Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or M.S./Ph.D. requirements


  • It is generally expected that students will complete a Masters degree before beginning a Ph.D. in Horticulture. However the Graduate Field can also admit students with strong preparation directly to a Ph.D. program without a Masters, or enroll students in an M.S./Ph.D. program.  
  • Students admitted directly to the Ph.D. program without an M.S. should have demonstrated research capabilities in the form of honors degrees, published papers, and overall academic excellence.
  • Students who desire a Ph.D. but do not possess a Masters and have not demonstrated research capabilities may be admitted to an M.S./Ph.D. program. The student will begin a Masters program.  After no less than 1 year or more than 3 years, the student should give a presentation at the grad field review, departmental seminar or professional conference and pass a Qualifying Conference (Q exam) with his or her committee where a summary of work to date and proposal for Ph.D. research should be discussed. No separate Masters theses would be necessary for such students. After the presentation and 'Q' Conference, the student would be eligible to change his or her program to a Ph.D. by filing an R1 Student Program Change form with the graduate school.  Without a presentation and successful 'Q' conference by the end of a 3-year period, the student will be advised to complete a Masters degree only. The time to complete an M.S./Ph.D. program is approximately 4-6 years.  
  • Students select a Special Committee composed of one professor representing the major field and at least two other professors from different graduate fields. This approach permits the student to work with those faculty members who can best direct the student's graduate study, regardless of college, department, or field affiliation.
  • The student's Special Committee determines coursework and registration credits for the Ph.D. degree.
  • Committee members advise students in the selection and conduct of dissertation research.
  • Candidates must submit an acceptable dissertation based on a research project.
  • Pass the "Q" conference—an oral qualifying conference that includes critical examination of proposed research and an evaluation of qualifications, scheduled early in the residency.
  • Pass the "A" exam—an oral exam reviewing the student's mastery of subject matter related to his/her thesis topic and the course work taken. Candidates must earn two additional semester registration units before taking the final "B" examination.
  • Pass the "B" exam, or final examination on the subject of their dissertation.
  • Teaching experience is required and can be satisfied by assisting a faculty member in teaching one or more courses.
  • Ph.D. candidates are expected to complete degree requirements in 4-5.years, but may be allowed up to 7 years to complete their degree.
  • A minimum of 6 registration units (6 semesters) are required for the Ph.D.  For students completing an M.S./Ph.D., registration units beyond the 2 units required for the M.S. may be put towards the 6 registration units required for the Ph.D.

Doctoral students majoring in the Field of Horticulture are expected to develop broad competence in each of three core areas: Horticulture Biology, Horticultural Production and Management, and Horticultural Methods during their course of study or show evidence of having attained that competence previously.

The large number of courses suggested for each concentration will allow students, working with their special committee, to tailor to individual needs. It is expected that all graduate students attend the weekly Horticulture seminar (Hort 6000).