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Ph.D. Program

The BSE Ph.D. program seeks to prepare its graduates to become successful educators, researchers and practitioners of biological systems engineering or other complementary disciplines.

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Benefits of the program

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is the highest academic degree awarded by the University and is conferred upon a student who demonstrates outstanding original scholarship during advanced study. It signifies that the student is able to conduct independent research and has both a broad basic knowledge of all areas of the field and a comprehensive knowledge of one area. A student who wishes to qualify for the degree is expected to meet the requirements of both the Graduate School and the Department. Taking courses beyond the Master's Degree does not constitute being a "doctoral student."

Requirements to apply

Required Application Materials

  • Completed graduate application & application fee
  • Resume
  • Statement of purpose
  • Two (2) references, minimum (see below for instructions)
  • TOEFL scores (if English is not your native language)
  • Scanned official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended

Optional Application Materials

  • Abstracts of articles published in refereed scientific journals, if applicable
  • GRE scores 

Please submit ONLY the items listed above. Extraneous material will be discarded.

How to apply

Complete the online application, following the included instructions carefully:

  1. Include accurate email addresses for your references in the "Letters of Recommendation" section of your online application. Your references will be sent an email with a link to submit their letters of recommendation online.
  2. List up to three BSE faculty members whose research areas may interest you.
  3. Upload your resume into your online application (PDF format preferred).
  4. Upload your statement of purpose into your online application (PDF format preferred).
  5. Upload scans of your official transcript(s), or your unofficial transcript from HokieSpa, into your online application (PDF format preferred). Consult the Graduate School's Applying to Virginia Tech page for more information on uploading a transcript.
  6. Submit your online application and application fee.

Complete the online application, following included instructions carefully:

  1. Include accurate email addresses for your references in the "Letters of Recommendation" section of your online application. Your references will be sent an email with a link to submit their letters of recommendation online.
  2. List up to three BSE faculty members whose research areas may interest you.
  3. Upload your resume into your online application (PDF format preferred).
  4. Upload your statement of purpose into your online application (PDF format preferred).
  5. Upload scans of your official transcript(s) into your online application (PDF format preferred). Consult the Graduate School's Applying to Virginia Tech page for more information on uploading a transcript.
  6. Submit your online application and application fee.
  7. Have your GRE scores transmitted electronically to Virginia Tech, using institution code 5859. Do not enter a department code.

Complete the online application:

  1. Include accurate email addresses for your references in the "Letters of Recommendation" section of your online application. our references will be sent an email with a link to submit their letters of recommendation online.
  2. List up to three BSE faculty members whose research areas may interest you.
  3. Upload your resume into your online application (PDF format preferred).
  4. Upload your statement of purpose into your online application (PDF format preferred).
  5. Upload scans official transcript(s) into your online application (PDF format preferred). Consult the Graduate School's Applying to Virginia Tech page for more information on uploading a transcript.
  6. Submit your online application and application fee.
  7. Have your GRE and TOEFL scores transmitted electronically to Virginia Tech, using institution code 5859. Do not enter a department code.
  8. Submit materials requested by the Graduate School regarding immigration and financial resources directly to the Graduate School. Do not send these materials to the department.

Direct Admit to Ph.D. Program

Typically students enroll in the Biological Systems Engineering Ph.D. program after completing their M.S. degrees. The BSE department also offers a Direct Admit to Ph.D. (Direct Ph.D.) program. Superior students with a B.S. degree can be admitted to the Direct Ph.D. program without completing an M.S. degree. These students should have excellent academic records with a minimum grade point average of 3.5 (for the last 60 credit hours) and should be able to provide evidence of research activities to indicate their ability to synthesize information and conduct research experiments.

Academic Requirement for Students without a Prior Engineering Degree

A student without a prior engineering degree is required to take the following two courses at either undergraduate or graduate level: Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics. The student needs to obtain a passing grade (P on a P/F scale, or C- (or better) on a letter scale).  If undergraduate level courses are to be taken, the course credits cannot be counted towards the student’s Plan of Study.  These courses can be taken anywhere that is convenient to the student prior to or after joining the BSE graduate program. For PhD students, the courses must be taken before the preliminary exam.