Graduate

Our objective is to train professionals through exposure to diverse aspects of the disciplines while maintaining a balance between applied and basic elements of each discipline. The Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, therefore, offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Agriculture, Master of Science, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The Master of Agriculture option is a “non-thesis” option and is recommended for specific cases where a student has well-defined reasons for pursuing the degree. Each of these degree programs may be pursued in either Entomology or Plant Pathology.

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ENTOMOLOGY AND PLANT PATHOLOGY

Xing Ping Hu
Extension Specialist Professor
204 Extension Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
334-844-6392

PLANT PATHOLOGY

Leonardo De La Fuente
Associate Professor
209 Life Sciences Bldg
Auburn Univ, AL 36849
334-844-2582

Students interested in admission to the Department should review the Admissions Requirements and Policies. Students may also receive Financial Assistance through the department or extramural sources depending on availability.  

The Master’s degree provides training in a scientific discipline as well as in research. In pursuing a Master’s degree, a student is expected to gain a broad perspective in their discipline of study through course work, master the “art” of research by conducting a specific research project under the supervision of a faculty advisor, and communicate his/her results with others through scientific reports, manuscripts and formal presentations.

Students with an undergraduate background in biology or related sciences, an interest in entomology, and acceptable undergraduate grades and scores on the Graduate Record Examination, are invited to consider this curriculum. The M.S. program prepares students for jobs requiring specialized entomological training, or for continuation in a doctoral program. Coursework includes a minimum of 30 semester hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, at least 21 semester hours of which must be taken in entomology, the remaining 9 hours in related areas as determined by the student’s Advisory Committee. For the M.S. degree, research skills are developed through thesis research under the direction and approval of a departmental advisory committee. The Master of Agriculture (M.Ag) is a non-thesis option for students who do not wish to enter a doctoral program. The Master of Agriculture degree requires at least 32 semester hours of course work, 21 of which must be in the specific discipline, with the remainder of credit hours taken from other, related areas as determined by the student’s Advisory Committee.

ADMISSION
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

The Doctor of Philosophy degree is primarily a research degree that is intended to prepare the student for a life of productive teaching, extension activities, and/or original research at the frontiers of knowledge. The Ph.D. student applies knowledge from a M.S. or previous experience on how to do research by conducting original research which demonstrates independence in thought and action. Currently, the preference of faculty is that all Ph.D. candidates have a M.S. degree. This is intended to ensure that Ph.D. candidates have the required experience in scientific writing which comes with completing a dissertation. 

Candidates for this degree are expected to bring to their studies a high degree of self-motivation. Doctoral candidates are required to independently conduct an original research project, from conceptualization through publication of results; participate in teaching in the Department; make formal presentations at scientific meetings; and critically review scientific publications.

Admission to this advanced degree program is based upon both prior scholastic achievements (including coursework, and scores on the Graduate Record Examination), and demonstrated aptitude for independent, original biological research. The program requires 60 credit hours of course work beyond the B.S. and 10 or more additional hours of research that result in an original research dissertation. The Ph.D. is a requirement for most research and/or teaching positions in academia, government and industry.

ADMISSION
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

The Master’s degree provides training in a scientific discipline as well as in research. In pursuing a Master’s degree, a student is expected to gain a broad perspective in their discipline of study through course work, master the “art” of research by conducting a specific research project under the supervision of a faculty advisor, and communicate his/her results with others through scientific reports, manuscripts and formal presentations.

The M.Ag. (non-thesis) and M.S. programs in Plant Pathology provide training in the recognition and management of diseases of plants, and on pathogen biology, as preparation for a career in plant-related industries or advanced studies. Candidates for these programs should have an undergraduate background in botany, microbiology, horticulture, agronomy, or a related discipline, and acceptable undergraduate grades and scores on the Graduate Record Examination. Coursework includes a minimum of 30 semester hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, at least 21 semester hours of which must be taken in plant pathology, the remaining 9 hours in related areas as determined by the student’s Advisory Committee. For the M.S. degree, research skills are developed through thesis research under the direction and approval of a departmental advisory committee. The Master of Agriculture (M.Ag) is a non-thesis option for students who do not wish to enter a doctoral program. The Master of Agriculture degree requires at least 32 semester hours of course work, 21 of which must be in the specific discipline, with the remainder of credit hours taken from other, related areas as determined by the student’s Advisory Committee.

ADMISSION
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

The Doctor of Philosophy degree is primarily a research degree that is intended to prepare the student for a life of productive teaching, extension activities, and/or original research at the frontiers of knowledge. The Ph.D. student applies knowledge from a M.S. or previous experience on how to do research by conducting original research which demonstrates independence in thought and action. Currently, the preference of faculty is that all Ph.D. candidates have a M.S. degree. This is intended to ensure that Ph.D. candidates have the required experience in scientific writing which comes with completing a dissertation. 

