Plant Breeding PhD Programs

Sep 20, 2019

A number of programs offer PhDs in plant breeding; for more information on common requirements, as well as specific information on a few different schools' programs, keep reading.

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During a PhD program in plant breeding, you will study how to breed plants to improve them. You might research how to make them bigger, more nutritious, more resistant to diseases and pests, etc. A PhD in plant breeding will prepare you to work in the private sector, government agencies, research institutions, and academia.

Common Program Admittance Requirements

You will need to submit your transcripts from your undergraduate degree; usually you will submit unofficial transcripts when you first apply, and then official transcripts further along in the admission process. You will usually need to complete a Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test, which will test your ability in verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing. You will need to write a statement of purpose, where you will explain why you want to pursue a PhD in plant breeding at the institution you have chosen. You will need two to three letters of recommendation, ideally from faculty you worked with as an undergraduate. Finally, if you are an international applicant and English is not your first language, you will need to prove your proficiency with English by completing either an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Graduate Degree Comparison

Cornell University

In Cornell University's plant breeding PhD program, you can specialize in either plant breeding or plant genetics, taking courses in such topics as advanced plant genetics and quantitative plant-breeding genetics. You must earn six residence units to complete your PhD; a residence unit is earned every semester of instruction or research. You must have two minor subjects in addition to your specialization. Total tuition is $20,800; you can apply to receive financial aid, which will cover tuition, a stipend, and health insurance. The deadline for fall applications is December first; spring is July first.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Wisconsin's plant breeding and genetics PhD requires you to complete 51 credits, of which at least 17 must be coursework; core courses include introductory plant breeding, plant genetics, and biometrical techniques in plant breeding. You will not be required to complete a doctoral minor, though you can if you so choose. Tuition and fees for the 2019-2020 academic year are $12,010 for Wisconsin residents and $25,336 for non-residents; you can receive financial support through a research assistantship from your professor, or through a fellowship, which is granted on the basis of academic achievement. You may also be able to take internships with companies or non-government organizations. The deadline is September first to be admitted in the spring, and December first to be admitted in the summer or fall.

Texas A&M

For this plant breeding PhD, you must complete 96 credit hours (64 if you've already completed a master's degree). The PhD does not have a set amount of coursework versus the dissertation, but the advisory committee may set its own minimums; you may take courses like histological and cytological and plant breeding, crop physiology, and environmental biophysics. Teaching, non-teaching, and research assistantships are available, and you may be able to receive a fellowship from $1,000 to $30,000. Total tuition is $35,000 for residents and $57,000 for non-residents. There is no deadline to apply, though you should finish the application process at least one month before the semester you want to start.

University of Missouri

The University of Missouri's plant breeding, genetics and genomics PhD does not require completion of GRE tests, although you can submit your results if you've completed one. You must complete 72 credit hours, 15 of which must consist of upper-level courses (not counting dissertation research, independent study, etc.); you may study such topics as crop physiology, plant physiology, and plant microbes. Tuition for the 2019-2020 academic year is $386 per credit for residents and $1,057 for non-residents. Grants are available for travel or research. Applications are accepted throughout the year, but those received by December 15th will be given priority.

University of Georgia

Georgia's PhD covers plant breeding, genetics and genomics. If you have not completed a master's degree, 36 credit hours are required: 27 of which are courses (including plant breeding, plant genetics, and statistics), six of which are research, and three of which are dissertation writing. Tuition for fall 2019 and spring 2020 for Georgia residents was $4,439 for 12 credit hours or more; tuition for non-residents was $12,593 for 12-plus credit hours. You can receive financial assistance through a graduate assistantship from a faculty member; it is recommended to contact potential advisors prior to applying to the program. For domestic students, the deadline for applications is July first for the fall semester, November 15th for the spring semester, April first for the May and extended summer semester, and May first for the summer semester. For international students, the deadline is April 15th for fall, October 15th for spring, and February 15th for summer.

PhD programs in plant breeding are available throughout the country. Consider what is required to receive a PhD as well as what financial assistance is offered to decide which one is right for you.

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