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Graduate Program Requirements
The graduate program in plant biology trains
students in modern research areas of plant biology. Each student's course of study is designed individually. The graduate program features an introductory seminar, a two-semester core course and additional special topic courses and seminars in areas of faculty specialties. The Department has research expertise in the following areas: molecular, cellular, genetic, biochemical, physiological, developmental, and structural biology and plant microbe interactions.
Plan of Graduate Studies
Before the beginning of the fall semester, new students discuss their background and interests with the graduate advisors, who help plan academic programs. During the first semester, all new students enroll in a two-credit seminar in which faculty members summarize
their current research programs. Each student also rotates through three research laboratories for ten weeks each in the first academic year. The rotations give students the opportunity to explore areas of interest as possibilities for Ph.D. research.
All students must take a two-semester core course comprised of six modules, which cover the following topics: plant developmental genetics, genomics and computational biology, plant diversity and evolution, plant cell biology, plant biochemistry and plant systems biology. All graduate students must enroll in two graduate-level seminar courses during their first two years. With their emphasis
on student presentations and discussions, these courses further introduce faculty and students. At the end of the first year, each student will select a permanent Research Advisor (major professor) and will begin work on the thesis project.
Graduate Student Instructor
Each student serves as a teaching assistant [Graduate Student Instructor (GSI)] for approximately 20 hours per week for two semesters. Students participate in the GSI training conference sponsored by the Graduate Division and the Graduate Assembly and enroll in a two-credit teaching workshop. Students are appointed as a graduate student instructor for a lower-division course before being a teaching assistant for an
upper-division course sponsored by the Department. International students educated in schools where English is not the language of instruction are required to pass the Test of Spoken English (TSE) before they serve as teaching assistants.
During the second year, students may take additional courses in preparation for the Ph.D. qualifying examination. This examination usually is taken by the end of the second year. The Qualifying Examination Committee, a four-member committee, including one Berkeley Academic Senate member from outside the Department, is appointed in consultation with the student. The goal of the examination is to assess the candidate's broad knowledge of plant biology as well as to determine in-depth knowledge in the proposed area of research.
Each examination covers five of the following eight subject areas: physiology, biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, development, structure, and plant-microbe interactions. The Committee also discusses the student's research topic.
After passing the qualifying examination, the student selects a three- or four-member committee to serve as the student's Dissertation Committee. The chair of this committee is the student's Research Advisor. An adjunct faculty member can serve as co-chair with a regular departmental faculty member as the other co-chair. This committee meets on a regular basis to supervise and assist the student in the research that will be described in the Ph.D. dissertation. All members of the committee must approve the dissertation. The student is not subjected to a formal final examination. Rather, the results of the dissertation project are presented at a departmental colloquium.
If you have additional questions, please email Grad Student Advisor Rocío Sanchez Rocio_s@berkeley.edu or call 510-642-5167.