March 2006


  • The Graduate Commencement in Blacksburg will be held at 3:00pm in Cassell Coliseum at 3:00 p.m. on May 12, 2006.
  • The National Capital Region Spring 2006 Graduate Commencement Ceremony will be held at 1:00 p.m. on May 14, 2006, at the Center for the Arts at George Mason University.
  • Gaston Caperton, President of The College Board and former Governor of West Virginia will be the Graduate Commencement speaker on Friday May 12, 2006.
  • Dr. Joe Hairston, Superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, has been selected to receive the 2006 Graduate Alumni Achievement Award. This Award will be presented at Graduate Commencement.
  • Please make your admissions decisions for fall admissions as soon as possible, especially for international students. The deadline to accept students from overseas is May 15, 2006. Any exceptions for specific international students must be discussed with an immigration advisor. For the Graduate School in Blacksburg, please contact Zelma Harris or Ruth Athanson with details about the student’s situation. Contact Marija Telbis-Forster in the National Capital Region with details about the student’s situation. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis after evaluating the applicant’s chances of receiving the immigration paperwork and applying for a visa in time to arrive by August 14, 2006. A Banner report, SYRB601, allows departments to generate a list of all applicants that still are awaiting a decision. SYRB667, Department Digest Report (Status of International Student Applicants) shows international students’ status in terms of acceptance AND file status of immigration/financial requirements (complete or incomplete), and whether an I-20/DS-2019 has been issued.
  • GTA Workshop will be the afternoon of Monday August 14 and the mornings of Tuesday August 15 and Wednesday August 16, 2006.

Annual Progress Review

Spring is the time for conducting the Annual Progress Reviews for graduate students (Presidential Policy 229). Please conduct these reviews, share with the graduate students, and please send us copies of these reviews.

New Staff in the Gradaute School

The Graduate School is pleased to announce three new employees in the Graduate School. We welcome:

Jacqueline L. Nottingham, Director of Admissions & Academic Progress

Janice Austin, Educational Specialist on the Admissions & Academic Progress team

Lauren Keister, Graduate Student Services Coordinator in the Graduate Student Services Office. She will also be in charge of taking reservations for the GLC meeting rooms.

Commission on Graduate Studies & Policy (CGS&P)/University Council

The proposals for the PhD in Geospatial & Environmental Analysis (College of Natural Resources) and the PhD in Rhetoric & Writing (Department of English) were approved by the Board of Visitors and will be submitted to SCHEV for final review in May. The BOV also approved two EDP spin off degrees: PhD in Architecture and Design Research and the PhD in Planning, Governance & Globalization. These degrees are being prepared for submission to SCHEV in the near future.


  • A new section Procedural Guidelines (under Academics) on the Graduate School website is being developed to aid in understanding and complying with some of the Graduate Policies and Procedures. This section is intended to supplement the Policies and Procedures section of the Graduate Catalog.
  • Plan of Study and justification of old coursework
    In February 2006, the Commission on Graduate Studies & Policies approved changes for replacing the revalidation concept with justification for the inclusion of “old” coursework (i.e., > 5 years old) at the time of submission of the Plan of Study (POS). The changes are effective Spring 2006. The new procedures are included at the end of this Monthly Memo and will be posted in the Procedural Guidelines on the Graduate School website.
  • Manuscript format for ETDs
    We have revised the description of the manuscript format. The revision is included below and will be posted in the Procedures Guidelines Section on the Graduate School website. . Please share with your faculty and students.
  • Completion of The Survey of Earned Doctorates is required for all doctoral students. Please submit these to the Graduate School no later than the time of ETD submission. We will take responsibility for mailing them to NSF.



