Masters Requirements (PDF File)
Master’s Degree - Non-thesis
credit hours, including 1 hour seminar
but not more than 6 credits of special problems
Master’s Degree - Thesis
Course Credits 24 (must include 1 hr.
seminar and GRAD 612)
Total Credits 30
credit hours required (24 course hours and at least 6 research hours)
PhD Requirements (effective Spring 2011) (PDF File)
Current students who do not have an
approved plan of study by the Graduate School will have the option to follow
the current requirements or be included in the new plan. Students who have an approved plan of study
by the Graduate School do not qualify for this option. Students entering in January 2011 can only
follow the new credit hour requirement.
Total of 36
credit hours for Ph.D.
27 course credits*,
plus the required 9 departmental core credits = 36 credit hours.
credit hours may be independent study, but not with the student’s major
professor. Students must have prior
approval by Agronomy Graduate Committee for independent study credits - provide
objectives, syllabus and deliverables.
of 9 credit hours include:
Statistics (STAT 503 or
511, or equivalent) 3 credits
(encouraged) or 514 3 credits
Ethics 1 credit
Seminar 2 credits
structure would remain the same as currently used. No qualifying exam required. (Note:
this preliminary exam structure will be reviewed in the future by
Students may take
more than 36 credits as directed by their discipline or major professor.
Breeding and Genetics Core Course Requirements and Preliminary Exam Structure
and Genetics Core Course Requirements – minimum of 24 course credits (includes
the 9 departmental core requirements plus minimum of 15 credits in plant
breeding and genetics), with a competency-based preliminary exam at the end of
the fifth semester. Details of this
program stated in the attached curriculum and preliminary structure document.
Current students who
have not filed a plan of study by August 2010, will have the option to follow
the current requirements or be included in the new plan. Students entering on or after January 2011
will follow the new Ph.D. credit hour requirements initiated in this memo.
requirements and preliminary exam structure for PhD students in the Agronomy
Department area of specialization: Plant
Genetics and Breeding (PGB) Track
Faculty in PGB have the option to follow an alternate
departmental path for graduate student training. Track II has reduced course
requirements and an accelerated, competency-based preliminary exam to be taken
by the end of the fifth semester.
I. Course Work
Minimum of 15 credits
Core Courses in Plant Genetics and Breeding (in addition to nine credits of
Department Core Requirements). Minimum of 24 course credits overall
Advanced Genetics and
AGRY605, Advanced Plant Breeding 3
AGRY530, Advanced Genetics 3
Molecular and Cell Biology (at least one from the list below) 3
Plant Cell biology, AGRY 598
Plant Growth and Development, BTNY 552
Molecular Plant Phys, HORT 551
Plant Molecular Biology, BIOL 550
Quantitative Genetics and Genomics (at
least one from the list below) 3
Genomics, AGRY 600
Quant. Genetics, AGRY (M. Tuinstra)
Population Genetics, (B. Muir, AGRY 511)
QTL Analyses, (R. Doerge)
Others to be added.
Elective (at least one) 3
Any 500+ level
course, within or outside an area of concentration
Note: 300 and 400
level courses will not count toward the 24 credit hours required for the PhD.
Course credits taken at other institutions for the MS degree, must be advanced
graduate level courses to be accepted toward the 24 credit hours.
concentration in the PGB area
- Statistics (mandatory for all Ph.D. students in the
Department): ANOV (STAT 503/511 or equivalent) AND Regression (STAT
512 or equivalent) OR Experimental Design (STAT 514 or equivalent).
- Plant Breeding AGRY
605, or equivalent. Plant breeding
methods and their applications, selection and experimentation with plant
populations in field, greenhouse and controlled chamber conditions,
analysis of qualitative and quantitative traits, integration of
phenotyping and genotyping with molecular technologies, genetic mapping,
genetic linkage, heritability, analysis of genetic gain from selection,
heritability, analytic breeding, interspecific gene transfer and
utilization. Demonstrate ability to develop, in form of research
proposals, crop improvement and genetic research objectives and research
- Plant Genetics AGRY 530 – to be renumbered as 630, STAT 512 or
STAT 598 and BIOL598Z, or equivalents.
Strong fundamentals in both Mendelian, non-Mendelian inheritance,
and molecular genetics. Students should have a full understanding of
modern molecular genetics and have the ability to analyze mutants and
genetic interactions. Knowledge of gene mapping through the construction
and use of recombinant inbred lines and recombination-based mapping using
molecular markers. Know
experimental techniques to determine cell autonomous vs. non-cell
autonomous functions. Knowledge about plant reproduction, genetic
imprinting, and epigenetic phenomenon.
- Genomics and Quantitative Genetics: (competency in subject
areas similar to the content in AGRY 600 and Bioinformatics – STAT598B,
BIOL595B, CHM599A). Emphasis on genome structure and analysis,
molecular methods for large-scale mapping of genes and genetic markers,
and systems-level evaluation of phenotype and gene function.
