Sep 23, 2023  
2019-2020 Academic Catalogue 
2019-2020 Academic Catalogue [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

The Academic Program


Virginia Military Institute is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees.  Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of VMI.  VMI is a member of the American Council on Education, the Association of American Colleges, the College Entrance Examination Board, and the Association of Virginia Colleges. The chemistry curriculum is approved by the American Chemical Society. The Civil and Environmental, Electrical and Computer, and Mechanical Engineering programs are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, The Economics and Business curriculum is accredited by AACSB International.

Academic Program Mission and Vision


The VMI Academic Program educates cadets in a rigorous academic environment that encourages life-long learning and develops citizens of character who anticipate, respond, and lead in a complex and changing world.


The VMI Academic Program includes:

  1. Curriculum
    VMI offers cadets a challenging four-year core curriculum and fourteen nationally recognized majors in engineering, sciences, and the humanities with an array of enrichment opportunities provided through the Institute Honors Program, undergraduate research, foreign study, internships, and the Institute Writing Program.
  2. Cadets
    VMI recruits, develops, and graduates cadets of exceptional talent, intellectual curiosity, and character, who possess a commitment to service and respect for others.
  3. Faculty                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  4. Ninety-eight percent of the VMI faculty hold Ph.D.’s. Our faculty is renowned for teaching excellence, mentorship of students, scholarly engagement, commitment to service, and encouragement of undergraduate research. Small class sizes enable faculty to interact closely with cadets both inside and outside of the classroom.
  5. Environment
    The VMI environment includes state-of-the-art facilities, equipment, technologies, and instructional materials, first-class programs of academic support, and an organizational climate characterized by collegiality, cooperation, and respect.

Core Curriculum

The Core Curriculum develops foundational knowledge and skills that are essential to VMI’s academic and military missions. Designed thematically as “The Nucleus of Effective Citizenship and Leadership,” VMI’s Core requirements are organized into four components.

  1. Key Competencies
    1. Written Communication (ERH 101 - ERH 102 ) 6 hours1
    2. Oral Communication (ERH 103 ) 1 hour
    3. Scientific Analysis (approved BI, CH, or PY sequence) 8 hours
    4. Mathematical Reasoning (approved MA sequence) 6 hours
    5. Physical Education (seven semesters) 4 hours
  2. Foundations of Citizenship and Leadership
    1. Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) 12 hours
    2. PS 344 - Leadership in Organizations 3 hours
  3.  Perspectives on Civilization and Human Achievement
    1. World History (HI 103 - HI 104 ) 6 hours 
    2. Civilizations and Cultures (two courses)2 
  4. Integrative Experiences
    1. Writing-Intensive Courses (two courses)3 
    2. Capstone Experience variable

1All activity must be passed with a grade of “C” or better.
2One of these courses may be replaced by a credit-bearing, Institute-approved Study Abroad experience.
3At least one of these courses must be in the major.

For updated information on the Core Curriculum go to:

Degree Program

VMI believes that academic excellence is best maintained at a small college when the number of disciplines offering degrees is restricted. The choice between a course of study leading to a Bachelors degree is made before the cadet enters VMI. Transfer from one major field of study to another after matriculation is permitted based on the availability of the major and approval of the area department head.

A cadet may be awarded the Bachelors degree within the following areas:

Bachelor of Science Degree:      Applied Mathematics, B.S.  

                                                       Biology, B.S.  

                                                       Chemistry, B.S. - Pre-Medical Track  

                                                       Chemistry, B.S. - Research Track  

                                                       Civil Engineering, B.S.  

                                                       Computer Science, B.S.  

                                                       Electrical and Computer Engineering, B.S.  

                                                       Mechanical Engineering, B.S.  

                                                       Physics, B.S.  

                                                       Psychology, B.S.  

Bachelor of Arts Degree:             Biology, B.A.  

                                                       Chemistry, B.A.  

                                                       Economics and Business, B.A.  

                                                       English, B.A.  

                                                       History, B.A.  

                                                       International Studies, B.A.  

                                                       Modern Languages and Cultures, B.A.  

Cadets may declare a double major if they meet specified academic standards and have the approval of both department heads. Only one bachelor’s degree is awarded, but the cadet’s academic transcript notes the double major.

