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Applying to Graduate School

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Benefits of becoming a graduate student at CPULD


  • You get to work on issues that matter! Our students focus on applied projects aimed to solve current challenges in the packaging industry. Most projects are sponsored by multinational packaging corporations. In addition, your research results may be built into a pallet design software used around the world.
  • You get paid to study! Our M.S. and Ph.D programs are designed to help you focus on your research and not worry about finances. We will cover your tuition for the duration of the research project assigned to you. We offer many competitive research assistantships annually to cover your living expenses. And, we can help international students get their student visas. 
  • You get to network and make industry connections! You will have a chance to work in our internationally recognized pallet testing laboratory as a Graduate Laboratory Manager. During this work, you will gain hands-on managerial experience and work on real-life contract testing projects with major packaging companies. This interaction with industry companies will give you, life-long connections that will help with your future job hunts while the research projects will give you actual industrial experience.


How to Apply to VT Graduate School!


If you are looking for the chance to further your education and collaborate with world-renowned faculty members researching, testing, and designing new pallets, packaging, and unit loads, with the focus of safety, sustainability, and cost effectiveness, CPULD is the place for you. We offer both master’s and doctoral programs for qualified students.

Being a successful graduate student requires intensive study and original research, so check into your options and make sure you choose the right path for you. You should always first talk with a faculty member in your intended area of study to learn about the current research needed and the assistantship funding that may be available for you.

Instructor showing how to conduct CoF test on corrugated board


The outline below is meant as general help only; it is not guaranteed to be complete. You are encouraged to research the application process through the Virginia Tech website, or by speaking with a VT admissions advisor, before completing your application to graduate school. CPULD is not responsible for any delay in your application process that may arise by you following only this outline and not checking with the admissions office to ensure your applications completeness.



As soon as you decide to go to graduate school...

Congratulations on your decision to apply to Virginia Tech's Graduate School. Here are a few steps that should be taken immediately to give you a headstart on the application process.

Everything provided below has been summarized from the VT Graduate Admissions page and it is suggested that our applicants speak with someone in admissions if they have any questions or if they feel anything listed here is unclear!

Send a professional letter of intent to the professor(s) that you’re interested in studying under – be sure to include your specific areas of interest and why you think the professor(s) of your choice would be a good fit for your research goals. The entire application process usually goes more smoothly if the professor has a heads-up that you will be applying to study under them.

  • We recommend also contacting the professor(s) of your choice via phone or email to ensure that they are available to take on new graduate students and that they agree that your areas of research interest will fit well with their expertise and educational programs.
  • If they aren’t able to work with you, for whatever reasons, they will be able to point you towards a professor who can, or who may be a better fit with your research goals.

There are immunization requirements for all VT students: Incoming Students

(For international students applying to Graduate School): We recommend that you look into what immunizations you will need to travel to the US and study at Virginia Tech. You will want to get these immunizations in your home country on the months-long timeline recommended by your doctor. If you wait until arriving in the US, you will be given the required immunizations all at once which could cause unforeseen health problems.


Months prior to the graduate school's application deadline...

Make sure that you complete these (and all) required tests in plenty of time for the results to be forwarded to Virginia Tech.

The exact date of all deadlines change annually and are listed on the Graduate Admissions Deadlines page. Please make sure you verify that you're meeting all applicable deadlines for the year for which you're applying.

All applicants must take the GRE General Test (Graduate Record Examination) – through the Educational Testing Service.

The Educational Testing Service Institution Code for Virginia Tech is 005859 – give them this code when you register and when you take the GRE so that your scores are forwarded to Virginia Tech.

  • The GRE test is offered almost daily, and sometimes 2x a day, (locally - at a location on Electric Road in Roanoke VA), but the seats are limited and fill up quickly. Check the available test dates early and register to take the GRE as soon as you decide to apply to graduate school to ensure you’re able to take it in ample time for the results to be sent to Virginia Tech.

If you’re an international student traveling to the US to study, you will need to check into when and where the test will be offered in your home country – and make sure they’ll forward the scores to all of the universities that you’re applying to – you will need to create an ETS account and bring proper ID with you to the testing center of your choice.

(For international students applying to Graduate School)

Take the TOEFL test – through the Educational Testing ServiceThis test proves English language proficiency which is a necessity since all VT coursework is taught and completed in English.

The Educational Testing Service Institution Code for Virginia Tech is 005859 – give them this code when you register and when you take the TOEFL so that your scores are forwarded to Virginia Tech.

  • As of 2018, you must get a minimum TOEFL score of 90 (IBT) or IELTS score of 6.5 for admission. Further, TOEFL scores of 20 or greater in Listening, Writing, Speaking, and Reading subsections are required. We recommend checking the VT website to see if these requirements change from year-to-year.


As early as possible, collect these for your graduate school application packet...

