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Prospective Graduate Students

Dr. Kelly Cobourn and former graduate student Samuel Scott.

Dr. Kelly Cobourn and former graduate student Samuel Scott.
Dr. Kelly Cobourn and former graduate student Samuel Scott.

The Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech is one of the top programs in the science and management of natural resources in the United States. Graduate training in our department offers a unique opportunity to explore diverse natural resource issues from multiple disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. From the foundational science that underpins our understanding of the world, to its application for multiple management objectives, we seek to discover new knowledge and technology to address societal challenges from local to global scales.

Prospective graduates are encouraged to identify and contact faculty members in their area of interest prior to applying. Please visit our Faculty Research Page for more information.

Graduate Degrees in Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, application process, and information on assistantships/fellowships are listed below:

The M.F. is a non-thesis degree designed for professionals. Minimum residency requirement is two semesters. Candidates must prepare a paper for which credit will be earned towards completion of the degree. For additional information on degree requirements, see the VT Graduate School’s Graduate Policies and Procedures.


The M.S. is a research-based degree designed to prepare students for additional graduate study or a career in science. Candidates must prepare a thesis for which credit will be earned towards completion of the degree. For additional information on degree requirements, see the VT Graduate School’s Graduate Policies and Procedures.

The Ph.D. is a research-based degree designed as a terminal degree to prepare students for a career in teaching and/or research. Candidates must prepare a dissertation for which credit will be earned towards completion of the degree. For additional information on degree requirements, see the VT Graduate School’s Graduate Policies and Procedures.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. However, in order for candidates to receive priority consideration for financial support, applications must be received by the following dates:

  • January 15 for Fall admission
  • October 15 for Spring admission

Students must apply online, through the Virginia Tech Graduate School. Students must indicate which faculty most closely align with their research and education goals in the online application form. Throughout the application, students should pay particular attention to the detailed guidance provided below regarding admissions criteria.  

The Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation evaluates graduate student applications through a holistic review of demonstrated abilities and experiences relevant to three indicators of success: i) personal qualities and characteristics, ii) academic achievements, and iii) work and research experiences.

Below, we provide examples that candidates may use to highlight their potential for success. We recognize that these lists are not exhaustive and encourage candidates to highlight any relevant abilities or experiences that speak to their potential. Specific to the Graduate School’s application, opportunities for candidates to do this include the detailed resume, personal statement of academic and professional goals, reference letters, and statements within the Additional Education Experiences section. Applicants are also encouraged to contact potential faculty advisors to discuss qualifications specific to their program of study.

Indicators of Success

1. Personal Qualities and Characteristics

  • Contributions to diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice
  • Leadership ability and experiences
  • Motivation and commitment
  • Collegiality
  • Professionalism
  • Community involvement or service
  • Personal and professional ethics
  • Experiences in overcoming social, economic, and physical barriers

2. Academic Achievements

  • Rank in class
  • Overall GPA and GPA in major
  • Curriculum in prior degree programs
  • Progression of academic performance over time
  • Standardized test scores
  • Foreign language fluency

3. Work and Research Experiences

  • Field and laboratory
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Specific skills, certifications, licenses
  • Quantitative reasoning
  • Creativity in problem-solving
  • Planning and organization
  • Written and oral communication
  • Scholarly engagement outside of coursework  

Our department offers competitive stipends for graduate students pursuing M.S. or Ph.D. degrees. All graduate assistantships include academic-year tuition and enhanced benefits (e.g., health insurance).

Exceptional applicants may be nominated by a faculty member for any number of department- or university-level fellowships.

Contacts:

Jay Sullivan - Department Head and Professor
jsulliv@vt.edu,
540-231-4356

Mary Williams - Department Administrative Assistant and Graduate Student Coordinator
 
mwilliams@vt.edu,
540-231-5483

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