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Experience RVA

Gain a unique academic experience in Richmond, Virginia.

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Welcome to the Richmond Semester at Virginia Tech's College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences! Starting from Summer 2024, we are thrilled to introduce a unique educational endeavor that brings our courses right to the heart of Richmond, Virginia.

Our mission is to provide students with an unparalleled learning experience that harnesses the cultural, historical, and professional wealth of Richmond. Through this initiative, undergraduate students will immerse themselves in experiential learning opportunities tailored to the Richmond area, equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and adaptability needed for success beyond graduation. By integrating real-world experiences into their courses, faculty members will empower students to connect their academic expertise with their future career aspirations.

Moreover, this initiative expands Virginia Tech's undergraduate footprint beyond Blacksburg, tapping into Richmond's strategic location near major centers like Washington, D.C., Norfolk, and central Virginia. With its vibrant atmosphere and proximity to diverse learning opportunities, Richmond serves as an ideal hub for expanding undergraduate education beyond traditional boundaries.

Join us as we embark on this exciting journey, where learning extends far beyond the classroom walls, and students are empowered to thrive in an ever-evolving world. Explore the Richmond Semester and discover a transformative educational experience unlike any other.


Summer 2024 Courses

*All courses are hybrid (requiring time in Richmond and online). Students can take as many courses as their schedule allows.

To view courses in the timetable or Hokie Schedule be sure to select "capital" as the campus.


Summer 1

HIST 2104:
The Richmond Experience: Exploring Civil War Era History in the Heart of the Confederacy

  • 3 credit hours
  • In Richmond: May 28 — June 3
    Students required to be in Richmond
  • Online synchronous sessions: May 21, May 23, June 10, June 11 from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
  • See your adviser to register for this course

For more information contact Paul Quigley (

Want to visit historical sites and learn about the Civil War, slavery, and emancipation? Interested in developing the skillset to critically evaluate how these topics are being presented to the public at a time when Americans are waging a new conflict over the meaning of the Civil War era? Then this is the course for you. 

Join Dr. Paul Quigley this summer in Richmond, where we will visit an array of Civil War era battlefields, museums, and other historical sites. At each location we’ll take guided tours, explore exhibits, and/or meet with staff to discuss how their institutions engage with diverse public audiences—and how their approaches are changing in response to the reevaluation of Confederate monuments and ideological conflicts of the last ten years.  

We’ll learn a lot of history! Even more importantly, we will assess how various organizations are rethinking the way they present Civil War era history at this charged historical moment.

The class will meet online four times (May 21, May 23, June 10, June 11, all 11:00-12:30 Eastern Time). From May 28 through June 3, we’ll be in Richmond, spending 5-6 hours each day visiting sites and debriefing in the classroom at Virginia Tech’s Richmond Center. You will have the option of reserving accommodation in VCU’s housing, or making your own arrangements. Transportation will be provided from/to the VCU each day, or you may choose to drive yourself. Admission fees are included with your tuition payment. Food, lodging, and other expenses will be your responsibility.

panorama of outside of American Civil War Museum in Richmond
Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


RLCL 2124:
Religion in American Life

  • 3 credit hours
  • In Richmond: May 28 - June 21
    Students required to be in Richmond
  • Online synchronous sessions: May 20, May 24, and June 27 from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
  • See your adviser to register for this course
  • Housing available (if needed) for required residency period (5/28-6/21)
  • Optional: housing available those interested in living in Richmond for the entire 6-week session (5/20-6/28)

For more information contact Dr. Andrew Sharp,

This course will consider the example of Richmond, Virginia to analyze the successes, failures, and potentials of building the world’s first diverse democracy, for those of all religious, secular, or spiritual identities.  It will take a deep dive into the history, place, and diverse communities of Richmond, where in 1786 the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom was drafted and signed into law setting the precedent for the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Students will examine how interfaith initiatives and organizations have attempted to position Richmond as a model for interfaith cooperation as a civic virtue and a means to heal some of its racial, political, and communal divisions. Through experiential learning – that includes visits to faith communities, thematic field trips, cultural experiences, and community service activities, and structured discussions and personal reflections – they will dive into the history, place, and diverse communities of Richmond. By interpreting and analyzing the intersections of religion and other dimensions of culture and civic life, they will consider the assertion that interfaith cooperation and religious literacy are increasingly necessary components of civic life and perhaps the best hope of combating extremism and violence on a global scale in the name of religion. This “Richmond Experience” will give students a chance to directly engage those from diverse cultural backgrounds and faith traditions, while providing an opportunity to connect their academic conceptual learning with their post-graduate ambitions.