The earlier you complete the application process the more time you will have to change or fix anything that may need adjusting. It's recommended that you apply as soon as possible after speaking with the faculty member you are hoping to study under and after completing any of the testings required.

You will have to include your undergraduate transcripts (showing at least a 3.0 GPA). You must request the official copies of your undergraduate transcripts to include with your application – unofficial copies or printouts from online will not be accepted.

  • If you completed your undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech, you do not need to include this item with your application packet.

If you’re an international student applying for graduate school…

Your official transcripts will need to be forwarded to Virginia Tech in ENGLISH. You will be required to either have them professionally translated before sending them, OR…

  • Virginia Tech will allow a qualified professor at a recognized university who speaks both English and your native language to translate the pertinent information and sign his name to the translation – you can then send this, including the professor’s info, in as your official transcript.

You will need to include up to 3 Letters of Recommendation from previous professors, mentors, or employers basically stating that you’re intelligent, professional, responsible, and would be an asset to the educational program for which you are applying.

  • Our department will not even consider applications that do not include at least 2 recommendation letters. It is very important to our faculty that these character references are included with your application. Many people are slow to provide these, so you may want to start asking and collecting these as early as possible.

The GRE scores for all graduate school applicants must be included. The scores should have been forwarded to VT by the ETS, but also make sure that you include a hard-copy of your test results with the application packet.

For international students applying to graduate school…

The TOEFL scores for all international applicants must also be included in their application packets. The scores should have been forwarded to VT by the ETS, but also make sure that you include a hard-copy of your test results with the application packet.

An application fee of $75.00 will need to be paid either online or included with paper application packets.

You will apply online; it can help the process move smoothly if you print out and fill out everything you need ahead of time – this will make sure you have all the information required at your fingertips before beginning the online application.


It's time to apply to graduate school!

Make sure you check the Virginia Tech Graduate School application deadlines and submit your paper or online application before the date listed.

Once you have collected all of the items required for a complete application packet, it is time to apply to Virginia Tech’s graduate school.

One way to apply is by mailing/faxing the entire application packet (including transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, filled out paper application form, and $75 fee) to:

Graduate School Admissions
Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown
Virginia Tech (0325)
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Fax: 540/231-2039

Most people are now required to apply to Virginia Tech online: APPLY ONLINE

  • You will need to create an account using your email address and then make sure you’re logged into the system before you can access the graduate school application.
  • The online application form will ask for the same info as the paper application, so if you’ve gathered all the info ahead of time, you should be able to fill out the online form quickly.
  • Also be sure to scan in the hard-copies of paperwork that you’ve collected (transcripts, letters of recommendation, and test scores) in order to attach them, when asked, to the online application form.
  • It is also possible that, in addition to attaching the extra paperwork, you will be asked to mail in copies of your transcripts and test scores, etc… so keep a hard copy of all paperwork ready to go until the process is complete.
  • You will be asked to provide payment of the $75 application fee before being allowed to submit your application. The system accepts most major credit and bank cards.



Now the waiting process begins...

Time on a clock with flags


The Virginia Tech Graduate School can take 2-6 weeks to review your application, and at that point if anything is missing it will be sent back to you without a decision, so be sure that everything requested/required is included.

Once you are accepted into the Virginia Tech Graduate School, the graduate admissions board passes along your accepted application to the proper college / department based on what you’ve indicated that you’re planning as your course of study for your graduate degree.

Each department/college then takes time to review all of the applications accepted by the graduate school and chooses which graduate students will be accepted to study under which faculty members and what sort of financial aid/ assistantships/ scholarships can be offered.

The professor that accepts you as their graduate student will be in charge of contacting you and letting you know that you’ve been accepted to the graduate school, accepted to study in their department, and accepted to study under them specifically. They will also let you know of any financial help that may be offered to you.

This is why it’s helpful to contact the professor of your choice ahead of time. If they are familiar with your name, educational records, and grad school goals, then getting assigned to them will be easier and the whole process (after you’ve been accepted to graduate school at the university level) will go faster.

US Students: Skip forward to the New Graduate Student Checklist section…

International Students: Continue forward with the next section…


International students - after acceptance into grad school, complete the below listed tasks!

This section is in addition to anything else you may need to do to travel legally to the U.S. – it is not intended as a complete ‘moving to a new country’ guide. This outlines just what is needed to be legally authorized to study at Virginia Tech as a non-US citizen.

The below information has been summarized from the International Center's directions for new international graduate students.

It is your responsibility to ensure you have a valid, unexpired, US accepted passport. Passports can be obtained through your home country’s government centers and obtaining one is the first step in the process of being allowed to travel to study in the US.

Once an international student has been accepted into the Graduate School they must supply the following documents before an I-20 or DS-2019 form can be issued. You will need the I-20 or DS-2019 form in order to apply for F-1 or J-1 visa status. For more info, visit VT's international student admissions site.

