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A Ph.D. in Plants, Soils & Insects (PSI) is offered under a multi-departmental doctoral program. Three departments participate: Plant Sciences, Entomology & Plant Pathology, and the soils faculty in Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science.

The Department of Plant Sciences offers concentrations in crop sciences, horticulture, plant breeding, plant molecular genetics and weed sciences.

The Department of Entomology & Plant Pathology (EPP) offers diverse doctoral opportunities in entomology and plant pathology. Please see EPP Ph.D. Program for more information.

The Department of Biosystems Engineering & Soil Sciences (BESS) offers a doctoral program in Environmental and Soil Science. Please see the BESS Graduate Studies site for more information.

For more information about Ph.D. programs in Plant Sciences, please contact Dr. Bill Klingeman or a faculty member in the area of interest.

Students may select a formal concentration as a focus of study but this is not a requirement. We recognize that modern research approaches in plant sciences often overlap. Students may specialize in one or more approaches, including plant biotechnology, molecular biology, breeding, genetics, physiology, ecology, culture and management. Research may feature fruits, vegetables, turfgrass, weeds, woody ornamentals, cereals, grains, fiber, public horticulture or model plant systems.

Admission Requirements

Submit application, fee, official transcripts, and scores from the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination to the Graduate Admissions Office. In your application, indicate that you are applying to the Plants, Soils & Insects doctoral program.

Also submit résumé, three letters of reference (or three Graduate Rating Forms), photocopy of GRE scores and a short statement of professional goals and reasons for applying to: Plant Sciences PhD Program Coordinator, Department of Plant Sciences, 2431 Joe Johnson Drive, 252 PSB, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, 37996-4561. In your statement letter and application, please indicate your concentration of interest and intended major professor.

Degree Requirements

To obtain the doctorate, the student must meet the following requirements:

1. The student and the major professor will select a minimum of three additional faculty, holding the rank of assistant professor or above, to serve on the student's doctoral committee. The major professor and two committee members must be approved to direct doctoral research by the Graduate Council, and at least half of the committee must hold teaching appointments. At least one member of the committee must be from outside the department. The doctoral committee must be formalized by the end of the second semester of graduate study.

2. Submission of an approved program of study by the end of the second semester of graduate study. A candidate for the doctoral degree must complete a minimum of 24 hours of graduate coursework numbered 501 or higher (excluding 502) beyond the master's degree. Candidates not having a masters degree must complete a minimum of 48 hours of graduate coursework beyond the baccalaureate degree, 24 hours of which must be numbered 501 or higher (excluding 502). A minimum of 12 of the 24 hours, or 30 of the 48 hours, must be graded A-F. At least 9 hours of the student's coursework must be from outside the PSI major, and a minimum of 6 semester hours must be taken in UT courses numbered 601 or higher. In addition, 24 hours of course 600 Doctoral Research and Dissertation are required.

3. Satisfactory preparation of a written dissertation proposal and its oral defense to the student's committee. This must be completed during the first two semesters of graduate study and before enrollment in 600.

4. Passing both written and oral sections of the comprehensive examination. The candidate will be tested on his/her knowledge of the proposed dissertation and related fields.

5. Presentation of at least two departmental seminars (2 hours of PSLS 504), in addition to an exit seminar (no credit).

6. Satisfactory preparation of a written dissertation and its oral defense to the student's doctoral committee.

Please see the Degree Program Requirements/Doctoral Degrees section at the front of the Graduate Catalog catalog for additional information.

Contact Dr. Bill Klingeman with questions about our graduate programs.