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Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics & Genomics

Academic Programs
Ph.D. Program: Overview

Assignment of Major Professor

Graduate students who have not made a commitment as to their Major Professor will be assigned one before they are accepted by the Institute. These will be tentative assignments subject to change by consent of the Major Professor, student, and Institute Director. Many assistantships, scholarships, etc. are assigned to research program leaders and may not be transferable to another Major Professor.


Advisory Committee

A Ph.D. Advisory Committee must have five faculty members, consisting of the Major Professor and four other faculty members. The major professor must have full Graduate Faculty status and at least two other members must have Graduate Faculty status. Students with co-Major Professors must have four additional members on their Advisory Committee. At least one committee member must be from outside the Institute.

This committee will approve the plan of study and dissertation prospectus and conduct preliminary and final examinations. The student will keep the Advisory Committee informed of progress being made.

Forms for appointment are available from the Graduate School Web site and must be submitted to the Degree Program Assistant by the end of the first year.


Program of Study

The student shall submit to the Graduate Coordinator through his/her Major Professor a preliminary Program of Study by the end of the first year of residence. This Program of Study must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator and the Advisory Committee then submitted to the Degree Program Assistant.

The final Program of Study must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator and the Advisory Committee, with any changes in courses or committee make-up by the time the notification of the preliminary oral comprehensive examination is given, at the end of the first year and prior to admission to candidacy. The Final Program of Study must be turned in to the Degree Program Assistant. All courses on the Program of Study must fall within a six-year time limit.



Research Proposal

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 proposal which provides an introduction, rationale, and description of the proposed research to be conducted. The proposal must be formally considered by the Advisory Committee in a meeting with the student. Approval of the dissertation proposal signifies that members of the Advisory Committee believe that it proposes a satisfactory research study. The proposal must be presented to and approved by the Advisory Committee before significant research is undertaken. A copy of the approved proposal must be placed in the student’s file and becomes a permanent part of his/her record.



Written and Oral Comprehensive Examinations

The Graduate School requires that all Doctoral students pass a Written and Oral Comprehensive Examination before they are admitted to candidacy for the Doctoral degree. Students planning to take the Written Comprehensive Examination must meet with their Advisory Committee, as a whole, to discuss the examination. No student will be allowed to take the examination without having attended such a meeting. The final step before Admission to Candidacy is the Oral Comprehensive Examination, administered by the Advisory Committee.

According to the Graduate School, the Oral Comprehensive Examination may include, but must not be limited to, the presentation, discussion and defense of the dissertation prospectus (Bulletin, p. 64). The Graduate School requires notification of the Oral Comprehensive Examination two weeks before it is to be held so you must notify your Degree Program Assistant three weeks prior to the examination. All members of the Advisory Committee must be physically present for the entire period of this Examination.

Once the Oral Comprehensive Examination has been passed, the student will be admitted to candidacy for the Doctoral degree. Admission to candidacy expires in 5 years. If the dissertation is not completed within 5 years, the student must pass another set of Written and Oral Comprehensive Examinations and be readmitted to candidacy. The student may also request an extension of the 5-year time limit from the Dean of the Graduate School. Such a request requires the endorsement of the student's Major Professor and the Graduate Coordinator.


Admission to Candidacy

Ph.D. students must have completed all prerequisites set as a condition for admission, filed a final Program of Study, met residence requirements, passed preliminary exams, and maintained a 3.0 average on courses listed on the plan of study.

A Ph.D. student must apply for admission to candidacy at least one full semester before the date of graduation. After admission to Ph.D. candidacy, a student must register for at least 10 credit hours of dissertation or other appropriate graduate credit. A student must register for a minimum of 3 hours of credit in any semester when using University facilities and/or faculty or staff time.

The Admission to Candidacy form must be filled out, approved by your Major Professor and the Program Coordinator and submitted to the Degree Program Assistant at least one full semester before your attended graduation date.


Thesis/Dissertation Completion

  • No later than three weeks before the final examination, a final draft of the thesis or dissertation must be submitted to the Advisory Committee. The draft is one which is approved by the Major Professor as being complete and editorially correct. The style of the thesis or dissertation should be based upon professional journals in the field of study. The thesis may be formatted either in traditional thesis style, or as a series of manuscripts, based on Graduate School Guidelines.
  • At least one week before the final oral examination date, a corrected thesis or dissertation must be supplied to all members of the examining committee.
  • By the deadline listed for the graduation semester, a complete formatted copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School along with the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation form, for a first format check.

Please submit your final dissertation to the degree program assistant.


PBGG Exit Seminar/Oral Defense

Final examinations (M.S. and Ph.D.) will consist of a seminar presentation of the student's research, followed by the defense/final exam. Questioning in the defense will emphasize the defense of the thesis or dissertation, but questions may be raised in any appropriate area. All members of the Advisory Committee must be present during the final examination. Faculty holding the rank of Assistant Professor or above are invited and encouraged to be in attendance at the defense/final exam. The Degree Program Assistant should notify the Institute faculty of time and place of the final seminar and exam. An oral defense of your dissertation with your Major Professor and Advisory Committee must take place by the graduate school deadline. Please submit an electronic copy of your dissertation to your advisory committee three weeks prior to your oral defense. The graduate school's Approval Form for PhD Dissertations must be completed at the defense and submitted to the Degree Program Assistant.

**It is the student's responsibility to abide by Graduate School deadlines for graduation. Please check the Graduate School site for such information. The Graduate School deadline can be found on their Website. Look under Current Students, Academics, Important Deadlines and Dates.