Plant Biology, PhD

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Plant Biology


head of the department: Andrew Leakey

overview of grad college admissions & requirements: https://grad.illinois.edu/admissions/apply

overview of program admissions requirements:


program website: http://sib.illinois.edu/plantbio/

college website: https://las.illinois.edu/


program office: 286 Morrill Hall, 505 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801

phone: (217) 333-3261

fax: (217) 244-9952

email: plants@life.illinois.edu


Graduate Degree Programs in Plant Biology

Plant Biology, MS

Plant Biology, PhD


The Department of Plant Biology offers two graduate degrees, the Master of Science and the Doctor of Philosophy. The department also participates in the interdepartmental graduate program: the Program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology.

The Department teaches and conducts foundational research in plant biology. Its focus is integrative. Biological processes are investigated at multiple levels of organization using molecular, biochemical, physiological, morphological, and ecological approaches.

Areas of specialization within the department include:

  • biochemistry

  • biodiversity

  • bioinformatics

  • cell biology

  • conservation biology

  • development

  • ecology

  • environmental physiology

  • evolution

  • genetics

  • genomics

  • modeling

  • molecular biology

  • mycology

  • paleobotany

  • paleoecology

  • photosynthesis

  • phytochemistry

  • population biology

  • biotechnology

  • systems biology

  • systematics

Graduate students receive broad biological and professional training and acquire expertise in their areas of specialization.

The Plant Biology Departmental website provides additional information about the department, its admissions procedures, degree requirements, facilities, and the research interests of its faculty.

Admission

Prospective students are encouraged to identify faculty member(s) whose research specialty(ies) most closely coincide(s) with their interests and to correspond directly with them. Acceptance to the Doctor of Philosophy graduate program is based on the applicant's academic achievement and research potential. While departmental requirements do not specify particular courses as prerequisites for admission, applicants should have had undergraduate coursework in biology or related sciences. Admission to the graduate program requires an undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 (A = 4.0). Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (or approved equivalent) are not required but may be submitted to strengthen application package; however no minimum scores are specified for admission. International students should have a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 600 or above on the paper-based test, or 102 or above on the internet-based test (iBT). The IELTS exam is also accepted, and applicants should have a score of 7.0 or higher. 

Facilities and Resources

The Plant Biology Department's diverse state-of-the-art research laboratories are located in Morrill Hall, Edward R. Madigan Laboratory, and the Institute for Genomic Biology. In addition, the department maintains extensive plant growth-chamber facilities, environmentally controlled greenhouses, a conservatory with live teaching and research collections, herbaria, a center for paleobotanical collections, and diverse local and remote field sites including SoyFACE. The University also offers exceptional research support services including the Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center, service laboratories in the Institute for Genomic Biology, the Beckman Institute, and the University Library, one of the world's largest.

Financial Aid

Fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships are available for qualified MS and PhD students in Plant Biology. Fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis.

for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Plant Biology


Candidates for the Ph.D. are expected to complete a minimum of 96 hours of graduate coursework and research. A formal evaluation (the Two-Year Review) of the student's academic progress is made prior to the end of the second year of study (end of Stage I). Departmental approval must be obtained at this juncture in order to continue in the graduate program. A Preliminary Examination is taken during the second year (if the student entered with an M.S. degree) or the third year (if the student entered with a B.S. degree) (end of Stage 2). This consists of an oral examination of general knowledge in three of nine broadly-defined areas of plant biology and defense of a written research proposal on the thesis research topic prepared by the student. Experience in teaching is considered a vital part of the graduate program and is required as part of the academic work of all Ph.D. candidates. The final stage (Stage 3) of the program consists of preparing an acceptable thesis based on independent research designed in consultation with a faculty advisor and approved by a graduate faculty thesis committee. A final oral examination, in which the student defends the thesis, a public seminar, and deposit of an approved thesis complete the program. The Ph.D. degree program is expected to be completed within five years. See the Plant Biology Department's online Graduate Student Handbook for a detailed description of the Stages and Requirements of the Ph.D. program.

Entering with approved M.S./M.A. degree

Research/Project/Independent Study Hours (no max applied toward degree)
PBIO 599Thesis Research (no max applied toward degree)
Total Hours64

Other Requirements1

Other requirements may overlap
Teaching: at least the equivalent of one semester as a half-time teaching assistant
Masters Degree Required or Admission to PhD? No, but Masters level requirements (32 hours minimum) must be met in order to enter State 2 of Ph.D. program.
Preliminary Exam Required: Yes, at the end of State 2, in order to enter Stage 3
Final Exam/Dissertation Defense Required: Yes, at end of Stage 3
Dissertation Deposit Required: Yes, at end of Stage 3
Minimum GPA: 3.0

Entering with approved B.S./B.A. degree

Research/Project/Independent Study Hours (no max applied toward degree):
PBIO 599Thesis Research (no max applied toward degree)
Total Hours96

Other Requirements

Other Requirements:2
Teaching: at least the equivalent of one semester as a half-time teaching assistant
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Masters Degree Required or Admission to PhD? No, but Masters level requirements (32 hours minimum) must be met in order to enter State 2 of Ph.D. program.
Preliminary Exam Required: Yes, at the end of State 2, in order to enter Stage 3
Final Exam/Dissertation Defense Required: Yes, at end of Stage 3
Dissertation Deposit Required: Yes, at end of Stage 3