Higher Education in the U.S. Virgin Islands
The education system, including the higher education system, is managed by the American Education Commission of the States. The Liberal Arts undergraduate program is accredited the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, a well-regarded accreditation body in the United States.
The University of the Virgin Islands was founded in 1962. It is the only higher education institution on the islands. It has two major campuses: one on the island of St. Croix, the other on St. Thomas. The university's motto - "Historically American. Uniquely Caribbean. Globally Interactive" reflects it openness to both its past and future as a global provider of educational opportunities.
The University of the Virgin Islands offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, or bachelors and masters degrees. It has five academic divisions:
- Humanities and Social Science
- Science and Mathematics
Undergraduate degrees are awarded in the following categories: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and Associate of Applied Science. The undergraduate program typically takes four years of full-time study.
The University of the Virgin Islands offers unique transfer arrangement for engineering students with several notable American universities. Students can complete their first three years of undergraduate work at the University of the Virgin Islands, then transfer to Columbia University in New York City, University of Florida, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of South Carolina at Columbia to complete their remaining two years of engineering work. At the successful completion of this special "3-2" program, students are awarded two degrees, a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics from the University of the Virgin Islands and a Bachelor of Science in engineering from the partner university attended.
For students seeking to further their education, numerous graduate programs are available. These focus on education, including special education and mathematics, as well as psychology. Of particular note is the MBA program and the Masters of Marine and Environment Science; the college is particularly well-known for its marine and environmental science programs.
The university boasts approximately 100 full-time faculty members and a population of 94 percent Caribbean students. The remaining six percent come from all around the world to attend UVI. Each school is headed by a Dean, who reports to the university Provost.
The Academic Year
The academic year follows the American higher education calendar, with the year starting in the fall semester lasting approximately 12 to 15 weeks.
The fall semester typically runs from mid August to the end of November. Final exams for the semester are held the first week in December. This is followed by a winter vacation, which last approximately three weeks. By mid January, students return for the spring semester. The spring semester ends in mid-May.
As with many American higher education institutions, the university offers two summer sessions. Most summer sessions aren't mandatory, but offer students the opportunity to complete their degree program at a faster pace than if taking the traditional fall and spring semester programs.
UVI's summer session begins only one week after the spring semester ends and lasts for six weeks. Summer Session II begins almost immediately after Summer Session I begins and also ends six weeks later.
Aside from the longer winter break and short breaks such as the Emancipation Day (July 3) and American Independence Day (July 4) holiday, the school runs year-round.
Applications and Fees
Students must apply to the University of the Virgin Islands during the semester prior to the one in which they hope to matriculate. After receiving an acceptance letter, a deposit of $100 USD is required. Currently, on campus fees, including tuition, room and board, are approximately $19,000 USD per semester. Academic tuition is $4,190, but living expenses in the U.S. Virgin Islands are expensive.
Students must provide transcripts in English, and if entering from a country where English is not the language, take the TOEFL examination and provide scores to the admission department. Special instructions are available on the university's website for students entering the university from a British-oriented education system. All students are required to take the SAT, a standardized examination that tests mathematics, English and Writing skills.
What's It Like to Study in U.S. Virgin Islands?
The U.S. Virgin Islands offers the best of both worlds: a rigorous, challenging academic environment in a tropical paradise. Students have access to sports, culture, and academics all within close proximity. For students seeking to embrace Caribbean culture while attaining a world class education, USVI may be a great choice.