
Jill Sible
Associate Dean for for Strategic Initiatives: Timothy E. Long
Associate Dean for Research, Graduate Studies and Outreach: Nancy Ross
Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Studies: Jerry W. Via
Assistant Dean for Finance and Administration: Janet Sanders

Science student


    The College of Science at Virginia Tech provides students with an interdisciplinary training in analytical skills and a comprehensive foundation in the scientific method. Outstanding faculty members conduct research and teach courses in nine disciplines leading to baccalaureate and advanced degrees. Coursework from the College of Science also provides a foundation of knowledge in a number of fundamental and advanced subjects for students in all Colleges across the campus. The College of Science also offers academic advising and appropriate preparatory coursework for students interested in pre-medicine, pre-dentistry, pre-veterinary medicine, and patent or intellectual property law.

    Students may major in the following disciplines:

Biochemistry Biological Sciences Chemistry
Economics Geosciences Mathematics
Physics Psychology Statistics

    In addition to traditional majors, the college offers programs in nano-scale science, computational science, systems biology, and neuroscience as well as intellectual property law, and supports research centers--in areas such as biomedical and public health sciences, applied mathematics, macromolecular science, and many other critical technologies and applied science--that encompass other Colleges at the University. Allied disciplines emphasize the study of behavioral science as well as economic and strategic decision making. The College is committed to providing research opportunities for interested students at all levels.

Degree Programs

    Specific degree programs include:

    • Biochemistry (B.S.; option in Biotechnology)
    • Biological Sciences (B.S.; option in Microbiology/Immunology)
    • Chemistry (B.S. or B.A.)
    • Economics (B.A.; specializations in Business Economics, Macroeconomics and Finance, Economic Theory, Econometrics and Empirical Economics and Public Policy)
    • Geosciences (B.S.; options in Geology, Geochemistry, Geophysics and Earth Science Education)
    • Mathematics (B.S.; options in Traditional Mathematics; Applied and Computational Mathematics; Applied Discrete Mathematics and Mathematics Education)
    • Physics (B.S. or B.A.)
    • Psychology (B.S.)
    • Statistics (B.S.)

    The college offers minors in all of the majors listed above as well as a minor in actuariarial science. A leadership minor is available to members of the Corps of Cadets.

General Requirements for Graduation

    A student in the College of Science must complete at least 120 hours for an undergraduate degree as well as satisfying the following requirements:

    • achieve a minimum overall Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.0 for all hours attempted
    • achieve a minimum overall GPA of 2.0 for all hours attempted in all work applied to the major
    • complete all other requirements established for their degree by the major department
    • complete all college and Curriculum for Liberal Education requirements

    No course required for the major/minor may be elected to be taken on a pass/fail (P/F) basis (i.e., pass/fail may be used for free electives only). This excludes courses that are offered P/F only.

College Core Curriculum

    A description of the Curriculum for Liberal Education may be found in the Academics chapter of this catalog or on the Curriculum for Liberal Education website (http://www.cle.prov.vt.edu/). College Specific Requirements related to the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE):

    Area 6: Creativity and Aesthetic Experience

    • Satisfactorily complete a three credit hour course approved for the university Curriculum for Liberal Education. (The one-credit courses for the CLE will not fulfill this requirement.)
    Foreign Language· Must complete the third year (level III) of a single foreign language [including Sign Language (ESL)] in a secondary school. This requirement may also be fulfilled by successful completion of one of the following:
    • Satisfactorily complete 1106 for any foreign language offered including any prerequisites
    • Satisfactorily complete an accelerated course which combines 1105 and 1106 of a foreign language
    • Students who have not completed two (2) units of a single foreign language in high school must satisfactorily complete 1106 or an accelerated course which combines 1105 and 1106 of a foreign language. These hours are in addition to the 120 hours required for graduation, so these hours will not count towards graduation.
    • Credit by examination for a foreign or classical language. The credit by examination 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. This option is restricted and does not carry credit towards graduation. Requests must be made through the Foreign Language office. See http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/clep/about.html for available tests and procedures.
    • 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. This option does not carry credit towards graduation.