Summer 2

SPAN 3574:
Spanish for Legal Professions

  • 3 credit hours
  • Summer 2024 Session 2: July 1 - August 9
  • In Richmond: July 15 - August 2
    Students required to be in Richmond
  • Students will meet online during non RVA weeks
  • See your adviser to register for this course
Virginia State Capital Building front steps
Photo credit: Adobe Stock

For more information contact María del Carmen Caña Jiménez ( or Vinodh Venkatesh (

This is a specialized course applying knowledge of the Spanish language and its cultures to the legal professions. Students are trained in the contextualized use of specific vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, grammar structures, and cultural practices in real-world situations and written formats. Students are exposed to and participate in cross-cultural discussions on legal issues in the Hispanic world, which includes an analysis of legal topics and concepts related to Spanish-speaking populations in a global context. Students are exposed to and participate in an analysis of the political and cultural history of the Hispanic and Latino populations in the US. During the proposed Richmond Experience, students will focus specifically on the Latino population in Virginia, paying attention to issues and trends that impact the community within the Commonwealth. Taught in Spanish. Pre: 3304 (3H, 3C)

Students will complete readings and discussions in Spanish on the US legal system and Constitution, and their Virginia counterparts. Both sets of readings will provide an invaluable foundation to meetings and conversations with practicing lawyers in the fields of immigration and criminal defense, in addition to professionals in the non-profit sector working specifically with undocumented populations. Students will have the opportunity to meet with the Virginia Latino Caucus, a group of delegates and senators serving the community in the Virginia General Assembly. These site visits and guest lectures will be important opportunities for students to move beyond textbooks and articles, and to engage directly with personnel on the ground engaged with the Latino population of Virginia. By being exposed to a variety of community leaders and members, we expect students to gain a better understanding of post-graduation careers that involve a strong commitment to the linguistic and cultural diversity of the State.


RVA Now: Find Your Place in RVA

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Frequently Asked Questions

RVA Experience FAQs

Richmond Semester courses are ‘study away’ courses where students reside in Richmond for a portion of the class. A study away course offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a different city or region within their own country, providing a unique educational experience that combines academic learning with real-world exploration. Typically, students relocate to the designated city for a specified period, ranging from a few weeks to a full semester. Throughout the course, students engage in a curated curriculum tailored to the location's cultural, historical, or professional significance, allowing them to deepen their understanding of various subjects while experiencing firsthand the unique aspects of the region. This experiential learning approach often involves a combination of classroom instruction, field trips, guest lectures, internships, and community engagement activities. Whether studying urban development in a bustling metropolis, environmental science in a rural setting, or cultural anthropology in a diverse community, students gain invaluable insights and skills while broadening their perspectives beyond the confines of their home campus. Study away courses foster personal growth, intercultural competence, and a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of society, making them enriching and transformative experiences for students.

A study away course and studying abroad both offer students opportunities for experiential learning outside of their home campus, but they differ in a few key aspects:

  • Study away courses typically involve traveling to a different city or region within one's own country, often within the same country or continent.
  • Studying abroad typically involves traveling to a foreign country, often in a different continent or part of the world.
  • Study away courses can vary in duration, ranging from a few weeks to a full semester.
  • Studying abroad programs are often longer-term, lasting a semester or an entire academic year, although shorter programs may also be available.
Cultural immersion:
  • While study away courses provide opportunities for cultural immersion and exploration, students may already be somewhat familiar with the language, customs, and norms of the host country since it is within their own country.
  • Studying abroad offers a more immersive cultural experience, as students are fully immersed in a foreign culture and language, providing opportunities for deeper cross-cultural understanding and adaptation.
Academic focus:
  • Study away courses typically focus on a specific academic theme or subject relevant to the location, allowing students to explore topics such as urban development, environmental science, or cultural anthropology within the context of the chosen city or region.
  • Studying abroad programs may offer a broader range of academic options, including courses in various disciplines, language immersion programs, internships, or research opportunities specific to the host country.
Logistics and support:
  • Study away courses may involve less logistical complexity, as students remain within the same country and may have access to familiar support systems from their home institution.
  • Studying abroad requires careful planning for travel, accommodation, visas, health insurance, and cultural adaptation, often with support from the host institution or program provider.

