Virginia Tech is committed to creating new pathways that will drive interest in STEM fields and increase access to the Innovation Campus Master of Engineering program.

To further this goal and enhance opportunities for students in Virginia, the Innovation Campus and the Department of Computer Science have developed a new program to help non-computer scientists gain admission to the Master of Engineering program. The Division of Enrollment Management, Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies, and Continuing and Professional Education joined the effort to offer the university’s first micro credential prerequisite to a master’s program.

Market research shows that prospective students are seeking a Master of Engineering in computer science as a career starter, crosser, advancer, and changer. These profiles help students determine if they need the Bridge Program or other skill enhancements before proceeding with their application.

The Bridge Program is a self-paced, asynchronous 12-module course called Java Essentials. The Java Essentials course is offered to bridge the skills of highly qualified applicants and help them be successful in the areas of programming and data structures. Upon completion, student are granted two badges through Badgr credentialing. No math, computer science, coding, or engineering skills are required. The purpose of the course is to bring learners from outside the computer science discipline into the field of computing.

Several students have benefitted from the Java Essentials course.

Nathan Arnold is a recent undergraduate who is looking for a master’s degree before entering the workforce. He is hoping to expand his technical skills and gain practical experience to better market himself for a specific job or give him a leg up when applying to entry-level positions. Arnold graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience. To prepare for his master’s at the Innovation Campus, he completed the Java Essentials course to build upon his coding fundamentals.

Jon Samuel is a working professional seeking entry into a more technical field. Prospective students may not need career services because they are employed. While enrolled in the Master of Engineering in computer science program, Samuel works as a data scientist for On Demand Pharmaceuticals. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 2021 with a double major in chemical engineering and chemistry and a minor in mathematics. Like Arnold, Samuel also completed the Bridge Program course to help him prepare for his master’s degree.

In addition to the Bridge Program, students can fulfill the prerequisites for admission to the Master of Engineering in computer science by taking the equivalent courses at several Virginia institutions. Those who prefer an in-class experience can take the prerequisite equivalents through the Virginia Community College System.

For more information about these options, contact

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