Satisfactory Progress

    In addition to the university and to the departmental criteria (see specific departments in this chapter), all students in the College of Science are evaluated for continued enrollment at Virginia Tech. The two College of Science criteria for satisfying progress toward degree state that:

      1) Students who have attempted 72 semester hours must have completed their foreign language requirement by the close of the academic year (Spring Semester), and

      2) Students must have completed all credits for the Curriculum of Liberal Education by the time 96 semester hours have been attempted.

The Honors Program

    The University Honors Program is available to students in the College of Science. These programs provide an enriched environment for qualified students who are highly motivated and possess outstanding scholastic ability. Specific requirements for the three possible honors degrees are available from the honors program and participating departments.

Dean's List

    An undergraduate student who attempts at least 12 credit hours graded on the A-F option and who earns a 3.4 GPA for either spring or fall semester will be included on the online Dean’s List for that term. Please note: Student will not appear on the online Dean’s List if they are listed in the system as confidential or if they do not have an active permanent address. Questions about omissions from the online list should be directed to the Office of the University Registrar.

Pre-Professional Advising in the College of Science

    Pre-health advising (e.g. pre-dentistry, pre-medicine, and pre-veterinary) is coordinated through the Office of Health Professions located in Career Services. Advising for students interested in patent or intellectual property law careers is available in the college advising center.

Phi Beta Kappa

    Phi Beta Kappa is the oldest and most prestigious honor society dedicated to recognizing excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Students in the College of Science who have exhibited outstanding academic ability in eligible coursework may be eligible for selection to Phi Beta Kappa.


    A number of scholarships are available for outstanding students enrolled in the College of Science. Descriptions and deadlines are available on the Scholarships and Financial Aid website.

Undergraduate Research

    Research opportunities and experiencing the excitement of discovery can play an important part in undergraduate training in science. College of Science departments offer diverse research opportunities in which students may choose to participate. Individuals interested in undergraduate research should contact faculty member in the department where they wish to conduct research.

Internships, Co-op Opportunities and Enrichment Programs

    Students are encouraged to participate in internship and co-op opportunities to gain relevant work experience prior to graduation. Career advisors in the college advising center as well as departmental career advisors can help students identify opportunities. In some cases, students can receive credit for qualifying work experience. Enrichment studies include field station opportunities, study abroad and summer laboratory experiences outside of the university.

Career Advising

    Career advising is available from a number of sources. The university offers centralized career services and on-campus interviewing. The College of Science works with employers interested in hiring students with degrees from the college and organizes employer panels and information sessions. The college also co-hosts two career fairs each year, one in the fall semester and one in the spring semester. Every major has a departmental career advisor who specializes in guiding students from their field towards career success. Information about upcoming events is available at www.science.vt.edu/career/.

    Career Services offers each student a FREE Hokies4Hire account. Undergraduate students who are seeking any type of career-related employment, including internships, co-ops, career-related summer employment, and permanent positions are eligible to use Hokies4Hire. You may upload your resume and apply for jobs listed in Hokies4Hire. These include jobs with on-campus interviews as well as job postings. Additional information may be found at http://www.career.vt.edu/H4H-OCI/H4HIndex.html.

Graduate Programs in Science

    All College of Science departments offer graduate degrees at both the Master's and Ph.D. levels. Complete information on these programs including descriptions of graduate courses can be found in the Graduate Catalog.

Undergraduate Course Description (COS)

Study of process of civil litigation from commencement of lawsuit through final judgment under modern statutes and rules of court, special emphasis on intellectual property lawsuits; Introduction to US intellectual property law including copyrights, patents, trademarks & unfair competition and trade secrets; Commonalities and differences among different intellectual property rights and related state and federal doctrines; Introduction to legal research and writing. Pre: (ENGL 1105, ENGL 1106) or ENGL 1204. (3H,3C)

Pass/Fail only. Variable credit course.

Variable credit course.

Variable credit course.

The protection and enforcement of patent law, U.S. case law that interpret Sections 35 of the US Statutory code; Analysis of the goals and costs of the patent law system; patentability requirements, infringement, remedies, patent prosecution issues, and patent transactions; Patent and intellectual property strategies. Pre: 2304. (2H,2C)

Variable credit course.