To be graduated from VMI, a cadet must have a conduct record that is satisfactory to the Superintendent, must be confirmed by the Academic Board, must have completed all requirements for his or her major(s), must have attained a cumulative GPA of at least 2.00 (with no rounding up), must have attained a cumulative major GPA or at least 2.00 (with no rounding up) as determined by courses identified by the major department, and must have been in residence at VMI for a minimum of six full-time semesters (see Academic Regulations to determine qualifying criteria).

Academic Minors and Concentrations

Cadets may also declare a minor and/or concentration in certain academic areas. The cadet should declare the minor or  concentration as soon as possible and no later than the beginning of the first class year. A permit must be submitted to the Registrar, bearing the approval of the cadet’s academic department head and the head of the department that offers the minor or concentration.

A 2.0 GPA must be maintained in the required course work and the cadet must meet any other criteria set by the department offering the minor or concentration. Official notice of the completed minor or concentration appears on the academic transcript and the graduation program. A cadet may drop a minor or concentration by submitting a permit with the signatures of the department heads to the Registrar.

Minors/concentrations are available in the following areas. Details are available under “The Curricula” in this catalog. 


Sponsoring Department Area
English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies Art History and Visual Culture Minor  
International Studies & Political Science Asian Studies Minor  
Physics and Astronomy Astronomy Minor  
Economics and Business Business Minor  
Chemistry Chemistry Minor  
Computer and Information Sciences   
Electrical and Computer Engineering Computer Engineering Minor  
Computer and Information Sciences Cybersecurity Minor  
Economics and Business Economics Minor  
Biology / Physical Education Exercise Science Minor  
History History Minor  
International Studies & Political Science International Studies Minor  
Psychology Leadership Studies Minor  
English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies Literary Studies Minor  
Applied Mathematics Mathematics Minor  
History Middle Eastern Studies Minor  
History Military History Minor  
Modern Languages and Cultures Modern Languages Minor - Arabic, French, German, Spanish, Etc.  
International Studies & Political Science National Security Minor  
English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies Philosophy Minor  
Physics & Astronomy Physics Minor  
Psychology Psychology Minor  
English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies Rhetoric and Writing Minor  


Sponsoring Department Area
Mechanical Engineering Aerospace Engineering Concentration  
English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies Art History and Visual Culture Concentration  
Biology & Chemistry Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) Concentration   
Biology  Ecology, Conservation, and Organismal Sciences (ECOS) Concentration  
Economics and Business  Financial Management Concentration  
Economics and Business Global Management Concentration  
International Studies & Political Science Interdisciplinary Studies in Latin America Concentration  
English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies Literary Studies Concentration  
History Military History Concentration  
Mechanical Engineering Nuclear Engineering Concentration  
English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies Philosophy Concentration  
English, Rhetoric, and Humanistic Studies Rhetoric and Writing Concentration  

Special Programs

VMI offers a number of exciting special programs that enhance the primary academic experiences provided in our majors and minors, demonstrating the Institute’s full commitment to educating the whole man and woman. For more information about these and other special programs, please visit our website:

Institute Honors Program. The Institute Honors Program was developed to enrich the academic experience of VMI’s outstanding cadets through activities that encourage an affinity for intellectual inquiry and develop the capacity for sophisticated engagement of issues and problems, whether ethical, civic, or professional. In all of its elements, the program stresses peer leadership, strong oral and written communication skills, and the highest standards of academic integrity and excellence. The Institute Honors Program recognizes a broader range of achievement than honors earned in a particular major. Attainment of Institute Honors is viewed as the highest academic achievement at VMI. The program is open by application to any cadet with a 3.5 or higher GPA. For further information about the program, see the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, 210 Smith Hall.

VMI Center for Undergraduate Research. The VMI Center for Undergraduate Research (VCUR) is both a program and a centralized office with the mission of promoting and facilitating faculty-mentored undergraduate research and fostering the development of a culture of undergraduate research at VMI. VCUR operates on the premise that some of the most enduring meaningful academic experiences of college students come through opportunities to be mentored one-on-one by faculty outside the classroom, while also believing in the merit of research and other inquiry-based experiences within a more traditional classroom setting. VCUR simultaneously nurtures existing mentoring efforts and coordinates new institutional support for joint investigative projects by faculty members and cadets. Programs include an annual Undergraduate Research Symposium held on Post; the Summer Undergraduate Research Institute; cadet travel grants to present at professional meetings or conduct research in the field; and the Wetmore Fund for supplies for cadet academic year research. For more information, contact the Director for Undergraduate Research, 300 Preston Library.

