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A typical schedule for a PhD program candidate is shown below. For a detailed description of the academic requirements, policies, and procedures, see the PhD Requirements page.

Typical Ph.D. Schedule

(please note the change from 2, one-semester rotations to 3 rotations during the academic year, beginning in Fall 2016)

First Semester


  • Rotation II begins: January 1 to Friday before spring break

Second Semester

  • Plant Biology core proposal writing course (PB II)
  • one or two PB program-related elective courses
  • Rotation III: Monday of spring break to end of spring semester
  • PB seminars and discussions
  • journal club
  • Preliminary comprehensive exam (part I): completed with grade of B- or better in PB core courses

Third Semester

  • one PB program-related course
  • journal club
  • PB seminars and discussions

Fourth Semester

  • form dissertation committee
  • journal club
  • PB seminars and discussions
  • Preliminary comprehensive exam (part II) : Complete defense of original research proposal on planned dissertation project

Fifth Semester and after

  • Dissertation Prospectus submitted to Graduate School by end of sixth semester (must be at least 7 months prior to defense)
  • journal club not required after year four
  • PB seminars and discussions every semester
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