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Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Systems Engineering



What will I learn?

Biological Systems Engineering (BSE) is the engineering discipline that applies concepts of biology, chemistry and physics, along with engineering science and design principles, to solve problems in biological systems.

The mission of the Biological Systems Engineering Department is to develop and disseminate engineering knowledge and practices that protect natural resources and improve sustainable production, processing, and utilization of biological materials.

Our faculty and students work in a broad range of biological systems, from natural systems, such as watersheds with a focus on water resources, to built systems, such as bioreactors and bioprocessing facilities. We work from the nanoscale to the macroscale. We seek to improve animal, human, and environmental health through development and design of healthy food products, vaccines, bioenergy, biomaterials, and water quality management practices. We convert biological resources, such as switchgrass, plant proteins, and animal manure, into value-added products, such as biopharmaceuticals, biofuels, and biomaterials, in a sustainable manner.

PhD (post-MS)

This option is for students who already have an MS degree and would like to continue their academic career in order to receive a PhD. The PhD is the highest academic degree awarded by the University and is conferred upon a student who demonstrates outstanding original scholarship during advanced study. It signifies that the student is able to conduct independent research and has both a broad basic knowledge of all areas of the field and a comprehensive knowledge of one area. A student who wishes to qualify for the degree is expected to meet the requirements of both the Graduate School and the Department.

Direct PhD

The Direct Admit to PhD (Direct PhD) program is for exceptional students with research experience who have a BS degree and want to be admitted to the Direct PhD Program without completing an MS degree. These students should have excellent academic records with a minimum grade point average of 3.5 (for the last 60 credit hours) and should be able to provide evidence of research activities to indicate their ability to synthesize information and conduct research experiments. Annual evaluations of the Direct PhD students will be conducted by the Graduate Committee and the student's Advisory Committee. If it is determined that the student does not possess the ability to successfully complete a PhD degree, the Advisory Committee and the Department would consider awarding a non-thesis MS degree, provided that all university requirements for this degree are met by the student. Successful students will proceed with their program and follow all Departmental policies and procedures established for the PhD program.

Which department am I in?

College of Engineering

Study options

Full Time (90 credit hours)

Tuition fees
US$14,633.50 per year
USD $14,633.50 for 9 or more credit hours (Fall and Spring Semesters), USD $14,207.50 for 9 or more credit hours (Summer Semesters).

*Price shown is for indicative purposes, please check with institution

Application deadline

15 September 2023

Start date

21 August 2023, 16 January 2024


Virginia Tech

925 Prices Fork Road,



24061, United States

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Students must have a minimum GPA: 3.5.

For international students

Admission to the Graduate School is contingent upon receipt of a four year (or 3 year degree recognized by the Bologna process) bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and the presentation of evidence of potential to pursue graduate work.

Minimum GPA: 3.0

Testing Requirements:

TOEFL Paper 550.0

Computer 213.0

iBT 90.0

A minimum IELTS score of 6.5 is required for admission.

Application Deadlines: Fall: Jan 05; Spring: Sep 15.

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.


About Virginia Tech

The institution offers over 110 undergraduate degree programs on a sprawling campus with over 200 buildings across 2,600 acres of land.

  • Ranked 46th for university research in the United States
  • Makes innovative contributions in learning and discovery
  • 14:1 student-faculty ratio
  • 1,800-acre agriculture research farm near the main campus

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