AOE students in lab working on a mold

Fellowships & assistantships

The AOE department offers several prestigious and competitive fellowships for graduate study. Most graduate students, however, are supported on assistantships. Graduate teaching assistantships are awarded by the department and typically involve providing instructional assistance or serving as laboratory instructors. Graduate research assistantships are funded and awarded by the department’s research groups.

The Graduate School maintains a resource regarding internal and external fellowships and scholarships on their website.

Kevin T. Crofton Graduate Fellowship

Thanks to the generous funding from alumnus Kevin T. Crofton in 2016, the Kevin T. Crofton Graduate Fellowships are offered to approximately three students each year. These are multi-year fellowships and are focused on Ph.D. students.

Preference will be given to underrepresented minorities (including first generation college students, African Americans, females, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Pacific Islanders, and Native Hawaiians) and applicants from Appalachia (Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, or West Virginia).

All applicants to the AOE graduate program are automatically considered for the Kevin T. Crofton Fellowship.

  • The Kevin T. Crofton Graduate Fellowships will be paired with an underlying Graduate Assistantship (GA) offer which may take the form of a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA) or a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA).
  • The duration of the fellowship generally matches the duration of the underlying GA offer (typically 3 years).
  • For offers associated with calendar-year GRAs, the fellowship will be for $800/month on top of the GRA stipend
  • For offers associated with academic-year GTAs or GRAs, the fellowship will be for $400/month for the nine academic year months (fall and spring semesters) and $2,133/month for the three summer months.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships

A limited number of GTA positions are available each year for graduate student support. These positions typically involve providing instructional assistance or serving as laboratory instructors. Tuition fees and a portion of medical insurance (often through Virginia Tech) are paid by these assistantships.

University policy on GTAs can be found at the Graduate School site. Learn more in the AOE Graduate Study Policies and Procedures Manual.

All incoming and continuing students must apply by December 30 (fall semester) or September 1 (spring semester) in order to receive full consideration for GTA assistantships for the following academic year.

Graduate Research Assistantships

The majority of graduate students are supported on research assistantships, which are funded by the AOE research programs. These assistantships are not awarded through the department, but are at the discretion of the faculty members and principal investigators.

The faculty select GRAs based on a student’s academic background and suitability to the research being conducted. Applicants are encouraged to contact the faculty in their desired area of expertise to inquire about graduate research assistantships.

Learn more in the AOE Graduate Study Policies and Procedures Manual.

  • Kevin T. Crofton Fellowship
    Established by Kevin Crofton (’82) in 2016 with his remarkable gift to the University and the AOE department, this fellowship provides partial support to graduate students majoring in Aerospace or Ocean Engineering.   Recipients are chosen on the basis of demonstrated financial need and advancement of AOE diversity goals.   Special consideration is given to students who are presently underrepresented in the demographics of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering student body population.

  • Davenport Fellowship
    Mrs. Eleanor Davenport, the daughter of the late Fred Durham (Class of 1921), established the Eleanor Davenport Leadership Scholarship to support outstanding students enrolled in our college of engineering.  Recipients are chosen on the basis of superior intellectual promise and academic performance, demonstrated leadership ability, personal character, and community service. The donor hopes the Davenport Leadership Scholars/Fellows will seek to assist others in attaining a college education in the future.

  • Dominion Virginia Power Research Fellowship
    Dominion Virginia Power is a subsidiary of Dominion, one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy with operations in 14 states. Research Areas include clean energy technology, wind energy development focusing on it variability and environmental consequences, solar energy, and sustainable nuclear power generation stressing safety, environmental stewardship and alternative applications.

  • GEM Fellowship
    The objective of the GEM Fellowship program is to offer doctoral fellowships to underrepresented minority students who have either completed, are currently enrolled in a master’s in engineering program, or received admittance into a PhD program directly from a bachelor’s degree program.

  • ICTAS Doctoral Fellowship
    The ICTAS Doctoral Scholars Program honors exceptional Ph.D. candidates interested in interdisciplinary research with a competitive graduate fellowship. A cooperative effort led by ICTAS, with significant contributions from the Graduate School and each scholar's college and department, the program is targeted for the highest-caliber entering or new Ph.D candidates. Selection criteria include academic credentials, demonstrated dedication to the scholar’s chosen field of study, opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration, and alignment of proposed graduate research with ICTAS’ and Virginia Tech’s destination and strategic growth areas.

  • Martin-Marietta Aircraft Fellowship
    Established by the Glenn L. Martin Company, this award provides financial assistance to students in courses of study applicable to the activities of the Glenn L. Martin Company. Recipient is selected from among students planning to study courses that most applicable to activities of the Glenn L. Martin Company at the time of selection and who are enrolled in the cooperative program. Preference given to resident of states in which plants of Glenn L. Martin Company or subsidiaries are located, and special consideration given to children of employees of the company or subsidiaries.

