Doctoral Program

Ph.D. in Plant Breeding Genetics and Geonomics

A Ph.D. in Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics (PBGG) is research-based and prepares students for industry jobs and faculty or research associate positions in academia.

Application and admission is through the Graduate School upon review of applications by the PBGG Graduate Committee and acceptance into the research program of one of our Graduate Faculty.

Transcripts, letters of reference, statement of purpose and standardized test scores are all taken into account during evaluation. While a GRE score of 286 is considered the minimum, 309 is the average GRE for PhD students admitted in the last several years. Foreign applicants may be required to submit TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) scores with a minimum score of 80.


Program of Study

Students may enter the PBGG Ph.D. program with or without a Master’s degree, although degree program requirements are different (see below). An additional track to admission is through the Integrated Plant Sciences portal.  Dissertation research is conducted under the supervision of a major advisor and according to a research proposal approved by a five-member advisory committee. Ph.D. students are required to pass written and oral comprehensive exams prior to admission to candidacy for the Doctoral degree.

Degree Program Requirements

Ph.D. for students who already earned a MS

A minimum of 30 credit hours is required to graduate comprised of:

  • 21 hours of coursework (a minimum of 16 hours of 8000-9000 level credits) excluding 9000/9005/9300
  • 6 hours of research (PBGG 9000)
  • 3 hours of dissertation writing (PBGG 9300)

The following courses are required for graduation:

  • Communication and Research Seminar (PBGG 8860 & PBGG 8861)
  • Advanced Plant Breeding (PBGG 8140)
  • Plant Breeding Practicum (PBGG 6000)
  • Plant Genetics (PBIO 6500 or PBIO 8100 or PBGG 8890 or comparable)
  • Statistics (PBGG 8010 or STAT 8200 or comparable)

Straight Ph.D. (no MS required)

A minimum of 36 credit hours is required to graduate comprised of:

  • 27 hours of coursework (a minimum of 16 hours of 8000-9000 level credits) excluding 9000/9005/9300
  • 6 hours of research (PBGG 9000)
  • 3 hours of dissertation writing (PBGG 9300)

The following courses are required for graduation:

  • Communication and Research Seminars (PBGG 8860 & PBGG 8861)
  • Plant Breeding (PBGG 6140)
  • Advanced Plant Breeding (PBGG 8140)
  • Plant Breeding Practicum (PBGG 6000)
  • Plant Genetics (PBIO 6500 or PBIO 8100 or PBGG 8890 or comparable)
  • Statistics (STAT 6220 or STAT 6315 or FANR 6750 or higher)
  • Statistics (PBGG 8010 or STAT 8200 or comparable)

Ph.D. Research Prospectus

The dissertation must represent originality in research, independent thinking, scholarly ability, and technical mastery of a field of study. The Major Professor and Advisory Committee shall guide the student in dissertation planning. The student is required to prepare a dissertation prospectus which provides an introduction, rationale, and description of the proposed research to be conducted, along with a literature review of all the pertinent literature and a proposed research timeline.  The level of detail in the materials and methods section is at the discretion of the student and the committee members.  The prospectus must be presented to, and approved by, the Advisory Committee before significant research is undertaken, and no later than the end of the student’s third semester.  Committee members must receive a copy of the proposal at least 14 days prior to the scheduled meeting, and all committee members must be present, either physically or digitally.  Students are encouraged to prepare a slide presentation of their proposed research and pertinent background information to present at their committee meeting.

Approval of the dissertation prospectus signifies that members of the Advisory Committee believe that it proposes a satisfactory research study.. A copy of the approved prospectus must be placed in the student’s departmental file and becomes a permanent part of his/her record.

Faculty are strongly encouraged to assign the research hours a grade of "U"  for students who do not have their proposal approved by the deadline.  At the committee's discretion, a student may receive an additional semester to finalize the proposal before the student is penalized with a “U”.