Collect together the following information, documents, and forms.

  • Completed Immigration Information Form 
  • Copy of passport ID page (with name and date of birth included)
  • Proof of sufficient funds to cover educational and living expenses for the first year. The following documents are accepted as financial certification:
    • A current (less than six months old) original bank statement or certification from other legal financial institution, along with an original official letter (affidavit of support) from the sponsor. The letter should include the student’s name, sponsor’s name, his/her relationship to the student (parent, sister, friend, etc.), the amount of support and the time period for which it will be provided, and a stated willingness to cover the student’s expenses.
    • For assistantships, a copy of the assistantship agreement signed by the department is required.
    • Original written confirmation from the sponsoring institution or government agency of a scholarship, fellowship, or other type of funding. NOTE: copies of external funding also MUST be provided by the student to the University Bursar’s Office to set up billing to these agencies.
    • In case of personal funds, an original bank statement or statement from any legal financial institution that includes the student’s name, and the amount available.

Submit these documents to the Graduate School (submit the packet of documents via ONE method only – and only after receiving official notice of acceptance into the Graduate School):

  • Fax to 540-231-3714
  • Upload through the admission application portal – in Section 4 – Other File Uploads. Do not use any option besides “Immigration” and “Financial” to upload these documents.
  • Mail documents to: International Graduate Student Services, Graduate Life Center at Donaldson Brown (0325), Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, U.S.A.


Allow 2-3 weeks for Virginia Tech to process these immigration/financial documents. After receiving the above immigration documents, Virginia Tech will issue you an I-20 or DS-2019 form – which is legal proof that you have been accepted to study at a US university – this certificate / form is what you’ll use to apply for a student VISA through the US State Dept. If you did not include everything required the packet will be sent back to you without a form being issued.

  • Learn about your mailing options and let us know how you want us to mail your I-20 or DS-2019.
  • Immigration forms for the fall semester are issued and mailed between March and July; forms for the spring semester are issued between October and December. Forms for transfer students who are already in the U.S. may be issued up until a week before classes begin.
  • You will receive an email notice from IGSS when the I-20 or DS-2019 form has been issued and shipped or is ready for pick up. The email includes your SEVIS number, our school code, and additional details.

After Virginia Tech, a SEVP-approved school, accepts your enrollment, you will be automatically registered for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and must pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.

  • You will have to present the Form I-20, and proof of SEVIS registration and payment, to the consular officer when you attend your VISA interview.
  • If your spouse and/or children intend to live with you in the United States while you study, they must also enroll in SEVIS, obtain individual Form I-20s from the SEVP-approved school, and apply for a visa.

You will need to fill out the DS-160 form online and print out the last page (the bar code page) of the form to keep with you during the VISA application process.

  • You will be expected to upload a professional photograph while filling out this application – guidelines for acceptable photos can be found at the attached link.
  • You will need your Passport available as you fill out this form.
  • You will need to provide your travel itinerary, and the dates of your last five visits or trips to the United States, if you have previously travelled to the United States. You may also be asked for your international travel history for the past five years.
  • You may be required to provide info about your current and previous education and work history.
  • Other Information – Some applicants, depending on the intended purpose of travel, will be asked to provide additional information when completing the DS-160.
  • You will be asked to provide your SEVIS ID, which is printed on your I-20 or DS-2019, so you should have this form available when completing your DS-160.
  • You also will be asked to provide the address of the school/program at which you intend to study. This information should also be on your I-20 or DS-2019 form.

After you receive the I-20 / DS-2019 form, AND register for SEVIS, AND pay the SEVIS-901 fees, AND have a DS-160 form printed… then you will need to apply for a student VISA through the Department of State.

The steps for applying for a VISA can vary based on what country you’re traveling from – it’s suggested that you contact the US embassy in your home country and follow their specific instructions. But, in general, the process is as outlined below.

  • You must schedule a VISA interview appointment at the US embassy in your home country (the U.S. Embassy or Consulate does not schedule an appointment for you), and you must keep the appointment to move forward with the VISA process.
    • Make sure you bring your passport with you..
    • Bring your I-20 / DS-2019 with you.
    • Bring proof of paying your SEVIS I-901 fees.
    • Bring your DS-160 form with you.
  • You will be expected to pay the VISA application processing fee. Review country-specific instructions on the U.S. Embassy website. This fee is generally $150-$250, but can vary country to country.

Allow three to four months for your visa application, interview, and approval process from the date you receive the I-20 or DS-2019 form from your university and fill out the DS-160 form.

Once you’ve received approval of your VISA and you travel to the US you will be issued an I-94 Form which must be kept with your passport, I-20/DS-2019 form, DS-160 form, and F-1/J-1 VISA.

