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Frequently Asked Questions

High School Students and Other Virginia Tech Majors Interested in the BIT Major - TOP

I am a high school student and I'm interested in the BIT major at Virginia Tech. What high school computer courses should I take to prepare for the BIT major?

The BIT major does not require any additional course preparation beyond the academic entrance requirements for Virginia Tech and the Pamplin College of Business; no computing background beyond these general requirements is expected in our courses. However, any high school computer or information technology courses such as programming courses, courses in information systems, or computer science are good preparation for the BIT major. It is also a positive characteristic if students have a general aptitude and affinity for computers and computing as well as strong quantitative skills (but it is not a consideration in the university admissions process).

I am a high school senior and I'm thinking about applying to Virginia Tech in a major other than BIT, but I'm very interested in BIT. If I am admitted to Virginia Tech in another major but decide later that I want to transfer into BIT how easy will that be?

BIT is a restricted major within the university, and thus transfer is not automatic. If you decide to apply to transfer into BIT your application will be considered in a competitive process with many other Virginia Tech students who annually seek to transfer into BIT. As such, your application will be evaluated based on your academic performance to date at Virginia Tech. Currently students transferring into BIT must have above a 3.2 GPA in a group of selected required courses, which the college uses as indicators to evaluate prospective transfer students. About half of those who apply are accepted.

I am a high school senior and have been accepted into BIT. Do I need any type of special computer for the BIT major?

The Pamplin College publishes a set of minimum computer requirements and specifications for entering freshmen each year. These requirements can be obtained from the college's website (, usually by April 1 each year. BIT has no additional computing requirements beyond the college requirement. However, as a result of rapidly changing computing technology and software, the content of our courses changes frequently. Thus, there is no guarantee that a computer purchased during the freshman year will be sufficient for class needs in BIT over a four-year period. (If you have questions about the computer purchase, you will have an opportunity to talk with the Pamplin College's Director of Computing at the July orientation).

What are the differences between the two BIT options - DSS and OSM?

The Decision Support Systems (DSS) option is the largest of our two BIT options with approximately 70 percent of our majors. It focuses on teaching our majors how to develop computer systems that will help businesses and managers solve problems; e.g., systems development. As such, it is very applications oriented; i.e., the application of information and computer technology to solving practical business problems. Computer systems developed to solve such business problems often require the use of mathematical models. It is a very computer-intensive degree program that includes information technology tools such as networks and telecommunications, computer simulation, computer programming, database management, security, information systems, client/server applications, visual interface design, object-oriented systems, and Internet and e-business systems.

The Operations and Supply Chain Management (OSM) option is the smaller of our two options with about 30 percent of our majors. All organizations, business or otherwise, have "operations", the business processes that get things done in an organization. The US Department of Labor has listed operations management as one of the top ten growing occupations in this decade. This option teaches students to occupy management positions in operations, often in a departmental or supervisory position, or in a staff position. Topics in this option focus on supply chain management and include quality control and process improvement, enterprise planning and control, logistics, inventory control, scheduling, resource allocation, production planning and project management. It is less computer-intensive than our other two options, yet it still uses computers and information technology for the analysis and solution of operational problems.

How is the Accounting and Information Systems (ACIS) major different from BIT?

There are some similarities between BIT and ACIS, the most obvious being that they are both in the computing and information technology field. A number of courses are cross-listed (i.e., shared) between both departments, and taught by faculty in both departments. However there are also significant differences. The Department of Accounting and Information Systems offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Business with a major in Accounting and Information Systems. Two options are offered in the area of accounting information systems. The systems assurance option integrates course work in accounting and information systems and emphasizes enterprise and computer risk assurance. The systems development option focuses on business application development of systems with an emphasis on the front end of the systems development cycle, large-scale web-enabled data bases and the incorporation of adequate security controls.

What is the difference between BIT and Computer Science?

Computer Science (CS) is a degree program within the College of Engineering. It focuses more on the mathematical and theoretical aspects of computing, and specifically on the development of computer programs and operating systems. The freshman math courses for CS are more rigorous than the math courses for a business degree, and the computer programming requirements are significantly greater in CS. BIT is more of an "applied" program in which the computing tools of information technology and systems development are applied to the solution of practical business problems. This requires an extensive background in the various business functions including accounting, finance, management, and marketing that BIT students receive in their first five semesters of study.

