PMCB Degrees & Curriculum

Program Overview and Degrees Offered

The PMCB Program focuses on Ph.D. degrees. Our financial support is primarily directed to doctoral students. Master’s degrees are only offered to students who have identified a major professor willing to supervise and financially support their master’s study before gaining admission to PMCB.

Ph.D. students can be admitted as rotation students or directly into a lab of their interest. First year rotation students complete short research projects in three different PMCB faculty laboratories and select a Ph.D. advisor by the end of their second semester. All Ph.D. students must pass written and oral qualifying exams. Completion of a Ph.D. degree is approximately four to five years.


All students complete four core courses: PCB 5065 Advanced Genetics, PCB 5530 Plant Molecular Biology and Genomics, PCB 6528 Plant Cellular and Developmental Biology and BOT 6935 Plant Biochemistry. Students are also required to take Journal Colloquia classes every fall and spring semesters until the completion of their studies. Students can select elective classes in biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, breeding, genetics, evolution, microbiology, plant pathology and more. Elective classes are chosen by the student and his or her graduate committee to reflect individual professional goals and research interests.

Curriculum Overview

  Year 1 Year 2
Fall Spring Summer Fall Spring Summer
Core Courses

X

X

X

Journal Colloquium

X

X

X

X

Lab Rotations

X

X

Electives

X

X

Written Exam

X

Oral Exam

X

X

PhD Program Requirements

The PMCB Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 90 credit hours beyond the Bachelor of Science degree. Four core courses are required for a total of 14 credits. Ph.D. track students must achieve a grade of B or greater in each core course or repeat the course (and obtain at least a B grade). An additional 6 credit hours (minimum) of elective course work is required. Electives will be selected in consultation with the advisor and committee. One credit of Journal Colloquium is required every fall and spring semesters until graduation (minimum of 6 credits is required to graduate with a Ph.D. degree). No more than 6 credits of PCB 6971 Masters Research can be transferred from the M.S. degree.

Students take the written exams at the end of the spring semester of their first year. The intent of the written exams is to rigorously assess whether students have the ability to succeed at the Ph.D. level in the PMCB Program.

The oral candidacy exam is required to be completed before the end of the spring semester of the student’s second year. Students must write and disseminate to their committee members a detailed, NSF‐ or USDA‐style format proposal. In addition, students present a public proposal seminar describing their research topic, current progress and research plans.

For completion of the Ph.D. degree, all doctoral students are expected to have at least one first author publication accepted for publication in a peer‐reviewed journal in their research field, preferably before defending their dissertations. This publication must be a full science paper, not a methods or review paper, and it should not be simply submitted, it must be accepted and/or in press.

Rotations

All pre‐doctoral students supported by the PMCB Program in their first two semesters will do rotations through at least three labs. This exposes students to different laboratory philosophies, technologies, and projects. Students are responsible for arranging their own rotations. Each rotation occupies 10 weeks and, at the end of each rotation students present a 10 minute-talk to communicate their results and what they learned. Rotations and seminars follow a preset schedule.

By the end of spring of their first year, rotation students should have a major advisor selected. The PMCB program supports rotating students only during their first two semesters (unless students are already covered by an international, national, college or university level assistantship). Students are expected to find a lab and advisor with sufficient funds to cover tuition, stipend and health insurance for the remaining of their studies.

MS Program Requirements

The PMCB Master of Science degree requires a thesis and minimum of 30 credits beyond the Bachelor of Science degree, 24 of which must be regular coursework. The core course requirements are the same as for the Ph.D. degree. One credit of Journal Colloquium is required every fall and spring semesters until graduation (minimum of 4 credits is required to graduate with a M.S. degree). No more than 6 credits of PCB 6971 Masters Research will count towards the M.S. degree.