Plant Sciences


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Requirements and Procedures

Planning Your Degree

All degree programs emphasize training in the basic and applied sciences, along with an original research project. The graduate degree plan is customized for each student dependent on background and prior training and is designed to accommodate the student's career interests and objectives. A plan of study, which lists the courses to be taken by the student during graduate studies, will be prepared by the student with guidance from the adviser and graduate committee. A graduate committee assists the student with the completion of the degree. Periodic meetings keep the committee updated on progress and changes in the plan of study and thesis or dissertation research topic, which helps avoid possible problems arising later in the course of the degree. A critical part of the process involves the preparation of research findings in the form of a thesis and publication in a scientific journal.

Graduate student numbers per faculty member are limited, allowing the student to receive adequate personal attention and to work closely with the adviser in research. Final selection of the adviser will be made on the basis of availability of department financial support, availability of space in the researcher's project, and a common desire of the student and professor to work together.

Excellent supporting disciplines on campus include Soil Science, Botany, Cereal and Food Sciences, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology. The Department of Plant Sciences encourages interdisciplinary research, and students frequently tailor their research program to meet their interests by working with faculty in one or more of the supporting disciplines.


Admission Requirements

The Department of Plant Sciences graduate programs are open to all qualified graduates of universities and colleges of recognized standing. To be admitted with full status to the program, the applicant must:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate degree from an educational institution of recognized standing.
  2. Have adequate preparation in plant sciences and show potential to undertake advanced study and research as evidenced by academic performance and experience.
  3. At the baccalaureate level, have earned a cumulative grade point average (GPA) in all courses of at least 3.0 (B or better) or equivalent. Students with a previous graduate degree with a GPA of 3.0 or equivalent may be admitted in full standing.
  4. Provide official GRE scores during the NDSU Graduate School application process (there are no minimum score requirements).

Students who do not meet all requirements for admission, but show potential for successful graduate study, may be admitted under a conditional status. Evidence must be provided, showing that the applicant's potential is not adequately reflected by his/her record.


Financial Assistance

Research assistantships (half-time) are provided on a competitive basis of scholarship and potential to undertake advanced study and research. As of the 2010-11 academic year, the annual stipend was generally $17,000 for a M.S. candidate and $18,200 for a Ph.D. candidate, but varied based on the research project. Graduate tuition is waived for all students with research assistantships. A limited number of graduate fellowships are available. The information provided for the application to The Graduate School is also used to assign available assistantships to applicants. The Department of Plant Sciences also has numerous annual scholarships of $500 to $1000 each for outstanding Plant Sciences graduate students.


Degree Requirements

The M.S. program (Thesis Option) requires completion of at least 30 credits; this includes 10 credits of thesis research. The Ph.D. program requires completion of at least 90 credits; this includes 30 credits for an earned M.S. degree (Thesis Option) and 20 additional research credits. For each M.S. or Ph.D. candidate, a plan of study will be developed in the first year that meets the disciplinary requirements as well as the individual needs of the student. The faculty adviser and other members of the student's supervisory/advisory and examining committee assist in developing of the plan of study as well as the student's research plan. An M.S. Program (Comprehensive Study Option) is also offered in Plant Sciences. This option requires completion of at least 30 credits, including 3 credits of a Master's Paper.

Candidates for the M.S. degree normally satisfy all requirements within a two-year period, and Ph.D. candidates normally require three additional years. For M.S. candidates, an oral examination of academics related to the discipline and the research-based thesis is required. The Ph.D. candidates are required to pass a preliminary written and oral examination of academics related to the discipline and a final oral defense of a research-based dissertation. A B.S. to Ph.D. program is permitted for students who meet higher admission requirements.


Application Procedure

Applications for graduate studies in the Department of Plant Sciences are accepted any time during the year and must be submitted directly to the  NDSU Graduate School.  Applications will not be considered until complete.

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