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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:

Criteria and requirements for admission

  • 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 research interests, including how they relate to undergraduate study and professional goals.
  • Related work and/or research experience: Experience in a work or research environment can be valuable preparation for graduate studies.  Applicants should include a summary of such experience in the statement of purpose.
  • Prior academic achievements: 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. Transcripts of undergraduate and graduate studies (if applicable) should be submitted with the application. If necessary, an unofficial  transcript may be submitted with the initial application, however, an official transcript will be required prior to matriculation.
  • 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. The Graduate School has strict minimum scores for admission. 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. 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.
  • 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 videochat interviews with promising applicants to further assess their interests and qualifications.  Successful applicants will be invited to visit the Ithaca and Geneva campuses to meet in-person with faculty, staff, and students.  For applicants for whom visiting Cornell is impractical, we may conduct additional interviews by phone or videochat.
  • GRE: GRE scores are NOT required and will not be considered if submitted.

  • Note: Applicants who would like to be considered for a Fellowship in Support of Diversity must include a supplemental diversity essay in their application.

Online application and fee

The Graduate School uses an online application system, through which the application form is completed and attachments such as the statement of purpose, transcripts, etc. are uploaded; complete instructions for the application are available on the site.  The system is secure and easy to use, and applications are received immediately. 

There is a fee to apply. Applicants for whom the fee is a financial hardship or who participated in certain pipeline programs may request a fee waiver

Review process

Applications are reviewed by a committee of faculty and one or more current graduate students. Highly ranked applications are shared with all program faculty. Then, those applicants are interviewed via videochat by small groups of faculty comprising, to the extent possible, faculty the applicant is most interested in speaking with. Interviews are not recorded, but each interview team prepares a report and recommendation. Based on these recommendations and faculty interest, select applicants are invited to the School of Integrative Plant Science's school-wide graduate recruitment event, two days of activities and meetings with faculty and students at both the Ithaca and Geneva campuses. Final admissions decisions are made thereafter. Importantly, these decisions are not based solely on qualifications; they also necessarily factor in recruiting objectives of individual faculty and availability of funding. 

Application deadline and admissions timetable

  • The deadline for applications is December 1, for admission the following August. Some students arrange with their advisors to begin research prior to formal matriculation (for example in May or June for field studies over the summer).
  • Applications for Spring admission are considered only at the request of a faculty member on behalf of an applicant.

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

Date Event
December 1 Applications must be received by this date
December-January Applications are reviewed by a committee of faculty and one or more current graduate students
Early February Highly ranked applicants are interviewed by videochat
Early to mid-February Select applicants visit for the School of Integrative Plant Science graduate recruitment event
Mid-March to early April Offers of admission are made
April 15 Admittees must accept or decline by this date


Adam Bogdanove
Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
Graduate Field of Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology
Phone: 607-255-7831

Josh Balles
Graduate Field Coordiniator
Graduate Field of Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology