The overarching goal of VCU Major Maps is to connect current and prospective students to the people, resources, and activities that maximize their VCU experience and improve career readiness. Major Maps are essentially a visual representation of a degree program listing important course sequences, highlighting key career opportunities along the pathway, and recommending co-curricular experiences that assist with the college-to-career pipeline.
Recruitment Tool for Your Major
Major Maps are a powerful recruitment tool for you and your fellow faculty. Academic, career, and admissions advisors at VCU use Major Maps extensively with prospective students at recruitment events. By reviewing a specific Major Map, prospective students and their families can get a better understanding of the required coursework and the time it will take to complete the degree. This information helps prospective students and their families make more informed college-going decisions not only about academic coursework, but also about recommended co-curricular activities and future career options.
For example, a student interested in pursuing a career in marketing will use our Major Map to identify the courses that are required for that major as well as any co-curricular activities that may be relevant such as internships or marketing clubs. By participating in these activities, the student gains valuable experience and begins building their professional network to best position themselves for life after graduation.
Success Tool for Your Continuing Majors
As a faculty member, you can use major maps to guide and mentor students already enrolled in your program. By working closely with students to understand their interests and aspirations, you can help them identify the courses and activities on the Major Map that are most relevant to their goals. Major Maps can help students stay on track to graduate in a timely manner and provide a framework for students to develop a strong portfolio of academic and extracurricular experiences that will set them apart in the job market.
For example, computer science faculty may use our computer science Major Map to highlight the various courses and projects students will complete during their degree program and the co-curricular activities and internships available to them. The Map shows that students will take courses in programming, database theory, and data structures. Additionally, the Map highlights opportunities at VCU and in the community related to hackathons and coding competitions. You might also want to highlight the internship and career opportunities on the Major Map such as working for an established tech company or a startup.
How to Use Major Maps In Your Student Conversations
Here are some tips for using Major Maps in your student conversations:
- Show a specific Major Map to the student and explain how it works. Each row of the map represents one academic year, and each column represents a grouping of related skills and experiences. Make sure the student understands any nuanced vocabulary or industry jargon (e.g., prerequisite, eServices, or credit hours) that is used throughout the academic pathway.
- Ask the student open-ended questions about their interests and career aspirations, then highlight activities on the map that may interest them. Use the search feature on the Major Map website to explore different majors with the student.
- Help the student plan for challenging upper-level classes and show them where this sequence falls along the Major Map. Recommend how to balance those classes with the other co-curricular opportunities in your department like participating in internships, serving as a teaching assistant, or producing a portfolio.
- Encourage the student to continue to use the Major Map as a tool for making informed decisions about their academic path and career goals. They should not feel as if they need to complete every activity on the map like a checklist - it is simply a guide to a wide variety of opportunities available to them.
- Refer the student to Navigate to schedule an appointment with their academic advisor to review any changes to their degree plan.
Major Maps are a valuable tool for students as they navigate through their undergraduate studies. By using Major Maps, students can make informed decisions about their course schedule, major and minor choices, and career goals. Similarly, we encourage you, as faculty members, to use Major Maps as a mentorship tool to guide conversations with your undergraduate students and help them plan out their post-VCU future.
Transfer Maps are Major Maps for prospective VCU students who are currently enrolled at community colleges. These Maps help community college students navigate the transfer application process, learn more information about their prospective VCU major, and develop a course plan of study. The academic and career planning recommendations are slightly different from those found in the VCU Major Maps. These recommendations only focus on the first two years and connect students with key community college and VCU resources available to all students (not just admitted VCU students).
Transfer Maps are the student-facing advising guides for VCU’s guaranteed admission agreements. In accordance with state policy, VCU established guaranteed admission agreements with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) and Richard Bland College. These agreements describe how community college students are guaranteed general admission to the university. Unless stated otherwise, the guaranteed admission agreements do not guarantee admission to specific degree programs. The eligibility requirements include a minimum cumulative GPA earned at community college and completion of an associate degree.The agreements also explain VCU’s general education waiver policy: students who earn an associate degree are guaranteed a waiver of VCU’s general education requirements. The Transfer Maps not only translate the terms and conditions of the guaranteed admission agreements into student-friendly language but also specify associate degrees and course recommendations for individual VCU degree programs.
A key component of the Transfer Maps is the course equivalent section. This section recommends a plan of study that identifies major-specific, lower-level courses to be taken at community college as part of the associate degree. This ensures that students who transfer after completing the associate degree fulfill the equivalents of major-specific prerequisites taken by first- and second-year students at VCU. Each Transfer Map also includes a list of degree requirements remaining for students to complete at VCU after transfer. In most cases, this section recommends a 60+60 credit pathway (or 2+2 years), with 60 credits earned at community college for the associate degree and 60 credits to be taken at VCU. However, for some majors, the maps recommend a 30+90 credit pathway (or 1+3 years), because of the lack of equivalents at community college.
The annual update cycle occurs generally between the months of April and July to coincide with the publication of the annual Bulletin and changes to community college websites. Off-cycle updates to the Transfer Maps are welcome at any time and can be requested to Seth Sykes, Associate Vice President for Transfer Initiatives, at firstname.lastname@example.org.