Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

For Potential Applicants

How much does Catalyst cost?

There is no additional cost associated with Catalyst beyond normal UVA tuition. Individual Catalyst classes, as with all classes, may have minor costs for materials. There may be voluntary costs associated with some co-curricular elements (like internships), but there are no required components that will incur additional costs, and there will be several low- or no-cost options for each element. In some cases, program-specific scholarship funds will be available for these opportunities. Catalyst is designed to be accessible and affordable for all UVA students.

Is Catalyst a minor?

No. Although completion of the Catalyst Program will be noted on your transcript (as a 'milestone'), it is primarily intended to prepare you for the world of work and engagement beyond college rather than as a formal academic credential. Because of this, prerequisites may double count towards general education requirements and towards your major or minor (with permission of the home department). All Catalyst courses will count towards your credit hour requirements for graduation. 

Are Catalyst courses different from other courses in the College?

Catalyst is a program housed entirely in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Catalyst core courses are taught by professors in the College (Skills Accelerator courses are taught by a variety of professors, instructors, and practitioners). The courses are comparable in time commitment and rigor to any other course of a similar level. Students enroll in Catalyst courses through SIS during the normal enrollment process, and they count towards graduation requirements. Catalyst courses will typically have a strong applied or practice component as part of the focus of the program, and you will progress thru the program with a cohort of your peers. Catalyst courses also tend to have lower student/faculty ratios, with Skills courses capped at 12 students and core courses at 18 students.

Can students not in the Catalyst Program take Catalyst courses?

Generally speaking, no. Catalyst courses are reserved for admitted students, and only in rare instances will others be allowed to enroll in certain sections after Catalyst students have had priority enrollment.

How will this help me get a job?

Extensive research shows the long-term value of arts and sciences degrees across private, public, and non-profit sectors. A&S graduates are highly sought-after and have excellent job outcomes. This research also shows that employers preferentially hire A&S graduates who are prepared in ways that complement the education that majors within the College offer. Catalyst fills in this gap with specific attention to the real-world relevance of your intellectual abilities and academic training, with focused instruction in high-impact skills, and with a range of opportunities for professionalization, applied experience, and mentoring.

What does Catalyst offer beyond the courses?

In addition to program-specific training in technical skills tailored to your interests (through required Skills Accelerator courses), we work with partners across Grounds and beyond to facilitate a broad range of mentorship, internship, and professionalization opportunities designed to meet students' unique needs and interests. These co-curricular opportunities are rotating, and students accepted to the Catalyst program will have the opportunity to select from current offerings. Students will also develop a professional web-based portfolio during the capstone course, which will serve as both a reflective and employer-facing resource that they'll leave with upon graduation.

What are you looking for in applicants?

There is no magic formula for admittance to the program. We aim to admit diverse cohorts of excellent students who bring a range of major interests and life experiences. We are looking for applicants who are able to articulate their goals with Catalyst clearly; stand to benefit from the program; and bring unique qualities, experiences, or perspectives to their peers. Applicants who are not successful in their first round are encouraged to re-apply in future admission cycles; re-applications will be viewed favorably.

Can rising fourth-year students apply?

Yes. The program can be completed in two semesters, provided the applicant has sufficient space in their schedule to complete all Catalyst requirements and any remaining major or minor requirements. Spring-semester 3rd-year applicants will note a space in the application where they will need to address this question. 

How can I get involved?

Catalyst is always looking for new ways to help our students excel after graduation. We welcome collaboration with partners across Grounds, in the Charlottesville community, and particularly from College alums. If you're interested in being a guest speaker; if you have a developed relevant skill set you'd be interested in teaching; if you have outstanding mentoring or internship opportunities: please feel free to get in touch with us. 


What is a typical course of study in the program?

  • All admitted students must enroll in a section of the first 3-credit core course in the Catalyst sequence, 'Leadership, Collaboration, Communication,' during their first semester in the program. This course provides an introduction to the program; introduces important topics and skills for the rest of the courses; and allows cohorts to begin to develop working relationships.
  • Beyond the introductory course, students may take the other required courses at whatever pace suits their individual needs and interests--with the caveat that the Capstone course must be completed as the last course of the program sequence (or concurrently during the same semester as the last Catalyst requirements).
  • While it is possible to take a full 3 years to complete the program, we encourage students to condense where possible, ideally into 4 semesters maximum, in order to maximize the overall cohesiveness and effect of the program's different focus areas.

I am an admitted fourth-year student. How will I make this work?

Your Catalyst advisor will work with you to develop a plan for successful completion of the program. You should be prepared to reserve at least 11 and up to 14 credit hours (depending on your prerequisites) in your final two semesters to complete the program. We aim to offer courses in a range of time slots to enable maximum flexibility for enrolled students, but it is up to the student to ensure that the necessary flexibility and space in their schedule exists. Ideally, a 4th year student would take the first core course and both Skills courses in the fall semester, and the second core course and Capstone in the spring semester.

Can I take more than the required two Skills Accelerator classes?

Enrolled Catalyst students who have yet to complete the required two Skills courses will have priority in any given enrollment period; however, if sufficient space exists, Catalyst students may take any additional Skills courses that interest them.

Where do I find the current listing of Catalyst courses for enrollment?

Catalyst courses are listed in the course catalog under the LASE (Liberal Arts Seminars) subject code. LASE 2515 sections are all Skills Accelerators. LASE 3510 sections are the core courses. Incoming Catalyst students will automatically be enrolled in the first core course their first semester; beyond that, enrollment will be the responsibility of the student.