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New Student Frequently Asked Questions

This page is intended to answer some common questions from students newly admitted to one of our graduate degree programs. Most of these answers apply to students attending the Blacksburg campus.

For answers to questions related to special circumstances for Fall 2020 related to COVID-19, see the COVID-19 FAQ page.

Before Arriving

I just got admitted. What should I do next?

Generally, the first two things to do are:

(1) Make sure that the Grad School knows your decision. You should see buttons to accept or decline at the application portal ( Or you can send email to

(2) Get your Virginia Tech PID (email address), see

I am still looking for funding. What should I do?

For details information about funding, see here. The short answers are: MEng students are not normally funded by our department. Most MS/PhD Grad students on support either get a Graduate Research Assistantship directly from a faculty member, or a Graduate Teaching Assistantship from the CS Department. GRAs are between you and the faculty member. If you want to apply for a GTA, see Be aware that we make funding offers right up to the start of classes, and sometimes even during the first week of class. Unfortunately, new students on the wait list are not likely to be given an offer until after they arrive in Blacksburg.


Things for August

When should I arrive on campus?

There are orientation sessions and events throughout the week prior to when classes start. So you need to be on campus and ready to attend by Monday, August 17, 2020. The CS New Graduate Student orientation will be held on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 in the afternoon, and you need to attend if you are a new student.

How do I sign up for classes? How many should I sign up for? Or any question similar to that.

Do not worry about any of that right now. We are planning to send out a mailing (currently planned to be sent by the end of June, but we will post here if that changes) with details on the process that we will use this summer. It will include guidance on how many classes you should take, what you should consider taking, and a process for how we will get you enrolled into classes. Note that we reserve seats in classes for new students, that are not publicly available until afer we do new student enrollments.

But to give you a bit of an idea on what to expect: For MS/PhD students on support, a full time class load is two regular (3-credit, for a grade) courses. Do not plan to take more than that, and there is no need to take more than that. To reach full-time status (12 credits), you can sign up for things like a credit of grad seminar or the Grad School GTA training 1-credit course, and then fill out your schedule with research hours as needed. MEng full-time students will typically take three or four courses per semester.