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Field Requirements

Students collecting samples in a vineyard
Students collecting samples in a vineyard

Plant Pathology courses: All students in the Field of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology are required to take the following four Core Courses, preferably during the first year:

  • PLPPM 3010 Biology & Management of Plant Diseases, 4 credits, Fall
  • PLPPM 4010 Microbial Pathogens vs. Plants: Molecular Weapons, Defenses, and Rules of Engagement, 3 credits, Spring
  • PLPPM 6810, Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Seminar, 1 credit Fall/Spring
  • PLPPM 6820, Graduate Student Research Seminar, 1 credit Fall/Spring

Students with prior coursework in plant pathology may petition to be exempt from taking PLPPM 3010
(see Exceptions or exemptions below).

Beyond the core courses, students are also expected to master a body of knowledge in plant pathology in a chosen Program Area. Degrees are awarded on the basis of the level of scientific competence, knowledge attained, and research accomplishments, not on the number of course credits accumulated. Active participation in discussions of current literature, e.g., in Special Topics courses, is expected of students during their degree program. All students will also be required to complete the online tutorial: Responsible Conduct for Research and any other compliance training mandated by their research activities.

Minor subjects

Students select minor fields of study to broaden their expertise. To satisfy requirements for minor subjects, students usually must take additional courses determined by the special committee.  Minor fields chosen by Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology students vary considerably. The most common minors are listed in the different program areas. For Ph.D. students, at least one of the minors must be in a subject in the life sciences or physical sciences outside of the Field of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology.

Seminar presentations

There are two seminar-presentation experiences required in the Field of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology. The Graduate Student Seminar (PLPPM 6820) is a forum for presenting research proposals and progress reports in which students develop their presentation skills. Presentations are required annually for all students, except in the first and last years of study.  Second-year students present their thesis and dissertation proposals in the Fall semester. During the last year, students give formal presentations on finished research at the Section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology seminar. One section seminar is required for each degree earned at Cornell.  Students are expected to attend both seminar series throughout their studies.

Teaching

Each student must participate in the Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology teaching program as a teaching assistant for at least one semester for each degree earned at Cornell. Alternatively, students may satisfy this requirement by being a teaching assistant for an introductory biology course.

Annual student assessment

By the end of the second semester, each student should strive to have their special committee members identified, and they must convene a special committee meeting. The purpose of this meeting is for the committee to evaluate progress during the first year and for the student to receive guidance for the the following academic year. If the special committee is not in place, the student, in collaboration with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and his or her major advisor, will identify at least two additional field members to participate in the evaluation. The committee will discuss performance on coursework and plans for further thesis research. The student will complete the self-assessment form prior to this meeting and use this document as a partial agenda for the meeting. The completed assessment must be signed by all special committee members and submitted to the DGS. Additionally, each faculty member of the special or evaluating committee will complete a student evaluation form and submit to the Director of Graduate Studies.

In each of the subsequent academic years, each student is expected to have at least one special committee meeting and complete a self-assessment form describing his or her progress and plans for coursework and research. The completed assessment must be signed by all special committee members and submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies.  Additionally, each faculty member of the special or evaluating committee will complete a student evaluation form and submit to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Exceptions or exemptions

A student may petition the Director of Graduate Studies for exemption from any of the requirements stated above. Petitions must be made in writing, with written endorsement from the student's special committee chairperson.

Summary of degree requirements in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology:

Requirement

MS

PhD

Prescriptive interview X X
Special committee* X X
Number of minors* 1 2
Core courses  
PLPPM 3010 Biology and Management of Plant Diseases X X
PLPPM 6010 Concepts of Plant Pathology X X
PLPPM 6810 Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Seminar X X
PLPPM 6820 Graduate Student Research Seminar X X
Thesis or dissertation: X X
Exams*
Final exam* X  
Admission to candidacy exam*   X
B-exam*   X
Seminars  
Graduate student seminar (PLPPM 6820) X X
Section seminar presentations X X
Teaching experience X X
Residency units (semesters) required* 2 6
Annual student assessment X X

*Graduate School Requirements