January 2007

Welcome back to the start of a new semester and a new year!


  • Proposals for the ’06-’07 Institutional Plan for Graduate Degrees (IPGD) are due February 1
  • Graduate Student Award Nominations are due January 26
  • Graduate Education Week is scheduled for March 26-30
  • Outstanding Interdisciplinary Program Ph.D. Student Award Nominations are due Friday, February 9, 2007 to the Graduate School. Eligibility is limited to Ph.D. students in three formally approved VT interdisciplinary programs.
  • All Colleges and Departments are asked to think about a potential nominee for the upcoming 2007 Graduate Alumni Achievement Award. A formal Nomination process will be sent to the Colleges shortly. The winner will receive this award at the spring 2007 Graduate Commencement ceremony.

Commission on Graduate Studies & Policy (CGS&P)
Degree proposals approved by SCHEV

  • PhD Architecture and Design Research, (ADR)
  • EDP Spin-Off PhD Degree – Architecture and Design
  • EDP Spin-Off PhD Degree: Planning Governance and Globalization
  • Online MS, Agriculture and Life Sciences

Degree proposals approved by the commission, and forwarded to University Council:

  • Master of Arts in Foreign Languages, Cultures, and Literatures
  • PhD in STEM Education: Engineering Education

Online Graduate Catalog
The online Graduate Catalog will be entering its first phase of internal testing in the middle of January. We expect that testing to take place for two to three weeks. At that point we will contact a few departments to test for approximately a week. We hope to be contacting departments to add their information at the end of February or early March.

The online catalog will allow programs to update information such as graduate program faculty, and program contact information at any point in the year. Edits with details about each program can be made at any time, but will be queued to be altered at the beginning of each academic year. Detailed program information will be expanded to include test score requirements, GPA requirements and similar items. Updates and additions to graduate policy during an academic year will now be added as they become effective.

We will post the most recent version of the policies and procedures in early February.

Policies & Procedures Updates & Clarification
Independent Study (5974) and Special Study (5984) are courses available to departments that provide some flexibility for curricular offerings. Independent Study (5974) is intended for an individual student who is working closely with a faculty member on an individual project. On the other hand, Special Study 5984 is intended for a group of students who are engaged in a special course (e.g., pilot for a permanent course; one time offering). Approval and enrollments for Independent Study are handled at the department level. Special Study 5984 requires Graduate School approval prior to the start of the semester. The paperwork for establishing a pilot course as a permanent course should be prepared after the first offering to allow time for approval through the governance system (a course is limited to being offered twice as a 5984).

Quite a few students incorrectly sign up for 5974 credits without understanding the nature of Independent Study. This usually results in requests to the Grad School for late drops and other adjustments to the student’s schedule. Departments can exercise control over 5974 projects by setting the enrollment at zero. After the paperwork describing the project has been prepared and signed by the instructor, a departmental staff member can add the course to the student’s schedule. If the department requires that all 5974 projects be submitted and entered within the Add period for the semester many enrollment errors can be avoided and students can begin work on these projects in a timely manner.

Assistantships (GRA, GTA, GA) are provided as part of the academic experience for our graduate students. It is important that incoming and continuing students are informed of the responsibilities of their assistantships as well as the length of time they can expect to hold an assistantship. Most of our graduate students are seeking multi year support in terms of GRA or GTA. I encourage you to develop guidelines for providing multi year funding for graduate students and share this information within your department. Although we can’t guarantee funding, our goal should be to provide a reasonable length of assistantship support that approximates a typical time to degree.

As you know, ETDs are to be filed within two weeks following a successful final oral examination. This long standing Graduate School policy is grounded in the assumption that faculty have read the penultimate draft of the thesis/dissertation, that the student is prepared to defend the thesis/dissertation at the final examination, and that changes to the documents should need not more than two weeks to complete. Please encourage your students to review the requirements for the ETD prior to the final examination and start the process as early as possible. Please consult the website for more information.

Annual progress review
Annual progress review is an important part of the academic advising process for graduate students. Spring is the typical time for conducting the Annual Progress Reviews (see Presidential Policy 229). Please conduct these reviews, share with the graduate students, and please send us copies of the individual reviews for all the graduate students in your program.

Course Withdrawal Policy for Graduate Students
As a reminder, the course withdrawal policy can be found listed with Presidential Policy Memorandums. Students must request a Graduate Withdrawal (WG) by the Friday of the last full week of classes for the semester.

Probation letters
Probation letters will be coming out soon for all those students who dropped below a 3.0 GPA at the end of fall semester. Students have one semester to remedy their GPA deficiency and departments should work closely with these students to help them succeed in raising their GPAs.

Graduate Applications & Admissions
As with any department, there will be personnel changes. For the time being, any questions related to residency, changes (of graduate program, status, name, campus), leave of absence, graduate certificates, BS/MS or Dual students, simultaneous degree, and Commencement should be directed to Jacqueline L. Nottingham. She can be reached at 540/231-3092 or ntnghm@vt.edu.

Applications are no longer being considered for Spring 2007 enrollment. Please make sure that any applicants without a decision for Spring 2007 be completed or moved to a future term immediately. Please work directly with any students wishing to re-admit for Spring 2007 and encourage them to complete their paperwork now. Requests to re-admit later in the term will only be considered for students who are returning to defend.