How does the BIT major at Virginia Tech compare with other information systems or information technology degree programs in business schools at other universities?

The BIT program in the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech has an international reputation and it is one of the highest ranked information technology programs in business schools in the country. In a 2000 issue of ComputerWorld magazine, our information technology program was included among the top four IS programs in the country along with Arizona State University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Texas. In an earlier issue of ComputerWorld our program was ranked by employers among the top ten IT programs in the country. In a recent survey of MBA programs around the world by the Financial Times of London, our IT program was ranked 7 th in the world. In general we perceive our program to be more computer-intensive and technologically rigorous than similar programs at other universities. In 2003 our program was ranked 18th among university IS programs in the U.S. (and 12th among public universities) by the U.S. News and World Report.

What are the employment opportunities for BIT graduates?

BIT majors are annually among the most sought after graduates by employers at Virginia Tech. During the past five years BIT majors have consistently ranked among the top five majors in the university in terms of on-campus interviews. Our majors also annually are among the top majors for the greatest average number of job offers and the highest average starting salaries in the college of business. The single largest type of employer that recruits our students are large consulting firms such as Accenture, KPMG and Price-Waterhouse. However, over 100 companies and government organizations recruit our students each year including banks, hospitals, manufacturing firms, software and system development firms, computer companies, hotels, schools and government agencies. Additional information is available from the Pamplin College's Director of Undergraduate Career Services, Mr. Stuart Mease (

How large is BIT and what are the class sizes like in BIT?

BIT is one of the smaller majors in the Pamplin College of Business with approximately 400 majors. Each year approximately 175 BIT majors graduate from the Pamplin College. Class sizes in upper division (3000+) BIT courses average between 20 and 30 students.


Non-Business or Non-BIT Majors Interested in Transferring Into the BIT Major, or in Taking BIT Courses - TOP

I am in another major outside the Pamplin College of Business and I am interested in transferring into BIT. What are the academic requirements to get into BIT and how do I go about transferring?

BIT is a restricted major and applications to transfer into restricted majors are administered by the college's Undergraduate Programs Office in Pamplin 1046. Application forms to transfer are available in Pamplin 1046 or from the college website ( Completed forms must be submitted to Pamplin 1046.

Applications to transfer are reviewed each week during the fall and spring semesters and every two weeks during the summer. The sole criteria for admission are grades in required courses in ACIS, BIT, ECON and Math. About half the applicants for transfer are accepted. The average GPA in the required courses for those accepted is approximately 3.30 and the average GPA for those not accepted average is approximately 2.65. All application decisions are made in the Pamplin 1046 office; the Department of Business Information Technology is not involved in the application or transfer process, or in the decision-making process. All inquiries about applying to the BIT major and requirements for acceptance into the major should be made to Pamplin 1046 (540-231-6602).

I am a student in the Pamplin College of Business in a major other than BIT, but I would like to transfer into BIT. Can I transfer automatically into BIT since I am a business major?

Yes. Applications to transfer from Pamplin students are treated the same as applications from other business majors.

I have applied to but have not been accepted into BIT, however I would like to go ahead and take some of the required courses in the BIT major so I won't get behind. What courses can I take?

All upper division (3000+) courses in the DSS option of BIT are restricted to BIT majors only. Exceptions to this policy can only be granted by the department head. Non-business majors can take BIT 2405, 2406 and 3414, however these courses are restricted to business students only during the pre-registration periods in October and March. This restriction is removed several weeks after pre-registration is completed for the drop-add periods in November and April.

I am not in the BIT major but I would like to take some upper division BIT courses as electives. Can I do this?

In general, all upper division (3000+) courses in BIT are restricted to BIT majors only. Exceptions are sometimes made for qualified students who have met all course prerequisites, but permission must be obtained from the department head.

I am in a non-business major but some BIT courses, such as BIT 2405, 2406 and 3414, are either required or recommended in my program of study or minor. However, when I try to sign up for these courses at pre-registration I cannot because they are restricted to business students only. What should I do?

BIT 2405, 2406 and 3414 are core courses that all business students must take. They are restricted to business students during the pre-registration period so that our students have the first chance to conveniently fit these courses into their schedules. The restrictions on these courses are taken off for drop-add, several weeks after pre-registration, at which time all university students can sign up for them as long as there are seats available and the course prerequisites have been met.

