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Graduates and Degrees

Graduates, 1875-1882—The first graduating class at Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College completed requirements for their programs of study in 1875, when 12 students received their certificates as “graduates” on August 11:  in agriculture, Edward G. Bagley Jr., William S. Boswell Jr., William E. Franklin, Charles S. Harris, Fenton M. Love, and Charles P. Muney; in mechanics, William F. Page, David J. Rumbough, and Daniel T. Walker; in agriculture and mechanics, Wilson Chaplain, Arthur S. Lloyd, and J. Lawrence Radford. The certificates were not degrees since they only represented completion of a three-year course of study. The certificates specified that the student was a graduate in agriculture, mechanics, or a combination of the two. The table below lists the number of certificates presented to graduates during the years before degrees were awarded. Some graduates earned additional certificates and are counted more than once.

            1875—12            1877—16            1879—13            1881—7

            1876—27            1878—11            1880—9            1882—11           

Degrees, 1883-1891—The first degrees for completion of a four-year course of study were A.B. degrees, presented to two students in 1883. From 1883-91, the college awarded both certificates for the three-year programs and degrees for four-year programs. The table below lists the number of certificates presented to graduates of the three-year program and the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded for the four-year program during this period.

Year Certificates Degrees    Year Diplomas
1883 11 2    1888 9
1884 9 4    1889 7
1885 4 1    1890 5
1886 6 3    1891 4
1887 5 2       

Degrees Awarded, 1892-2009—The college discontinued the practice of awarding diplomas for completion of the three-year course of study after 1891. Only degrees have been presented to graduates of the academic programs since then, with the exception of certificates of advanced graduate studies, which were first awarded in 1973 to three students in education. The first graduate degree, a master of science, was awarded in 1892. Graduate-professional degrees (civil engineer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, chemical engineer, and engineer of mines) were presented generally from 1893-1936. The doctor of philosophy has been presented since 1942. Professional degree programs started in 1973 with a doctorate of education. The awarding of associate degrees began in 1989. The first woman to receive a degree was Mary Brumfield (Garnett), a transfer student and daughter of the college physician; she received a B.S. in biology in 1923. The first black student to receive a degree was Charlie L. Yates, who earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering with honors in 1958.