Expectations for Graduate Education

The following points are an excerpt of key items from the full PDF document linked in the side bar, which we consider important and thus want to emphasize in here.

Expectations for Graduate Students

Progress Toward Degree

Graduate students are expected to:

  • Work within the guidelines provided by the department and program coordinators, which implies that students need to make themselves familiar with the same.
  • Devote an appropriate amount of time and energy toward enrolled credits - please note:
    • The estimated time and effort needed for success in course and research credit hours is about 4 hours of work per credit per week, including both in-class and out-of-class activities.
    • A full-time assistantship amounts to an average of 20 hours of work per week, independent of time spent on courses or tasks related to research credits.
  • Take primary responsibility to inform themselves in accordance with policies and procedures and specific program requirements.
  • Understand the assistantship requirements and seek to fulfill them satisfactorily: typesenrollment requirementseligibilityadditional employment.
  • Participate in the (bi-)annual progress review.
  • Take initiative to keep the advisor and committee informed about academic progress, and schedule committee meetings at least annually.
  • Inform the faculty advisor and the department graduate program coordinator of any leaves of absence that may be needed.
Research and Ethics

It is expected that graduate students will:

  • Communicate regularly with faculty advisors and committee members
  • Recognize that the faculty advisor and committee members are responsible for guiding graduate-student research but that students are responsible for conducting the
    independent research required for the graduate degree.
  • Exercise honest and ethical behavior in all their academic pursuits.
  • Work with faculty to understand and follow Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects (IRB) when pursuing projects requiring human subjects.
  • Know and follow the Virginia Tech intellectual-property policies.
  • Avoid situations that can result in conflicts of interests.
Assistantships and Financial Support

If appointed to a graduate assistantship (GA, GRA or GTA), graduate students are expected to:

  • Request clear guidelines for the responsibilities.
  • Fulfill the responsibilities and requirements and expected to work an average of 20 hours/week (for full-time assistantships).
    Note: these hours are in addition to the hours required for coursework and individual thesis/dissertation research.
  • Report any additional employment beyond the assistantship or fellowship to the Graduate School.

This document lists the expectations for graduate education at Virginia Tech for all graduate students, faculty and administrators in all colleges, departments, and administrative units:

Expectations for Graduate Education


For further information and resources, please visit the Graduate School's website on

Expectations for Graduate Study