I am a non-business major and some upper division (3000+) BIT courses are recommended/listed as approved electives in my major, however, when I attempt to enroll in these courses I am not allowed to because they area restricted to BIT majors. What can I do?

All upper division (3000+) courses in BIT are generally restricted to BIT majors only. Exceptions are occassionally made with permission from the department head. Departments and majors that have listed BIT courses as approved electives have done so without consulting the Department of Business Information Technology.


BIT Majors - TOP

I am a BIT major but I am behind in my schedule to graduate when I would like to. I could get back on the schedule I want if I could take some of the upper division (3000+) BIT courses without first taking the course prerequisites or taking some courses simultaneously with the prerequisites. Is this possible?

No, it is not possible to take any BIT upper division courses without having first taken all prerequisites. This policy is strictly enforced and no exceptions are made.

Why is the department so strict about enforcing course prerequisites?

After years of not enforcing prerequisites the faculty unequivocally determined that the teaching and learning environment in our classes was greatly enhanced if all students in the classes have the same academic course background, i.e., everyone is 'on the same page.' Students who have not had the required prerequisites slow down classes and are detrimental to group activities, i.e., they are a 'weak link.' If all students in a class have the same required course background, it allows the instructor to progress at the desired pace and cover more material at a more advanced level, thus benefiting the great majority of our students. Unfortunately strictly enforcing prerequisites delays a small number of our students in their desired progression toward their degree. Thus, all students, especially those who transfer into our major, are strongly encouraged to plan ahead to see how long the completion of their degree requirements will take. Students who believe the completion of the requirements for the BIT degree will take a longer period of time than they have available should consider another major. However, under no circumstances will course prerequisites be waived.

I have extensive job experience in a specific subject that is the principal subject matter of a required BIT course. I am also very smart and can easily learn subjects on my own. Is there any way I can get credit for a course without taking it or test out of a course?

No. The department has no means or testing procedure to give course credit for job or other experiences, or exceptional intelligence.

I only need one or two required BIT courses to graduate; can I take required major courses at another university or community college and transfer them?

No, the Department of BIT does not accept any transfer courses from other schools for upper division (3000+) BIT courses required in our major.

In the past I have heard that the Department of BIT has accepted a number of different computer-related courses as substitutes for the JAVA (CS 1054) requirement; is this possible?

No, this is not an available option.

Can I double major in BIT and some other major in the Pamplin College of Business?

Yes, a number of students each year double major in BIT and some other Pamplin college major. In general, the required courses in one major serve as electives in the other major and, given proper planning, both majors can be completed within the normal time frame for one degree. Students who double major typically have some specific career path in mind in which the two majors complement each other. For example, a popular double major is Finance combined with BIT wherein a student may want to work in the information technology area of a financial institution like a bank or brokerage.

Can I get more than one option within the BIT major?

Yes, students sometimes take the required courses in both options. A few courses overlap while others serve as electives for the other option - like a double major. Students typically do this as a 'hedge' in the job market. Both options broaden the student's background and opportunities to interview with different companies. In addition, the two options complement each other very well, so in many ways seeking both options is a more logical objective than a double major.

What are the opportunities for internships and CO-OP in BIT?

Since BIT is a very popular major with employers, there are also many opportunities for summer internships and to participate in the Cooperative Education (CO-OP) program. Internships are administered by the Career Services Office (540-231-6241), which also sponsors an annual career fair just for internships and CO-OPs in February. The CO-OP office in Career Services in the Smith Career Center administers all CO-OP opportunities for BIT majors (540-231-6241).

Are all BIT upper division (3000+) courses offered during summer school?

No. Course offerings are subject to the availability of faculty to teach them and are thus limited in the summer. If your planned program of study includes taking courses over the summer then careful advance planning is required. Some of the required courses in the DSS option are offered during the summer and a few of the electives that will meet the DSS elective requirement are offered. Typically only one section of each course is offered, and many courses are scheduled at the same time. For example, BIT 4444 and 4454 are scheduled at the same time during first summer session so that DSS option majors can take only one during the summer. None of the required OSM option courses are offered during the summer. For a complete list of summer course offering please contact the departmental office in Pamplin 1007 (540-231-6596), or Hokie Spa.

Can I get course credit for summer work?

In general, the department does not give course credit for summer or other work experience. However, the department will give credit for a special study course under the direct supervision of a BIT tenure-track faculty member that may include summer work.