Updated: 9/25/2012
author: Rich Johnson

UVA Bachelor's Degree Program in Loudoun Starts with Success

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The first cohort of students in the UVA-BIS program at Loudoun

The University of Virginia, one of the most prestigious universities in the world, has begun offering a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Loudoun Campus this semester. The program is aimed at adult students who have been out of high school for at least four years, and allows them to complete the degree part time in the evenings, or at weekends.

The program began in Charlottesville in 1999 with the aim of helping UVA employees complete their bachelor’s degrees. It quickly expanded to Tidewater Community College, and then four years ago to NVCC Alexandria campus, before arriving here this fall.

Bernadette Black the NVCC representative for UVA said “This is a labor of love for me…I delight in seeing adult student faces light up when I explain the specifics [of the degree],” she continued, “They come to realize that this bachelor's degree is within their reach - adult-friendly admissions process, in-state tuition, accessible location at NVCC, and forgiving of past missteps.”

Dan Jenkins, BIS student, agrees on the benefits of the program, “The degree being part time has allowed so much flexibility in my life.  I can remain close to my Mom, I can visit my stepsons who live in Smith Mountain Lake, and I can still work and earn a living.”

Jenkins attended the Virginia Commonwealth University after high school, but left in 2000. “I never quite got over failing out of college,” he said but goes on to say that he “…feel[s] more ready to complete a degree at thirty-two than […] at twenty.” Dan went through some difficult times after dropping out of VCU. “I had walked through the peaks and valleys of life, up and down the work world, and experienced spiritual rebirth, marriage, family, love, divorce, and the loss of my father.”

Jenkins doubted that he would ever complete his Bachelors degree. “When I saw the signs advertising University of Virginia here at NOVA, my knee-jerk thought is, "not me. Never me. [But] I can say now with great confidence and acceptance that I am a student of the University of Virginia.” Jenkins changed his mind after talking with Bernadette Black. “[She] was charmingly convincing,” he says, “I drove home [and] completed the application that night.”

To apply, students should check the requirements through the NVCC transfer web page, and email unofficial transcripts to Charlottesville for review. Bernadette Black encourages students to meet with her and go over the options. “I can provide [students] with details not found on our website,” she says, “I provide specifics and examples that are helpful. We believe that it is important for adult students to know as much as possible up front about our program.”

UVA professors teach the classes, and the work is demanding. There are currently three focuses in Social Science, Humanities, and Business. At the end of the course, students must complete a Capstone Project, a well-researched presentation, using the skills they have learned during the program.

Bernadette Black says “There is a focus on reading original sources, engaging in critical thinking about the material and then writing, editing, and rewriting,” she continues, “Students can expect to be challenged academically, intellectually, emotionally as they collaboratively engage in learning both in the classroom and online.”

Daniel Jenkins sums up his take on the program saying, “I recommend this program to the student who doubts, and I challenge them to overcome those doubts and start running.  I've battled alcoholism and addiction all of my life.  I’m still here.  I believe this program to be superlative.”

Interested students can arrange an appointment with Bernadette Black through the NVCC website under partnerships then UVA or email her at bmc6s@cms.mail.virginia.edu

What to learn more about a day in the life of a UVA BIS student? You can also read the full interview with BIS student Dan Jenkins here.