The Plant Pathology Ph.D. program provides education and research experience in the study of plant pathology to help prepare graduates for careers in academia, industry, and government. The doctoral degree requires a minimum of three years of study and research.

The doctoral degree usually requires three years of study and research beyond the master's degree. Advancement to doctoral candidacy is decided on the basis of previous academic record, performance in graduate courses, and a candidacy examination.

Program Requirements

Ph.D. Program Requirements for students who started:

The full selection of courses offered at Penn State can be found in LionPATH.

Generalized Ph.D. Program Timeline

Semester Activity
First Coursework
Literature review
Initiate research/dissertation proposal writing
Second Coursework
Continue research/dissertation proposal writing
Apply for dual-degree program (if applicable, see below)
Third Coursework
Qualifying exam
First seminar
Continue research/dissertation proposal writing
Ph.D. committee formed after passing qualifying exam
Fourth Coursework
Dissertation proposal meeting and proposal approved
Fifth Continue research
Second research seminar
Regular Ph.D. committee meetings
Sixth Continue research
Comprehensive exam
Dissertation writing/manuscript preparation
Seventh Continue research
Regular Ph.D. committee meetings
Continue dissertation writing/manuscript preparation
Eighth Complete research
Complete dissertation writing
Continue manuscript preparation
Final seminar and dissertation defense

Teaching Expectation

During each student's Ph.D. graduate program, the student is to gain teaching experience by assisting in the instruction of a departmental course for a minimum of one semester (PPATH 602). It is recommended that the teaching assignment be fulfilled after most of the formal course requirements have been satisfied. The specific semester and course assignment are based on recommendations of a committee consisting of the Head of the Graduate Program, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Chair of the Curriculum Committee in consultation with the student, their major adviser, and the course instructor.

Service to the research, teaching and outreach missions of the department is required by all graduate students in PPEM. Service as a TA is one of the ways that a graduate student may fulfill the obligations of departmental support. Most semesters students will not be asked to TA because currently we have more students than needed to cover our course offerings. See the Course Information and Forms Section for the policy change that took place effective Spring 2017.

Annual Evaluation

The annual evaluation of graduate students ensures that students receive the mentorship they deserve and are making progress toward completion of their degrees. The annual evaluation of graduate students consists of a collaborative effort between faculty adviser and student to:

  • Complete the evaluation form;
  • Complete and submit the check sheet with evidence that steps have been completed;
  • Demonstrate that the student's web page is up-to-date;
  • Present a professional quality CV suitable for awards, job applications, and internships;
  • Produce a narrative of service or other activities not captured on a CV.
  • In addition, a mid-year check-in with the student's adviser(s) is required to review progress on their actionable goals.