Chapter 2: ADMISSIONS & NEW STUDENT INFORMATION
Admission to the Graduate School requires the submission of a completed on-line
application, two (2) up-to-date transcripts of undergraduate and
graduate records (send one to the graduate School and the other directly to
ECE), three recommendations sent directly to ECE from people familiar
with the student's academic and/or work background, and a nonrefundable application
fee of $45.00. After all completed application materials are received,
the Admissions Committee (or its representative) can make recommendations concerning
admission. Departmental guidelines for making these recommendations are detailed
in the next section. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE-general test including
the verbal, quantitative, and analytic) is required of all applicants (other
than the BS/MS applicants and Virginia Tech students in ECE earning a BS degree
in ECE with a 3.5 or higher GPA, or those students who take the exam prior to
a change in status and special categories of excellence for Commonwealth Campus
All application materials should have been received by December 31
preceding the date of enrollment (usually in the Fall semester of the same year).
All international students whose native language is not English and who have
not earned a bachelor or masters degree from an American, Canadian, or British
institution are required to take the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign
Language) Exam as well as the GRE. Their applications will not be acted upon
until both the TOEFL and the GRE test scores have been received.
Deferral and Reconsideration
Applicants requesting a deferral or reconsideration must complete a new on-line
application by the ECE application deadline stated for the term (see 2.1 Admission).
The original supplemental materials are maintained within the ECE Graduate Advising
Office for one year. It is advisable to submit all updated documents to ECE.
Students with Non-EE/CpE Backgrounds (or switching between EE and CpE)
Students holding or expecting a bachelor's degree in a curriculum other
than electrical or computer engineering (for the corresponding graduate
degree) are handled on an individual basis. GPA requirements for admission
status are generally higher than for electrical and computer engineering
graduates. (GPA refers to grade point average)
Students from programs such as physics, mathematics, computer science,
engineering technology, engineering (other than electrical or computer),
and other programs usually lack background in areas of work required of
electrical and computer engineering students.
Each student's make-up needs in course work must be assessed on an individual
basis. The exact nature of courses which a student may need should be decided
by the student and his or her interim advisor, and approved by the ECE Assistant
Department Head for Graduate Education. Students crossing from CpE to EE or
EE to CpE may also require additional undergraduate (or MS level) coursework.
Recommendations are typically made as part of the admissions process. Typical
needs are the following:
|Bachelor's Degree Background
||Typical Required Course Work Groups
(See tables below for courses related to each group.)
||B & C
||B & C
||B & C
||B & C
||B & C
||A (less Stat 4714), B, & C
||A (less Stat 4714) & C
|Non-Engineering, Non-Physics, Non-Math
||A, B, & C
||A, B, & C
If a student makes up courses in the group areas, such courses will
not count as credit toward the advanced EE/CpE degree. However, these courses,
if taken at Virginia Tech, will be counted by the Graduate School toward
a student's grade point average (GPA). These make-up courses may be taken
concurrently with graduate level EE/CpE courses, assuming prerequisites
are met. The courses used to meet these entry requirements will be entered
as supporting courses on the plan of study.
Students seeking a graduate degree in ECE with a Bachelor's degree in
a discipline other than EE or CpE (or changing form EE to CpE or CpE to
EE) should have or obtain a background equivalent to the following Virginia
Tech undergraduate courses.
||PHYS 2305, 2306 "Foundations of Physics"
MATH 2214, 2224, STAT 4714 ("STAT for EE")
||ECE 3105 "EM Fields I"
||CS 2604 "Data Structures and File Management"
CS 3204 "Operating Syst"
||ECE 2504 "Computer Engineering"
ECE 2704 "Signals and Systems"
ECE 3204 "Electronics II"
- Three (3) of the following:
- ECE 3106 "EM Fields II"
- ECE 3304 "Power"
- ECE 3614 "Communications"
- ECE 3704 "Continuous and Discrete Systems,"
|ECE 2504 "Computer Engineering"
ECE 2574 "Data Struct,"
ECE 2704 "Signals and Systems"
ECE 3204 "Electronics II"
ECE 3504 "Digital Design,"
ECE 3534 "Micro. Sys. design"
Students Applying for the PhD Program
Students holding or expecting a master's degree in Electrical or Computer Engineering
may apply for the PhD degree program. The expected MS GPA for entry into the
PhD program is 3.5 (out of 4.0) as computed by VT.
