The Program

Course Requirements  |  Examination Committees | Probation Policy | Full-time Course of Study


Recognizing the enormous breadth of experimental approaches applied to modern plant physiology, the Program in Physiological and Molecular Plant Biology offers a doctoral program with three alternative tracks of study. This structure provides the flexibility to tailor course work to a student's particular area of interest as well as ensures an adequate breadth of training within the overall field of plant science.

No Master's degree is offered in the Physiological and Molecular Plant Biology program. Students seeking this option may obtain an M.S. through Biology, Crop Sciences, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, or Plant Biology.

Course Requirements

The doctoral program requires completion of 32 hours of course work exclusive of 590 and 599. This requirement is fulfilled by completing the prescribed core and track requirements, along with appropriate elective courses. In some cases, it may be appropriate to petition the Program Executive Committee for waiver of certain requirements on the basis that equivalent courses have been taken. It may also be appropriate in some cases to petition the Executive Committee to accept courses not included on the list of electives. The program has no specific requirement for a foreign language, although a student's Graduate Committee may consider it a necessary element of the course work training.

  • Core Requirements

    IB 420. Plant Physiology
    IB 423. Plant Anatomy
    IB 513. Discussions in Plant Physiology [back to top]
  • Track Requirements

    • Track 1.  Organismal and Community Plant Physiology
      IB 421. Photosynthesis
      IB 542. Environmental Plant Physiology
      NRES 419. Environment and Plant Ecosystems

    • Track 2.  Plant Biochemistry and Biophysics
      CHEM 440. Physical Chemistry Principles

    • Track 3.  Plant Development and Molecular Biology
      IB 424. Plant Development
      IB 472. Plant Molecular Biology [back to top]

  • Electives (partial listing)

BIOC 446. Physical Biochemistry
BIOP 401. Introduction to Biophysics
BIOP 432. Photosynthesis
CHEM 440. Physical Chemistry Principles
CHEM 516. Physical Inorganic Chemistry
CHEM 522. Experimental Spectroscopy
CHEM 532. Physical Organic Chemistry
CHEM 534. Advanced Organic Synthesis
CHEM 536. Introduction to Organic Chemistry Research
CHEM 538. Topics in Organic Chemistry
CHEM 573. Isotopically Labeled Compounds
CPSC 526. Herbicide Action in Plants
CPSC 540. Applied Statistical Methods II
CPSC 566. Plant Gene Regulation
CPSC 588. Plant Biochemistry
IB 417. Quantitative Genetics
IB 424. Plant Development
IB 425. Plant Secondary Metabolism

IB 472. Plant Molecular Biology
IB 542. Environmental Plant Physiology
 
MCB 427. Infection and Immunity
MCB 430. Molecular Microbiology
MCB 433. Virology & Viral Pathenogenesis
MCB 442. Comparative Immunobiology
NRES 419. Environment and Plant Ecosystems
PHYS 404. Electronic Circuits, I
[back to top]

Examination Committees

  • Oral Preliminary Examination
    • When the student is ready for the preliminary examination, the advisor will suggest a preliminary committee to the Chair of the Executive Committee. The preliminary examination committee should consist of the research advisor and at least two other participating members in the Physiological and Molecular Plant Biology Program, and one or two representatives from minor or related fields of study. The preliminary examination must be completed prior to the end of the student's fifth semester.

    • The Chair of the Executive Committee will prepare a request to the Graduate College for appointment of the committee, designating one member as preliminary examination chair. Normally this will be a participating member of the Program other than the thesis advisor.

    • After consultation with the student's advisor, the preliminary examination chair will set the date of the examination. The Chair will arrange for the student to distribute to the committee a concise statement of the proposed thesis research at least 2 weeks prior to the examination.

    • The intent of the examination is to determine if the student is adequately prepared to do thesis research. This is the substance of the certification made by the preliminary examination committee, and is the basis for distributing a statement of the research proposed. In addition, the committee has its traditional freedom to examine any phase of the student's academic preparation.

    • Certificates on the results of the examination are signed by the Executive Officer and transmitted to the Graduate College.

  • Final Examination
    • The final examination committee is appointed by the Chair of the Executive Committee after consultation with the advisor. The committee should normally consist of the members of the preliminary examination committee.

    • The student's advisor is the chair of this committee.

    • Certificates on the results of the examination are signed by the Executive Officer and transmitted to the Graduate College.  [back to top]

Probation Policy

Effective September 2004. Graduate students must make satisfactory progress in all aspects of their program in order to continue pursuing a graduate degree. Factors that a program may use to determine satisfactory academic progress include, but are not limited to, performance on qualifying, preliminary, and other examinations; performance in course work; satisfactory and timely completion of all milestones as determined by the program; satisfactory progress in research; and overall graduate and/or program grade-point average (GPA). Students enrolled in approved joint degree programs must meet the minimum GPA requirements of each degree program in order to maintain satisfactory academic progress and to graduate. All graduate students must meet the minimum degree GPA specified by the degree program in order to have the degree certified and to graduate. Most factors that determine satisfactory academic progress are monitored by the student’s degree program, and failure to meet these requirements can result in the program recommending to the Graduate College that the student be placed on probation or dismissed from the Graduate College. While all factors to determine satisfactory academic progress are important, the Graduate College monitors only overall graduate grade-point average. The graduate degree programs monitor all other aspects of academic progress.

