Engineering Education at Virginia Tech
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What is engineering education?

An emerging field in engineering. It builds on a long history (100+ years) of educators sharing best practices. The field is now expanding and becoming a rigorous research field in which evidence-based studies explore issues of how people learn. In other words, we still share good teaching practices, but those getting PhDs in Engineering Education are focusing on scientifically understanding how and why successful learning and teaching approaches work.

What are the minimum requirements to be considered for admission in the Engineering Education graduate program?

Admission for graduate study in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech is granted by a departmental review committee and/or the Department Head. Admission normally requires a bachelor's degree in engineering from an ABET-accredited engineering program. We require the equivalent of a Master’s degree in a technical engineering discipline. Some students come into our PhD program directly from completing a Bachelor’s degree and work on a Master’s in engineering at Virginia Tech while working towards their PhD. Some students come from just completing their Master’s degrees, and some come from working in industry. We require a GPA of 3.0 or higher, official academic transcripts, three letters of reference, official GRE scores, official TOEFL/IELTS scores (if applicable), and a statement of purpose explaining your background, your career goals and your interest in teaching and research.

For a regular student status, a student with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) for the last 60 semester hours may be granted regular admission status.

Occasionally, a graduate student is admitted on provisional status if the GPA for the last 60 semester hours is between 2.75 and 2.99. Upon completion of no fewer than 9 credit hours of course, the Graduate Committee may recommend that the student be admitted as a regular student. Provisional student status is allowed for no more than 12 semester credit hours. While on provisional status, a student must earn a GPA of at least 3.00. Students on provisional status are ineligible for financial aid. International students are not eligible for provisional status.

What are your PhD program requirements?

We require credits from our department and credits from the School of Education—this is an interdisciplinary degree. A minimum of 90 credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree is required. Dissertation: 30 credits minimum (counts towards the 90 credits); Quantitative Research Methods: 3 credits; Qualitative Research Methods: 3 credits; Education: 9 credits; Engineering Education core courses: 12 credits; Engineering Concentration: 15 credits; Electives: 6 credits

Milestones include: passing qualifier exams (research methods, assessment, foundations); selecting an advisor, completing a plan of study and forming your committee; preliminary exam; dissertation proposal defense; dissertation defense.

What must my application include before I will be considered for admission?

Visit our Admissions page for current information needed for consideration.

What materials are required for students transferring to the ENGE PhD program from another Virginia Tech department?

All of the same materials (i.e., Tablet PC, software, etc) are required. This is a department policy.

Can I apply if my undergraduate degree is not in Engineering?

Yes. Students with non-engineering backgrounds can be admitted for graduate study. These students will be expected to either complete courses or show proficiency by examination in certain fundamental areas such as mathematics and engineering mechanics. Specific requirements will be set by the Graduate Committee.

Does your department admit applicants for a spring semester?

Yes. For application dates for the upcoming academic year, please visit the Applications page for deadlines. However, due to course sequencing, students are strongly encouraged to begin the PhD in a fall semester.

What is your university code for me to use on my GRE and TOEFL tests?

Our university code is 005859. If you have your official scores sent to our university code, the Graduate School and the department will have access to the scores at the same time.

Can the TOEFL be waived (for international applicants only)?

The TOEFL can only be waived by our Graduate school. Many circumstances are an automatic waiver such as graduating from a U.S. university. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Can the GRE be waived?

The GRE test is a departmental requirement. Our department does not waive the GRE test. If prior GRE scores are expired, then the test must be retaken.

Can I pursue a degree in your department part-time?

Yes. Part-time students are not eligible for financial assistance from the department. Ph.D. students would have to meet the residency requirements set forth for research. Please see the Graduate Catalog for residency information.

Do you offer courses online?

Yes, but offerings are limited at this time.

What will it cost to be a graduate student at Virginia Tech?

Tuition and fees can be found on the Bursar's website. Please look under student and use the left hand menu for tuition and fees

What type of funding is available for PhD students?

