Curriculum for Liberal Education

Frequently Asked Questions

On this page:

1. What is the purpose of the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE)?

2. What unifies courses in the Curriculum for Liberal
Education (CLE)?

3. Is there any way I can be exempt from meeting these
requirements?

4. How many credits are required?

5. Are the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) requirements the same in all majors and colleges at Virginia Tech?

6. How do I choose among Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) courses?

7. Where do I go to obtain more information about the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) requirements for my college or department?

8. May I use Advanced Placement credits to meet Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) requirements?

9. If I am a transfer student, must I complete the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) requirements?

10. While enrolled at Virginia Tech, may I take CLE courses at another college or university and transfer them here?

11. Should I take only CLE courses in the first year?

12. How long does it take to complete the CLE requirements?

13. I’ve heard of something called “Satisfactory Progress.” How does this relate to the CLE?

14. Do I need to plan the whole CLE program at once?

15. Who teaches the CLE courses?

16. Can I take Honors Courses to satisfy CLE requirements?

17. May I take my CLE courses pass/fail?

18. What if I don’t get a CLE course that I requested?

19. What if the second course in a sequence is not offered during the semester in which I want to take it?

20. May I take additional CLE courses, even if I have completed the requirements?

21. Does the university have a foreign language requirement?

22. Can some CLE requirements be fulfilled through study-abroad programs?

23. What are “Depth Studies”?

24. Can CLE courses count toward more than one area simultaneously?

1. What is the purpose of the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE)?

Please see our Statement of Purpose.

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2. What unifies courses in the Curriculum for Liberal
Education (CLE)?

The subjects of CLE courses vary by discipline, but they are unified by a focus on distinctive modes of inquiry and discourse, critical thinking, problem solving, and effective communication.

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3. Is there any way I can be exempt from meeting these
requirements?

No, all students must complete the requirements of the CLE.

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4. How many credits are required?

Students must take 36 to 44 credit hours of CLE courses in seven (7) areas of study. There will be some variation in the number of credit hours required in each area, depending on your college or major. Also, a course taken to satisfy another area will simultaneously satisfy the Area 7 requirement if it is listed under Area 7. Area 7 courses may also overlap with requirements in majors, minors or areas of concentration.

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5. Are the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) requirements the same in all majors and colleges at Virginia Tech?

No, there are differences among the colleges in how the CLE is to be fulfilled. For example, some colleges and departments specify that certain CLE courses must be taken for particular majors. Some colleges also have additional requirements that go beyond the Curriculum for Liberal Education. Some basic information is provided in this Guide, but you should always consult with your advisor about the CLE requirements in your college or department when planning your program of study and before registering for courses.

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6. How do I choose among Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) courses?

Some of your choices will depend upon your major; for instance, though all students take Freshman Writing in Area 1, many colleges and departments require their students to take specific mathematics courses from those listed in Area 5. Some majors have several specific CLE requirements; others leave most of the choices up to you. Your academic advisor can help you to identify your options.

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7. Where do I go to obtain more information about the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) requirements for my college or department?

Your academic advisor, the undergraduate office of your college, and the Undergraduate Catalog are the best sources of information. You should always consult your advisor when planning your program of study.

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8. May I use Advanced Placement credits to meet Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE)requirements?

Yes, Advanced Placement credits can be used in several areas of the CLE. However, in order to get the full benefit and best quality from your undergraduate education, it is wise to take CLE courses.
For example, if you place out of a course you might take a more advanced course in the same area of study.

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9. If I am a transfer student, must I complete the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) requirements?

Yes, all students graduating from Virginia Tech must fulfill the CLE requirements. Courses taken at other institutions may be transferred to Virginia Tech and may count for credit if they are equivalent to the courses we offer here. Such decisions are determined by an analysis of your transcript when you enter Virginia Tech. Transfer students will graduate under the University CLE requirements in effect for the class level (Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior) at which they enter Virginia Tech. Transfer students should consult with the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs (or Academic Affairs) in their college to make a precise determination of the CLE requirements that they must fulfill. Information can also be found on the Univeristy Registrar's Transfer Guide section.

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10. While enrolled at Virginia Tech, may I take CLE courses at another college or university and transfer them here?

