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FAQs by prospective graduate students in PPPMB

Is it necessary to be accepted by a faculty member in his or her lab?

No, students apply to the Field of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology and subsequently join a specific faculty program after acceptance.

Is funding included in all offers?

Yes, we will not make an offer of acceptance unless we can identify support for the full degree program.

Is there funding for international students?

Yes, international students accepted into our program are also offered full funding. Some funding sources, however, may only be used for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Do I need to take the Graduate Record Exams (GREs)?

Yes, all applicants must take the GREs. This test is the only standard metric we have for comparing all applicants. We expect successful applicants to score 1200 or higher (verbal and quantitative combined) and 4.5 or higher on the analytical writing exam. GRE subject tests are not required.

Do I need to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)?

All applicants whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL or IELTS. Only 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 from the TOEFL. The Graduate School has set strict minimum scores for admission.

Can I apply to be admitted for the Spring semester instead of in August?

Our admissions—and funding—work on an annual cycle, with applications due in early January for students to begin their studies in August. The availability of funding at other times of the year is a major constraint, and difficulties may arrise because of prerequisite courses that are offered in the Fall. However, beginning studies at other times of the year is possible and decided on a case by case basis.

What is the M.S./Ph.D. program?  Should I apply for an M.S. only?

Most of our students are in the M.S./Ph.D. or Ph.D. degree programs. The M.S./Ph.D program is designed for students who have completed a bachelor's degree, but have not completed an M.S. With the consent of their faculty advisors, many M.S./Ph.D. students change to the Ph.D. program in their second year, effectively skipping the M.S. degree. Some funding sources are available to M.S./Ph.D. and Ph.D. students that are not available to M.S. only students.

The M.S. program is designed for students who are not sure if they want to pursue a Ph.D. or have limited funding.

Can I send unofficial test scores or transcripts to make the application deadline?

Yes, we will accept unofficial test scores or transcripts to ensure they arrive by the application deadline. Please contact the Graduate Field Assistant prior to sending unofficial documents. If admitted to the program, students must send official test score reports and transcripts before we finalize the acceptance offer.

The application fee for Cornell University is $80.  What if I cannot afford this fee?

In cases of extreme financial need, the Graduate School will consider a request for a fee waiver. A letter of request for a waiver and documentation of need, such as a letter from a college financial aid office, must be sent to the Graduate School. E-mail must be sent to Janine Brace at