Two graduate students on the Flint Michigan Water Study team in the lab

These webpages outline the expectations for graduate students, graduate program faculty, academic departments and programs, and the Graduate School at Virginia Tech across all the university's campuses. The Graduate School and all members of the university community share responsibility for ensuring that these expectations are upheld by all. In the event that these expectations are not fulfilled in a manner befitting the high standards of graduate education at Virginia Tech, a complaint/appeals process, could be used to redress the concerns of the involved parties.

The expectations are grouped under six headings: progress toward degree, research and ethics, teaching and training, professional development, assistantships and financial support, and community. 

This document on the expectations for graduate education at Virginia Tech should be made available to all graduate students, faculty and administrators in all colleges, departments, and administrative units.

A condensed version of the Expecations can be found here.

Definition of a Graduate Student

Graduate students are individuals seeking advanced degrees or certificates, either full- or part-time, at any of the campuses or programs of Virginia Tech. They are in the process of advancing from receiving knowledge to creating, enhancing, and taking ownership of new knowledge. Graduate students have various backgrounds, life experiences, and goals. Graduate students have diverse needs related to their multiple roles at Virginia Tech, such as student, researcher, educator, mentor, emerging and advancing professional, engaged scholar, and responsible citizen.

Working Together

At Virginia Tech, graduate students work closely with faculty to acquire the skills of academic disciplines and to create and synthesize knowledge needed to address the complex issues of society through disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and scholarship. Graduate education is a critical component in the development of new knowledge, analysis of current research, creation of new ideas, and innovation, and dissemination of scholarship within and beyond the university.

To fulfill this mission, Virginia Tech seeks to instill in each student an understanding of and capacity for scholarship, independent critical judgment, academic rigor, and intellectual integrity. It is the joint responsibility of faculty and graduate students to work together to foster these ends through relationships that encourage freedom of inquiry, demonstrate personal and professional integrity, and foster mutual respect.

Building a graduate community for quality graduate education depends upon the professional and ethical conduct of both faculty and students. Each party in the graduate process—that is, the faculty, the graduate students, the graduate department or program, and the Graduate School—has particular responsibilities and expectations in ensuring the achievement of these primary goals.

A Note about Academic Civility

Virginia Tech is committed to sustaining a positive workplace and learning environment that respects individual dignity and is free of coercion, harassment, intimidation, fear, and exploitation (see Principles of Community). Graduate students, therefore, have a reasonable expectation of civility from faculty and staff with whom they interact. Likewise, they are expected to extend that civility toward others in the Virginia Tech community.

Academic disrespect (sometimes referred to as academic bullying) is repeated belittling or intimidating behavior (verbal or non-verbal, intentional or unintentional) in a university setting that undermines a person’s self-esteem, health, feelings of safety, and productivity. It is one of a spectrum of behaviors (e.g., sexual harassment, discrimination, and workplace violence) that contributes to a hostile work environment.

We recognize that an academic culture, which is built upon academic freedom, individual accomplishment, and, increasingly, competition for funding, may be susceptible to behaviors characterized as uncivil or disrespectful and that these behaviors can be detrimental to both individuals and the institutional climate.

Disrespect can occur in many relationships: faculty-to-student, staff-to-student, administrator-to-faculty, faculty-to-faculty, student-to-student, student-to-staff, student-to-faculty, etc. Consequently, academic disrespect is an issue of concern for the entire Virginia Tech community. However, constituencies in subordinate positions, such as graduate students, are more likely to become recipients of academic incivility.