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

Plant Science Graduate Program

Research Areas

Fall, Spring, Summer, Winter
Entry Terms


The Plant Science Graduate Program prepares you for careers focused on all aspects of plants, including the biological, climatic and other factors that affect them. World-class 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 Science

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

The Ph.D. in Plant Science prepares you for research and leadership careers in crop improvement through genetics, genomics and advanced technology; with federal and state agencies involved in traditional and digital agriculture; and at academic institutions focused on basic and applied plant sciences.

Prospective graduate students should always feel free to reach out to faculty whose research interests overlap with yours 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 advisory committee’s guidance, you will choose from an array of courses to bolster fundamental knowledge and expand your horizons, including these graduate-level courses on these topics:

  • Applied Cyberinfrastructure Concepts
  • Methods in Cell Biology and Genomics
  • Mechanisms in Plant Development
  • Plant Biochemistry and Metabolic Engineering
  • Plant Genetics and Genomics
  • Physiology of Plant Production under Controlled Environment
  • Medicinal Plants

What to expect from the program

As a new thesis-M.S. student, you will rotate through one or two working research labs to let you and your prospective advisor assess how well you work together and to help you begin to build your professional network. Once you join a research lab, you and your advisor will develop a research project and you can expect an intense summer between your first and second year as you execute the projects that will form the basis of your thesis. Coursework typically is spread over two to three semesters.

As a new Ph.D. student, you will generally rotate through two to three labs, to expand the breadth of your training, ensure fit, and begin to build your professional network. 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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