M.S. & Ph.D. in Plant Pathology

Plant Pathology Graduate Program

Research Areas

Fall, Spring, Summer, Winter
Entry Terms


The Plant Pathology Graduate Program prepares you for careers focused on plant-associated microbes, including beneficial and harmful fungi, bacteria and viruses. World-famous researchers will mentor you, and you’ll receive excellent support and opportunities to achieve at the highest level.

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About the M.S. & Ph.D. in Plant Pathology

The thesis-based M.S. in Plant Pathology prepares you for careers in government agencies, companies and academic institutions that require a solid background in microbial science and experience with research techniques and experimental design.

The Ph.D. in Plant Pathology prepares you for research and leadership careers in federal and state agencies involved in food safety; in industries pursuing crop improvement through microbiome manipulation; and at academic institutions focused on basic and applied microbial sciences.

Prospective graduate students should always feel free to reach out to faculty whose research interests overlap with theirs to ask if they anticipate accepting new students.

Coursework overview

As you prepare to conduct cutting-edge research in your field of interest, you will participate in seminars and take core required courses, such as:

  • Advanced Plant Biology
  • Principles of Plant Microbiology

With your advisor and the advisory committee’s guidance, you will choose from an array of courses to bolster fundamental knowledge and expand your horizons, including these graduate classes:

  • General Mycology
  • Advanced Mycology
  • Microbial Genetics
  • Microbial Genetics Laboratory
  • Comparative Virology
  • Metagenomics

What to expect from the program

As a new thesis-M.S. student, you will rotate through one or two working research labs to ensure fit and begin to increase your professional network. Coursework typically is spread over two to three semesters. You and your advisor will develop a research project as soon as you settle in a lab, and you can expect an intense summer between your first and second year as you execute the projects that form the basis of your thesis.

As a new Ph.D. student, you will generally rotate through two to three labs, to ensure fit and lab-based funding opportunities. As you settle in a lab, you and your advisor will begin developing a theme for your dissertation projects. You’ll also complete coursework in the first two years and prepare for your comprehensive exam. After passing the exam, your entire focus will be on research and the creation of new and relevant information and knowledge. Your advisor and advisory committee will help you on this journey to becoming a leader and expert in your chosen field.

Year-round funding generally is offered to Ph.D. and thesis-M.S. students making satisfactory progress, through a blend of research assistantships available from the major advisor and a limited number of teaching assistantships.

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