Ph.D in Plant Science

Admission Policy for the Plant Science Ph.D. Program

The Plant Science Ph.D. Program is jointly offered by the Departments of Plant Pathology and Horticulture. The Plant Science Ph.D. Steering Committee, composed of two Category I graduate faculty members from each department and the two department heads, serve as a coordinating body for the program, and also serves as a screening committee for acceptance into the program. The following requirements must be met for admission into the Plant Science Ph.D. Program:
  1. The student must submit a letter of intent, along with the application for admission indicating their specific areas of interest and career goals.
  2. Three letters of recommendation are required. These letters should indicate the character and academic capability of the applicant.
  3. A grade point average of 3.00 or above on previous coursework
  4. Official transcripts must be received from all institutions previously attended.
  5. A master's degree in Horticulture, Forestry, Plant Pathology or a related biological science is desirable. Applicants with MS degrees in other disciplines may be accepted, but additional background coursework may be required. A student with an exceptional undergraduate record may be approved for admission to the Ph.D. program if the Graduate Admissions Committee of the Department deems them qualified and approval is granted by the Plant Science Steering Committee.
  6. Scores for the GRE revised General Test (verbal, quantitative and analytical writing) are required.


Graduate Advisory Committee

  • Upon initiation of their Ph.D. studies, students in the Department of Plant Pathology who have not selected a major professor will be advised by the Graduate Students Admissions Committee and the Department Head. Early in the student's second semester, the Graduate Advisory Committee will be formed.
  • The Graduate Advisory Committee must include at least five members of the graduate faculty. The committee will include a Faculty Adviser from the student's department of emphasis, one other faculty member from the department of emphasis, one faculty member from the other department participating in the Plant Science program, and two other members, at least one of which is a faculty member from outside the Plant Science Program. This committee shall be chosen by the Graduate Adviser and the candidate, in consultation with the steering committee, and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. The department head is an ex-officio member of each Graduate Advisory Committee in their department.
  • The student will inform the Graduate Advisory Committee by written report of his/her academic and research progress at the conclusion of each Spring semester. A copy of this report will be forwarded to the Steering Committee Chairman.


    Academic Requirements

    1. General course requirements for each degree candidate will be arranged on an individual basis by the Faculty Advisor, the Graduate Advisory Committee and the candidate in accordance with guidelines below. Alternate courses may be selected, at the discretion of the committee.

    Seminar Requirements

    Students are expected to attend seminars in one or both departments and are required to present at least four seminars to include the following:

    • A research proposal seminar to be given during the first year of their program.
    • Two topic seminars on subjects other than the student's research area. CSES 5103, Scientific Presentations, can be substituted for one topic seminar.
    • An exit seminar on their dissertation research.

    Course Requirements and Recommendations

    • Course requirements are determined by the Graduate Advisory Committee. However, the following course requirements must be met: at least 3 graduate course credits in Horticulture and at least 6 graduate credits in elective courses as appropriate to the area of dissertation research, and a minimum of 18 hours of dissertation credit.
    • The student is required to take two semesters of Plant Science Colloquium, one directed by a member of each participating department and three credits in Horticulture.
    • The student should have course work in plant taxonomy, physiology and anatomy, genetics, chemistry through biochemistry, and statistics.
      Students specializing in Plant Pathology are expected to be well-versed in areas relevant to the discipline and should have course work in mycology, plant virology, nematology, bacteriology and molecular biology. All candidates in the Department of Plant Pathology are required to take the following courses unless a specific requirement is waived following demonstration of prior equivalent course work.
      Required subject-matter courses are:

      1) PLPA 4103 Plant Disease Control
      2) PLPA 5303 Advanced Plant Pathology, Genetics and Physiology
      3) PLPA 5313 Advanced Plant Pathology, Ecology and Epidemiology
      4) PLPA 5404 Diseases of Economic Crops
      5) PLPA 5603 Plant Pathogenic Fungi
      6) PLPA 6203 Plant Virology
      7) PLPA 6303 Plant Nematology
      8) PLPA 6503 Plant Bacteriology
      * Courses in only three of the four discipline areas (9 credits) are required.


    Only grades of A or B in graduate courses will be accepted for graduate credit for departmental requirements. Failure to maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00, or unsatisfactory research or general academic progress will result in the re-evaluation of the student by his/her Graduate Advisory Committee and may result in the termination of the graduate assistantship. The decision of the Graduate Advisory Committee may be appealed to the Steering Committee and the decision of the Steering Committee may be appealed to the combined faculties of the two departments.

    Research Requirements

    1. A dissertation title must be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate School at least one year before the dissertation defense.
    2. Candidacy Exam. The student must satisfactorily pass a written and oral candidacy examination covering his/her discipline and supporting areas. This exam must be taken at least one year before completion of the degree program. All faculty members in the Plant Science Program may attend.
    3. After the student has passed the candidacy examinations, the student must register for at least one hour of dissertation each semester and one hour during the summer session until the work is completed, whether the student is in residence or away from campus.
    4. Dissertation topic. Each candidate must complete a doctoral dissertation on some topic in the major field. The topic assignment shall be made and a title filed with the Dean of the Graduate School at least one year before the final examination. The specific problem and subject of the dissertation will be determined by the faculty adviser, the candidate, and the Graduate Advisory Committee.
    5. Dissertation preparation and defense.
      a. Provisional approval of the dissertation must be given by all members of the Graduate Advisory Committee prior to the dissertation defense.
      b. Students must pass the oral defense and examination of the dissertation given by the Graduate Advisory Committee.
    6. A student cannot be approved for conferral of a degree until the defense is complete and an application for the degree has been filed with the Registrar's Office and the fee paid.

    Teaching Requirements

    Graduates of the Department of Plant Pathology may become teachers. Therefore, they are expected to gain teaching experience by assisting in the teaching of a plant pathology course for one semester. Students with prior teaching experience can appeal to the Graduate Admissions Committee to have this requirement waived.

    Residence Requirements

    After filing a Declaration of Intent to pursue the doctoral degree, a student must fulfill a residence requirement by completing a minimum of two consecutive semesters of full-time graduate study (ten hours or more per semester), either fall-spring, spring and a complete 12-week summer session, or a complete 12-week summer session and fall.

    Graduate Assistantships

    Graduate assistantships have been established by the University of Arkansas and are granted to encourage graduate work and the promotion of research. An award of graduate assistantship requires that each student must enroll for at least 6 credit hours but not more than 10 credit hours per semester. Graduate assistantships are granted for a period up to 4 years. There is no provision for continuation. Students registered on a restricted or non-degree basis and those placed on academic probation are not eligible for assistantship appointments.