Frequently Asked Questions
Blacksburg is located in scenic southwestern Virginia. With a population of 40,000, Blacksburg is a rural college town that offers the convenience of small-town life along with a range of cultural, artistic, and intellectual opportunities. The campus lies 2,200 feet above sea level on a plain between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains. This historic area is noted for its natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Roanoke-Salem area lies 40 miles to the northeast.
Virginia Tech was founded in 1872 as a land-grant university in Blacksburg, VA. Today, with over 30,000 students (16:1 student-faculty ratio) --including over 6,000 graduate students-- and 3,000 faculty members and researchers, it is one of Virginia's largest universities.
VT is one of the leading research institutions in the nation with $450 million research in FY 2011, it ranked 42nd in university research in the United States.
The spacious campus has more than 125 buildings spread over 2,600 acres with an airport and adjacent corporate research center.
The cultural life of the community is enhanced by several excellent lecture, concert, and theater series and sports events. Excellent recreational facilities are available. The Virginia Tech Student Life web page provides information about the community of Virginia Tech and what it has to offer. A wide range of topics is covered on this page, including health services, personal and professional counseling services, campus and Blacksburg entertainment, international and multicultural programs and services, available housing in and around the Blacksburg area, transportation and parking, and student organizations that can be found at Virginia Tech.
Housing is available in dormitories on campus; more information is available through the Graduate Life Center. Apartments, usually unfurnished, are available off-campus and start at about $500 for an unfurnished studio. Assistance can be obtained from the Off-Campus Housing Office. Generally, the costs of living in the area are somewhat below the national average. Additional information about on- and off-campus housing can be found at Virginia Tech's Student Life website.
The individual laboratories within the department are well equipped for modern biochemical, molecular biological, and microbiological research. Available equipment includes gas and liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry systems, a MALDI mass spectrometer, an electron paramagnetic resonance spectrometer, standard and microplate fluorometers, stopped-flow equipment for rapid kinetic analysis, a robotic workstation for high-throughput screening, real-time PCR thermocyclers, a fluorescence microscope with digital imaging capabilities, liquid chromatography systems, systems for electronic autoradiography and fluorescent/chemiluminescent imaging, and tissue culture and insect rearing facilities.
Numerous shared on-campus resources enhance the research opportunities available to students. These include the Keck Confocal Microscope Facility, the Keck Transgenic Plant Greenhouse, the Fralin Fermentation and Protein Purification Facility, and the Flow Cytometry Core Facility. Access to NMR spectrometers and X-ray diffractometers is available through the Departments of Chemistry and Biological Sciences. The Core Computation and Laboratory Facilities at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute provide a range of bioinformatic, DNA-sequencing, and genomic/proteomic services. The VT CAVE is a multiperson, room-sized, high-resolution, 3-D video and audio environment that can be used to visualize a wide variety of biological molecules in 3-D space. Additional information is available on our facilities page.
All application materials (online application, three letters of recommendation, transcripts, test scores) for admission and financial assistance should be received by January 15 for the following academic year. Application to the program is made online at the Graduate School's Web site. Applicants will need to submit transcripts, statement of research interest, three references, and general GRE scores.
A B.S. or B.A. (minimum GPA 3.0 on 4.0 scale) in biology, biochemistry, or chemistry is considered the minimum prerequisite for admission, but students with majors in other fields are also accepted. The general test of the Graduate Record Examinations is required (not the subject test). Average GRE scores for the students who entered our program over the past three years were 530 (Verbal), 680 (Q) and (4.5) Writing).
International students must also submit TOEFL scores. TOEFL score of 577 or higher (233 on the computer-based test, 90 on the internet-based test) are desirable.
Annually: 70 applicants, 10% accepted, 50-80% of those accepted enroll.
January 15 for fall admissions. Applications for spring admissions are accepted only under exceptional circumstances. Admissions decisions are made in March following an in-person or phone interview (for international students) process.
Yes. $75 (non-refundable)
Ph.D. in Biochemistry and M.S. in Biochemistry (Students interested in earning a master's degree need to contact a faculty sponsor directly about application and admissions. See our list of faculty on our faculty page.)
- Advanced coursework
- Preliminary exam
- Seminar presentations
- Two teaching assistantship experiences
- Annual committee meetings
- Original research proposal
Training involves a combination of advanced course work, teaching assistantships (minimum one semester required), participation in journal clubs and seminars by nationally and internationally renowned scientists, and laboratory research, with research as the primary focus of the program. Advanced coursework on proteins, genes, and molecular and cellular mechanisms is tailored to meet students' needs and research interests, and is typically completed in the first two years of studies. Students entering the department complete research rotations with three different faculty members prior to joining a laboratory at the end of the first year. All students must pass oral preliminary examinations (by end of year 2) and successfully defend an original research proposal (by end of year 3) to continue in the doctoral program. Students that do not successfully pass the preliminary examination and research proposal requirements for the Ph.D. degree may be eligible for a Master's degree (thesis required). All graduate students are required to hold annual meetings with their dissertation committee to discuss research progress (via written report and oral presentation) and enhance their technical writing and public speaking skills. Successful defense of dissertation is required for completion of the Ph.D. degree.
Most students complete their Ph.D. research in four to five years.
Graduates of our program are employed in industry, academia, and government positions, typically following one or more years of postdoctoral training.
Fellowships and research assistantships are available to qualified Ph.D. students. In 2015-2016, the assistantship stipend for entering students was $25,000 for the calendar year. In addition, health insurance and tuition waivers are granted to all students receiving assistantships. Fees for the 2015-2016 academic year were ~$2,500. All students are responsible for fees, purchase of textbooks and thesis/dissertation printing costs.