In 1886 Snyder matriculated at Iowa State College and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1889. He attended Cornell University as a graduate student from 1890 to 1892, leaving to study mathematics in Germany on an Erastus W. Brooks fellowship. In 1895 he received a doctorate from the University of Göttingen under Klein. In 1895 Snyder returned to Cornell as an instructor, becoming an assistant professor in 1905 and a full professor in 1910. In 1938 he retired as professor emeritus, having supervised 39 doctoral students, 13 of whom were women. Of these students, perhaps the most well-known is C. L. E. Moore. Snyder served as president of the American Mathematical Society for a two-year term in 1927 and 1928.
- Cornell Math – Early History
- Coble, A. B. (1950). "Virgil Snyder, 1869–1950". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 56 (5): 468–471. doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-1950-09413-0. MR 1565227.
- Winger, Roy Martin (1916). "Review: Analytic Geometry of Space by Virgil Snyder and C. H. Sisam". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 22 (7): 350–354.