Institute Writing Program. The Institute Writing Program seeks to equip cadets for both academic success and participation in the full range of rhetorical occasions they will encounter in their lives as citizens and professionals. The program links three important components of the VMI curriculum: our rigorous core curriculum sequence in first-year composition (ERH 101 and ERH 102); a thriving Writing Across the Curriculum initiative, which requires cadets to complete two additional “writing-intensive” courses prior to graduation; and an interdisciplinary minor in writing for those who wish to pursue advanced training in rhetoric, technical, professional, or creative writing. Cadets’ study in the writing curriculum is enhanced by consultants in the VMI Writing Center, who consult individually with cadets at any stage of a writing project. The program sponsors annual writing contests for cadets, local workshops, a nationally regarded symposium for professors of rhetoric and composition, and several presentations on Post each year featuring writers in all genres. For more information, see the Institute Director of Writing, 232 Scott Shipp Hall.

International Programs. Preparing young men and women for successful service in a world of rapidly integrating cultures and interdependent economies is an inherent component of Virginia Military Institute’s mission of educating citizen-soldiers. The VMI Office of International Programs is tasked with the establishment, promotion, and administration of international programs for cadets. Programs offered to cadets fall into a number of categories: international military academy exchange programs, semester abroad programs, summer abroad programs, international internships, and cultural exchanges and study tours. For more information, please contact the Office of International Programs in Old Hospital, Room 101.

Internship Program. VMI works actively to assist cadets in any major who seek internship experiences that will allow them to apply/test career interests and demonstrate their abilities to prospective employers. Internships are available in all geographic areas of the United States. Some are eligible for academic credit, and many of them include stipends for work completed. For more information, contact the Office of Career Services, 311 Carroll Hall.

Summer Session. The VMI Summer Session facilitates cadet progression toward degree completion by offering courses for academic credit during the summer, consistent with the Academic Program Mission. The program is designed to enhance cadet retention, to optimize graduation rates, to provide opportunities for cadets to enrich their education, and to enable cadets to attend the Summer Session and also attend ROTC summer camps, engage in internships, and earn income. It provides the opportunity for cadets to meet curricular, scholarship, athletic, or readmission standards, by enabling them to earn credit for subjects in which they stand deficient or by receiving credit for courses in advance of their class. Summer study allows cadets to broaden their education by earning a double major or minor and facilitates transfer from one curriculum to another. In addition to traditional course offerings, the Summer Session also coordinates with the Summer Undergraduate Research Institute, the Summer Study Abroad Program, and the Summer Transition Program to offer a variety of academic opportunities. VMI cadets, graduates of accredited secondary schools, and students in good standing at other colleges may attend. For details about scheduling and other admission requirements, please contact the Director of the Summer Session, 301 Shell Hall.

Academic Support

VMI offers proactive and innovative programs of academic support for cadets at all levels.

Advising. According to the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, “Academic advising is an essential element of a student’s collegiate experience.”

The mission of the Institute Academic Advising Program is to guide cadets through the exploration and clarification of their academic, career and life goals to help them develop skills and strategies that will contribute to their academic success and enable them to achieve a balanced engagement in co-curricular and academic activities. Faculty advisors both support and challenge cadets in an effort to increase each cadet’s confidence and self-sufficiency until graduation.

Upon entry into VMI, each cadet is assigned a faculty advisor who, unless the cadet subsequently changes academic major, will work with the cadet until graduation. During the first year there is extensive contact between the advisor and cadet in order to facilitate the transition into VMI culture, assist in mastering the academic policies and regulations, and assist the cadet in coordinating the demands of a multi-faceted academic and co-curricular experience. Upper class cadets have one mandatory contact with advisors each semester but are strongly encouraged to meet with advisors more often in order to benefit from their field-specific expertise, life experience and curriculum knowledge. VMI also sponsors the Cadet Athlete Development Program to help scholar-athletes keep their focus on academics.

For information about the VMI Academic Advising Program, contact the Miller Academic Center at 540-464-7661, 202 Carroll Hall.