In summary, while both study away courses and studying abroad offer valuable opportunities for experiential learning and personal growth, they differ in terms of location, duration, cultural immersion, academic focus, and logistical considerations. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on the student's academic goals, personal preferences, and willingness to embrace new experiences.

During the study away course in Richmond, students have the flexibility to choose their living arrangements based on personal preference, as there is no requirement to reside in a particular location. However, it is essential that students attend all study away activities scheduled for the course duration. For those seeking convenient housing options, there will be available accommodation in the VCU housing. While residing at VCU offers proximity to campus facilities and study away activities, it is important to note that there will be a cost associated with this housing option, which students are responsible for covering.

The duration of the study away course in Richmond varies depending on the specific requirements of each course. Students are advised to consult the course website and review the syllabus for details regarding the length of their stay in Richmond. As of now, courses are exclusively offered during the summer term. The duration of the program may vary from a few weeks to a full summer session, depending on the course curriculum and objectives. It is essential for students to thoroughly review the course materials to understand the specific time commitments and requirements associated with their chosen study away program in Richmond.

In the study away program, students are responsible for covering tuition and fees associated with the course. Additionally, students are responsible for their housing and food expenses during the program duration. However, transportation costs to and from event sites will be provided as part of the program benefits. It's important to note that students will need to cover parking expenses if they choose to bring their own vehicle. Overall, while tuition and transportation to event sites are covered, students should budget accordingly for housing, food, and any personal transportation expenses incurred during their time in the program.

Yes, participants in the study away course will receive academic credit for their involvement. All courses offered are credit-bearing and can be taken for academic credit. Work with your advisor to determine how the credit will apply to your degree. It's important to note that these courses follow Virginia Tech guidelines for enrollment. For more detailed information regarding academic credit policies and procedures, students are encouraged to consult the Virginia Tech Registrar's website at This resource provides comprehensive guidance on enrollment requirements and academic credit transfer processes.

Students are responsible for arranging their own travel to and from Richmond for the study away course. However, transportation to and from the study away activities assigned for the course will be provided. It's important to note that any transportation needs outside of the scheduled course activities will be the responsibility of the student. Richmond offers a mass transit system, which students can utilize for additional transportation needs. For more information about Richmond's mass transit system, students can visit the website at This resource provides details on routes, schedules, and fares for public transportation options in the Richmond area.

During the study away course, the types of classes and activities in which you will participate may vary depending on the specific course you choose. For detailed information about the activities offered in each course, please refer to the course descriptions available on our website. Possible activities that you may participate in during the study away course include:

  • Interactive lectures and seminars led by expert faculty members.
  • Field trips to relevant sites, museums, and cultural landmarks in Richmond.
  • Guest lectures and panel discussions featuring local experts and professionals.
  • Hands-on workshops and experiential learning opportunities related to the course theme.
  • Site visits to organizations, businesses, or institutions relevant to the course subject matter.
  • Group projects and collaborative activities with fellow students.
  • Cultural immersion experiences, such as visits to local festivals, markets, or community events.
  • Service-learning projects or volunteer opportunities with local organizations.
  • Networking events and opportunities to connect with professionals in the field.
  • Reflective activities and discussions to deepen your understanding and learning experience.

These activities are designed to provide you with a comprehensive and immersive educational experience while exploring the unique offerings of Richmond. Please refer to the course descriptions for more specific details about the activities included in each course.


Yes, as a Virginia Tech student participating in the study away course, you will have access to a wide range of resources, including libraries and academic support services. You will have full access to all Virginia Tech student support resources, ensuring that you can continue to access the same level of academic support and assistance while away. This includes online access to the Virginia Tech library, where you can find a vast array of academic resources, research materials, and databases to support your studies. Whether you need assistance with research, writing, or any other academic endeavor, you can rest assured that you will have access to the resources you need to succeed, even while away from the main campus.

Living in Richmond, Virginia, as part of your college experience through the study away program, will offer you a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a vibrant and historically rich city. The impact on your college experience and daily life will be profound, offering both challenges and opportunities for personal and academic growth.

