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Commonwealth Campus offers new grad option

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 11 - November 2, 1995

In keeping with its historical land-grant mission of providing teaching, research, and service to citizens of the commonwealth, the Graduate School is establishing the Commonwealth Campus.

Bruce Chaloux, associate dean of the Graduate School with responsibility for extended campus programs, explains that the Commonwealth Campus program is designed to respond to the increasing demand by prospective students, many of whom are experienced working professionals, who wish to take courses at Virginia Tech without pursuing graduate degrees.

These individuals, many of whom hold graduate degrees, seek to take a limited number of courses to expand their knowledge and understanding in specific content areas. Most seek opportunities to study with Virginia Tech faculty members to enhance their professional development, to sharpen their workplace skills, and to learn about the latest issues, trends, and concepts in a chosen discipline or area of study. Others may wish to broaden their understanding or competence in fields outside their respective disciplines.

"Whatever their impetus might be, Commonwealth Campus provides an opportunity for study at Virginia Tech," Chaloux said.

Enrollment in graduate courses as a Commonwealth Campus student carries with it the responsibility of any student enrolled in a graduate course. Commonwealth Campus students are expected to meet all course requirements, to participate fully in all course activities, and to complete all assignments, exams, projects, and other requirements to earn credit and a grade.

To qualify, prospective students must:

* have a bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited post-secondary institution,

* meet all prerequisite course requirements or be able to demonstrate equivalent knowledge and understanding for courses prior to enrollment,

* be part-time students,

* remain in good academic standing while enrolled in graduate courses at Virginia Tech,

* enroll in eligible courses on a space-available basis during an open-enrollment period following the registration period for ongoing and newly admitted degree-seeking students,

* complete the Graduate School application form at or prior to enrollment in their first course, indicating their intention to be classified as a Commonwealth Campus student and their area of study, and

* pay existing graduate tuition and fees with the exception of the comprehensive fee.

Each academic college and department/program is responsible for deciding whether they wish to participate in the Commonwealth Campus program and for designating the courses available to Commonwealth Campus students, Chaloux said. The academic units may use whatever criteria they desire to make such determinations. A Commonwealth Campus student may enroll in contract or sponsored courses/programs when the student is approved for participation by the sponsoring agency or organization and meets university requirements for participation in the program. As with all courses, the faculty member reserves the right to exclude any student from a course when the student lacks sufficient background or preparation for the course. Course work taken by Commonwealth Campus students will be recorded and transcripted as would any courses taken by a regularly admitted graduate student.

Students on probation, students on provisional and special-admission status denied regular admission, and students suspended from the university for any reason are not eligible to enroll in courses as Commonwealth Campus students.

Because the Commonwealth Campus is designed for part-time study without formal admission to a degree program, international students in the United States on student visas are not eligible to enroll in the Commonwealth Campus.

"Students may take an unlimited number of courses while classified as a Commonwealth Campus student, but must redeclare their intent not to pursue a graduate degree at Virginia Tech after accumulating 12 hours of credit," Chaloux said. "The Graduate School will monitor student progress to ensure that students are meeting academic standards-that is, a 3.0 grade average-for course work undertaken while a Commonwealth Campus student."

The non-degree program streamlines the enrollment process and, for many individuals, broadens access to the university's faculty and resources. Although Commonwealth Campus students may use such university services as the library, computing, and the bookstore, they are not eligible for all services provided to degree students who pay comprehensive fees, including enrolling in independent study, project and report, research and thesis/dissertation, final examination or similar course work designed for degree-seeking graduate students, holding any form of graduate assistantship, or participating in any fellowship or financial-aid programs administered by the university.

The Commonwealth Campus program will allow some prospective students to "test the waters" of graduate education, Chaloux said. As a result, they may decide to become degree students.

Commonwealth Campus students who decide to pursue a graduate degree from Virginia Tech must make formal application for admission to the Graduate School. A determination of the applicability of any courses and credits earned while a Commonwealth Campus student will be made following admission at the discretion of the academic department or graduate program in which the degree is sought. Course work taken as a Commonwealth Campus student may be reviewed as part of the admission-review process, but does not afford any preferential consideration in the admission process.

The Commission on Graduate Studies and Policies has approved the

Commonwealth Campus program. If approved by University Council , the Graduate School will implement the program Spring Semester 1995.