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Application Details

Graduate student working in greenhouse
Graduate student working in greenhouse

The Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section seeks highly motivated applicants with excellent academic credentials and a well-founded sense of purpose. Previous research experience is not essential but is often beneficial.

Review the following sections for more information:


We use several criteria to judge applications, including, but not limited to:

  • Interests and motivation: The application requires a one- or two-page statement of purpose describing the applicant's reasons for undertaking graduate work as well as an explanation of academic interests, including how they relate to undergraduate study and professional goals.
  • Related work and/or research experience: Training in a work or research environment can be valuable experience for undertaking graduate studies.  Applicants should include a summary of such experience in the statement of purpose.
  • Prior academic training and record: Applicants should have, or expect to receive soon, a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) with broad training in the biological and physical sciences.  They should have introductory-level knowledge of biochemistry, botany, calculus, chemistry, genetics, microbiology, mycology, organic chemistry, physics, plant pathology, plant physiology, soil science, statistics, and computers.  Course work or experience in plant pathology is desirable but is not required. 
  • GRE scores: GRE scores are required of all applicants. Most successful applicants score above the 80 percentile, verbal and quantitative combined, and 4.5 or higher on the writing/analytical parts of the on the GRE aptitude tests.
  • TOEFL/IELTS scores (for international applicants): High proficiency in the English language is essential for admission to our graduate program.  Applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL  or IELTS exam. Students who have studied full-time for two or more years at a college or university in a country in which English is the native language and where English is the language of instruction are exempt. The Graduate School has strict minimum scores for admission.
  • Letters of recommendation: Three letters of recommendation from faculty members or employers who can assess the applicant's academic potential for a graduate program are required.
  • Interviews: Prior to acceptance, we will conduct phone interviews with promising applicants to better assess their interests and compatibility with our section as well as his or her communication skills.  Successful applicants will be invited to visit the Ithaca and Geneva campuses (at the Field's expense in many cases) to interview with faculty, staff, and students.  For applicants for whom visiting Cornell is impractical, we will conduct additional phone/Skype interviews.

Application form and fee

The Graduate School uses an online application; complete instructions for the application may be found at the Graduate School application web site.  The secure online form is easy to use, and applications are received immediately.  The application fee is USD $80.


  • The deadline for applications for the Fall semester is December 1.
  • Early application is strongly encouraged. To be considered for Cornell Graduate Fellowships, Cornell Genomics Fellowships, and other University-sponsored fellowships, applicants must submit their materials by the January 1 deadline.
  • Applications for Spring admission are considered only under exceptional circumstances. Inquiries may be made to the Graduate Field for more information.

Below is an approximate timetable with key steps in the application and admissions process:



December 1 All application materials received by the Graduate School
Mid-January Review of applications by the Graduate Student Selection Committee
Early February Phone interviews are conducted with promising applicants
Late February -
Early March
Select applicants visit Ithaca and Geneva campuses
Mid-March Notification of acceptance and offers of financial support
April 15 Applicants accept or reject offers
3rd week of August Accepted students arrive on campus for orientation and start of Fall semester.

Application Details

Statement of purpose: The statement of purpose is submitted online following the instructions for the online application.  It is not necessary to send a hard copy to the Field.

Letters of recommendation: Letters can be submitted online following the instructions for the online application. Instead of submitting online, recommenders may choose to send hard copies to the Field:

Alicia Caswell, Graduate Field Assistant
Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology Section
School of Integrative Plant Science
334 Plant Science Building
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853


GRE: GRE scores are sent directly to the Graduate School.  The institutional code for Cornell University is 2098.

TOEFL or IELTS: The TOEFL or IELTS exams must be taken no more than two years before the application is submitted.  Scores are sent directly to the Graduate School.  For TOEFL, the institutional code for Cornell University is 2098; the section code for Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology is 30.

Official transcripts: Official transcripts of undergraduate and graduate studies (if applicable) should be scanned and uploaded into the online application as part of the submission process.  For students who are subsequently admitted and accept the offer of admission, a formal paper transcript will be required prior to matriculation.

Please note that the Graduate School will not accept materials sent by e-mail or fax; these are discouraged by the Field as well.


Questions? At any time, questions about the application process may be directed to:

Dr. Adam Bogdanove
Director of Graduate Studies
Graduate Field of Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology
Phone: 607-255-7831
Fax: 607-255-4471