Admission procedures for graduate study

Application procedures

Application forms and instructions for applying to all graduate programs are available on the Graduate School website. Note that applications cannot be processed until they are complete (including test scores). Admission information specific to each program can be found in the department pages within this bulletin.

Test scores

Either the GRE, general aptitude portion, or the MAT is required for the Master of Teaching, the Master of Education, post-master’s certificates, the post-baccalaureate Certificate in Teaching and the post-baccalaureate Certificate in Instructional Technology. The Ph.D. program requires the GRE. The Ed.D. in Leadership program requires the MAT.

A passing score on Praxis core, although not required for graduate admission, is required for placement in clinical experiences (practica, internships and certain externships) as well as for licensure in Virginia. Contact the Student Services Center for applications for admission to teacher preparation and booklets on Praxis core and Praxis II.  Information about the Praxis may be obtained on the Praxis website at

Application deadlines

The following application deadlines have been established for the Master of Education, the Master of Teaching and the post-baccalaureate Certificate in Teaching.

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
Master's (various) Summer or fall entry Feb 1 See specific program
Spring semester term of entry Nov 1

The Ph.D. in Education and Ed.D. in Leadership have the following application deadlines:

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
Ph.D. Fall Nov 15 (early consideration) See specific program
Jan 15 (final decision)
Ed.D. Summer Feb 1

Students who are unable to enroll for the semester for which they are accepted must request a deferment.

General admission requirements

The admission decision will be made on an overall analysis of the following for each degree program. See each program listing for any additional information.

Master of Teaching, Master of Education, post-master’s Certificate in Educational Leadership, post-master's Certificate in Reading, post-baccalaureate graduate Certificate in Instructional Technology and post-baccalaureate graduate Certificate in Teaching

  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale on the last 60 semester hours of study: Applicants whose GPA during the last 60 hours of course work falls just below 3.0 may be considered based on the strength of the overall application.
  • Acceptable scores on the GRE or the MAT: Normally, students are expected to score at least 290 combined on the quantitative and verbal sections of the GRE with neither score falling below the 20th percentile, or at least 386 on the MAT.
  • An interview with the applicant may be required by the faculty of the program to which the applicant is seeking admission.

Ph.D. in Education and Ed.D. in Leadership

Refer to the program pages of this bulletin for concentration- or degree-specific admission requirements.

Advising and student program planning

The chart below outlines the general steps to completing the Master of Education programs. All other graduate-level students in the School of Education should refer to the appropriate section of this bulletin for information specific to these programs

Students are expected to work with their adviser to plan their programs of study. Each graduate program agreement, or changes thereto, must be approved by the adviser and the appropriate department chair. Courses taken without approval are taken at the student’s risk. Each student is required to complete and file a program plan with the department before the completion of the sixth credit hour.

Steps to completing M.Ed. degree

Step When Where
1. Admission 0-6 hours Office of Graduate Studies
2. Program of studies 0-6 hours With adviser, approved by department chair
3. Candidacy 12-18 hours Application approved by adviser, core coordinator, department chair
4. Comprehensive examination1 30 hours Application to department office
5. Externship or internship Usually the last semster of course work Application from Student Services Center
6. Graduation Last semester of course work; see deadlines on VCU academic calendar Application approved by adviser, department chair and dean’s office

Not required in M.Ed. in Special Education and M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction 

Admission to candidacy

Admission to graduate study in the Master of Education programs does not constitute candidacy for a degree. Rather, students who have been admitted to graduate study are advanced to degree candidacy upon the recommendation of the adviser, core faculty and department in which the degree is sought.

Advancement to degree candidacy requires that students must have completed at least 12 but no more than 18 semester hours of graduate study with a minimum GPA of 3.0; must have demonstrated clearly the aptitude and ability to pursue graduate study, including independent study; must have exhibited a commitment to their profession; and must have demonstrated promise for a successful career in the field selected with respect to temperament and personality. Specific courses may be required prior to application for candidacy. Admission to degree candidacy is not an automatic process. Students must file an approved application for candidacy with their departments. Only students who have been admitted to candidacy may pursue additional work toward the degree.

Comprehensive examination

  • Some students in a Master of Education program must take a three-hour written comprehensive examination.
  • Written examinations will be given on the first Saturday in November, the fourth Saturday in March and the second Saturday in July. Students must notify the department in writing of the intention to take the examination at least 30 days prior to the published date. All comprehensive examinations must be taken on dates indicated except for religious or health reasons. Any exceptions must be approved in advance by the department chair.
  • A minimum of three faculty members, designated by the core faculty, will evaluate each examination independently. Satisfactory performance on the comprehensive examination requires approval of two of the three evaluators.
  • Any student failing the comprehensive examination must have a joint conference with at least two core faculty members, one of whom is the student’s adviser, before taking the comprehensive examination again.
  • During the conference, the core faculty members may recommend additional academic preparation and/or competencies that must be met by the student prior to retaking the comprehensive examination.
  • The student will be notified by letter of the recommendations made by the core faculty in the conference.

The student will have only two opportunities to take the comprehensive examination. Failure to pass the comprehensive examination the second time will result in the student being dropped from the degree program.

Transfer credit

A maximum of six credit hours of acceptable graduate credit may be transferred into a graduate degree program. Course work taken prior to being admitted to a program in the School of Education and not applied to another degree may be applied for transfer. This includes course work taken at VCU.

Course work submitted for transfer is evaluated by the student’s adviser and the department head. See the Ph.D. in Education program section of this bulletin for information regarding transfer credit for this program.

As a general rule, continuing education courses taken at institutions other than VCU will not be transferred.

Students seeking to earn credit at other institutions after acceptance to a graduate program in the School of Education must receive prior approval from their advisers and the department chair or the director for the Ph.D. program. See the Graduate study section of this bulletin for further information regarding transfer credit.