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.

For More Information

ENTOMOLOGY AND PLANT PATHOLOGY

Photo of Geoffrey Williams
Geoffrey R. Williams
Assistant Professor
301 Funchess Hall, Auburn, AL 36849
334-844-5068

PLANT PATHOLOGY

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

Degrees in Entomology

M.S. AND M.A.G. IN ENTOMOLOGY

The MS program in Entomology is available to qualified individuals who wish to pursue a master’s level program that requires a thesis. Importance is placed on both classroom and research training. 
The Master of Agriculture (MAg) program with a specialization in Entomology is available to qualified applicants who wish to pursue a master’s level program that does not require a thesis. 

PH.D. IN ENTOMOLOGY

The PhD program in Emtomology requires 60 graduate level credit hours of course work. Of the 60 semester hours, 30 must be graded graduate courses (6000 and above) while registered in the PhD program. 
 

Learn More

Degrees in Plant Pathology

M.S. AND M.A.G. IN PLANT PATHOLOGY

The MS program in plant pathology is available to qualified individuals who wish to pursue a master’s level program that requires a thesis. Importance is placed on both classroom and research training. 
The Master of agriculture (MAg) program with a specialization in plant pathology is available to qualified applicants who wish to pursue a master’s level program that does not require a thesis. 

PH.D. IN PLANT PATHOLOGY

The PhD program in Plant Pathology requires 60 semester hours of course work. Of the 60 semester hours, 30 must be graded graduate courses 6000-level and taken at Auburn University. 
 

Learn More

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.  

Assistantship tuition waivers offered to students have credit hour limits depending on the degree program.  A limit of 33 credit hours are waived for MS degree students and a total of 66 credit hours are waived for Doctoral students.   

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 with a qualifying assistantship appointment of 0.33 Full-time Equivalent (FTE) or higher will automatically receive a Graduate Tuition Fellowship that pays resident and non-resident tuition and the student services fee (no more than 15 attempted hours per semester) for all attempted hours each semester during which the qualifying assistantship is held until a maximum level of support has been received.  University funded in-state tuition support will be limited to 110% of the number of hours required for a graduate degree.

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. One credit 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.  Students in the MS and doctorate programs have different requirements.

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.

MS in Plant Pathology consists of:

PLPA 6200/6206 Mycology, (4 credits)

Seminar, PLPA 7950 (1 credit)

Research thesis/ dissertation PLPA 7990 (at least 6 credits)

Plus students select two of the following courses

PLPA 6300 Plant-Bacterial Interactions, (4 credits)

PLPA 6400 Plant Virology, (3 credits)

PLPA 6500/6506 Plant Nematology, (4 credits)

PLPA 7880 Plant Microbial Ecology and Omics (3 credits)

STAT 7000 or CSES 7080 (an Experimental Statistics course) (3-4 credits)

The remaining credits hours must be taken in courses at 6000-9999 level

 

PhD in Plant Pathology consists of:

PLPA 6200/6206 Mycology, (4 credits)

Seminar, PLPA 8950 (1 credit)

Research thesis/ dissertation PLPA 8990 (at least 10 credits)

PLPA 6300 Plant-Bacterial Interactions, (4 credits)

PLPA 6400 Plant Virology, (3 credits)

PLPA 6500/6506 Plant Nematology, (4 credits)

PLPA 8910 Teaching Practicum (1 credit)

STAT 7000 or CSES 7080 (an Experimental Statistics course) (3-4 credits)

The remaining credits hours must be taken in courses at 6000-9999 level

 

 

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. 

Core Curriculum in Entomology 

All graduate students in Entomology must complete the following courses:

Insect Physiology, ENTM 7200 (4 credits)

Insect Ecology, ENTM 6220 (4 credits)

Systematic Entomology, ENTM 6300 (4 credits)

Seminar, ENTM 7950/8950 (1 credit)

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

MS degree students must complete at least 6 credits of ENTM 7990

Doctoral students must complete 10 at least credits of ENTM 8990. Doctoral students must also complete a Teaching Practicum. 

The remaining credits hours must be taken in courses at 6000-9999 level

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. A majority of the Advisory Committee must be Graduate Faculty Status: Level 2.  

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.