Getting Started as a Student

This guide will help you navigate what you need to know and do as a new graduate student.   "*" denotes mandatory actions, policies or deadlines for students at the specified campus location(s).

Student Identification

Once you’re accepted by the Graduate School, the first thing you should do is create your PID and password and set up 2-factor authentication, a high security login process. This will give you access to online services like:

You’ll use your Hokie Passport to access buildings, library materials, athletic events, and the Blacksburg Transit bus system. It can also be used as a debit card in retail establishments on and off campus. Carry it with you as identification to present to university officials upon request.

To receive your Hokie Passport, you must be registered for at least one course. Take a picture ID with you to the Hokie Passport Office in the Student Services Building, Suite 100, to get your photo taken and receive your card.

National Capital Region students should visit the Northern Virginia Center's website for more information.

Academics

Find contact information for your academic department to ask about meeting with your graduate advisor, funding opportunities, class schedules and registration, and orientation requirements, if any.

Consult with your graduate advisor or graduate coordinator about what classes to take in your first semester. You can register for classes during two windows of time: course request and drop/add period. Dates are posted on the Registrar's website.

During the course request or drop/add period, you can choose classes on Hokie SPA: select Registration and Schedule, then follow the commands to select your classes. Hokie SPA will not allow you to enroll in classes that are full or restricted. You may continue to change your course schedule by dropping and adding courses until the published deadlines.

Students on assistantships or fellowships are required to register for a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester; all other students may register for 9 credit hours to qualify for full-time status. There is no additional increase in tuition beyond 9 hours.

Access this registration tutorial to learn how to prepare for registration, search for classes, and add/drop classes.

Keep track of the deadlines for academic progress so you’ll know when to notify us of your intended graduation date, when to complete your final exam, and when to submit your thesis or dissertation.

Registration, add/drop, and withdrawal deadlines are listed in the academic calendar.

You can find the books that are listed for your classes by visiting the University Bookstore on campus, online, or at its University Mall location. You can purchase these books from the bookstore or from any other retailer.

Health and Medical Requirements

All Blacksburg and Roanoke students must turn in an immunization history form, Tuberculosis risk assessment form, and medical history form in order to register for classes. Submit health forms to the Schiffert Health Center one month before classes begin.
Students enrolled at the National Capital Region campus are exempt from this requirement.

International students located in Blacksburg must register for an orientation to healthcare session.

The Graduate School encourages you to purchase medical insurance for yourself and your family. If you are an international student, you are required to purchase health insurance for the duration of your stay.

If you’re a full-time graduate student, you have the option to enroll in the university-sponsored Aetna insurance program. The Student Medical Insurance Office can provide detailed information about the insurance plan, coverage costs, and effective dates. You can purchase the plan online or in person at the Student Medical Insurance Office.

If you have a graduate assistantship of at least 10 hours per week (50%) between August 10 and May 9, you’re eligible for a subsidy on the premium of the university-sponsored plan. For more information, visit the health insurance benefits page .

Tuition and Financial Aid

You must register for classes before you can pay your tuition and fees. After you register, an electronic bill will be generated, including tuition, comprehensive fees, and other charges you may have incurred. Check your account status and pay online through Hokie Wallet, located in HokieSpa; you will not receive a paper statement. Pay any outstanding charges on your student account before the payment due date to avoid late fees and other penalties.

View your financial checklist and learn how to read your bill.

Graduate students who are Virginia residents do not automatically receive in-state resident status upon admission, even if they were in-state undergraduate students at Virginia Tech.  All applicants wishing to be considered for in-state tuition must submit the In-State Tuition Request form. If you are a current student being charged out-of-state tuition and the Commonwealth Facility and Equipment fee and wish to be considered for in-state rates, please submit this form and supporting documents.

If you have an assistantship, find out how that will affect your tuition. Generally, comprehensive fees are not covered by assistantship benefits, but in-state and out-of-state tuition may be covered in full or in part. Graduate assistants may also sign up for a payment plan on Hokie SPA to pay their comprehensive fees in installments.

If you’re looking for financial support, learn more about graduate funding sources. Jobs.vt.edu lists available student wage jobs year-round, and Career and Professional Development offers tools and advice to help you with job searches.

Housing and Transportation

Virginia Tech offers campus housing for graduate and professional students that provides privacy, convenience, and an atmosphere where you can learn and get work done. Campus housing is only available for individuals, not spouses/partners and other family, and requires the purchase of a major meal plan. 

The Virginia Tech Off-Campus Housing Service has information about off-campus housing, rentals, subleasing, roommates, transportation, utilities, and more for students in the Blacksburg area. The site includes a searchable database where you can specify criteria you are looking for in an apartment or roommate.

National Capital Region students should visit the Northern Virginia Center's website to learn about housing options in that area.

Information about traveling to campus by car, plane or bus can be found on the university's main directions website.

Orientation and Welcome Activities

Check out the beginning of the semester events and activities  to welcome new graduate students to Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus. Visit the GLC Weekly blog post and Graduate Life Center event calendar to learn about events througout the year.  Though these events are designed with Blacksburg students in mind, all graduate students are welcome to attend.

National Capital Region students should visit the Northern Virginia Center's website to learn about events happening in that area.

Participate in Graduate Student Orientation. Attendance is optional, but encouraged, and we ask that you register online.

National Capital Region students should visit the Northern Virginia Center's website to learn about orientation on that campus.

Virtual students and students unable to attend our Blacksburg orientation are invited to review our orientation slide show.

All new international graduate students must complete a mandatory check-in process after arrival. Follow the instructions on our website to prepare for check-in.

Expectations and Policies

A variety of policies govern academic activities and student life, including the Graduate Honor System that sets standards of academic integrity, and the Code of Student Conduct that describes prohibited acts on campus.   Learn about various policies and standards of student conduct, including your responsibilities as a graduate student and the resources designed to help you navigate them, such as the graduate ombudsperson.

Be familiar with the policies and procedures that apply to you during your time here as a student, including the graduate student policies in the Graduate Catalog, university policies, and the Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Prevention policy. Academic programs/departments also have a set of departmental expectations and standards for students -- contact your graduate coordinator to learn about these.