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Degree Completion Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Graduate Catalog?
The Graduate School publishes the online Graduate Catalog which contains information about policies, procedures, and courses pertaining to graduate education at Virginia Tech. It describes all of the graduate programs and requirements, and it lists faculty for each department. The Graduate Catalog also contains the Constitution of the Graduate Honor System.

How do I get a Graduate Catalog?
In an effort to save trees and reduce printing costs, the Graduate Catalog is available online.

Updates and changes to the catalog can be found on the Graduate School website.

How do I go from Dual Enrollment to Regular Master's status?
If you have completed all of the requirements for your undergraduate degree, you should complete a dual to regular master's form.

How do I go from master's degree recipient to doctoral candidate?
If you stay in the same graduate program, you may use a change of admission status form. Your department graduate committee may wish to re-evaluate your qualifications before granting admission to the doctoral program. If you are changing graduate programs, you should contact the graduate committee chairman of that department to determine what information they will require to consider your admission and complete the online application.

Do I need a "leave" to be away over the summer?
No, you will not need to request "leave" in order to leave for the summer. However, if you have an assistantship that requires that you work during the summer, you will need to discuss your plans with your department.

 Where can I find common forms used by the Graduate School?
 The forms used by the Graduate School can be downloaded and filled out.

Why does my plan of study need to be submitted so early?
The plan of study is essentially a contract between the student and his/her advisory committee detailing the courses that the student will take for completion of the requirements for the degree. It protects both the integrity of the graduate program and the student because it cannot be changed without mutual consent of the student and the committee. See the Policies and Procedures Manual and Graduate Catalog for specific deadlines.

Who is eligible for Start of Semester Defense Exception?
Students who were unable to schedule an examination time with their committee during the last term they were enrolled and who have completed all requirements for the degree, including preparation and having the final copy of their thesis or dissertation reviewed by the advisory committee, are eligible for Start of Semester Defense Exception. You can download a Start of Semester Defense Exception form.

The examination must take place in the first five weeks  of the succeeding academic term. If the thesis or dissertation is still in review or the student is still gathering or analyzing data, he or she is not eligible for Start of Semester Defense Exception and should be enrolled for three hours in order to defend later in the semester.

What do I need to do to receive my degree?

 1. Have a complete and up to date Plan of Study.

 2. Submit an application for degree (AFD) form before the deadline for the semester you wish to graduate.  

 3. Be sure that the Graduate School has official copies of all transcripts for transfer courses.

 4. Pay all fees due to the university.

 5. Schedule your final exam two weeks in advance, and take your exam before the deadline for graduation for the academic term. Here are some tips you and your committee can use for your final exam on Zoom. 

 6. Return your final exam card to the Graduate School immediately following the examination.

 7. Turn in your thesis or dissertation before the deadline for graduation.

 Check the Dates and Deadlines page for specific details.

What do I do if I need a last minute replacement on my examining committee?
You should contact your advisor and attempt to find a faculty member who can serve as a replacement. After a replacement has been found, you must submit a Change of Committee Form to the Graduate School.

Can I participate in the doctoral commencement and turn in my dissertation late?
Only students who have completed all requirements for the doctoral degree, including turning in the dissertation and having it approved by the Graduate School, may participate in the doctoral commencement ceremony.

What is the policy on changing from one graduate program to another?
Students sometimes make mistakes and find their original program is not what they thought it was going to be. Changing programs requires approval from the Graduate Dean and both the former department and the new department. Students should not enter the university with the intent of using admission to one program as a stepping-stone for transferring to another graduate program. Change of Program Form.