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    Dec 08, 2023  
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Plant Sciences Major, MS

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Both thesis and non-thesis options are available for the major in plant sciences, each guided by a graduate committee consisting of the major professor and two or more other faculty members. Studies are possible in a wide variety of commodities and subject areas, including fruits, vegetables, weeds, cereals, grains, turfgrass, woody ornamentals, and public horticulture. Students may specialize in one or more disciplines, including plant protection, molecular biology, breeding, genetics, biotechnology, physiology, ecology, culture and management.


To be considered for admission, students should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with evidence of ability to do work of graduate quality. Beyond meeting the UT Graduate School minimum cumulative grade point average, successful applicants to the Plant Sciences Graduate program are expected to have at least a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.  Prerequisite courses may be required if the applicant has insufficient background. To the Office of Graduate Admissions submit an online application (with non-refundable application fee), official transcripts, and scores from the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and TOEFL or IELTS, if applicable. The online application procedure will direct the applicant to submit an updated resume or CV, a short statement of professional goals and reasons for applying to Plant Sciences, and contact information for three evaluators who will provide letters of reference. References should be capable of assessing the applicant’s suitability for graduate work in plant sciences. Final admission is contingent upon the applicant contacting and obtaining a commitment from a graduate research faculty member to serve as his/her graduate mentor (major professor).

Student Responsibilities and Retention Standards

Students must be fully committed to their graduate program, are expected to participate in departmental and professional activities, and assume full responsibility for knowledge and compliance with rules and regulations of the Graduate Council and Department.  Retention is dependent on the student maintaining a 3.0 cumulative grade point average in graduate courses taken at UT and completing other milestones in a timely manner (e.g., forming a committee, completion of coursework, submitting a research proposal, making progress in project or research objectives, and thesis/dissertation preparation).


In addition to failure to meet UT Graduate School expectations leading to academic probation, other reasons for dismissal include failure to make adequate progress towards other degree requirements (e.g., research project, thesis/dissertation preparation), academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, falsification of data), or other forms of gross misconduct as identified by the Office of Equity and Diversity, Human Resources, Dean of Students’ Office, Hilltopics, or Graduate Council.  Dismissal will be accomplished by written notice to the student with a copy to the Graduate School.


  • Approval of the academic program by the master’s committee.
  • Successful completion of 12 credit hours of course work in the major at the graduate level (400 or above), exclusive of Plant Sciences PLSC 502  and PLSC 503 .
  • With agreement of the graduate student’s committee, six of these credit hours may be satisfied by BCMB 412 , BCMB 512 , BCMB 522 , BCMB 523 ; EDPY 559 ; EEB 414 , EEB 433 , EEB 560 ; ESS 434 , ESS 544 , ESS 511 , ESS 516 ; GEOG 439 ; INSC 560 ; or SOCI 633 .
  • If approved by the graduate student’s committee, graduate level courses taken at another institution (that were not used to meet degree requirements for a previous degree) may be used to meet specific coursework requirements. The majority of coursework must be completed at The University of Tennessee.

For additional information on degree requirements, please see Academic Policies and Requirements for Graduate Students  link.

Thesis Option

  • Satisfactory preparation of a written thesis proposal and its oral defense to the student’s committee.
  • Successful completion of 30 credit hours of graduate credit, which must include 6 credit hours of PLSC 500 . At least 14 of these credit hours must be numbered 501 or above.
  • An understanding of research ethics is also required. This departmentally-enforced requirement may be achieved through coursework (e.g., PLSC 525  /ANSC 525  /CEM 525 ; BCMB 614 ; PSYC 660 ) or via online (CITI RCR) training, as evidenced by presenting a valid CITI RCR certificate to the Graduate Director upon submission of the Application to Candidacy form.  For research involving human subjects, CITI IRB certification may also be required.
  • Preparation of a written thesis and its oral defense.

Non-Thesis Option

  • Successful completion of 34 credit hours of graduate credit, which must include 2-4 credit hours of PLSC 503 . At least 22 of these credit hours must be at the 500 level or above.
  • For projects involving human subjects, CITI IRB certification may also be required.
  • Completion of a project and preparation of a written report summarizing the project.
  • Passing written and oral examinations covering the project and course work.


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