  • GPA Requirements. The Graduate College requires a minimum overall graduate GPA of at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale; however, graduate degree programs can and often do set a higher minimum. If a minimum GPA higher than 2.75 on a 4.0 scale is approved by the Graduate College and published by the program, this higher minimum overall graduate GPA will be required by the Graduate College of students in that program. Students who have an overall graduate GPA below the degree program's minimum at the end of any semester of enrollment will be placed on probation. Once a student has been placed on probation, he or she will have one semester in which to raise his/ her overall graduate GPA to his/her program's minimum. Failure to do so will result in dismissal from the Graduate College.

  • Limited Status Admission. A student admitted to the Graduate College on limited status due to low undergraduate GPA must meet the degree program's minimum overall graduate GPA at the end of the first semester of registration, or be dismissed from the Graduate College.

  • Appeal of Dismissal. If a student is dismissed from the Graduate College because of a low overall graduate GPA, the graduate student petition process may be used to appeal this dismissal. The Graduate College will consider petitions containing strong program support and strong justification based on other factors pertinent to the program's determination of satisfactory academic progress.

Full-Time Course of Study for Graduate Students

Adopted by the Graduate College Executive Committee, March 20, 2003. Graduate students may be required to maintain full-time enrollment for several reasons. Many academic programs require registered students to maintain a full-time load. Full-time status may also be required for certification related to student loans, fellowship and traineeship appointments, and certain types of non-University medical insurance policies. International students may be required to maintain full-time status for purposes of Student Exchange and Visitor Information System (SEVIS) reporting.

Graduate students with 25%-67% assistantships, except Fellows (see below)

  • Fall and spring terms: 8 graduate hours; individual programs may set higher requirements.

  • Summer term: a minimum of 4 graduate hours in thesis units or a course that meets for at least eight weeks (enrollment in a four-week course in the summer term will not fulfill the requirement for full-time registration)

Graduate students with traineeships or waiver-generating fellowships (regardless of whether the student holds a concurrent assistantship) and graduate students with "stand-alone" tuition waivers

  • Fall and spring terms: a minimum of 12 graduate hours

  • Summer term: a minimum of 4 graduate hours in thesis units or a course that meets for at least eight weeks (enrollment in a four-week course in the summer term will not fulfill the requirement for full-time registration)

Graduate students with 1%-24% assistantships and graduate students without assistantships

  • Fall and spring terms: a minimum of 12 graduate hours

  • Summer term: a minimum of 6 graduate hours in thesis units or a course that meets for at least eight weeks (enrollment in a four-week course in the summer term will not fulfill the requirement for full-time registration)

Important Notes

  • Fellows are required to maintain a full course load each term of registration unless a reduced course load has been approved by the Graduate College Fellowship Office. Fellows who are international students must also have a reduced course load approved by the Office of International Student Affairs.

  • For purposes of load, each required or recommended ESL course taken as a result of the English as a Second Language Placement Test (EPT) will count as the equivalent of 4 hours, even if the course credit is recorded as zero hours.

  • International students whose first term of study is Summer term must carry a full course load. In some cases, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services considers a student to be full time at a reduced enrollment.  International students should check with the International Student and Scholar Services for details or go to http://www.ips.uiuc.edu/isss/pages/index.php?catID=2&pageID=31.

  • Continuing international students are not required by the campus to enroll for the summer terms, although their departments may require enrollment. Those who do enroll do not need to carry a full course load for SEVIS purposes.

  • International graduate students who have completed all credit requirements (course work and thesis research) for their degree programs may register for zero hours of 599 until completion of study. This registration will be considered full-time for purposes of SEVIS reporting. International students seeking any exception to the full-time credit requirements should contact the International Student and Scholar Services before registering for the reduced credit load.

  • For purposes of loan deferral only, zero credit registration in GC 599 will count as full time registration.

  • Graduate students not registered for at least a half-time load in a particular term will be subject to Social Security and Medicare deductions for that term.

  • Students with specific loan repayment questions should consult their lenders (school, bank or loan agency). Students with questions about their fellowships or traineeships should consult the Graduate College Fellowship Office or the funding agency. Students with questions about certification of full-time status should contact the Office of Admissions and Records. Questions about the requirements of specific academic programs should be directed to the graduate office for that program.
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School of Integrative Biology

University of Illinois

Updated 11/20/08