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Current students

The graduate faculty and staff of the Plant Biological Sciences Graduate Program extend our welcome you to the program! We intend to provide all students with the academic opportunities and environment conducive to a successful and rewarding graduate student experience. We invite you to participate fully in all aspects of the program and to interact with faculty and students across the spectrum of plant sciences at the University of Minnesota.

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Degree requirements

PBS students are required to participate in at least one semester-length teaching experience (~10 hours/week). Teaching assistantships may involve courses at the graduate or undergraduate level in the fields of cell biology, genetics or developmental biology.

Each student works with his or her advisor to select a committee of four faculty members, with approval by the Director of Graduate Studies. This committee provides guidance and scientific expertise as they monitor the student’s progress and administer exams.

Students must pass three examinations to obtain a Ph.D. degree:

  • Written Preliminary Examination: Fall Semester, Year II
    Students must create an original research proposal that is not on any topic about which (s)he has previously written, including his or her thesis topic. This proposal is graded by three members of the student review committee.
  • Oral Preliminary Examination: 3 Months After Written Preliminary Exam
    Students must defend their written preliminary proposal before with all six members of their committee. Students must be prepared to field general questions designed to evaluate his or her breadth of knowledge.
  • Final Ph.D. Oral Examination
    Three members of the student’s committee serve as primary readers of the completed thesis and certify that it is ready for defense. The student must present a public research seminar and pass a private oral examination by all members of the student’s committee.

Publication of Thesis Research
Ph.D. theses must encompass substantial and novel research of high significance. Prior to his or her Thesis Defense, each student is encouraged (but not required) to be the first author on publication(s) in peer-reviewed journals within their research field.