- Quantitative Genetics ANSC/AGRY/FNR 511, ANSC/AGRY 611, or
equivalents. Quantitative genetics methods and tools, and their
applications to breeding, genetics and evolution of plants--specifically in the
analysis of changes in allele/gene frequencies in populations due to genetic
drift, selection and mutation. Demonstrate ability to use, integrate and
develop quantitative methodology in the development and analysis of complex
genetic data sets.
- Plant Molecular and Cell Biology:
Course work in modern
plant molecular and developmental biology. Plant Growth and Development
BTNY 520?, Plant Molecular Biology BIOL 550. Integration of molecular
genetics to basic problems in plant growth and development. Additional
courses in this area focus on plant science at the level of cellular
compartmentalization of functions, protein trafficking, cell wall
biogenesis, signal transduction (Plant Cell biology AGRY 598). Cell biology questions that scale to the
physiology of tissues and organs are the topic of Molecular Plant Phys
The advisory committee for respective PhD
students could (and likely will, in the interest of helping the student pass
the Prelim Exam) require additional courses, depending on the student’s
primary area of interest (i.e., plant breeding, genetics, genomics), thesis
research area, and prior courses taken.
II. Preliminary exam:
a competency based exam that is used as the basis to admit a student into
candidacy for a Ph.D.
Students must take
their preliminary exam by the end of their 5th semester. Students
who do not pass will have one additional attempt. Students must have passed the preliminary exam by the end of the 6th semester or they
will be removed from the program.
- Preliminary exam
structure: A faculty representative of the PGB group will act as the exam
coordinator. This individual will match student exam content with the
appropriate faculty. The exam committee will be comprised of four
individuals. Up to 2 can be from the student’s advisory committee, 2 will
be from outside of the students advisory committee. All four will be
content experts in areas of concentration that are suited to a particular
student’s topic area. The student’s major professor can attend the
preliminary exam, but only as a non-participating observer.
- Preliminary exam content:
The exam will have a written and oral component. The exam will be centered
on a research proposal that is distinct from the student’s thesis research
in that the central hypothesis and specific aims of the proposal are not
identical to the thesis project or any grant proposal to which the student
has been given access. The preliminary exam coordinator will get written
confirmation of this from the student’s major professor.
The proposal will have a background section, a well-defined
knowledge gap, a central hypothesis, and specific aims that test the central
hypothesis. The written exam will test the student’s ability to command key,
current knowledge and develop a problem solving strategy to answer new
questions. The exam coordinator and the exam committee will review an outline
of the proposal addressing the points above, prior to holding the exam and,
typically, before the student writes the proposal. If the proposal is deemed as
not defendable the student will get feedback from the exam chair and then have
a second and last attempt to submit a proposal.
The oral exam will test depth and breadth of knowledge in
areas of concentration that are central to the PGB discipline area. Specific
details of the proposal will also be examined during the oral session. Upon
passing the preliminary exam the student will be admitted to candidacy.
Core Science Requirements for the PhD (PDF File)
The Agronomy Department has a long-standing requirement for
all students earning a Ph.D. in the department, to have a minimum level of
coursework in each of the four basic areas of science: biology, chemistry,
physics, and calculus. This requirement
is based in part on the belief that for a person to earn a doctorate in a
scientific field such as ours, they should have a basic understanding of all
the basic sciences. The current
requirements are also similar to what we require of our strong science majors
(B.S. level) in our department. These
requirements help ensure that our students are well-grounded and well-rounded
The following core science and mathematics courses, or their
equivalent, are required of all Ph.D. candidates. Students deficient in these courses will be
required to take them during their degree program. These remedial courses may be taken for a
letter grade (A, B, C, …) or Pass/No Pass.
Subject Requirement Purdue Equivalent
CHEMISTRY General Chem., plus one CHM 111/112
(3-9 credits) semester of:
PHYSICS General PHYS 220/221
MATHEMATICS Calculus MA 223/224
BIOLOGY General BIOL
In essence, this allows students to have only one semester
of coursework in each of two areas that are less directly related to their
work. For example, students coming from
plant biology might take only one semester each of physics and calculus, while
those coming from engineering might take one semester of biology and two
semesters of chemistry.
Minimum of 1 semester (3 credits) in each of the
4 areas: biology, chemistry, physics and math
Minimum of 7 semesters total in the 4 areas.
always been the option to petition for a substitution or exemption under
exceptional circumstances, and the Graduate Committee reaffirms that
option. A more advanced math class
(linear algebra, for ex.) might be able to substitute for a second semester of
calculus. A written petition to the Graduate
Committee, explaining the request and the rationale, will be reviewed and a
decision made on a case by case basis.
In the case of a course that the petitioner claims is equivalent to the
requirement (most often with some international students), an explanation of
that equivalency, consisting of a course syllabus or detailed description of
course content, should be included.