Our Curriculum

Requirements & Options

The PMCB Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 90 credit hours beyond the Bachelor of Science degree. All our students complete four core courses for a total of 14 credits. Students take PCB 5065 Advanced Genetics (4 credits) and PCB 5530 Plant Molecular Biology and Genomics (3 credits) in their first fall semester. In their first spring semester, students take PCB 6528 Plant Cellular and Developmental Biology (3 credits) and BOT 6935 Plant Biochemistry (4 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).

Our students are also required to take Journal Colloquium (aka Journal Clubs) classes every fall and spring semesters until graduation (minimum of 6 credits is required to graduate with a Ph.D. degree).

An additional 6 credit hours (minimum) of elective course work is required. Elective classes can be taken after successfully passing the PMCB written exams. Electives will be selected in consultation with the advisor and committee to reflect individual professional goals and research interests. Students can select elective courses in biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, breeding, genetics, evolution, microbiology, and plant pathology and many other disciplines offered at UF.

Students take the written exams at the beginning of their first summer semester. 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 written exams are divided into two take-home exams and one in-class exam. The take-home exams are intended to assess students’ ability to explain the concepts, experimental approaches and data styles that are standard to plant biology and to use adequate reasoning and logic necessary for in‐depth analysis and synthesis of information at the cellular and molecular levels. The in‐class exam is intended to assess the students’ knowledge of the fundamental content in the four core courses they are required to take in their first year.

The oral candidacy exam is 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 one first author publication prepared 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 preferentially should be accepted and/or in press.

Lab 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.