5 year BS/MS Program FAQ

To enable the completion of both a bachelor's and a master's degree in five years, Virginia Tech allows Virginia Tech undergraduate students with a 3.5 or above GPA to apply for admission to the Graduate School on the completion of seventy-five hours of undergraduate study. Because this program straddles the undergraduate and graduate programs, information about it is available in both the undergraduate and graduate portions of this website.

For details of how to apply and how the program works, please see the page here. This page provides an FAQ about admission procedures and goals of the program.

FAQ

What forms do I have to fill to enroll in the BS/MS program?

Admission to the program is neither automatic nor guaranteed. Athough as an undergraduate student, you are somewhat of an "insider" in our department, admission to the BS/MS program is highly competitive, just as regular college admission is. Please see the description of the program in the undergraduate section of the website (here) for specific details on how to apply.

What factors do you look for in admitting applicants?

Unlike a Bachelors degree, completing a Masters degree requires a good amount of independent, unstructured, research. Hence we evaluate applicants by their potential to succeed in research. We expect our BS/MS students to engage in research projects with faculty members, leading to a Masters thesis. The GPA is an (imperfect) indicator of this trait, so if you have more direct evidence such as publications, participation in a VTURCS project, or undergraduate research or independent study projects, those are good features to highlight in your application.

My GPA is slightly below 3.5. Can I still apply?

The minimum GPA requirement is a requirement for all BS/MS programs at Virginia Tech, not just Computer Science. It is set centrally by the Virginia Tech Graduate School. In the past, exceptions to the GPA>=3.5 requirement have been granted extremely rarely. These have typically gone to students who have otherwise demonstrated superior potential for research (e.g., prior research publications and/or faculty member's recommendation).

My GPA is greater than 3.5. Will I get admitted?

Not necessarily. It really depends on the entire application package such as the letters of recommendation and any prior research record.

Okay, I would like to do research but do not know what I would like to do research in. Can I decide that later, after I am admitted?

You can. But recall that the online application would require you to write a statement of what you would like to do in your graduate studies. Vague statements such as "I am interested in software engineering, bioinformatics, networking" (i.e., listing almost all areas of specialty in our department) are not taken as seriously as some specific theme you want to pursue. Graduate school is all about having a focused goal and preparing a plan of study to attain that goal. So the more concrete your plans sound, the more weightage your application will be given.

Can I send you my application before I submit and you can help me make it more competitive?

We are unable to do pre-reviews of applications. Further, it would be a conflict of interest to tell you exactly what you need to do in order to get accepted. You should treat this like a regular college/graduate school competitive admission process. The only sure-fire way to know if you will be accepted is to apply.

How do I find out what areas of research are being conducted in the department?

Browse through the departmental webpages.

How do I find out which faculty members have interests similar to mine?

Browse through the departmental webpages.

How many students do you accept in the BS/MS program each year?

We do not have a fixed number of seats that we seek to fill. In the past year or so, we have admitted 2-3 new BS/MS students each semester.

I have already finished my BS here. Can I get admitted to the BS/MS program?

No. The BS/MS program is specifically meant for students who have not yet completed their BS. If you have completed your BS, you must apply for regular graduate school admission and satisfy all the regular requirements of graduate student applications.

So when is the "right" time to apply for the BS/MS program?

Recall that the BS/MS program allows "double counting" of 12 credits between the BS and MS programs. The Concurrent UG/G form is where you specify which 4 courses (3 credits each) you would like to double count. You must apply before registering for any of these 12 credits . Courses cannot be double counted in retrospect, so you must be admitted to the BS/MS program and submit your concurrent UG/G form before you take any of these courses. For instance, if you are in your senior year (Fall xx), have one more semester left to go in your BS, you apply for the BS/MS program now, and you get admitted, you will be able to double count only courses taken in the following Spring, not in Fall xx. (This might mean fewer courses).

What courses can I double count?

Since double counting is toward an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree, you should ask this question separately to two people: your undergraduate program advisor and your graduate program advisor. The answer to the graduate program follows: Any 4000-, 5000-, or 6000- level course can be counted toward your M.S. degree, with the exception that at most one 4000 level course can be used toward that degree and the course cannot be a 4974, 4984, or 4994. For B.S. requirements, consult your undergraduate program advisor.

I am happy to be accepted to the BS/MS program. What courses do I need to take now?

Welcome! Be sure to attend the orientation that usually happens the week before first week of classes. Here's a brief summary of what will be discussed there: the Masters degree is given in either the thesis or the coursework option. Almost all admitted students take the thesis option. It requires 21 credits of coursework (7 courses) plus 9 credits of research culminating in a thesis. The coursework option requires 33 credits of coursework, i.e., 11 courses, one of which must be an independent study research project; alternatively, the student can take the 11 courses and a Ph.D. qualifying examination and pass it at the Masters level. Hence, the coursework option requires 4 additional courses beyond the thesis option. In either case, the set of courses used for the Masters degree must satisfy several requirements and constraints which are discussed in the graduate handbook. Since 12 credits (4 courses) overlap with the BS program, a BS/MS student pursuing the thesis option need only do 3 more courses during the final (5th) year of their study, leaving ample time to devote to research.