Academic Programs Catalog

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Graduate Study

The Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences offers programs leading to Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in crop and soil sciences, plant breeding, genetics and biotechnology—crop and soil sciences, and in plant pathology. The department also offers a Doctor of Philosophy degree program in crop and soil sciences—environmental toxicology.

Students enrolled in the Doctor of Philosophy degree program may elect a Specialization in Biotechnology. For additional information, refer to the statement on the specialization.

Students who are enrolled in Master of Science degree programs in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences  may elect a Specialization in Food Safety. For additional information, refer to the statement on the specialization in the College of Veterinary Medicine section of this catalog.



Crop and Soil Sciences - Master of Science

The department offers the following areas of specialization within the field of crop and soil sciences:  plant breeding and genetics; crop physiology, ecology, and management; weed science;  turfgrass management; soil genesis and classification; soil microbiology and biochemistry; soil physics; soil chemistry; soil biophysics; soil fertility; and environmental and pollution aspects of soil science, including the study of waste disposal on land. Graduate programs of study are designed to reflect the individual needs and interests of students.

Master of Science

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

Applicants for admission to the master's degree program should have a bachelor's degree in crop and soil sciences or in a related field such as botany or chemistry.  Applicants should also have substantial academic background in the physical sciences (including chemistry and physics), in the biological sciences (including botany), and in mathematics.  The completion of an undergraduate crop and soil sciences major with an agricultural science specialization would be considered ideal.  Students with deficiencies in their backgrounds will be required to complete collateral courses in addition to the courses that are required for the master's degree.

Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Crop and Soil Sciences

The student may elect either Plan A (with thesis) or Plan B (without thesis).  A total of 30 credits is required for the degree under either Plan A or Plan B.  In addition to courses in the major, a minor or study in areas related to crop and soil sciences is required.  Students are encouraged to select such courses as botany, biochemistry, chemistry, geology, plant pathology, and statistics.  The student is required to complete satisfactorily one semester of teaching.



Crop and Soil Sciences- Doctor of Philosophy

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Crop and Soil Sciences

In addition to courses in the major, a minor or study in areas related to crop and soil sciences is required.  Students are encouraged to select such courses as botany, biochemistry, chemistry, geology, plant pathology, and statistics.  The student is required to complete satisfactorily one semester of teaching.



Crop and Soil Sciences- Environmental Toxicology

For information about the Doctor of Philosophy degree program in crop and soil sciences—environmental toxicology, refer to the statement on Doctoral Program in Environmental and Integrative Toxicological Sciences in the Graduate Education section of this catalog.

 


Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology - Crop and Soil Sciences

The Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences offers Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs in plant breeding, genetics and biotechnology–crop and soil sciences. The requirements for admission and the requirements for the degree are specified in the statement on Interdepartmental Graduate Programs in Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology.

 


Plant Pathology - Master of Science

Plant pathology graduate students may study in one or more emphasis areas, including phytobacteriology, mycology, virology, epidemiology, host parasite interactions, soil microbiology, disease management and molecular biology. Commodity-oriented strategic research areas in which the above emphasis areas may be studied include vegetable crops, fruit crops, nursery, landscape and ornamentals, field crops, turf crops, and forest and tree pathology. Students are urged to take courses which provide a broad background in biological and physical sciences in addition to training in specialized areas.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

Regular admission may be granted to those students who have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent, a 3.00 grade point average, and appropriate training in the biological and physical sciences and mathematics.

Provisional admission may be granted to those students who do not meet the requirements for regular admission.

Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Plant Pathology

The master’s degree program in plant pathology is available under either Plan A (with thesis) or Plan B (without thesis). The student’s program of study is arranged by a guidance committee which includes the major professor.

For both Plan A and Plan B, students must:

  1. Complete at least 30 credits including at least two graduate-level seminar courses in the biological sciences, one of which must be Plant Pathology 894.
  2. Acquire teaching experience by assisting in at least one course.
  3. Demonstrate a reading knowledge of a foreign language if required by the guidance committee.

Additional Requirement for Plan A:

Pass a final oral examination in defense of the thesis.

Additional Requirement for Plan B:

Pass a final examination or evaluation.

 


Plant Pathology - Doctor of Philosophy

The objective of this program is to provide a high quality plant pathology graduate experience to equip students with the skills necessary for research, teaching and extension, or other agriculture-related positions that require the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

Regular admission may be granted to those students having a master’s degree or its equivalent, a 3.00 grade point average, and appropriate training in the biological and physical sciences and mathematics. Outstanding students without a master’s degree may be accepted.

Provisional admission may be granted to those students who do not meet the requirements for regular admission.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Plant Pathology

All doctoral students in plant pathology must meet the requirements specified below:

               
1. Pass a preliminary examination.  
2. Acquire teaching experience by assisting in two courses.  
3. Complete:        
  a. All of the following courses:  
    PLP 405 Introductory Plant Pathology 3
    PLP 810 Current Concepts in Plant Pathology 3
    PLP 894 Seminar in Plant Pathology 2
  b. One of the following courses:  
    PLP 812 Epidemiology of Plant Diseases 3
    PLP 881 Molecular and Biochemical Plant Pathology 3
    PLP 885 Plant Diseases in the Field 2
  c. Two of the following courses:  
    ENT 870 Nematode Management in Crop Systems 3
    PLP 847 Advanced Mycology 4
    PLP 880 Plant Virology 4
    PLP 884 Prokaryotic Diseases of Plants 4
4. Additional requirements such as reading knowledge of a foreign language may be required by the guidance committee.  
5. Pass a written comprehensive examination.  
6. Pass a final oral examination in defense of a dissertation.  



Graduate Specialization in Ecological Food and Farming Systems

The Graduate Specialization in Ecological Food and Farming Systems is designed to foster an understanding of biogeochemical, socioeconomic, and policy concepts using experiential learning within the individual’s program of study as a venue for multidisciplinary work. For global perspectives, students are encouraged to participate in either a study abroad course with ecological food and farming systems content, or in a course with international focus.

The specialization is available as an elective to students who are enrolled in master’s or doctoral degree programs at Michigan State University. With the approval of the department and college that administers the student’s degree program, the courses that are used to satisfy the specialization may also be used to satisfy the requirements for the master’s or doctoral degree. The students program of study must be approved by the advisor for the specialization in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences in advance and in writing.

Requirements for the Graduate Specialization in Ecological Food and Farming Systems

The student must complete 13 to 14 credits from the following:

               
1. All of the following courses (7 credits):  
  ACR 811 Community, Food and Agriculture: A Survey 3
  CSS 442 Agricultural Ecology 3
  CSS 892B Ecological Food and Farming Systems Seminar 1
2. One of the following courses (3 credits):  
  CSS 424 Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems:  
        Integration and Synthesis 3
  CSS 431 International Agricultural Systems 3
  CSS 893 Special Topics 3
  ENT 479 Organic Pest Management 3
  ENT 848 Biological Control of Insects and Weeds 3
  An international course approved by the student’s advisor for the specialization.  
3. One of the following courses (3 or 4 credits):  
  ACR 823 Contemporary Issues in Animal-Human Relationships 3
  ACR 853 The Industrialization of American Agriculture 3
  ACR 854 Agriculture and Social Movements 3
  ACR 891B Advanced Topics in Community, Food, and Agriculture 2
  AEC 861 Agriculture in Economic Development 3
  FW 858 Gender, Justice, and Environmental Change: Issues and Concepts 3
  GEO 410 Geography of Food and Agriculture 3
  An international course approved by the student’s advisor for the specialization.  
  Students may enroll in Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies 891B more than once.