May 20, 2024  
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog 
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Plants, Soils, and Insects Major (PS), PhD

Crop Sciences Concentration
Horticulture Concentration
Plant Breeding Concentration
Plant Molecular Genetics Concentration
Weed Science Concentration

The Doctor of Philosophy with a major in plants, soils, and insects and concentrations in crop sciences, horticulture, plant breeding, plant molecular genetics, and weed science is offered under a multi-departmental doctoral program.  Three departments participate – Plant Sciences, Entomology and Plant Pathology, and the soils faculty in Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science. Other concentrations within the plants, soils, and insects major include bioactive natural products, entomology, environmental and soil sciences, integrated pest management, and plant pathology. Please see the Plant Sciences homepage for additional information,, or contact a faculty member in the area of interest.

Students may select a formal concentration as a focus of study but this is not a requirement. We recognize that modern research approaches in plant sciences often overlap. Students may specialize in one or more approaches, including plant biotechnology, molecular biology, breeding, genetics, physiology, ecology, culture and management. Research may feature fruits, vegetables, turfgrass, weeds, woody ornamentals, cereals, grains, fiber, public horticulture or model plant systems.


To the Office of Graduate Admissions submit online application, application fee, official transcripts, and scores from the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The online application procedure will direct the applicant to submit an updated resume, three letters of reference (or three Graduate Rating Forms), photocopy of Graduate Record Examination scores, and a short statement of professional goals and reasons for applying to Plant Sciences.


The student and the major professor will select a minimum of three additional faculty, holding the rank of assistant professor or above, to serve on the student’s doctoral committee. The major professor and two committee members must be approved to direct doctoral research by the Graduate Council. At least one member of the committee must be from outside the department. The doctoral committee must be formalized by the end of the second semester of graduate study.

An approved program of study must be submitted by the end of the second semester of graduate study. A candidate for the doctoral degree must complete a minimum of 24 hours of graduate course work beyond the master’s degree. Candidates not having a master’s degree must complete a minimum of 48 hours of graduate course work beyond the baccalaureate degree. A minimum of 12 of the 24 hours, or 30 of the 48 hours, must be graded A-F. At least 9 hours of the student’s course work must be from outside the chosen concentration in the plants, soils, and insects umbrella doctoral program, and a minimum of 6 hours of courses numbered 601 or higher must be taken at the University of Tennessee, excluding PLSC 602 . In addition, 24 hours of course PLSC 600  Doctoral Research and Dissertation are required.

Satisfactory preparation of a written dissertation proposal and an oral defense to the student’s committee are required. This must be completed during the first two semesters of graduate study and before enrollment in PLSC 600 .

Both written and oral sections of the comprehensive examination must be passed. The candidate will be tested on his/her knowledge of the proposed dissertation and related fields.

Satisfactory preparation of a written dissertation and an oral defense to the student’s doctoral committee are required.