Manuscript Format Guidlines

In addition to the standard format for dissertation/thesis, the Graduate School allows for the use of an alternative format. The manuscript format refers to the use of articles and/or book chapters to replace the standard dissertation/thesis chapters. Publication of the manuscript(s) is not a requirement of this format. The following guidelines apply:

  1. The manuscript format for dissertation/thesis shall consist of at least one (for Master’s degree) or at least two manuscripts (for Doctoral degree). The content of the manuscript(s) should be based upon research done at Virginia Tech. The manuscript(s) can be previously published, to be published, or in preparation for submission.
  2. The graduate student is to be the major contributor and writer of the manuscript(s), as usually represented by sole author. In the case of multiple authorship, the contribution of each author is to be detailed in the Introduction or separate Attribution section.
  3. The graduate student is to provide the Graduate School with a letter of copyright release for previously published & copyrighted material.
  4. Whether previously published or to be reviewed, the manuscript shall be formatted to fit within the margins acceptable by the Graduate School and satisfy all requirements for submission in ETD format.

Section about Manuscript format from Appendix I of the Graduate Catalog entitled Preparation of Dissertation or Thesis. Note: This needs to be a separate section.

The body matter for a Manuscript Format will vary but generally contains the chapters of the thesis or dissertation, in logical order, each with its own title. Chapters may, but are not required to, include:

Chapter 1 Introduction & overview of the research

* sections as appropriate for the chapter

Chapter 2 Literature Review (optional)

* sections as appropriate for the chapter

Chapter 3 Title for Manuscript 1 (sections as appropriate for the chapter)

* Title
* Abstract
* Introduction (literature review)
* Materials and Methods
* Results
* Discussion

Chapter 4 Title for Manuscript 2 (see above)

Chapter 5 Conclusions

* Summary
* Overall model if appropriate (text or illustration if appropriate)
* Conclusions


Appendices (as needed)

Justification of "Old" Coursework for use on Plans of Study

In February 2006, the Commission on Graduate Studies & Policies approved changes for replacing the revalidation concept with justification for the inclusion of “old” coursework (i.e., > 5 years old) at the time of submission of the Plan of Study (POS). The changes are effective Spring 2006. The wording for the procedural changes follows:

The POS should consist of graduate coursework not older than 5 years at the time of POS filing. In some cases, graduate coursework older than 5 years may be included on the POS. Justification for inclusion of such coursework should be provided by the advisor, with the support of the student’s advisory committee, at the time of POS submission. Justification should consist of an explanation of how the student will achieve currency in the subject matter of the old coursework during the time in degree. Examples of how this may be achieved include taking related courses in the same subject area, work experience that requires currency in the subject area, reading original literature in the area as needed for the thesis/dissertation or other strategies deemed appropriate by the advisory committee. Once the Plan of Study is approved, no further justification is required for active graduate students. If a student becomes “inactive” (i.e., is on a Leave of Absence or does not register for a calendar year or more), the student must apply for readmission to the degree program. If readmission is recommended by the department/program, the Plan of Study must be reviewed to determine if the POS is still appropriate for the degree and all old coursework must be justified.

Some examples of methods of justifying old coursework:

The method of justification needs to be explained, i.e. how the Advisory Committee will ensure that the student is current in the subject matter for courses more than 5 years old that are included on the POS. The explanations for achieving currency vary with individual students and with subject matter fields. The Advisory Committee’s strategies for inclusion of old coursework and insuring currency should be consistent with the graduate program goals for its graduates. Examples of student-specific justification strategies are:

  • the student is working in the field (currency is provided by professional activities),
  • other related courses on the POS provide subject matter currency,
  • the thesis/dissertation research requires currency in the field through work with current literature,
  • the student will be tested on new material in the subject area of old coursework (although this is a possibility, in most cases it would require a long and detailed special exam to cover all the recent subject matter on several old courses. Thus, we question whether this is the most appropriate method of justification in most cases. If an exam is conducted, information about the nature of that exam and when it occurred or will occur should be provided),
  • other individual justification possibilities exist, for example, one committee had an employer attest to the current language skills of a student in an international relations program.

The method(s) for justification of old coursework should be entered in the Comments section of the electronic POS form. The POS and Justification of old coursework are to be filed by the time the student completes 15 Credit hours of coursework. Once the POS is approved, it will be considered current until the end of the degree as long as the student remains in active status.