Roanoke College students seeking to pursue in-demand technology careers have new opportunities to attend graduate school, thanks to a new partnership with Virginia Tech announced today.
The schools unveiled two programs that allow Roanoke College students to earn a master’s degree in engineering from Virginia Tech. Students in the programs can study computer science and applications or computer engineering.
The Direct to Tech program is new and Roanoke College is the first partner school to be announced. It offers early access to the admissions process for Roanoke College seniors who have at least a 3.0 GPA, regardless of their undergraduate degree.
In addition, the accelerated 4+1 program allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Roanoke College and then complete an additional year at Virginia Tech for a master’s degree. Roanoke College is the eighth partner school to offer this program, which allows students to be admitted during their junior year of college and make their senior year count double for both degrees, explained Dannette Gomez Beane, assistant vice provost of enrollment management at Virginia Tech . The accelerated 4+1 program is reserved for students with a minimum of a 3.3 GPA.
Roanoke College applicants are not required to submit test scores or pay an application fee. Some prerequisite courses are required to qualify for the degrees offered by both initiatives, including classes on programming, calculus, and algorithms.
Roanoke College students pursuing graduate degrees through the Virginia Tech programs will not study in Blacksburg – they will attend classes in Northern Virginia. Virginia Tech has facilities in Falls Church, but plans to move its graduate classes in computer science and computer engineering to its Innovation Campus in Alexandria in the fall of 2024.
The creation of the Innovation Campus is part of a state investment to fill technology jobs in Virginia over a 20-year period. In the initial phase of the program, which was launched in 2019 by former Governor Ralph Northam, 11 colleges and universities received funding to expand their computer science programs. The Innovation Campus promise is said to be one of the main reasons Amazon chose to base itself in Northern Virginia over one of the many other cities across the country that attempted to court the e-commerce and technology giant. to make.
While Amazon recently announced it will pause construction of its HQ2 facilities in Northern Virginia, Virginia Tech President Tim Sands told the school’s visitors’ board this week that Amazon’s changed plans and a wave of layoffs in the technology industry should not influence the progress of innovation. campus.
Frank Shushok, president of Roanoke College, reiterated that confidence on Thursday, speaking about the graduate partnership ahead of the announcement. “There’s such a high demand for more engineers and more computer scientists,” he said. “And there is every indication that demand will continue for the foreseeable future. We can’t go wrong in seizing opportunities to provide a pipeline of talented students to fill these needed jobs.”
The two schools began discussing options for a graduate partnership in August. Shushok, who joined Roanoke College in July after 13 years in student affairs at Virginia Tech, said it was “easy to talk about options and merge aspirations” between the schools: He cited strong computer science and computer technology programs at Roanoke College, plus the fact that the school was already sending many of those students to Tech for graduate school.
Shushok said a big priority for Roanoke College is supporting the workforce in the Roanoke Valley, and he’s optimistic about the opportunities for students in high-demand engineering fields to stay in the region after college.
He said some students at the private liberal arts college may not have considered studying engineering or computer science before enrolling; he is pleased that those students, including the 25% of Roanoke College students who qualify for Pell scholarships, will have the opportunity to explore those areas.
Roanoke College offers one graduate degree on its Salem campus, an MBA 4+1 program that will see its first group of students in May.