Admission Requirements for Direct-PhD and PhD Programs
- The applicant will have received the Master of Science Degree from an accredited
(or Virginia Tech technically recognized) college or university and will rank
high in his or her class academically (U.S. standard: GPA
3.5 or above on work beyond the B.S. as computed by Virginia Tech).
A highly qualified student without an M.S. degree may be admitted into the
direct-Ph.D. program. Such students generally shall have a BS degree in electrical/computer
engineering from a peer university, or a Bachelor's Degree of acceptable quality
from an institution of higher learning that is recognized by the Department.
Entry into the program of such students shall be predicated upon minimal standards,
including a GPA of at least 3.5 on the last 60 credit hours of undergraduate
work (as computed by Virginia Tech). Required standardized test scores may
also be used in the admission process. The GRE general test and TOEFL (for
International students) test are generally required for admission.
- The applicant must indicate a field of specialization and be acceptable
to the Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty within this field.
- Those students who are currently enrolled in the MS program at Virginia
Tech, and desire to continue their studies toward a Ph.D. degree, must formally
request admission into the Ph.D. program during the last semester of their
MS Degree work. The request should be made by submitting a readmission form
to the ECE Graduate Advising Office. This request must be accompanied by information
as follows: (1) A letter from an ECE faculty member testifying to the student's
ability to perform independent research. This letter must also include a brief
summary of the student's past academic performance (coursework, examinations,
etc.); (2) A letter from the student with a discussion of career goals and
proposed area of study; (3) A letter from the student's MS advisor (if different
from the member above) commenting on the student's performance and potential
in the Ph.D. program. A student is expected to have at least a 3.5 GPA on
the MS degree at Tech. The student's file and the above letters may be circulated
to faculty in the area of interest just as a new student would be reviewed
(see below). Acceptance is not automatic; the willingness of a faculty member
to be the student's PhD advisor is also required.
- A student coming from another MS (or equivalent) program must submit an
electronic application to the Graduate School. This application will be routed
via the ECE Graduate Advising Office to the interest area most closely aligned
with the student's desired field of specialization. Faculty in that interest
area will make recommendations to the ECE Graduate Advising Office regarding
admission into the Ph.D. program and possible financial support. A student
who has not written a thesis or an equivalent research paper may be considered
for admission into the Ph.D. program upon the recommendations of at least
three faculty members who can comment on the student's research and writing
abilities. Funding for students is on a competitive basis based on the particular
needs of the faculty and/or department. Students wishing funding should have
met the funding deadline for applications.
- Final decisions regarding admission into the Ph.D. Program will be made
by the ECE Graduate Advising Office or appointed representative.
- All applicants to the Ph.D. program, whether holders of an MS degree or
a BS (or equivalent) degree, shall be registered as joint MS/Ph.D. students
for the first 21 credit hours of regular courses or for the first three semesters
after they have actually commenced studies at Virginia Tech as Ph.D. students
--whichever of these conditions is first met. Students accepted into the program
with an MS or equivalent degree will be allowed to continue as Ph.D. students
after this stage is reached. A decision to admit holders of degrees other
than an accredited (or equivalently recognized) MS degree --e.g. graduates
with a BS degree-- directly into the Ph.D. program at this stage shall
be made subject to the following conditions:
- So-called "direct" entry into the Ph.D. program shall be contingent
upon a GPA average of at least 3.5 over the first 21 credit hours of regular
courses, as well as having had a GPA average of 3.5 over the last 60 hours
of his/her undergraduate degree. Thus these first 21 hours must have been
completed within the first three semesters.
- The direct-PhD student must have established a relationship with at
least one faculty member of the Department who agrees to be the student's
- The decision to accept direct entry into the Ph.D. program shall be
made by ECE Graduate Advising Office.
2.2 Graduate Student Status
Students holding or expecting a BSEE or BSCpE degree from an ABET accredited engineering
school are normally recommended for admission status at the M.S. level (Regular
Status) if their GPA for the last 60 semester hours (approximately last 2
years), as it appears on the transcript, exceeds 3.4. For students from non-ABET
programs, the admission standard is 3.8 or above, depending on the program. Additional
restrictions may apply based on funding, space within the program, compatibility
with program objectives, or faculty advising.
The admissions officer may consider an admission status which deviates
from the above policy if circumstances warrant. Factors which enter into
such decisions include the institution where the student studied, the specific
courses taken and grades earned (e.g., grades in technical courses may
be weighted more heavily), work experience in industry or government laboratories,
and recommendations from professors and/or work supervisors.
