Degree Programs

The Department of Plant Pathology offers graduate majors leading to the Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees. The Department also offers the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees with an emphasis in Molecular Plant Pathology. Students in the molecular emphasis will enhance their ability to design and use molecular approaches to investigate plant disease, increase their knowledge of basic science and explore emerging strategies for disease control. Finally, the Department also collaborates to offer a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Plant Science with an emphasis on Sustainable Plant Health.

Graduate Degrees in Plant Pathology

All students entering the M.S. or Ph.D. programs are expected to have a strong background in basic sciences. Graduate education is designed to help students learn the scientific discipline of plant pathology, develop independent and team research skills, and develop communication skills needed by professional scientists. Students seeking experience in teaching and extension activities will find abundant opportunities within and external to the curriculum.

Graduate students select a plant pathology graduate faculty advisor who assists them in forming an advisory committee appropriate to their course of study and thesis research project. The selection of a thesis research project for M.S. and Ph.D. degree students is often based upon the research interest of the faculty advisor and funding opportunities.

M.S. Degree

Students may pursue the Master of Science degree program following one of two options: Plan A (which can include the molecular emphasis) requires completion of the degree course requirements, a thesis based on independent research, and a final oral examination. Plan B requires more course work and one to three projects totaling approximately 120 hours of work as stipulated by the UMN Graduate School instead of a thesis and oral examination. Students need a minimum of two years to complete either plan.

All M.S. students must fulfill curriculum requirements outlined in the Plant Pathology Graduate Student Handbook. Required courses include: Principles of Plant Pathology, Plant Bacteriology, Plant Virology, Plant Pathology Seminar, and Research Ethics in Plant and Environmental Sciences. Students will supplement the remainder of their program with additional plant pathology courses and work in minor or supporting fields. Specific course selections depend on degree requirements and on individual interests and background.

Among the additional plant pathology courses available are: molecular plant-microbe interactions, genomics, ecology, epidemiology, and evolutionary biology of plant-microbe interactions, plant disease resistance and applications, introduction to fungal biology, disease diagnosis, diseases of forest and shade trees, and field plant pathology.

Ph.D. Degree

Students in the doctoral program usually spend a minimum of three years beyond the Master's degree to obtain the Ph.D. degree. All Ph.D. students must fulfill the curriculum requirements outlined in the Plant Pathology Graduate Student Handbook. Doctoral students participate in advanced courses for in-depth examination of the research and literature in specific areas in plant pathology and present two seminars. Doctoral students also complete a minor field of study or supporting courses in two or more disciplines, written and oral preliminary examinations, a thesis based on original research, and an oral defense of the thesis.

Undergraduate Degree in Plant Science

The Department of Plant Pathology contributes to the CFANS Plant Science B.S. degree program, including a program of study on Sustainable Plant Health.  This program of study prepares students for exciting careers or advanced study in all aspects of plant health including Plant Pathology, Entomology, and Soil Science.  Learn more about the CFANS Plant Science major.