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    Jun 28, 2022  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
    
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog

Plant Sciences Major, MS


Both thesis and project 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 across a wide variety of crop commodities, including fruits, vegetables, weeds, cereals, grains, turfgrass, ornamental plants, and public horticulture. Plant sciences students can undertake research to address challenges related to plant protection, molecular biology, breeding, genetics, biotechnology, physiology, ecology, culture, and management. Students must select a formal concentration as a focus of study.

Concentrations (Required) and Options Available

Crop Sciences — Thesis, Project

Horticulture — Thesis, Project

Plant Breeding — Thesis, Project 

Plant Molecular Genetics — Thesis, Project 

Weed Science — Thesis, Project

Campus Code

Knoxville Campus

Admissions Standards/Procedures

  • 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.
  • Successful applicants to the Plant Sciences Graduate program are expected to have at least a 3.00 GPA on a 4.00 scale.
    • Prerequisite courses may be required by the faculty mentor and graduate student advisory committee 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, answers to a professional biosketch self-assessment, 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).

Academic Standards

  • Students must be fully committed to their graduate program: they are are expected to participate in departmental seminars, activities, outreach functions, and professional development activities, and assume full responsibility for knowledge and compliance with rules and regulations of the Graduate Council and Department.
  • Retention and continuing access to graduate assistantship and stipend support may be dependent on the student maintaining a 3.00 cumulative graduate 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 preparation).

Dismissal

  • 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 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, Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards, Hilltopics, or Graduate Council. Dismissal will be accomplished by written notice to the student with a copy to the Graduate School.

Credit Hours Required

  • Thesis Option: minimum of 30 graduate credit hours
  • Project Option: minimum of 34 graduate credit hours

Required Courses

  • Thesis Option Requirement
    • PLSC 500  (6 credit hours)
    • At least 14 of these credit hours must be numbered 501 or above
    • PLSC 504  (2 credit hours) [for MS students matriculating in Fall 2020 and thereafter]
  • Project Option Requirement
    • PLSC 503  (2 to 4 credit hours)
    • At least 22 of the 34 credit hours must be at the 500-level or above
    • PLSC 504  (2 credit hours) [for MS students matriculating in Fall 2020 and thereafter]
  • Successful completion of 12 credit hours of graded coursework in the major at the graduate level (400 or above), exclusive of Plant Sciences PLSC 500  (Thesis Option only), PLSC 502  (Thesis and Project Option), and PLSC 503  (Project Option only), and PLSC 504  (Thesis and Project Option)
  • Graduate, graded, program elective coursework will be selected by the student in consultation with the major advisor and advisory committee. Choice of courses associated with program electives are project/research based, may be from PLSC and from disciplines outside the major, including
    • AGNR (Agriculture and Natural Resources),
    • ALEC (Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications),
    • ANSC (Animal Sciences),
    • AREC (Agricultural and Resource Economics),
    • BCMB (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology),
    • CSE (Cultural Studies in Education),
    • EPP (Entomology and Plant Pathology),
    • ESS (Environmental and Soil Sciences),
    • EEB (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology),
    • FDSC (Food Science),
    • FORS (Forestry),
    • FWF (Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries),
    • LAR (Landscape Architecture),
    • LFSC (Life Sciences),
    • MICR (Microbiology),
    • STAT (Statistics) and
    • TPTE (Theory and Practice in Teacher Education)

Additional Course Requirements

  • An understanding of research ethics is also required. This departmentally-enforced requirement may be achieved through either:
    • Coursework (e.g., PLSC 525 /ANSC 525 /CEM 525 ; BCMB 614 ; PSYC 660 ) or,
    • Knowledge gained 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
      • CITI RCR training should be completed by the end of the third academic semester
      • For research involving human subjects, CITI IRB certification may also be required
      • Students undertaking laboratory research and projects involving chemical use/exposure should complete online Chemical Safety Training by the end of their first or second academic semester
  • If approved by the graduate student’s advisory 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

