Welcome, fellow graduo-dynamicists! Do you have questions about graduate school that you think may have been asked before? Check out this list of our frequently asked questions to give you a head start.

Can I make changes to the plan of study in the middle of my course/semester?

Yes, provided you fill out the change in plan of study form and get signatures of all committee members

Can I transfer courses that I did for a degree 5 years ago?

Usually no, with the exception of when you can prove you worked in the same exact field of the course in industry during the time lapsed.

Can I use the same courses to count in my plan of study in masters and PhD?

Yes under certain circumstances. It is important that you "double count" them and not "triple count" them. For eg, the advanced naval architecture course cannot be counted towards your masters, PhD AND the Naval Engineering certificate. However it can be counted just for masters and PhD or PhD and the naval engg certificate.

Do I pay the entire comprehensive fees all years of my course?

Probably not if you are proactive in establishing residency in virginia. If you have filed taxes after moving to Virginia for 2 years and can show the corresponding address proof, fill out this form:


This makes your tuition instate and takes off the 'commonwealth fee' from your comprehensive fees. For international students this whole clause applies only to certain visas:


I am an international student and would like to know the COVID guidelines of the AOE department.

Visit the following link for all COVID related questions:


Do I need to sign up for medical insurance or is it automatically done if I am funded?

The university covers your medical insurance if you are funded. However, you are required to register for it every academic year by clicking here.

I am a Graduate Teaching Assistant and have not found an adviser yet. What do I do?

All incoming graduate students with a GTA who do not have an adviser yet are usually assigned one of the Professors in the Graduate Committee as their temporary advisor. This is done based on the specialization you choose: Ocean (Dr. Alan Brown), Structures (Dr. Christine Gilbert), Aero/Hydrodynamics (Dr. Todd Lowe), Dynamics and Control (Dr. Marzen Farhood), Space (Dr. Jonathan Black) and Applied Physics (Dr. Scott England). However, it is recommended that everyone find their permanent adviser by the end of the first semester.

I am not funded and hence, do not have an adviser yet. What do I do?

The same policy that applies to GTAs regarding temporary advisers applies to students who are not funded as well. They are recommended to find their permanent adviser by the end of the first semester.

How do I select an adviser who is interested to work with me?

It is recommended that incoming students contact upto 3 professors whose research they are interested in. The contact should be initiated via email and usually walk-ins are not encouraged.

You can spend one month attending research meetings with the Professor’s group and understand the workings of the respective lab. Once you have decided, you can approach the Professor and can mutually agree to work with his/her research group.

I am currently not funded. How do I look for funding opportunities?

The best bet for any student is to get funded through a GRA. Keep an eye out for department emails that seek graduate students as GRAs for various funded projects. These can also be obtained by contacting professors and regularly attending their research meetings and expressing genuine interest by participating in their research. 

Additionally, the department also provides wage TA positions (these are without tuition benefits). At the end of every semester, students also get an opportunity to sign up for teaching assistantships. These will be awarded based on availability. PhD students are given a higher priority while awarding these assistantships. Fall semester GTAs are usually awarded by the first week of August.

You are also allowed to work as GTA or a GA outside the department if given the opportunity and is approved by your advisor.

I am not getting any department emails and therefore I am missing out on the funding opportunities that are being announced. What do I do?

Make sure you have been added to the department list-serv (aoe-grad-g@vt.edu) and have not blocked mails from it.

Where can I find the graduate student policies?

The AOE graduate study policies and guidelines are given here

How many credits do I need to register for?

Students are required to register for a minimum of 9 credits if they are not funded and 12 credits if they are funded. The maximum credits one can register for are 18 credits.

If I audit a course, does that count towards my credit requirement?

No. If you audit courses, those credits will not be counted towards your total credit hour requirement.

If one of the courses in the breadth requirement is not relevant to me, can I choose not to take it?

You can discuss this with your advisor and if he agrees that you need not take any one of the breadth requirements, you can get it waived.

How do I register for research credits?

Once you have decided who your adviser is going to be, you can go to Hokie Spa and register for AOE-5994 (Masters students) and AOE-7994 (PhD students) under your chosen advisor. If you currently do not have an advisor, you can register under your respective temporary advisor who is assigned to you based on your specialization. Once you have added the course to your schedule, click on "Schedule and Options" in the Add/Drop menu. Then, change the 1 credit hour of research to however many you are planning on taking. This is integral to ensuring you get credit for your work.

What is the maximum number of research credits I can register for in a semester?

You are allowed to register up to 18 research credits in a semester. However, you need to ensure that you do not exceed the 18 total credits limit if you are also taking courses that semester.

When do I need to finalize my Plan of Study?

The plan of study for Masters students needs to be submitted by the end of their first academic year (after two semesters) while for PhD students it needs to be submitted by the end of the third semester. However, if PhD students plan to give their prelim by their third semester, they are required to submit their plan of study before that and make sure it is approved by the department and the university.

What are the pre-requisites to appear for my PhD prelim?

In order to be eligible to appear for your PhD prelim, you need to have a GPA above 3. Your plan of study should be finalized and approved by the department and the university.

Where can I find the form to file my Plan of Study?

All AOE graduate requirement forms can be found here. This has forms to initiate other administrative processes like scheduling your defense, change of advisory committee request, graduate student activity report etc.

How do I get access to my lab space?

You will have to ask your advisor. You can also contact Erin Wilson (erinwilson@vt.edu) to give you keys or code access (as necessary) to enter your lab.

Will I get an office space if I am a GTA?

Graduate Student Offices are assigned to students on assistantships. GRAs without an office space can also opt for these spaces. Keys to offices are managed by Erin Wilson (erinwilson@vt.edu).

Who do I contact if I have an issue with my work computer?

Contact Steve Edwards (steve.edwards@vt.edu) and Jeffery McConnell (jeffmcc@vt.edu) for any IT related queries like setting up your AOE account, obtaining software licenses etc.

My course requires me to do heavy computations which my personal computer is not capable of handling. Are there computational resources provided by the department?

Yes. The AOE grad lab has multiple computing stations which are open to all grad students and has all the essential software most commonly required by courses. It is located on the third floor of Randolph at the end of the corridor.

Why am I unable to use the grad lab computer?

You need to have an AOE id to log into any of the grad lab computers. Contact Steve Edwards (steve.edwards@vt.edu) and Jeffery McConnell (jeffmcc@vt.edu) to set it up.

How do I go about placing a purchase request for my work?

The form for the purchase is available here. You will have to fill in your fund number, get your adviser’s approval and fill up the respective fields. The purchase request is processed within 24 hours and you will receive a notification regarding the same.

Who do I contact if I need to get a purchase reimbursed?

Courtney Loan (cloan@vt.edu) who sits at the AOE main office handles all matters regarding reimbursements. Any matters regarding travel and purchase reimbursements will be handled by her.

Where can I find purchase and travel re-imbursement forms?

All AOE administrative forms are available here.


This list is still a work in progress and will be growing over time. Check in periodically to see if any other questions can be answered here!