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FAQs: Prospective Students


You must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution. You should have a 3.0 GPA (4 point scale), unless there are documented extenuating circumstances.

The GRE is optional. The TOEFL is required for applicants whose first language is not English. However, those who have obtained U.S. citizenship or have a previous degree from an academic institution where English is the language of instruction do not need to take the TOEFL.

The following items must be included in your application for admissions into the degree program:

  • Resume
  • Writing Sample
  • Purpose Statement – a statement of purpose discussing your previous experiences in agricultural and life sciences, your reason for pursuing this degree, and your future plans after obtaining the degree. 
  • Transcripts – upload one PDF copy, front and back, of your scanned official transcript from each institution at which you have earned or will earn an undergraduate or graduate degree. If the institution from which you are requesting a transcript requires that the transcript be sent directly to Virginia Tech, please have the transcript mailed to:
    • Jennifer Jones
      Virginia Tech
      College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Academic Programs
      1060 Litton-Reaves Hall (0334)
      Blacksburg, VA 24061
  • Recommendations – contact information for three individuals who can speak to your potential as a master’s student in the degree program. A minimum of one must be a former professor or individual associated with an institution of higher education.

    The online application system will send an invitation to your three references based on the e-mail information you provide. It is a good idea to contact your references before you submit their names to the system. You will receive notification when each reference submits a recommendation.

The program has an open enrollment period, meaning that we accept applications until approximately one month before the start of each semester. Applications received after the dates below are reviewed for admittance the following semester. 




July 15

December 15

April 15

Yes. You may apply to the Commonwealth Campus, which is our non-degree seeking option. Students can take up to 12 credit hours of course work through this option. Courses taken as a Commonwealth Campus student that meet the requirements of the degree program will be accepted into the plan of study. 

You can learn more about Commonwealth Campus through the Virginia Tech Graduate School.

Students deviating from the minimum requirements may be admitted with "provisional status" to the Graduate School. Refer to policies in the Graduate School catalog. Search on term "provisional" in search box.

Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid

The University Bursar is responsible for all tuition, fees, and student accounts. Their website contains extensive details on topics such as tuition and fees, deadlines, payment instructions, refunds, penalties, tax information, and more.

Updated information for tuition and fees is located on the students page under tuition and billing.

The current program fee for virtual campus graduate students for the OMALS program is under "Graduate Program-Specific Tuition and Rates" on the tuition and fees document.

All OMALS students (whether resident, non-resident, or foreign national) pay the same program tuition and fees. Individuals who are residential students (on campus) or non degree seeking students are subject to standard tuition and fees.

Payment options include:

  1. Check or money order in the exact amount due (or cash if you can pay in person). Make checks payable to Treasurer of Virginia Tech. Mail your payment to:

    Office of the University Bursar (0143)
    800 Washington Street SW, Suite 150
    Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061

  2. Online by credit card. Log in to HokieSPA and click on Hokie Wallet to get online payment options

Receipts will not be issued by mail unless specifically requested. For more information, visit the University Bursar website.

Financial aid is available to degree-seeking students who qualify. Financial aid is not available to non-degree seeking students, even if they are enrolled in a distance-learning course.

Refunds are payable to you (not necessarily the check-writer) and mailed back to your permanent address. The amount of tuition and fees refunded depends on the date you drop the course. Please refer to the University Bursar to determine how much of a refund you might expect.

Yes, you can receive a tuition waiver or apply for tuition reimbursement if you are a Virginia Tech employee at the time you take the course(s).  A Virginia Tech employee may receive tuition assistance for up to 12 credit hours per academic year (Fall, Spring, and Summer).  Understand that employer provided tuition assistance (waiver and/or reimbursement) exceeding $5,250 is taxable in most cases.  The value of the benefit exceeding the allowable exclusion (per IRS) will be added as non-cash earnings for W-2 reporting and taxed accordingly once the $5250 limit has been reached during any calendar year.  If you have more questions about this policy, please contact the Human Resources department at 540-231-9331 or

Credits and Transfers

The degree requires a minimum of 30 graduate credit hours. Twenty-four of the credit hours must be graded courses (A-F). The breakdown of minimum credit hours is as follows:


Minimum Credit Hours

Research Methodology (ALS 5134, ALS 5214, OR APSC 5184)


Advanced Concepts in Community Food Systems (ALS 5234)

Communicating Leadership and Research in ALS (ALS 5104) 2
Building Multicultural Competence in ALS (ALS 5024) 1

Project and Report


Concentration Courses (choose 4 from course listing)


Electives (choose 1 from outside your concentration)

Total: 30

Transferring course credits into a degree program is the decision of your academic advising committee. You will work with your assigned major professor (advisor) to select two other faculty committee members.

Our program is flexible and allows for some substitute classes. Most committees should be reasonable and allow such transfers to occur, provided they make sense. You are in partial control of this because you can select your academic advising committee.

You can find a description of each course in the program in the courses section of this website. Compare it with any course you wish to transfer. The closer the match, the easier it will probably be to transfer your course credits into the program.

Check with your new university to determine the credits that they will accept. Note that there is no difference between credits earned in distance learning courses and those earned in on-site courses.

Yes. Contact the Program Director to discuss acceptance into this program. Complete the Change of Graduate Program form under the Enrollment section of the Virginia Tech Graduate School Forms page.

No. Distance learning courses carry the same weight and requirements as on-site courses. Your transcript will make no distinction between the two types.