Most students are offered a teaching assistantship for 3 years (the standard load is 3 workshops per semester); some students are offered research assistantships on a research project with a faculty member who is typically the student’s advisor; some  students have fellowships (such as the College of Engineering’s Dean’s Teaching Fellowship, Diversity grants, or NSF grants). Some students have worked with their advisor and received grants to fund their specific research area of interest.

What is an assistantship?

An assistantship is a contract where a graduate student works for pay. Most assistantships also cover tuition payments related to the amount of hours you are contracted to work each week. A graduate student is considered full-time in the department if he or she works 20 hours per week.

For a full-time assistant, the department would pay for in-state tuition and the academic fee in full. Graduate Research Assistantships are awarded by individual faculty members who have received research projects (e.g. from government agencies). The availability of GRA's and the amount of the award varies, depending on the projects that have been obtained and the funds allotted for GRA's in those projects. Typically, in engineering research carried out by a graduate student on a GRA becomes part or all of the research for the student's thesis or dissertation.

For Graduate Teaching Assistantships, each program area in the Department of Engineering Education is allotted a number of GTA's to award to graduate students. The amount of the assistantship varies, depending on the duties and number of hours associated with it. The duties may involve grading of homework for courses or supervising an undergraduate laboratory course.

What is a fellowship?

A fellowship is basically income for the student to help with cost of studies. Fellowship pay is not earned income like an assistantship. Many times a fellowship is combined with an assistantship. Sometimes promised income is part assistantship and part fellowship payments. Other times a fellowship can cover expenses on the student's behalf. An example would be the payment of the comprehensive fees in a semester. In cases as these, the fellowship is paid directly to the university.

How do I become an in-state student?

Graduate students are encouraged to look into in-state status. A form and guidelines can be found at our Graduate School website. International students are not eligible to become in-state students.

As an out-of-state student, will I become in-state if I have an assistantship?

No, but if you earn $4000 during an academic year (or $2000 in one semester), the out-of-state portion of the tuition can be complimentarily waived by the Graduate School. 

What areas of research can I pursue as a PhD student?

Virginia Tech is very flexible regarding students’ dissertation topics. We don’t assign students to advisors—students choose their advisors. Research areas are not restrictive, but as a new program area are actually quite broad. Some examples of current PhD student research areas include: The impact of international diversity on the social, cultural and identity development of graduate engineering students; Communication and mentorship impact on identity construction; Identifying the links between constraints, learning and cognition; First-year engineering student experiences; Teamwork and team assessment in engineering; Scientific visualization and virtual reality; Modeling novice-expert development in robotics; 3D modeling frameworks; Online engineering communities; Disciplinary development in optics; Gender in engineering.

What other institutions offer an Engineering Education PhD?

Purdue University, Clemson University (Engineering & Science Education), Utah State University, Ohio State University, Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), Linköping University (Sweden), Uppsala University (Sweden), Universidad de las Americas (Puebla, Mexico), and Universiti Teknologi (Malaysia). A number of programs emphasize Engineering Education such as Arizona State University, University of Texas–El Paso, Tufts University, University of Kentucky (STEM Education) and University of Washington.

Where do Engineering Education PhDs apply their degrees?

Virginia Tech graduates are in positions such as: tenure-track Assistant Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Postdoctoral Researcher in Electrical & Computer Engineering at Colorado State; Teacher at an engineering magnet high school in California; Research Associate at a STEM educational products company. Purdue University’s graduates are in positions such as: tenure-track Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech; Director of Freshman Engineering at Ohio Northern University; Research Fellow in the College of Engineering and School of Education at the University of Michigan; Assistant Academic Specialist at Northeastern University.
Engineering Education at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech
Engineering Education (MC 0218)
345 Goodwin Hall
635 Prices Fork Rd
Blacksburg, Va 24061
(540) 231-6555
Fax (540) 231-6903