  • NASA Education Aeronautics Scholarship and Advanced STEM Training and Research (AS&ASTAR)
    The purpose of the NASA Education AS&ASTAR Fellowship activity is to support the vitality and diversity of the STEM workforce of NASA and the United States by training and funding graduate students during their STEM academic endeavors and providing access to NASA, its content, unique facilities, and STEM experts.

  • NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship
    Established to further the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Mission, recipients are individuals pursuing Masters or Doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees in Earth and space sciences, or related disciplines at respective institutions. The purpose of the NESSF is to ensure continued training of a highly qualified workforce in disciplines needed to achieve NASA’s scientific goals.

  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
    The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master's and doctoral degrees.

  • Brian Nerney Graduate Research
    This Fellowship award shall be used to provide tuition support and a stipend for a graduate research assistant within the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering. Awards shall be made upon recommendation of the department head to a graduate student providing research support and/or conducting research in the field of aerospace and ocean engineering.

  • New Horizons Graduate Scholars
    By focusing on the university's plan for the New Horizon - creativity, collaboration, and innovation across disciplines - this community honors the contribution that diversity, broadly defined, can bring to discovery. New Horizons Graduate Scholars are offered professional development opportunities such as travel support to present research project findings at conferences, fellowship proposal writing workshops, and lunch and dinners with invited guest speakers from industry and academia.

  • Pratt Fellowship
    This scholarship was created through a gift by John Lee Pratt in 1967, and represents the funding source for your Dean's Scholar award.  This was the largest gift received by the University at the time, used to create scholarship programs in several Colleges, including the College of Engineering. 

  • Rolls-Royce Graduate Fellowship
    This Fellowship was established by The University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Rolls-Royce, and the Commonwealth of Virginia to support outstanding PhD students in pursuit of research and scholarship on topics of interest to Rolls-Royce, and Virginia Tech. Each Rolls-Royce Doctoral Student will be supported for up to three years, receive an annual stipend, full tuition and fees, health insurance, and an annual travel budget. Recipients are Ph.D. students or current outstanding MS students interested in pursuing a PhD,  with strong academic credentials and aptitude for research, as evidenced by performance in coursework, research experience, and letters of support.


  • Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship
    The Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program is an opportunity for students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines to receive a full scholarship and be gainfully employed by the Department of Defense (DoD) upon degree completion.

  • Robert & Carol Tolson Fellowship
    Established by Robert H. Tolson (’58), this award is for graduate students or students admitted for graduate study who are members of an underrepresented population of students in the College of Engineering's Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering. Preference will be given to individuals demonstrating financial need and secondarily to students demonstrating an interest in space research.

  • Virginia Space Grant Consortium Graduate Fellowship
    The Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC) Graduate Research STEM Fellowship Program provides fellowships of $6,000 in add-on support to graduate students to supplement and enhance basic research support. Applicants must be enrolled full-time in a program of study in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) and have a specific faculty-mentored research project that has NASA or aerospace relevance.

Military benefits

The Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering has a vibrant online graduate program for working professionals and active duty military.

For applicants with significant technical work experience, the requirement for the general GRE examination can be waived. Applications are evaluated in a holistic manner including careful attention to prior work experience and letters of recommendation.

Online courses are offered in an asynchronous fashion (downloadable materials and prerecorded lectures) to offer the highest level of flexibility for the working student’s schedule; however, some courses may have a real-time, synchronous option as well.

That I may serve

In holding true to our motto of Ut Prosim “That I May Serve”, Virginia Tech has a long, rich history of serving the educational needs of the military. Founded in 1872, Virginia Tech remains one of three public universities in the country with both an active corps of cadets and civilian lifestyle on its campus. It is also holds the prestige of being one of six schools in the nation classified as a Senior Military College.

Contact the Office of Veterans Services to learn more about the veterans’ educational benefits available to you, including tuition incentives. Individuals may qualify for an application fee waiver. Those interested should complete the Request for Graduate Application Fee Waiver Form and submit it directly to the Graduate School.


Why pursue a graduate degree?

A veteran speaks...

“As a military veteran, retired business executive and somebody who received his Masters of Business Administration at age 58, I have strong feelings about why college is important for veterans.  Higher education is about foundations. While military experience provides much in terms of leadership training, team building, and skill acquisition, it generally does not provide the theoretical foundation of a particular discipline whether it is engineering, history, or in my case, communications. And that foundation is what allows the graduate to think “outside the box,” or strategically.  In my field, it allowed me to adapt to new media such as social networks.  Strategic thinking is critical in order to see the forest and not just the trees. The theory and the degree will serve as an important foundation as you build your career.”

Michael N. Kilpatric
Retired, Vice President,
Corporate & Investor Relations
AmerisourceBergen Corporation