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Degree and Other Requirements - Ph.D.

1. Lab Rotations 

After being admitted through the respective program, both ILS and IPS students will rotate through 3 labs that are affiliated with the respective programs in the Fall semester, before settling in a chosen department and lab. Rotation activities can include (but are not limited to): learning a new lab technique, helping with a field experiment, analyzing data, or directed reading with discussion. We feel rotations are very important in increasing a graduate student’s intellectual and technical breadth of knowledge, in making graduate students aware (on a first-hand basis) of the expertise available in the department and in helping students select a major professor and advisory committee.

2. General Course Requirements 

There is one obligatory course required:

Plant Biology graduate students are required to sign up for the PBIO 8830 Departmental seminar course every Fall and Spring semester, except when they are away from campus on field research, or have a conflict with either a teaching assignment or have a scheduled class. Please email Graduate Coordinator Assistant if you have a conflict and she will excuse you for the semester. The requirements for this course consist of attending at least 2/3 of the scheduled departmental seminars, which are normally held Mondays at 4:00PM. Graduate Coordinator Assistant will take attendance at each Monday seminar, and will inform the Graduate Coordinator if registered students do not attend the required number of times in a semester. We periodically have special seminars on other days and if you don’t have a conflict you are required to attend. 

3. Program of Study

Preliminary Program of Study.

In a meeting of the student with the Advisory Committee, a Preliminary Program of Study is agreed upon and the form is typed by the Graduate Coordinator Assistant and signed by the Advisory Committee. The student distributes copies of the approved Preliminary Program of Study to their major professor and the student’s file. For students who hold a master’s degree, the program of study must contain at least 16 hours of 8000 and 9000 level courses. For students who do not hold a master’s degree, the program of study must contain at least 20 hours (of which at least 16 hours must be 8000 and 9000 level courses and 4 hours can be 5000, 6000 and 7000 level courses open only to graduate students), exclusive of hours for dissertation research (9000) and dissertation writing (9300). 

Residence requirement. There is a residence requirement for Ph.D. students which is interpreted as 30 hours of consecutive graduate course work that is included on the Program of Study. A break in residence is not incurred if a student does not register for summer school. Courses listed under “Other Departmental Requirements” do not count as part of the residence requirement. Beware of “taking a semester off” and/or not registering because of research off campus (e.g. in the tropics). Not registering for any academic (Fall or Spring) semester constitutes a “break” in residence and requires students who have not completed the 30 hour residency requirement to start over to accumulate it. 

Final Program of Study. The Final Program of Study should be submitted after the 30 hour residence requirement is completed and prior to the oral comprehensive exam and Application for Admission to Candidacy. It must include a minimum of 30 hours of course work. 21 of those 30 hours must be courses open only to graduate students, with 16 hours of 8000/9000 level courses and 5 hours of 5000/6000/7000 level courses open only to graduate students (research and dissertation/thesis writing hours do not count towards this 21 hours of courses open only to graduate students). You may count up to six hours of Doctoral/Master's Research (PBIO 9000/7000) and three hours of Doctoral Dissertation/Thesis Writing (PBIO 9300/7300) towards the 30 total hours of required course work. PBIO 8830, GRSC 7770, LLED 7768 and LLED 7769 are departmental requirements and cannot be included in the body of the Program of Study. This form is submitted with a more detailed (2-4 page) summary of the research project, approved by the Graduate Coordinator and sent to the Graduate School Dean for approval. All 5 committee members must sign this form. 

4. Graduate Enrollment Requirements

You are required to register for two semesters each academic year (an academic year is defined as Fall, Spring, Summer). 

If you are supported on an assistantship, you are required to register BEFORE the first day of class for a minimum of 18 credit hours Fall and Spring semesters and a minimum of 9 credit hours Summer semester. 

If you are self-supported your minimum requirements are: registration of 3 graduate credit hours for 2 semesters each academic year. 

To maintain visa status, international students must register every semester, including summer. 

All students must be registered for a minimum of three credit hours until the semester degree requirements are completed. 

Under certain extreme circumstances (i.e. illness, pregnancy, or unexpected financial hardship) you can request a leave of absence from the enrollment requirement for a maximum of three semesters total. A leave of absence does not stop the clock on time limits, i.e. course expirations and admission to candidacy. 

5. Graduate Teaching Requirement

It is the policy of the Plant Biology Department that teaching experience is a vital part of a graduate student’s training. Ph.D. students are required to teach at least two semesters during their graduate training. Students supported on grants or from other sources will normally be supported by the Department during the semester they teach. Serving in a lab prep, lecture TA, or grading TA does not fulfill these requirements. A teaching assignment is the acceptance of the entire teaching schedule, including pre-class preparation. Field work, conferences, and oral exams should be scheduled around teaching commitments. Please contact the instructor in advance for the class schedule and TA policies. 

In order to be considered as making adequate progress toward their degree, students have to be eligible to teach by spring of their 3rd year before their oral exam and admission to candidacy. 

Domestic and international students who received their degree from a U.S. institution have to have attended the teaching and lab assistant orientation and have taken or currently taking GRSC 7770. International students who don’t have a degree from a U.S. institution must meet the above criteria as well as obtain a 26 on the speaking section of the TOEFL test or have a letter of recommendation from Dr. Linda Harklau, have successfully completed LLED 7768 and/or LLED 7769, and obtain a TOEFL speaking section score of at least 24. 

6. Seminar Course Requirements

Each Ph.D. student must complete three seminar courses which require participants to organize and present material other than their own dissertation research. Students are encouraged to take seminars offered in Plant Biology that may not be in their immediate field of research to broaden their knowledge in related fields of plant biology. Two of these seminars must be completed by the end of the first semester in the third year of a student’s attendance (i.e. within two years of joining the department). The Plant Biology Department has experts in many different areas of plant biology and students are strongly encouraged to attend seminars throughout their graduate training as part of their overall intellectual development. Seminar courses offered in other departments can be used to fulfill this requirement if necessary, with permission from the Graduate Coordinator. Petitions submitted to the GC need to include the following criteria: (1) why no PBIO course can be taken to fulfill this requirement, and evidence to show that students will (2) synthesize a field of knowledge to give a presentation, and (3) the presentation topic is not part of the students’ dissertation research. Seminar courses offered by the Department include the following:

PBIO8010 Seminar in Teaching Biology

PBIO8200 Grant Writing with a focus on Plants and Microbes

PBIO 8820 Plant Genetics and Molecular Biology Seminar

PBIO 8840 Plant Ecology Seminar

PBIO 8920 Explaining Your Science

Note 1: Though these are considered the regular seminars, they are not necessarily offered every year.

Note 2: Different faculty may offer topical seminars under the same course number but in different sections/call numbers. Each semester’s listing will appear online in the Schedule of Classes, and instructors frequently advertise the topic for an upcoming seminar offering.

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