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Coursework & Requirements


Declaring a Dual Major

New students must declare their dual major within two years of being accepted to the MPS Graduate Program. Work with the MPS Graduate Secretary to complete the Dual Major Request Form.

Required MPS Coursework

  1. BMB/PLB 866: Molecular Plant Physiology (Required first-year, fall semester course.)
    • Topic areas: Photosynthesis, primary metabolism, lipids, cell walls, water relations, long distance transport, mineral nutrition.
    • Broader skills development: Quantitative data analysis, hypothesis formulation and testing, exposure to modern methods in data science and quantitative biology and statistics.
  2. PLB/BMB 856: Plant Molecular and Omics Biology (Required first-year, spring semester course.)
    • Topic areas: Genetics, genomics, chromosome structure, transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation, proteomics, plant transformation and genetic engineering, plant signaling.
    • Broader skills development: reading and evaluating primary literature, preparing grant proposals, exposure to modern methods in data science and quantitative biology and statistics.
  3. Computational/quantitative biology requirement - One of:
    • PLB 812: Principles and Applications of Plant Genomics.
    • CMSE 890: This includes multiple sections on different topics. Course offerings are still under development and will change year to year. Students would normally take several of these special topics courses. Each module is 5 weeks.
  4. One elective course appropriate to the student’s course of study - Examples include:
    • PLP 881: Molecular and Biochemical Plant Pathology
    • BMB 805: Protein Structure Design and Mechanisms
    • BMB 829: Methods of Macromolecular Analysis and Synthesis
    • BMB/PLB 864: Plant Specialized Metabolism
    • HRT 863: Environmental Plant Physiology
    • MMG 833: Microbial Genetics
    • MMG 835: Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics
    • BMB/MMG/PSL 825: Cell Biology

Other courses relevant to the student’s research interests or required for the dual major may be chosen in consultation with the guidance committee and subject to approval by the MPS Executive Committee.

  1. Three graduate seminar courses in subjects relevant to MPS (each 1 credit, course designation PLB 815)
    • Topic-based seminar courses drawing on the primary literature in plant molecular biology.
    • Broader skills development: oral presentation, critical analysis of primary literature. Topics may be suggested by students or faculty, and will be approved by the MPS executive committee.
  2. Research rotations in three labs, attendance at weekly seminars, and engagement in other programmatic activities.
  3. Completion of the requirement for the dual major program (see below)
  4. Successful performance on the qualifying exam, typically at the end of the second year.
  5. Completion of a dissertation that embodies an original contribution to scientific knowledge.

Supplemental Primary Department Requirements

The following are the additional requirements for the participating departments:

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB)

BMB/MPS students must take:

  • BMB 829: Methods of Macromolecular Analysis and Synthesis
  • BMB 805: Protein Structure, Design and Mechanism
  • BMB 864: Specialized Plant Metabolism
  • Note for item #5 in the MPS requirements, BMB/MPS students should take 2 credits of BMB 978 and 2 credits of PLB 815 instead of 3 credits of PLB 815

Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB)

All students must take:

  • BMB/MMG/PSL 825: Cell Biology
  • Either MMG 833: Microbial Genetics; or MMG 835: Eucaryotic Molecular Genetics

Genetics and Genome Sciences (GGS)

All students must take:

  • Either MMG 833: Microbial Genetics (3 credits); or MMG/GEN 835: Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics (3 credits)
  • GEN 810: Theory and Practice of Teaching Genetics (1 credit)

Horticulture (HRT)

No additional coursework required

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (MMG)

Students will be expected to have four credits of MMG 892 sec 1 related to MMG department seminars. 

Other requirements include regular Participation in the MMG Works in Progress Seminar Series and attendance and participation in the MPS Seminar Journal Club.

MMG requires 4 lecture classes at the 800 or 900 level. At least 2 must be offered by MMG.

  • One course must be in molecular biology or genetics
  • BMB 801: Molecular Biology (Fall)
  • MMG 833: Microbial Genetics (Fall)
  • MMG 835: Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics (Spring)
  • One course must be in cellular physiology or cell biology
  • MMG 801: Integrative Microbial Biology (Fall)
  • BMB 802: Metabolic Regulation and Signal Transduction (Spring)
  • BMB/MMG 825: Cell Structure and Function (Spring)

Plant Biology (PLB)

All PLB graduate students, including those in the MPS program, must take:

  • PLB 801: Foundations of Plant Biology (3 credits)
  • PLB 804: Frontiers in Plant Biology (2 credits)

Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences - Crop & Soil Sciences (CSS)

No additional coursework required

Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences - Plant Pathology (PLP)

Students will be expected to have had a course in introductory plant pathology (PLP 405 or equivalent).

All students must take:

  • At least two semesters of PLP 894 (seminar)
  • PLP 881: Molecular and Biochemical Plant Pathology
  • PLP 885: Plant Diseases in the Field (taught in summer)
  • At least one additional graduate course decided upon in consultation with student’s guidance committee (PLP 812: Epidemiology; PLB 402: Intro Mycology or PLP 847: Advanced Mycology)
  • PLP 884: Prokaryotic Diseases