Career Services. The Office of Career Services provides a wide array of career planning, employment, internship and graduate/professional school services. Centralized career planning services include career exploration and decision making, career information, vocational interest assessment and career related programs. Employment services include job search guidance, resume assistance, interview skills training, employer information and recruitment programs. Graduate education support includes information on graduate/professional school admissions testing.

Center for Cadet Counseling.  The Center for Cadet Counseling (CCC) offers a range of services designed to develop awareness, values, knowledge and skills necessary for Cadets to make healthy choices, meet future challenges and lead meaningful lives. Services include educational programming, individual assessment and counseling, psychiatric services, crisis intervention and consultation. Counseling services are confidential and conducted by licensed mental health professionals. Health and wellness programs are provided throughout the academic year on topics such as building psychological resilience, maintaining emotional wellness, stress management, substance abuse prevention, nutrition, sleep hygiene and healthy relationships. For more information, please call 540-464-7667; 2nd Floor VMI Health Center or visit our website:

Office of Disabilities Services.  The Office of Disabilities Services (ODS) is committed to meeting the ethical and legal responsibilities to ensure equitable educational access for cadets with documented disabilities. We support cadets’ personal growth and development of academic, life and leadership skills in a manner that encourages self-awareness, self-determination, and self-advocacy. ODS also serves as a resource to the VMI community by promoting awareness and understanding regarding disability issues in higher education.

Cadets with documented disabilities are encouraged to schedule a meeting with the Director of ODS as early as possible to allow adequate time for review of documentation, to allow for a thorough assessment of academic needs, and to familiarize new cadets with administrative procedures.

For more information, please call (540-464-7667); 2nd Floor VMI Health Center or visit our website:

Information Technology. The mission of VMI Information Technology is to serve and support the technology needs of the Institute and facilitate creativity in teaching, learning, and communication for cadets, administration, faculty and staff. VMI IT provides many services for cadets, including computer labs, hardware and software recommendations and installations, and help desk support. VMI IT is responsible for the VMI network, and can provide access upon request. For more information, please contact the VMI IT Help Desk,, 315 Nichols Engineering Building.

Mathematics Education Resource Center (MERC). The primary goals of the MERC are to formulate a comprehensive picture of the mathematical lives of cadets, and then provide the support necessary to reinforce that picture. In this, MERC staff assesses what mathematical skills and experiences a VMI cadet has prior to admission. The MERC staff then strives to understand what expectations military, community, and private businesses have with regards to the mathematical skills and mathematical reasoning of a graduating cadet. Finally, in this knowledge of where a cadet starts and where they will go next, the MERC staff provides every possible means to support that cadet’s exciting journey through VMI.

The primary resource for service of the cadet corps’ mathematical needs is the Open Mathematics Lab (OML). Its design allows cadets to freely seek and find as much help as needed for any of VMI’s mathematics core curriculum courses and pre-calculus, differential equations, matrix algebra, and multivariable calculus courses. The model for the lab is one wherein tutors are prepared to help cadets in an open and shared setting, where no appointments are necessary. OML tutors are trained, knowledgeable, and current on the specific techniques and problems taught by VMI mathematics teaching faculty. The OML is meant to complement and support, but not replace, course activities within the VMI mathematics curriculum.

Miller Academic Center. The Miller Academic Center facilitates cadets’ academic success and timely progress toward a degree.  

  • Coordinates course-specific group study sessions.
  • Develops and delivers academic support programs based on faculty and cadet input.  Programs are delivered during Academic Saturdays and Dean’s Times.
  • Identifies and coordinates need-specific learning skills programs to be offered to the Corps, training times will include Dean’s Training Times and Academic Saturdays.
  • Provides advisors the information and training necessary for them to guide their advisees.
  • Serves as Dean’s representative to the S2 by meeting regularly to train and coordinate with them as they lead their peers in learning and support programs.

Miller Academic Center coordinates programs and services to facilitate cadet’s achievement of optimal academic success. The MAC collaborates with both faculty and cadets to ensure that services address the needs of the Institute. Cadets may also meet individually with staff to discuss questions or concerns about academic success at VMI.

The MAC is located at 202 Carroll Hall. For more information, please visit or contact us at 540-464-7661 or

Preston Library. The mission of Preston Library is to provide library materials and services of the highest quality; to teach skills needed for academic inquiry and lifelong learning; to support faculty and undergraduate research; to provide access to and promote the use of Institute historical materials; and to offer library services to the community at large.

