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First Year

While most of your effort during your first semester will focus on your courses and your obligations as a GTA, the following tasks must be completed:

First Semester

  • Interview several faculty members and nominate one to serve as your Research Director
  • Undertake and pass a comprehensive safety, first-aid, and waste management training course
  • Complete the "second part" of the GTA Workshop
  • Complete CHEM 5004: Orientation to Graduate Research

Second Semester

  • Choose your Advisory Committee in consultation with your Research Director
  • Submit a Plan of Study (POS) to the Graduate School
  • Begin your research project. Note: Under certain conditions, research may begin earlier


Virginia Tech does not require graduate students to enroll during the summer months. If you completed your Second Semester of your First Year in "Good Standing", you will remain a student and remain eligible for assistantship support. During the summer months, it is expected that you remain on campus and make progress in your dissertation research, and complete any assigned GTA duties.

Second Year

First Semester

  • Preliminary progress in research leading to the establishment of a dissertation-worthy Research Plan
  • Completion of the written Literature Review and Research Plan (CHEM 5914)

Second Semester

  • Completion of all remaining Foundation and Core course requirements
  • Successful defense of the Literature Review and Research Plan in a formal Oral Preliminary Exam

Third Year

  • Significant progress in the dissertation research
  • First departmental seminar (usually replaced by an external seminar at a scientific meeting). This requirement is sometimes delayed until the fourth year of study without penalty
  • Complete CHEM 6904: Generating Research Ideas (first semester)
  • Preparation and oral defense of your written Original Research Proposal (CHEM 6914, second semester)

Final Years

  • Second (not external) departmental seminar. This seminar is used by your committee to establish your Fourth Year progress evaluation and to help you establish a clear plan for completing the dissertation.
  • Completion and defense of your dissertation in a formal exam before your Advisory Committee

Note: The Department of Chemistry does not guarantee assistantship support beyond the fifth year in residence.