University Core Curriculum
Policy Memorandum No. 44
Recommended by the Commission on Undergraduate Studies
Approved by University Council: January 17, 1983
Approved by the President: January 17, 1983
Completing more than three years of studies at several levels within
the University, the University Council on January 17 approved a
recommendation of the Commission on Undergraduate Studies to establish a
University Core Curriculum. Recommendations for the core curriculum were
first developed by the "Collins Committee," which placed its
recommendations before the University community in both an interim form
and a final report, which was published in the spring of 1982.
Subsequently, a subcommittee of the Commission on Undergraduate Studies
made recommendations to the full commission. The University Council,
working with the Commission, made further refinements to the Resolution.
The Resolution adopted by Council follows:
WHEREAS, the report to the Faculty of the University
Committee on Liberal Education and the Professions makes a compelling
case for rational design and coherence in the liberal education
component of every undergraduate's program of study; and
WHEREAS, the Committee has made certain
recommendations for accomplishing that design and coherence, the central
feature of which is a Universitywide required core curriculum of courses
in basic subjects; and
WHEREAS, current financial and other constraints
upon the University make it impossible to implement, at the outset, much
in the way of the new courses, new staffing, or new administrative
structures called for or implied in the Report.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the University move
forward as promptly as possible with the implementation of a core
curriculum for all undergraduates, but one that requires at the outset
only the courses, resources, and structures now in hand, and that
- The University establish a core curriculum requirement of 48
credit hours to be completed by all students receiving any bachelor's
degree from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
- The 48 credit hours of the University core curriculum will be
distributed as: (1, 2)
- 9 hours of Freshman English (English 1121, 1122, 1123 or equivalent)
- 9 hours of mathematics
- 9 hours of humanities and/or fine arts
- 9 hours of social and/or behavioral science
- 12 hours of natural science (including laboratory experience).
- In order to provide a continuous experience in intellectual
development for the student, courses fulfilling core requirements in
each distribution area should be either a full year (3 quarter) sequence
or be part of a 3-course series in which all students share the same
developing sense of depth and sophistication. These series need not be
straightforward academic year sequences. They may be clusters of three
courses connected by design. However, unconnected groupings of the
independent courses that can be taken in any order or single quarter
courses not designed to connect to any other supporting or extending
courses may not be used to fulfill core requirements.
- Initially, course sequences or clusters in the core curriculum
will be drawn from existing course offerings (or modified from current
offerings where modification in necessary to fulfill requirements in
recommendation number 3). Subsequently, as they are approved by the
normal processes, other course sequences or clusters will be considered
for inclusion in the core curriculum.
- With the exception of Freshman English (English 1121, 1122, 1123
or equivalent), which specifically is part of the core curriculum from
the outset, course sequences or clusters will be designated as part of
the core curriculum using the following procedure:
- Department will nominate course sequences or clusters from among
their offering that they desire to be included in the core curriculum
through their College Curriculum Committee.
- Nominations will be compiled for each of the four subject areas
by standing subject area committees of 5 appropriate, responsible
faculty members appointed by the Provost. At least three colleges shall
be represented on each of these committees. Committee members will serve
three-year terms, staggered to assure continuity.
- Each subject area committee will review all course sequence and
cluster nominations submitted to it for consideration. Subsequently, all
nominations shall be transmitted, with the committee's recommendations,
to the Commission on Undergraduate Studies. The Commission will then, by
vote, determine whether or not each nominated course sequence or cluster
is to be included in the Core Curriculum.
- The subject area committee will also serve as advisory bodies to
both the departments offering (and proposing to offer) course sequences
or clusters in the core curriculum and to the Commission on
Undergraduate Studies concerning various aspects of the development and
operation of the core curriculum.
- Only course sequences and clusters designated as part of the core
curriculum by the Commission on Undergraduate Studies can be used to
satisfy the requirements of recommendations 1, 2 and 3. The Registrar
will maintain a list of core curriculum courses. Course sequences and
clusters approved for the core curriculum will carry an appropriate
designation in the catalog of courses. Individual student variances
(course substitutions) with respect to the University core curriculum
requirements will be considered by the Academic Appeals Committee (See
also footnote 2).
- All courses taken at Virginia Tech to fulfill the University core
curriculum must be taken on an A-F basis (not Pass/Fail).
- The University core curriculum requirement will be placed in
effect for entering classes beginning with the first academic year
following compilation and approval by the Commission on Undergraduate
Studies of the initial list of course sequences and clusters comprising
the core curriculum.
- Clearly, students transferring to the University from other
places will have on their transcripts courses which may not literally
(or perfectly) satisfy these exact requirements. Judgements will need to
be made and allowances given, when appropriate, for courses which seem
to the transcript evaluator to satisfy the intent of the requirements.
It is deemed not feasible to specify, at the outset and for all possible
cases, limits within which those judgements and allowances must be made.
However, when accepting courses from elsewhere in lieu of one or another
part of the core curriculum requirement, the transcript evaluator must
so specify, for the permanent academic record of the student. Evaluation
criteria must be agreed upon in common and applied with consistency by
transcript evaluators in all colleges of the University, with respect to
allowances made for transfer credit in lieu of courses taken to satisfy
University Core Curriculum requirements.
- It is anticipated that some students will satisfy one or more of
the five enumerated requirements in ways not literally prescribed here,
but deemed equivalent by the Commission on Undergraduate Studies. This
- Appropriate advanced placement credit awarded to entering
freshmen for up to three quarters (9 or 12 or 15 hours) each of work in
English, mathematics, or a subject in the humanities, social sciences or
natural sciences, will be accepted in lieu of actual VPI&SU course work
in that subject area.
- Honors sections of various courses at the introductory level
(e.g. Freshman Honor English, Freshman Honors Chemistry), which are
designed to reach in two quarters of work the same level of skills
development, depth, and mastery of basic concepts that the regular
courses reach in three quarters, will be considered the equivalent of
their three-quarter regular course counterparts for the purpose of
satisfying core curriculum requirements.
- Credit by Examination (see University Catalog) may be used to
satisfy any of the requirements of the University core curriculum.
President's Policy Memorandum