Named for Colonel J. T. L. Preston, the library was dedicated in 1939, enlarged in 1972, and renovated in 1996. A second renovation will be completed in 2020. Preston Library offers a variety of individual and collaborative study areas throughout the building.There are two conference rooms with presentation capability and a library instruction room. Wireless network access and wireless printing are available throughout the building. The building is open to cadets 113 hours per week during the academic term.

Instruction in locating and evaluating research materials and in using research ethically are offered by Preston Library’s librarians, who provide support face-to-face and virtually through an online chat service and via email. Librarians also create individual web guides for individual courses or for materials in a specific discipline, which are available through the library’s website. Course-associated instruction may be requested by faculty in any discipline, or assistance may be requested individually by cadets.

Collections consist of approximately 280,000 print volumes, over 170 print journals, and approximately 58,000 government documents. The Library provides access to more than 200,000 ebooks, more than 50,000 full-text electronic journals and newspapers, and over 100 licensed electronic research databases and resources. The library’s electronic journals and books can be accessed online anywhere on Post as well as remotely off Post by current VMI cadets, faculty, and staff. The Library also holds unique historical source materials in its Archives, and cadets are encouraged to visit the Archives to use and learn more about these primary research resources. Many historical collections in the Archives have also been digitized and can be viewed online through the library’s website.

Preston Library is a member of the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA), a consortium of more than 70 academic libraries in Virginia which offers expedited interlibrary loan service among its members. Cadets can borrow materials on a walk-in basis from more than 40 VIVA member libraries, including the libraries at nearby Washington and Lee University. Preston Library also borrows materials from libraries outside of Virginia on behalf of cadets and faculty when needed; cadets, faculty, and staff of VMI are not charged for interlibrary loan service.

Writing Center. The VMI Writing Center helps cadets with a full range of activities to improve their writing, at any level and in any discipline. Professional and trained peer tutors, work with cadets in one-on-one conferences on every aspect of the writing process, from planning a paper to finishing the final draft. Tutors are available by appointment or on a walk-in basis in Carroll Hall.

Academic Policies

Academic Regulations. The VMI Academic Regulations are maintained by the Office of the Deputy Superintendent and Dean of the Faculty online at Among other information, the regulations include current VMI definitions and policies on:

Academic Delinquency
Academic Probation
Academic Recognition
Admissions Requirements
Advanced Placement Credit
Auditing of Courses
Change of Grade
Change of Major
Class Attendance
Classification (academic)
Course Load
Drop-Add Period
Final Examinations
Grade Reporting
Grading System
Graduation Requirements
Repeating Courses
Students with Disabilities
Substitution of Curricular Requirements
Transfer Credit
Work-for-Grade Policies

Please contact the Assistant Dean for Administration and Planning, 210 Smith Hall, if you have questions about the VMI Academic Regulations.

Current Academic Requirements. Annually each fall, the Registrar publishes the current academic requirements, including minimum academic standards. The standards are available online at

Work for Grade. Principles of academic integrity in all work for grade are stressed in every course taught at VMI. Cadets and faculty alike are reminded of the institutional statements and definitions regarding work for grade as expressed in the Academic Regulations. Work for grade policies are printed in the syllabus of every course taught at VMI.

Written Work. Every cadet is expected to use the English language clearly, correctly, and thoughtfully. Any cadet who through carelessness, indifference, or lack of preparation submits substandard written work in any course should expect to receive a reduced grade. Extremely poor writing may result in a failing grade. A cadet whose command of English is deemed inadequate may be required by his/her curriculum head to submit additional written work in order to earn a degree from the Virginia Military Institute.

Academic Administration

The Academic Program is directed by the Deputy Superintendent for Academics and Dean of the Faculty, whose principal subordinates are the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; the Assistant Dean for Planning and Administration; the Registrar; the Head Librarian; the Directors of Career Services, Center for Undergraduate Research, Institute Writing Program, International Programs, Math Education and Resources Center, Miller Academic Center, Sponsored Programs and Teacher Education Program, in addition to the heads of the Institute’s seventeen academic departments. The Deputy Superintendent for Academics and Dean of the Faculty’s Office is located in 210 Smith Hall. For contact information, see