For many undergraduates, summer is the time to earn some extra academic credits or to get a head start on preparing for the world of work with an internship or job-skills training. As the global coronavirus pandemic persists – making many of those options impossible or unsafe to pursue – the University of Virginia is unveiling a new program that offers students a practical alternative.
This week, the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences is announcing UVA Launchpad, an eight-week online program that combines academic coursework, skills-based training and career-oriented projects. The program is the product of a partnership between the College, UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies and UVA’s Summer Session Program, and it’s designed to help students to make the most of their summer without having to leave home.
“The program is unique in higher education today and was constructed to provide students with a platform to create a powerful advantage for themselves as they begin their search for full-time jobs, fellowships and more,” Ian Baucom, Buckner W. Clay Dean of Arts & Sciences, said. “It combines the resources of the College of Arts & Sciences and its renowned liberal arts education with the School of Continuing and Professional Studies’ considerable expertise in distance learning and professional development.”
Students enrolled in the UVA Launchpad program will be able to choose from a variety of courses taught by live remote instruction. Course topics include practical research and analytics, communication skills and emerging issues in organizational behavior and psychology. Students can also choose from a variety of intensive “bootcamps” focused on developing technical skills in areas like digital marketing, cybersecurity and data analytics. Each bootcamp includes a practical, career-focused project that students can reference in future interviews.
The program was built to offer something more than simply online classroom instruction, Alex Hernandez, dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, said.
“Employers want critical thinking and analytical skills that the liberal arts develop, and this program combines these human skills with the technical skills students need in the digital age,” Hernandez said.
The UVA Launchpad program, which runs from June 15 to Aug. 7, was designed primarily for UVA Arts & Sciences undergraduates, but is also open to undergraduate students enrolled at other UVA schools as well as other colleges and universities.
The program’s $3,700 cost covers tuition and fees for both in-state and out-of-state students. Arts & Sciences students who complete the program will earn six undergraduate credits; other students are encouraged to inquire with their home institutions about the opportunity for transfer credits. Financial aid is available for current Arts & Sciences students, but summer aid is limited, so students are encouraged to apply early.
Information on how to apply, including lists of the program’s course offerings and bootcamps, is available at launchpad.virginia.edu.