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University of Virginia is an educational institution that offers undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, and professional degree programs in the fields of architecture, arts, sciences, law, medicine, and nursing.

The schools of the university include School of Architecture, College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of Law, School of Medicine, McIntire School of Commerce, Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, and School of Nursing.

The university offers 51 bachelor's degrees in 47 fields, 84 master's degrees in 67 fields, 6 educational specialist degrees, two first-professional degrees (law and medicine), and 57 doctoral degrees in 55 fields. Affiliated with 7 Nobel laureates, it has produced 5 NASA astronauts, 7 Marshall scholars, 4 Churchill scholars, 29 Truman scholars, and 50 Rhodes scholars.

Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819. He wished the publicly-supported school to have a national character and stature. It is the first non-sectarian university in the United States and the first to use the elective course system.

Jefferson considered the founding of the university to be one of his greatest achievements. Undertaking the project toward the end of his life after a long and illustrious career that included serving as a colonial revolutionary, political leader, writer, architect, inventor, and horticulturalist, he was closely involved in the university's design. He planned the curriculum, recruited the first faculty, and designed the Academical Village, a terraced green space surrounded by residential and academic buildings, gardens, and the majestic center-point, the Rotunda. The most recognizable symbol of the university, the Rotunda stands at the north end of the Lawn and is half the height and width of the Pantheon in Rome which was the primary inspiration for the building. The Lawn and the Rotunda have served as models for similar designs of centralized green areas at universities across the United States.

The university was opened for classes in 1825 with a faculty of eight and a student body numbering sixty-eight. Jefferson took great pains to recruit the most highly qualified faculty, five of whom were found in England and three in the United States. Instructions were offered in ancient languages, modern languages, mathematics, moral philosophy, natural philosophy, chemistry, law, and medicine.

Jefferson opposed the granting of degrees on the grounds that they were ‘artificial embellishments’. In 1824, however, the Board of Visitors authorized granting the Master of Arts degree. The Doctor of Medicine or M.D. was awarded to the first graduates of the School of Medicine in 1828 and the Bachelor of Law degree or LL.B. was first awarded for law school graduates in 1842. The bachelor's degree was awarded beginning in 1849, but became the standard undergraduate degree and a prerequisite for the master's degree in 1899 bringing the university into conformity with other institutions of higher learning. The PhD has been awarded since 1883.

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