Checklist for MS Program

A. Course and Credit Requirements

The minimum Graduate School requirements are listed here .
Here is a summary of graduate school and specific departmental requirements:

  1. Admission deficiencies, if any, must be removed to the satisfaction of the Graduate Advisory Committee.
  2. A minimum of 30 graduate credits are required, of which at least 20 credits must be earned at the University Park Campus.
  3. At least 18 credits in the 500/600/800 series combined must be included in the program.
  4. A minimum of 12 credits in graduate course work (400 and 500 series) must be completed in the major program.  Only 6 credits of 400-level courses count towards the degree.
  5. At least one (1) 3-credit graduate course in statistics is required before graduation.
  6. Each student is required to complete training in Scholarship and Research Integrity, preferably in the first year of study. To meet this requirement, each student should complete the online course offered by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative, which can be accessed here: , the four hour discussion-based workshop that will be offered each January by the College of Agricultural Sciences, and one additional hour of discussion that can be obtained in AGRO 501.
  7. M.S students are required to complete at least 2 credits of coursework in scientific presentation and 1 credit of public seminar at the end of the degree program. We suggest that students take AGRO 555 (2 cr) or a substitute may be permitted with the approval of the graduate program chair. Two credits of Hort 590 (Colloquium)is required.  One credit is awarded for the public presentation of the M.S. thesis research in a regular department seminar series or by special arrangement. Register for Hort 590 during the semester of the public presentation.
  8. Two credits (Hort 596 and Hort 602) of teaching or extension are required. However, 602 credits do not count toward the 30-credit minimum requirement in items 2 and 3 above. Contact your adviser or the faculty supervising you for a teaching assistant or extension assignment to discuss suitable activities to meet this requirement.
  9. A thesis is required for the M.S. Degree.

B. Appointment and Duties of Advisor and Graduate Advisory Committee

A Graduate Advisory Committee will be appointed by the department head, in consultation with the advisor, preferably during the first semester of the program. This committee will consist of at least three (3) members, including the advisor, who serves as a chairman, a second representative from the student's major area of interest, and a third representative from the student's related area of study. It is recommended that at least one committee member be from outside the Department of Plant Science. The department head is an ex-officio committee member.

The duties of the advisor and the graduate advisory committee for the M.S. program are to assist the student in planning a program of study, guiding and encouraging the student toward excellence in the chosen field, administering the final examination and approving the thesis.

These duties are accomplished partially through a series of meetings between the committee and the student.

These include:

  1.  A meeting to discuss and approve the student's plan of study and thesis proposal. This meeting shall be held during the student's second semester of residence and is open to all faculty in the Plant Science Department. The proposed plan of study shall be approved by signature of the committee members. At least one (1) week prior to this meeting the student shall prepare and distribute to the committee members his/her thesis proposal. The thesis proposal shall include a brief literature review, hypothesis being tested, objectives and procedures. The proposed research shall be discussed and recommendations for change sought. If a new draft is required, it shall be accomplished within one (1) month. Approval of the thesis proposal by signature of at least two-thirds of the committee members will be required. Subsequent revision of the plan may be accomplished by consulting with committee members on an individual basis.
  2. Upon completion of the academic program and thesis, the final oral examination shall be administered by the M.S. Graduate Advisory Committee. This examination shall determine the student's ability to defend the methods, findings, and conclusions of the thesis, and the student's ability to relate the research findings to the pertinent literature. A favorable vote of two-thirds of the committee members is required for passing.The M.S. final examination shall not be combined with the candidacy examination for the Ph.D.

C. Thesis Requirements

The thesis topic for the M.S. program is chosen by the student in consultation with his/her adviser, subject to approval by the Graduate Advisory Committee. In general, the thesis topic should be of interest to the student and should contribute to the field of Horticulture.

The graduate student is required to submit the thesis electronically by the announced submission deadline for the semester or summer session. Unless the thesis advisor prefers only an electronic copy, the student should provide a bound, hard copy of the thesis for the adviser(s). The Thesis Guide published by the Graduate School contains detailed instructions.

It is the responsibility of the graduate student to arrange for the reproduction and binding of any hard copies (see "Thesis Binding" in this manual). Additional information can be obtained from the Graduate School.

D. Publication of Papers Based on Thesis Research

The culmination of a student’s graduate program should be the publication of thesis research. Responsibility for preparation of the first draft of the manuscripts resides with the student who will be first author. The first draft should be submitted to the student's research advisor within six (6) months after a successful thesis defense. If the first draft of the manuscript is not received within this time, the research advisor is free to write the manuscript and become senior author and the student junior author. Exceptions to this policy must be arranged with the student's research advisor prior to the six-month deadline. If the student prefers to have his/her research advisor prepare the manuscript with the advisor as senior author, that should be decided before the student leaves the University.

E. Additional Requirements

Additional specific requirements regarding graduate credits, major and minor fields of study, and graduate thesis are listed in Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin at