Course Requirements

The Graduate School requirements and specific Department requirements are as follows: Students with a one-half time graduate assistantship must register for between 9-12 credits per semester to maintain full time status. For a student with a one-half time assistantship, approximately two years will be required to complete the M.S. degree.

Minimum Graduate Credits

A minimum of 30 graduate credits are required, of which at least 20 credits must be earned at the University Park Campus, and will include the minimum credits specified in the following items.

  1. Major Field, Formal Courses
    Twelve credits of 400- or 500-level formal courses in the major field are required (at least 6 of the 12 credits must be 500-level coursework, excluding seminars and independent studies).

    Coursework for the major field will be chosen to meet the student's primary educational objectives—accomplishment of thesis research, mastery of discipline subject matter, and preparation for a career. Courses in Agronomy and other programs may be designated as part of the major field if they conform to these objectives. The strength of the program should be maximized by choosing a related series of courses.

    The student and thesis advisor in consultation with the advisory committee will make the choice of courses in the major field. The thesis advisor will be responsible for the semester-by-semester direction of the student's academic studies.

    Students expecting to continue for the Ph.D. after the M.S. should acquaint themselves with the admission and graduation requirements of the Ph.D. degree. Although certain courses taken at the M.S. level may be applied to the Ph.D. requirements, admission to the Ph.D. program may require preparation in several study areas beyond the minimum necessary for admission to the M.S. program.
  2. Minor or General Studies Courses
    A minor consists of integrated or articulated work in one field related to, but different from the major field. Other departments and discipline areas of the University govern minor requirements. A faculty member representing the minor will serve on the student's committee. As an alternative to a minor, general studies coursework may be taken in a field or fields different from the major field when considered by the thesis advisor and the advisory committee to have significance and value for the student.

    A minor in the master's degree program consists of no fewer than 6 credits of integrated or articulated work in one field related to, but different from, that of the major; however at a minimum, 3 credits must be at the 500 level.  Official request forms to add a master's degree to a student's academic record must be submitted to Graduate Enrollment Services at least one semester prior to the semester the student intends to graduate.  Seminar or independent studies courses are excluded, except where such courses are specifically allowed by the minor department.
  3. Statistical Methods
    Three credits at the 500-level. Courses taken during the M.S. program may be used toward the statistics minor, if approved by the Statistics Department, or the general studies formal course requirement.
  4. Graduate Student Dialogue
    One credit of AGRO 501 during the first fall semester of the program.
  5. Agronomy Seminar Course (Department of Plant Science Seminar)
    One credit of Agronomy Seminar (AGRO 590)
  6. Effective Scientific Communications Course                                                  Two credits of Effective Scientific Communications (AGRO 555)
  7. Thesis Research
    Six credits of 600 or 610 (thesis research). The student is required to write an original research thesis.
  8. Supplemental Credits
    Credits of 400- or 500-level courses as needed to give a total of 30 that supplement one or more of the areas: thesis, major, minor, and general studies. Credits for independent study courses may also be included.
  9. 500-, 600-, and 800- Series Work Combined
    At least 18 credits of the total M.S. program must consist of 500, 600 or 800-series work with a maximum of six credits of 600 or 610 being included in this total.

Additional Courses

Additional courses and requirements as required by the advisor and advisory committee.

Seminar Attendance

The candidate is expected to regularly attend the Department of Plant Science Seminar each semester of registration at the University Park Campus.  One of the seminars will consist of a mandatory ETHICS lecture.

Teaching Experience

A teaching experience is required of all M.S. students in the Department of Plant Science.

Final Examination

A final examination based on the student’s thesis and academic training is required.

Summary Checklist

The M.S. requirements are summarized in the check list form. It is the responsibility of the student to maintain these checklists, and to have them approved by the Major Advisor and Graduate Program Coordinator prior to graduation.