Non-Course Requirements

  • Thesis Option
    • Approval of an acceptable master’s graduate student advisory committee
    • If a minor is sought from another program, the student’s advisory committee must include a faculty member from the minor department*. *Note: See IGSDSP Program Guidelines (Committee membership of an IGSDSP faculty member may not be required for the IGSDSP Minor)
    • Members of the student’s advisory committee are expected to contribute expertise relevant to their academic discipline area, to assist in the planning of course work, aid in formulating an appropriate research project and will assess student achievement and performance toward accomplishing other degree requirements, including the thesis defense.
    • Satisfactory presentation of a research proposal to the department
    • Approval of the academic program by the master’s committee
    • Satisfactory preparation of a written thesis proposal and its oral defense to the student’s committee
    • Satisfactory preparation of a written thesis and its oral defense to the student’s graduate committee
  • Project Option
    • Approval of an acceptable master’s graduate student advisory committee
    • If a minor is sought from another program, the student’s advisory committee must include a faculty member from the minor department*. *Note: See IGSDSP Program Guidelines (Committee membership of an IGSDSP faculty member may not be required for the IGSDSP Minor)
    • Members of the student’s advisory committee are expected are expected to contribute expertise relevant to their academic discipline area, to assist in the planning of coursework, aid in formulating an appropriate project and will assess student achievement and performance toward accomplishing other degree requirements, including the thesis defense
    • Satisfactory presentation of a project proposal to the department
    • Approval of the academic program by the master’s committee
    • Satisfactory completion of a project, preparation of a written report summarizing the project, and its oral defense to the student’s advisory committee
    • Passing written and oral examinations covering the project and coursework

 

Five-Year BS/MS Program - Plant Sciences Major, MS

For qualified students, the Department of Plant Sciences offers a Five-Year BS/MS accelerated degree program with a BS major in Plant Science and a MS major in Plant Sciences. Central to this program is that a qualified student may take up to nine hours of approved graduate coursework within their directed electives category in the undergraduate catalog and have them count toward both the BS degree and the MS degree. Students may be considered for conditional admission to the program after completion of 90 credit hours towards their BS degree. This program is designed for students who intend to complete their MS degree at the University of Tennessee, as other universities may not accept these courses for graduate credit, because they were used to satisfy requirements for the BS degree.

Significant components required for conditional admission to the program are:

  • A student must be a declared Plant Sciences major, with a minimum GPA of 3.40, must have completed at least 15 credit hours in Plant Sciences, and must have completed at least 90 credit hours of the 120 credit hours of coursework required for the BS degree with a major in Plant Science.
  • A student must complete a personal interview with their undergraduate faculty mentor, the Graduate Director in the Department of Plant Sciences, and a student must obtain a letter of mentorship support from a Plant Sciences faculty member (i.e., major professor).
  • As part of the official application process, the student must submit to the graduate director the following: (1) a letter of intent from graduate mentor, (2) an updated resume, (3) a current degree audit (DARS report), and (4) a letter of intent from student documenting their research interest.
  • Students must at least be conditionally admitted to the program prior to taking courses that receive credit for both the BS and MS degrees. Condition admission requires approval (Senior Requesting Graduate Credit Form) by the Plant Sciences Graduate Director and the Graduate School.

The form “Plant Sciences Conditional Admission Five-Year BS/MS” is available from the Graduate Director and must be completed and signed by the undergraduate advisor, undergraduate coordinator, and graduate advisory committee at least two months before the start of the student’s last two full semesters at UTK. After review by the Department, the form will be signed by the Graduate Director and submitted to the Graduate School for approval and processing. During the first term following conditional admission to the BS/MS program, the student will work with the faculty mentor to obtain agreement from two additional faculty members to serve on the student’s thesis advisory committee.

A student that is conditionally admitted to the BS/MS program may complete up to 9 credit hours of graduate level coursework during the student’s undergraduate study and apply those 9 credit hours to satisfy both the BS degree requirements and also the MS degree requirements, provided that these graduate credit hours are listed within the Herbert College of Agriculture as acceptable for graduate credit. To receive graduate credit for the 9 credit hours listed on the Plant Sciences Conditional Application form and approved by their graduate advisory committee, and others granting approval by signing that form, the student must complete and submit the Senior Requesting Graduate Credit Form (located on the Graduate School’s webpage/Forms Central page) to the Graduate School. If courses are to be taken during different semesters, the student will need to submit this form per each relevant semester.

Conditional admission into the BS/MS program does not guarantee acceptance into either the Graduate School or the MS program. Students in the BS/MS program must apply for admission through the Graduate School’s Graduate Admissions Office and to the MS program during their senior year of undergraduate study for the term immediately following the completion of their undergraduate study following the same procedures that all other student applicants follow. A GRE score must be submitted as part of the application for admission into any graduate program in the Department of Plant Sciences. Students will be fully admitted to the MS program after they have been accepted both by the Graduate School and by the Plant Sciences program. Students will not be eligible for graduate assistantships until they are enrolled as graduate-level students in the Graduate School. The five-year time frame is established to ensure sufficient time is available to complete graduate coursework as directed by the student’s graduate committee. Research needed to fulfill requirements for successful defense of a thesis may require additional time-to-degree.