Firstly, Richmond's diverse culture, arts scene, and historical significance will enrich your overall college experience. You'll have the chance to explore landmarks like the Virginia State Capitol, the Museum District, and the historic Shockoe Bottom, providing valuable insights into American history and culture. Additionally, Richmond's thriving arts community offers opportunities for attending performances, art exhibitions, and cultural events that can broaden your horizons and enhance your understanding of different perspectives.

Living in Richmond will expose you to a unique blend of urban and natural environments. You can enjoy outdoor activities in parks along the James River or participate in community events that celebrate Richmond's natural beauty. This exposure to diverse environments can foster a deeper appreciation for sustainability and environmental stewardship, enriching your college experience beyond the classroom.

From a practical standpoint, living in Richmond will also introduce you to the dynamics of city life, including navigating public transportation systems, engaging with local communities, and adapting to the rhythm of urban living. These experiences can help develop your independence, resilience, and cultural competency, all of which are valuable skills for personal and professional growth.

Overall, living in Richmond as part of your college experience will undoubtedly shape you in profound ways, offering a blend of academic, cultural, and personal enrichment that will stay with you long after your time in the city has ended.

For participants in the study away course, there are no specific requirements or expectations beyond those necessary to register for the class. You are encouraged to consult the Virginia Tech course catalog or the timetable for specific details regarding registration requirements and course expectations. As long as you meet the standard prerequisites and registration criteria outlined for the course, you are eligible to participate in the study away program. This approach allows for flexibility and accessibility, ensuring that students from diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines can take advantage of this enriching educational opportunity.

To apply for the study away program, simply register for the corresponding class through the university's registration system. Once you have successfully registered, you will need to work closely with the faculty instructor to understand the specific details and requirements of the course. The faculty instructor will provide guidance on any additional steps or paperwork needed for participation in the study away program. It's essential to communicate with the instructor and stay informed about deadlines and any pre-departure preparations to ensure a smooth and successful experience. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to the instructor or the relevant department for assistance.

During the study away course, students will have access to a range of support services similar to those available to all students who live away from Blacksburg while taking online courses in the summer. Please consult your academic advisor for more information on these services.

Yes, you can work or intern while participating in the study away program, provided that you can meet the requirements of the course. While engaging in external work or internships, it's essential to ensure that your commitments outside of the course do not conflict with the study away program's schedule or academic expectations. Communication with the course instructor regarding your external commitments is encouraged to ensure that you can effectively balance your academic responsibilities with any work or internship obligations. By managing your time effectively and staying organized, you can maximize the benefits of both your study away experience and any additional professional opportunities.

Living in another city for part of your college course as part of the study away program will require you to make your own housing arrangements. However, for your convenience, housing in VCU housing is available during the study away course, with students being responsible for covering the associated costs. This option provides a convenient and centralized housing solution for students participating in the program.

Regarding financial aid, the policies and guidelines established by Virginia Tech will still apply. Your financial aid package will adhere to Virginia Tech's policies and regulations, regardless of your temporary relocation for the study away program. For specific information on how financial aid applies to alternative academic terms and sessions, such as summer sessions, you can refer to the Virginia Tech Financial Aid website at Here, you'll find detailed information about financial aid eligibility, disbursement, and other important considerations for students participating in programs outside of the traditional academic calendar. It's crucial to review these policies and communicate with the financial aid office if you have any questions or concerns about how your financial aid will be affected by participating in the study away program.


Housing and Costs

Housing is available in the residential facilities of Virginia Commonwealth University, located in downtown Richmond. 

VCU Housing Costs to the Student:

  • Gladding Residence Center (GRC) Traditional Double- $42/night plus VA tax
  • Gladding Residence Center (GRC)  Traditional Single- $47/night plus VA tax
  • Gladding Residence Center (GRC)  Suite Double- $47/night plus VA tax
  • Gladding Residence Center (GRC)  Suite Single- $59/night plus VA tax

Parking Rates:

  • 1-2 Days, $16/day
  • 1 Week, $19
  • 1 Month, $76
  • 2 Months, $152
  • 3 Months, $228

Access to the VCU library is included.  Does not include any other student services or health care provisions.

VT tuition and fees for summer courses.

Transportation costs to and from the course activities will be covered.

Food costs will not be covered.