Candidates for this degree are expected to bring to their studies a high degree of self-motivation. Doctoral candidates are required to independently conduct an original research project, from conceptualization through publication of results; participate in teaching in the Department; make formal presentations at scientific meetings; and critically review scientific publications.

Admission to this advanced degree program is based upon both prior scholastic achievements (including coursework, and scores on the Graduate Record Examination), and demonstrated aptitude for independent, original biological research. The program requires 60 semester credit hours of course work beyond the B.S. Degree, including 12 or more hours of research that result in an original research dissertation. The Ph.D. is a requirement for most research and/or teaching positions in academia, government and industry.

 

ADMISSION
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Graduates have found great careers in Science, Business, and Entrepreneurship.  The following resources provide additional background on specific opportunities in Plant Pathology and Entomology.

What careers are available with a degree in Plant Pathology?

What careers are available with a degree in Entomology?

Graduate School Policies

Graduate School policies are outlined for Master’s or Ph.D. students in the AU Bulletin. All graduate students must be registered for 9 credit hours per semester to be considered full-time students until completion of the formal course work on their approved plan of study. This includes undergraduate courses, but does not include Research and Thesis/Dissertation, ENTM/PLPA 7990/8990.

Domestic students may be considered full-time if registered for 1 credit hour of Research and Thesis/Dissertation ENTM/PLPA 7990/8990 and with successful petition to the Graduate School to register them for GRAD7@@0 THESIS / GRAD8@@0 DISSERTATION COMPLETION.

International students must fill out an Authorization to Drop Below Full Time Enrollment Form from the Office of International Affairs that will permit them to be designated as full-time with 1 credit hour of Research and Thesis/ Dissertation ENTM/PLPA 7990/8990.

Note that among the qualifiers for candidacy for the Ph.D., doctoral students must successfully complete the written and oral Qualifying Examination (referred to as the “Prelim”). Graduate students may carry a maximum course load of 16 credit hours per semester (14 hours in summer for any combination of terms).

Departmental Credit Policies

Courses that a graduate student might take are determined in consultation with his/her major professor and advisory committee. Required courses that must be taken by every graduate student are listed above.

All students in residence on assistantship in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology must register for at least 1 credit of Research and Thesis/Dissertation ENTM/PLPA 7990/8990 each semester. Additional credits in 7990/8990 courses should reflect time involved with research. Seminar (ENTM/PLPA 7950/8950) is also required with varying requirements (stated below) depending on degree (M. S. and Ph.D.) programs.

Students on graduate research assistantships (GRA) in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology must generally maintain full-time status. Exceptions may be granted in semesters when no courses are being taken and only research efforts are on-going (see above).

Summary of Credit Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) is a research based dissertation degree program usually supported with an assistantship. It requires a minimum of 60 credit hours including 1) 30 credit hours must be graded (e.g., A, B, C) graduate course work in 6000-level or higher course after the Bachelor’s degree. At least 30 additional credit hours of graduate course work are required that include research (8990) and seminar (8950). Students need a minimum of 10 hours of research (8990) credit in the plan of study ranging from 1 (minimum) to 16 (maximum) per semester. Two credits of seminar (8950) will be counted as a part of the degree hours.

The Master of Science degree (M. S.) is a research-based thesis degree program usually supported with an assistantship. It requires a minimum of 30 credit hours (beyond the Bachelor’s degree) in 6000-level (or higher) courses, with at least 21 of the credit hours of which must be discipline specific (Entomology or Plant Pathology) courses, and the remaining 9 credit hours in related areas as determined by the student’s Advisory Committee. The 21 credit hours of entomology can include up to (but no more than) 6 hours of research (7990). Only 1 credit of seminar (7950) will be counted as a part of the degree hours.

The Master of Agriculture degree (M. Ag.) is a non-thesis option for students who do not wish to enter a doctoral program. M. Ag degree is not supported with an assistantship and requires a minimum of 32 credit hours in 6000-level (or higher) courses after the Bachelor’s degree with 21 credit hours in discipline-specific courses, with the remainder of credit hours taken from other related areas as determined by the student’s Advisory Committee. The 21 credit hours of discipline-specific courses will not include research hours (ENTM/PLPA 7990).

 

Guidelines for Graduate Students (Revised Feb 2016)

Plant Pathology

Course offerings in Plant Pathology cover a wide variety of topics related to the identification, ecology, and diagnosis of plant disease agents. 