Yes, provided that the courses you take are equivalent to specific CLE courses taught at Virginia Tech. Some colleges require that you obtain authorization from your academic dean before you take courses elsewhere if you intend to transfer those courses to Virginia Tech. Credit, but not grades, can be transferred. Check with your
Advisor.

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11. Should I take only CLE courses in the first year?

No. You will also want to take other courses that are appropriate for freshmen in your major, or foundational courses such as College Success Strategies that may be of help in your success in college.

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12. How long does it take to complete the CLE requirements?

The CLE is the equivalent of about one full year’s academic work, or about 25% of your degree. However, most students complete most or all CLE requirements over at least a two-year period, usually in the freshman and sophomore years. It is not wise to take all CLE courses together, but to integrate them from the very beginning with your program of study in the major. Although you may want to take some upper-level CLE courses as a junior or senior, you should not wait until your senior year to complete most of your CLE requirements, because this is the time when you most need to concentrate on completing your major.

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13. I’ve heard of something called “Satisfactory Progress.” How does this relate to the CLE?

There are two checkpoints, according to the University’s definition of “Satisfactory Progress,” by which students must have successfully completed a certain number of credits within the Curriculum for Liberal Education. (1) by the time you have attempted 36 semester credits, you must have completed 12 credits of CLE requirements. (2) by the time you have attempted 72 semester credits, you must have completed at least 24 credits of CLE requirements. For further information, be sure to see “Student’s Responsibility - Satisfactory Progress Toward Degree” in the Undergraduate Catalog. Departments also set criteria for satisfactory progress within their majors; students should check with the department or their advisor.

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14. Do I need to plan the whole CLE program at once?

No, but you should be thinking about which courses you would like to take from each area (see course preference worksheet). Look over the options for each area to see which courses interest you most — keeping in mind the specific requirements of your major and the fact that not all CLE courses are offered every term. Your advisor can help you.

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15. Who teaches the CLE courses?

Members of all faculty ranks participate in the development and instruction of CLE classes.

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16. Can I take Honors Courses to satisfy CLE requirements?

Each semester, sections of some CLE courses are designated as “Honors” sections. Students in the University Honors Program may register for these sections (although they are not required to do so) and may use them to fulfill their CLE requirements. One Honors course, English 1204H, may be taken both by students in the University Honors Program and by other qualified students who are placed in the course prior to summer orientation; students who take this course should be aware that for them, this one course will satisfy the Freshman Writing requirement. For more information, contact the Honors College.

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17. May I take my CLE courses pass/fail?

Courses taken on a pass/fail basis may not be used to fulfill CLE requirements unless the course is offered ONLY on a pass/fail basis.

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18. What if I don’t get a CLE course that I requested?

Try again during the student drop-add periods. If you are unsuccessful in adding the course, you can plan to register for it the next time it is offered, or you can consult with your advisor about an alternative course.

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19. What if the second course in a sequence is not offered during the semester in which I want to take it?

You or your advisor can check with the department offering the course to see when it will next be offered and adjust your overall course plans accordingly.

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20. May I take additional CLE courses, even if I have completed the requirements?

Yes, your college may require some CLE courses in addition to the ones necessary to satisfy the requirements. You may also choose to take some additional CLE courses as electives. Your advisor can tell you how additional CLE courses would count toward your degree.

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21. Does the university have a foreign language requirement?

Yes, the foreign language requirement is described in the Undergraduate Catalog. Requirements vary by college or department. Consult with your advisor.

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22. Can some CLE requirements be fulfilled through study-abroad programs?

Yes, the university has a Center for European Studies and Architecture near Lugano, Switzerland, and many other study- abroad opportunities. Check with your advisor to determine if your college or department offers study-abroad programs that carry CLE credit.

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23. What are “Depth Studies”?

Most colleges require students to complete an approved two-course combination in one or two areas of the CLE. In other areas students are allowed to choose 2 courses from among any of the approved CLE courses. Check with your advisor or an academic dean about specific requirements for your college or view information on depth studies.

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24. Can CLE courses count toward more than one area simultaneously?

Generally, no. While there are some courses which do meet requirements in more than one area, they can only count toward one CLE area at a time. The only exception to this rule is that some Area 7 courses may simultaneously fulfill the requirements of another area in addition to Area 7. Courses approved for CLE Areas 2-7 may also fulfill the Writing Intenstive requirement if so indicated.

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