Commonwealth Campus Program
Individuals may apply for the Commonwealth Campus Program administered by the
University. The ECE application deadline for admittance into the Commonwealth
Campus Program is two weeks prior to semester requesting entrance. This program
is designed for individuals that are currently employed and taking courses upon
advisement of employer.
Upon completion of 9 to 12 credit hours, students may apply for Regular Admission
in EE or CpE. The maximum enrolment of course credit hours per semester is 6
and no more than 12 may be taken under the Commonwealth Campus Program.
Seniors within one semester of graduation, with a GPA of at least 3.5 (based on
the most recent 60 semester hours of work) may take graduate courses to satisfy
an advanced degree program as dual registrants (refer to the Graduate Catalog
for additional details) if accepted to the graduate program. The student
must complete a form in the Registrar's Office in advance of taking the courses,
detailing which courses are to be used for graduate credit. The student may not
receive both graduate and undergraduate credit for the same course. Once the B.S.
degree is completed, the student must submit a standard form requesting the change
in status from dual to regular masters through the ECE Graduate Advising Office.
Undergraduate VT students who have completed at least 90 credits and have a minimum
overall GPA of 3.5 on all undergraduate work may apply for admission
to the B.S./M.S. Honors Program. During their senior year, students may count
toward both the B.S. and M.S. degrees a maximum of 9 credits of 4000 level ECE
technical electives and 3 or more credits of 5000 level ECE, Math or CS courses.
No more than 12 hours can be counted toward both degrees and courses may not be
applied to the program retroactively. The 5000 level course(s) must be used for
an undergraduate free elective or non-ECE technical elective credit. Students
may pursue the M.S. in EE degree or the M.S. in CpE degree and they must elect
the thesis. Once the B.S. degree is completed,
students may stay at the Blacksburg campus to complete the M.S. degree or they
may go to the VA Tech Northern Virginia campus. Students applying for this program
are not required to take the GRE for admission. The application form is submitted
directly to the ECE Graduate Advising Office instead of to the Graduate School.
Students entering this program are encouraged to consider the continuation of
graduate school through the PhD.
Exchange (Non-Degree) Status
Students often come to Virginia Tech to take classes that will be applied toward
a degree at another institution. These students are typically enrolled in the
equivalent of BS/MS program at their home institution. Exchange students in this
category may generally take graduate classes if they have completed the 4th year
of the equivalent BS/MS program. A change of status to regular graduate student
status will only be considered for students that are currently in the final year
of their extended BS/MS equivalent program. The GRE general test is required for
this change of status request. In addition, no more than 6 credit hours of the
classes applied toward the degree at the home institution may be used toward a
graduate MS degree in ECE at VA Tech (a final transcript confirming the courses
used will be required before a graduation application may be processed). Credits
earned while on non-degree status normally may be applied toward fulfillment of
degree requirements, if the status is changed to a degree status and the courses
meet the 6 hour limit of courses used at the home institution.
New students will be billed for tuition and fees prior to registration. Upon arrival,
the new student should select the courses to be taken for the first semester in
consultation with the interim advisor. Courses are to be added by the student
using the university's registration system, Hokie
Registration for courses in succeeding semesters is processed electronically
on the Hokie Spa during
the university course registration period. Once enrolled in a course, the student
may chose to drop it at any time before the university drop deadline. Exceptions
to the drop deadline are only given in extenuating circumstances with approval
of the ECE Graduate Committee.
ECE requires full-time graduate students to enroll in 12 to 18 credit hours
per semester. Students may enroll in ECE 5944, Thesis, or ECE 7994, Dissertation
to fulfill the requirement. Assistantship and fellowship appointments will be
withdrawn if enrollment falls below the 12 credit hour minimum.
Once an applicant registers the application materials become part of the student’s
education record. With approval from the ECE Graduate Advising Office, faculty
and staff within ECE are allowed to access graduate students’ educational
files for consideration of advising and research funding. Under the Family Education
Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, a student has the right to waive this access
so to do so please comply in writing to the ECE Graduate Advising Office.
2.4 The Interim Advisor
All new students are required to attend the new Graduate Student Orientation held
one week prior to the beginning of fall classes. Each new student will be assigned
an interim advisor in their desired area of concentration.
Interim advisors give new students helpful information in selecting
courses for the first one or two semesters of work, assist students in
becoming familiar with research opportunities, and help students select
For any two consecutive semesters in which a graduate student does not register,
an Application for Readmission Form is required to attend any subsequent semester.
A student that will be gone for an extended time should request a leave-of-absence.
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This page last modified on
November 30, 2004