The Core Curriculum in Plant Pathology consists of:

PLPA 6200 Mycology, (4 credits)

PLPA 6300 Plant-Bacterial Interactions, (4 credits)

PLPA 6400 Plant Virology, (3 credits)

PLPA 6500 Plant Nematology, (4 credits)

 

 

 

Required courses

STAT 7000 or CSES 7080 One Statistics course

**Seminar, PLPA 7950/8950

** Research thesis/ dissertation PLPA 7990/8990

* Teaching Practicum, PLPA 7910/8910

*Courses required for Ph.D. students; **required for all graduate students

Masters’ students in Plant Pathology must complete Introductory Mycology (PLPA 6200) and two other core courses; Ph.D. students must complete all five courses in the core curriculum for Plant Pathology. In addition to these core courses, it is strongly recommended that M.S. candidates complete one course from each list below; Ph.D. candidates should complete two courses from each list.

List A:

PLPA 6050, Plant Disease Diagnosis (3 credits)

PLPA 6060, Plant Disease Management (3 credits)

PLPA 7860, Plant Disease Epidemiology (3 credits)

PLPA 7080, Field Survey (3 credits)

 

List B:

PLPA 8880, Physiological & Molecular Plant Pathology (3 credits)

PLPA 7930 Journal Review for Entomology and Plant Pathology (1 credit)

Courses suggested by the Advisory Committee

New students without an introductory course in Plant Pathology on their transcripts will be required to take PLPA 3000 (4 credits), General Plant Pathology. Students who have not been recently enrolled or working in a field related to Plant Pathology, or non-native English speakers, also may be required to take PLPA 3000 by their Advisory Committee.

With the approval of the Advisory Committee, a student may petition the faculty for exception to course curriculum requirements. It is highly recommended that graduate students seeking degrees in Plant Pathology have the following courses or the equivalent on their transcript before completing a degree:

Plant Physiology (e.g., BYMB 6450)

Genetics (e.g., ZYWL 3000 or AGRN 6100)

Microbiology (e.g., BYMB 3000)

Biochemistry (e.g., CHEM 6180)

Graduate Studies in Plant Pathology ver. 5-18-16 (Downloadable format)

 

Entomology

Course offerings in Entomology cover a wide variety of topics related to the identification, ecology, and management of insects. 

The Core Curriculum in Entomology with credit hours.

Insect Physiology, ENTM 7200 (4 credits)

Insect Morphology, ENTM 6440 (5 credits)

Systematic Entomology, ENTM 6300 (5 credits)

 

Required courses

Statistics (e.g., STAT 7000, AGRN 7080, or equivalent)

**Seminar, ENTM 7950/8950

** Research thesis/ dissertation ENTM 7990/8990

* Teaching Practicum, ENTM 7910/8910

 

*Courses required for Ph.D. students; **required for all graduate students

Major Professor

Students are advised to discuss and clarify what the expectations for graduate students are of his/her major professor. Specific philosophies and expectations for graduate students vary among major professors, therefore clarification might be needed, for example, about hours of work, computer access, availability of supplies, etc. Faculty who serve as Major Advisors to Masters’ students must have “Graduate Faculty Status” conferred by the Graduate School; doctoral students must be advised or formally co-advised by faculty with “Graduate Faculty Status: Level 2.”

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee functions to guide the student through his/her graduate program, especially in assessing progress of the thesis or dissertation research. This committee also has the responsibility for helping the student develop a Plan of Study and providing guidance toward completion of all degree requirements. This committee reviews the research proposal and must approve the final version of the thesis or dissertation prior to submittal to the Graduate School. It is the student’s responsibility, however, to see that all required forms are filled out, approved when necessary by the Advisory Committee or Department Chair, and submitted to the Graduate School by the designated deadlines.

The Advisory Committee for students pursuing the M.Ag. or M.S. degrees should consist of the major professor as committee chair and at least two other faculty; the chair and a minimum of one committee member must be in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. The Advisory Committee for the Ph.D. degree shall consist of the major professor as committee chair and at least three other members. The committee chair and a minimum of two members must be faculty in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. Members of a Advisory Committee are recommended by the major professor in consultation with the student and must be approved be approved members of the Auburn University Graduate Faculty.

Evaluation and Assessment of Student Progress

Students should meet with their Graduate Advisory Committee regularly to assess progress toward their degree. It is the responsibility of the graduate student to organize and schedule these meetings. The student should discuss the format and agenda for the committee meeting in advance with their major professor. All GRA’s, and students involved with teaching (TA), are evaluated annually by the supervising advisor (GRA) or the primary instructor of the course (TA). These evaluations are required by and submitted through the Graduate School.

Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is an approved list of courses for the individual student which must be taken in order to satisfy the curriculum requirements for graduation and awarding of the degree. The Plan of Study must be approved by the Graduate Advisory Committee prior to submission to the Graduate School as an official part of the student’s file. The appropriate forms to use are noted below. The choice of courses must include all core courses in the student’s discipline and the minimum number of course credit hours required by the Department. In selecting courses, the committee should take into account the student’s background and previous course work, career goals, and specific courses that will help prepare the student for the thesis or dissertation research to be conducted. When the Plan of Study is completed, it is the student’s responsibility to submit the Plan of Study electronically through Degreeworks. The Advisory Committee members are then prompted by email to approve the Plan of Study. Full-time M.Ag. and M.S. students must submit their Plan of Study to the Graduate School no later than the 2nd semester of enrollment in a graduate program. Ph.D. students should submit their Plan of Study to the Graduate School no later than the 3rd semester of enrollment in the doctoral program. Minor revisions of the Plan of Study can be made with the approval of the Advisory Committee and the Graduate School. Major changes, however, may require submission of a new Plan of Study. Notification and approval of all changes must be provided to the Graduate School before the beginning of the final semester.

The thesis for the M.S. and the dissertation for the Ph.D. must be the work of the student. Students submit their completed thesis or dissertation via email for electronic publication through AUETD. Students should consult the ETD Guide available at the Graduate School’s web site. The Graduate School accepts only theses and dissertations prepared according to this Guide. The Graduate School Calendar lists the deadline for acceptance of theses and dissertations by the Graduate School each semester. Also, the Graduate School will check students’ theses/dissertations for format prior to the deadline for each semester. Students are strongly advised to use this service.

The Graduate School offers registration in GRAD 7900 (“Thesis Completion” for M.S. candidates) and GRAD 8900 (“Dissertation Completion” for Ph.D. candidates). Information on registration for GRAD 7900 and GRAD 8900 can be found in the Bulletin. Students enrolled in GRAD 7900/8900 must be concurrently enrolled in PLPA or ENTM 7990/8990. Enrollment in GRAD 7900/8900 is for students in the final stages of completing their programs and enables a student to be certified as full-time by the Registrar.

Master of Science in Entomology and Plant Pathology

The topic selected for the thesis must be approved by the student’s major professor and advisory committee. The student conducts the research and prepares the thesis under the direction of the major professor. This work is usually considered as being done for the course PLPA or ENTM 7990.

 

Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy is primarily a research degree, and the candidate must demonstrate a capacity for independent research by conducting original research and producing a dissertation that constitutes a contribution to knowledge. The dissertation is required of every student and is the primary evidence offered by the student that he or she qualifies for this high academic distinction. The student conducts the research and prepares the dissertation under the direction of the major professor.

 

The “Guide to Preparation and Submission of Theses and Dissertations,” available from the Graduate School, contains policy on copyright, microfilming for “Dissertation Abstracts,” and publication of the dissertation. In general, the dissertation may not be published in its entirety before all degree requirements have been completed, but the student can publish, prior to the conferral of the degree, certain findings that later will be incorporated into the dissertation. In this case, appropriate acknowledgment of the earlier publication should be included in the dissertation.

A candidate for a Ph.D. degree should allow a minimum of 12 weeks to prepare his/her dissertation after completion of the research. This is based on estimates of time required for writing and review. Committee members should be given a final draft after comments of the major professor have been addressed. Then, after the student corrects the dissertation, Committee members should be given the corrected dissertation 2 weeks before the examination is scheduled. Approximately 1 more week will be required to incorporate revisions suggested by the Committee and to do the final typing.

These time intervals are approximations subject to considerable variation; for example, some advisors may require research to be written in publishable form before the examination. Students, therefore, must plan very carefully, in consultation with their advisors, so as to allow sufficient time for writing the dissertation between the termination of their research and the date that they must respond to other commitments.

Time Limits and Deadlines- M. Ag. and M.S.

Students in the Master’s programs must complete all requirements within six calendar years of first registering in the Graduate School. Reasonable extensions of this time limit may be allowed by the Graduate School upon petition by the student if the Department so recommends. Petitions for extension of time must detail the reasons for delay, the current status of requirements fulfilled, and an estimate of the time required to complete all requirements. It is, however, reasonable to expect a full-time M.S. student to complete degree requirements in less than 3 years.

Master’s students who intend to continue for a Ph.D. degree in the Department must submit a written request to enter into a Ph.D. program. This request should be sent to the Chair of the Department three months before completing the M.S. degree.

Time Limits – Ph.D.

Doctoral students are expected to achieve candidacy within 6 years, and to complete all requirements for the degree within 10 years. It is reasonable to expect that full-time doctoral students can complete degree requirements in less than 5 years.

Checklists

The Graduate School has provided helpful checklists for students enrolled in either M.S. or Ph.D. programs. These checklists include benchmarks through various steps (e.g., newly admitted, nearing completion) of the degree program with important links. Students should rely on the checklist to prompt action or discussions with their primary advisor or Graduate Advisory Committee.