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School of Animal Sciences Graduate Student Guide

The School of Animal Sciences (SAS) recognizes the significant contributions made by the graduate students to our research, teaching and extension programs.  Our goal is to provide an environment conducive to learning and professional development for all students.  The SAS Graduate Program follows the policies outlined in the Virginia Tech Graduate Catalog.  The purpose of this guide is to serve as a ready source of information to commonly asked questions. 

It is not uncommon for a student to change the type of degree they are working toward.  If you are a MS student who wishes to continue in the APSC Graduate Program as a PHD student, complete a Change of Degree Status form.  If you wish to change from a MS-thesis to a MS-non thesis, complete the appropriate form.

No.  You need to complete the Change of Degree Status form, collect the necessary signatures and remit to the Graduate School. 

The APSC Graduate Program has a small number of requirements which allows you to tailor the degree to meet your career objectives. The required courses are listed on the appropriate Plan of Study found in the forms section.  In brief, all students must take APSC 5014 Professional Development, GRAD 5004 GTA Workshop, GRAD 5214, Diversity for a Global Society or ALS 5024 Building Multicultural Competence in Ag and Life Sciences, and serve as a TA for one semester annually. Additional requirements include CITI Training and mandatory departmental workshops as they arise.

Both MS thesis and non-thesis students are required to have a minimum of 3 committee members.  A PhD student needs a minimum of 4 members.  The APSC Graduate Program strongly encourages PhD students to include a member from outside the department.  All committee members must have a PhD, DVM or MD. To include an external member from outside the VT community, complete a request for service form for the individual, attach a biosketch and remit to the APSC Graduate Coordinator.   

If you plan to graduate or take your prelim exam, you must enroll for 3 credits.  If your plans are to pursue research, you are not required to register for credits.

All exams are scheduled through the Graduate School which can be accessed by Hokie Spa.  Remember that you MUST schedule a minimum of 2 weeks prior to taking the exam. Do not take an exam without Grad School Approval!

Stipends are supplied as half-time employee support.  Our expectation is that a student works 20-h weekly in support of the School’s research, teaching and extension programs.  Efforts may include activities that lie outside the student’s area of research.  Formal research toward completion of the thesis or dissertation may be a component of the 20-h expectation.  The amount of a stipend is set by the College with all SAS graduate students paid a similar salary. At this time, stipends are offered at Step 15.  Please see the stipend table found on the Graduate School website for current pay scales. Tuition remissions (waivers) are included with the stipend.  Students are responsible for payment of the University Comprehensive Fee; current fee schedules are found on the Bursar website. For a complete list of expectations for professional development, and progress toward degree, please review those established by the VT Graduate School.

No.  However, if you plan to graduate within the first 5 weeks of the semester, you can apply for a Start of Semester Defense Exemption (SSDE).  The form can be found on the Graduate School website.  SSDE allows you take a single credit in the summer or 3 credits in Fall or Spring instead of the required 12 credits.

Students are required to take a minimum of 12 credits to receive a stipend.  In addition, students are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA.  Failure to do so results in dismissal from the Graduate School and SAS Graduate Program.

Yes.  All students independent of their appointment (GRA/GTA) are required to serve as a teaching assistant for 1 semester each year.  The SAS Program does not assign students to courses but will help identify an opportunity should you need assistance.  Our expectation is that you work with your mentor and advisory committee to integrate into one of the School’s undergraduate courses. 

All students are required to complete the appropriate Annual Grad Student Evaluation and Rubrics form found in the Forms section annually.  This should be accomplished during an advisory committee meeting but can be an evaluation with your mentor only.  All evaluations are due on May 1.   If you are graduating during Fall or early Spring semester, please complete the packet during your final defense.  All reviews are remitted to the SAS Graduate Program Coordinator.

The SAS Graduate Program Director (GPD) serves as the student advocate whose responsibility is to provide guidance and counseling on difficult situations that may arise.  If you are uncomfortable visiting with the GPD, you are encouraged to speak with the School Director.   Both individuals are familiar with conflict resolution, counseling services and VT policy and protocols.  If you find communications with these personnel awkward or stressful, you may also reach out to the Graduate School Ombudsperson. 

At this time, MS students are required to give a seminar during their studies and PHD students are required to present twice (2).  You may enroll in DASC 5004 or list the title and date of your presentation on the Annual Grad Student Evaluation form.  Acceptable venues for presenting a seminar include the Reproductive Biology Club (RBC), SAS or any departmental or interdisciplinary graduate program seminar series, the SAS Research Day, VT Muscle Symposium, and a variety of other formal events found on campus.  All speaking engagements should be approved by your mentor and/or advisory committee.  

School of Animal Sciences Common Graduate Forms

The list below contains a few of commonly used forms for graduate students.  If the form you need is not here, please visit the VT Graduate School or contact the Graduate Coordinator.

Common SAS Graduate Courses

Print Common Courses PDF

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