New Transfer Student Guide: Building a Schedule

The guide for enrolled transfer students contains advice on requirements and deadlines which are critical to completing your degree on time.

New Transfer Student Guide


Degree Requirements

The College has a series of competency and area requirements that all students must fulfill. Refer to the degree requirements overview page for a complete summary of these requirements. You will have some or all of these requirements filled with courses from your previous institution. Check your "Academic Requirements" on your SIS "Student Center" to determine which requirements you have "satisfied" and which you still need to take. Make a list of those requirements you have not completed and keep them in mind as you browse through the Schedule of Courses on SIS to select classes. You must take an ENWR class for your First Writing Requirement (usually ENWR 1510) and a foreign language class if you have not already fulfilled those requirements.

Course Levels

The University numbers courses from 1000 through 9999. This numbering system does not always indicate course difficulty. Rather, the numbering system often reflects degrees of specialization. Courses numbered on the 1000 and 2000 levels are usually designed for students with little previous knowledge of a subject. These courses are open to upper-class as well as first and second year students. In many cases such courses must be taken before more specialized offerings in the 3000 and 4000 levels can be taken, but this is not always the case. 3000- and 4000-level courses tend to be smaller, though here, too, large classes are possible. 5000-level courses are graduate courses that are also open to upperclass undergraduates. Be sure that you have the prerequisites for any upper-level course you select. If you are in doubt, you should confer with the professor. Courses numbered beyond the 5999 level are not open to undergraduates.

Choosing Your Courses

You will be able to select your spring courses soon after your deposit has been received and posted by the Admission Office. 

To find course information for planning your schedule, study the course offerings in the Schedule of Courses in SIS. Also, be sure to study departmental web sites for program requirements and detailed course descriptions. Carefully review departmental requirements before selecting courses (see Course Levels section above).

The standard course load is 15 credits; the minimum course load is 12 credits. Select 4-5 courses depending upon the number of credits per course. As you select courses, be certain to include discussion sections and labs. Select zero-credit labs, drills, and discussions where required. You must follow the same procedure to select these as you do any other class. Choose your courses with a plan to fulfill any area requirements that you lack in a timely manner, especially the first writing requirement and the foreign language requirement.

Try to select both large lecture courses and smaller classes that require discussion and participation. You’ll enjoy your semester much more if your courses are not all of the same type. Also try to strike a balance between courses that require extensive reading (e.g., history, English, government), and those that demand regular, daily preparation (e.g., foreign languages, mathematics).

As you plan your spring courses, be sure to select several alternates because some of the classes you want may be full. Make use of the SIS wait list function for instructors who use it. Check the SOC often. Most importantly, keep in mind that you will have time to adjust your schedule during our two-week ADD period at the beginning of the semester. During orientation in January, we will discuss additional strategies for adding into classes, so be sure to attend.

Don’t try to take on too much your first semester here. Most transfer students find their first semester at U.Va. requires very signifcant adjustments in the effort and time they devote to their classes. We urge you not to spread yourself too thin by carrying too heavy a load or by working or participating in extracurricular activites for more than 10-15 hours per week.

Lay out your schedule in a weekly calendar form. Try to avoid more than three consecutive classes. Allow time to eat lunch. And keep in mind the location of your classes; you cannot walk from one side of Grounds to the other in the 10-minute break between classes. Use the U.Va. Online interactive map to help you gauge distances between classrom buildings. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from Gibson Hall to Gilmer Hall but you can easily get to and from Cabell, Rouss, Cocke, Wilson, Clark, Minor and Bryan Hall in ten minutes.

Be sure not to repeat a course for which you have already received transfer credit. Repeated courses will not count toward graduation credits and will not count toward your grade point average. If you are asked by the department to repeat a lower-level course (which often happens in the case of foreign language placement) you will not receive credit for the same course twice. If you are in doubt, please check with Dean Ozment.

If you are a second-year student and certain about the major you plan to declare, be sure you have the proper prerequisites. If you are not sure of your field of concentration, continue to explore different areas of potential interest.

If you are a third-year student, visit the departmental web site and consult the section in the Undergraduate Record that describes your major. Plan to select at least two and no more than three major courses in the upcoming semester. If an advisor in your major department suggests courses other than those you have chosen during your initial course selection, you may revise your course schedule during the drop and add period in January. Make sure you have the necessary prerequisites for your major. Prerequisites are listed on degree program web sites and in the Undergraduate Record.

If you plan to transfer into one of our professional schools (Commerce, Nursing, Architecture, Engineering, Education, or Batten), check to see what courses are recommended for the program you want. If you don’t plan correctly, you may find that you need either an extra semester, year, or summer school to complete your degree in a professional school. Extra full-time semesters, however, are not automatic and are difficult to obtain, and summer school may be inconvenient. If you have questions, contact the school directly.

Only two credit-hours of physical education credit may be applied toward your degree. If you already have earned two credit-hours of P.E. but still would like to take P.E., the additional credits will not count toward your degree. No more than 12 credit-hours of work taken in the other schools of this University (Architecture, Commerce, Education, Engineering, Nursing, and Batten), or the equivalent of such courses taken at your former school, may be applied toward the B.A. or B.S. degree. Physical education (KINE; formerly PHYE) courses and courses with the mnemonic INST, LASE, ROTC and USEM also fall under this category.

Using SIS For Course Selection

The University uses SIS (Student Information System) for registration and course enrollment.  All students, including new transfer students, must use SIS to select and make changes to courses both before and during the semester.  If you are unfamiliar with our Student Information System, you should review the excellent student help information at the following link:


Check out the College’s Academic Advising and Course Selection pages for more information.

Next: Policies and Procedures