As an international graduate student, you will be expected to purchase health insurance while you’re a student at Virginia Tech. Documentation proving health insurance coverage must be submitted by all international graduate students before the start of each academic school year. The requirements for this insurance can be found on the VT website.

Once you arrive in the US, you will have to complete the mandatory immigration check-in process. All new international graduate students are required to check in with International Graduate Student Services (IGSS) to satisfy immigration requirements.

  • Set up your two-factor authentication sign-in process. You will need an active cell phone number to use from here forward to log into any secure Virginia Tech online system.
  • You will need to know your new permanent home address before checking in.
  • Collect together scanned-in copies of your passport, I-94 Form, I-20/ DS-2019 Form, and F-1 / J-1 VISA – all of these will need to be uploaded during the check-in process.

Orientations are completed online through the Canvas system, once you're accepted, you'll have access to orientation webinars.

An immigration advisor will contact you if anything is missing and will guide you through completing the orientation process if this happens – OR the advisor will contact you to inform you that it’s all been received and approved.

As an international graduate student you will be expected to complete an orientation designed specifically for international students coming to the Virginia Tech Graduate School (this is in addition to the New Graduate Student Orientation that is required of all students).


New graduate student checklist...

This section must be completed by all students, US and internationals, who have been recently accepted to the Virginia Tech Graduate School.

At least 30 days prior to classes the immunization records / medical questionnaire form must be submitted to the Graduate School. There are many immunizations that are required of any student attending classes on campus. Info about this process can be found through the VT health center. The immunizations records / medical questionnaire form that must be submitted is found here.

  • All students should check into getting these immunizations on their proper timetables by their home doctors. US students are more likely to have all of these immunizations already as they’re generally required for all US public school attendees.
  • (Particularly if you’re an international student accepted to graduate school) International graduate students, in particular, will want to have looked into this prior to arrival. You will need to have proof of receiving these immunizations from a doctor in your home country.

The form/records can be submitted through the health center’s secure online portal, hand-delivered to the Health Center in McComas Hall, or mailed to:

Medical Records Department
Schiffert Health Center (0140)
McComas Hall – Virginia Tech
895 Washington Street, SW
Blacksburg, VA 24061

You will need to create a Personal Identifier – your PID. This will be your access to everything online at Virginia Tech. It will be your email address, provide you with cloud storage while you’re a student here, will allow you to register for courses, and will basically be connected to everything you do from now on at the Virginia Tech campus.

It is recommended that your PID be a combination of your first and last names and, if needed, your birth year, but it can be anything you choose. It cannot be changed once it’s created – make sure it’s what you want and is completely correct before submitting it.

Contact your academic department and start a conversation with the faculty member who you’ve been assigned to. This faculty advisor will be able to help you outline a class schedule for the entire time you’re attending graduate school at Virginia Tech.

All students are expected to register for classes and pay tuition and fees prior to the start of each semester.

Classes are registered for, and payment is submitted through, the HokieSPA portal.

You will need to apply for and collect your student ID card, which is called your Hokie Passport, through the Hokie Passport office, 100 Student Services Building, Virginia Tech.

  • Hokie Passports can only be issued to students who are currently registered for at least once course. So, make sure that you’re signed up for classes before attempting to pick up your Hokie Passport.
  • You will be expected to have a filled out the ID Request Form, and bring a valid form of government issued ID with you, and know that your picture may be taken for your Hokie Passport.

All graduate students are expected to participate in a New Graduate Student Orientation where you will learn more about the expectations the Graduate School has of you, discover resources that will help you throughout your graduate student career, meet the Dean of Graduate Studies, and find out how to get involved in campus life here at Virginia Tech.


Links for more information about VT graduate school...

This section contains links to other Virginia Tech webpages that could be helpful during the application process and/or during your graduate school education.

Information on the Virginia Tech Graduate School can be found here: Virginia Tech Graduate School 

Information regarding the various graduate degrees and programs offered are listed here: Grad School Programs

Information regarding the various classes and coursework that can be taken are listed here: Graduate Level Classes

The processes outlined on this page for applying to the Virginia Tech Graduate School have all been summarized or expounded upon from the application processes described here: Graduate School Application Processes 

All Virginia Tech Graduate School application deadlines can be found here: VT GS Application Deadlines 

After you’ve been accepted to the graduate school, you will need to take many steps to prepare for coursework, research, and life as a VT grad student: New Student Checklist

Links for every step on that checklist have been compiled here: New Student Links

What is expected of you as a graduate student at Virginia Tech is outlined here: Expectations of New Graduate Students

All of the policies and procedures surrounding being a graduate student are outlined here: New Grad Student Policies

Any form you may need during your graduate school career can be found here: Grad School Forms 

Find clubs, organizations, and student groups centered around your interests as well as advising centers, mentoring networks, and health and wellness offices linked thru GobblerConnect


Everything regarding the application process that is outlined on this page
is also available to download as a PDF: