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Graduate Student Handbook


Introduction

General Graduate School requirements for the MS and PhD programs are outlined in the NCSU Graduate Catalog. Students are advised to study carefully the portion pertaining to the degree sought.

Guidelines for each of these degree programs within the Department, plus the non-thesis MHS degree program, are discussed below. This discussion includes some repetition and summary of general requirements as well as those specifically applicable to our Department. It is expected that the research conducted in the MS and PhD programs will lead to publication in a refereed journal, which is the end-product of research.  MHS projects generally are published in a variety of formats including refereed journals, trade journals, popular press and websites.


Advisory Committee

The advisory committee is made up of a minimum of three members of the Graduate Faculty for the MS and MHS degrees and four members of the Graduate Faculty for the PhD degree. The advisory committee must be chosen during the student's first semester in residence. During the first semester of the student's residency, the student and major professor must determine if a minor field of study will be chosen.

minor is not required by the Graduate School or the Department, but each student has the option of choosing one if she/he wishes. If a minor is chosen, at least one committee member must represent the minor area. If a minor is not chosen, one committee member must still be chosen from outside the Department. The student may elect to have a committee composed of more than the minimum number of members.

The major professor is always chair of the advisory committee. Students and their major professors share joint responsibility to set up and hold meetings of the student's advisory committee at least once each year and to report the current status of the candidate to the Director of Graduate Programs' (DGP) office on the Student Progress Report. While studying at NCSU, the student should consider her/his major professor as the first source for policy information, advisory guidance and access to resources of the Department and University needed to complete all research, teaching and outreach experiences required for graduation.

A faculty member from another university or a professional from industry or government (with credentials comparable to those required for membership on the Graduate Faculty) may serve as an external member, with full voting rights, along with the required committee composed of members of the NCSU Graduate Faculty. It will be necessary to provide credentials to the Graduate School.

In addition, a person from industry, a governmental agency, or a university may, upon recommendation of the committee and the Department/program, serve as a technical consultant, without voting rights, along with the required committee composed of members of the NCSU Graduate Faculty. A statement describing the consultant's potential contribution to the student's research or project should be provided to the Graduate School.


Plan of Graduate Work

The student's program of study must be reported on the Plan of Graduate Work (MHSMS or PhD). This plan must be developed with input from the advisory committee and be submitted to the DGP's office for approval and proper transmittal. This must be done before the end of the second semester in residence. The Plan of Graduate Work, once approved, becomes the student's official requirements for graduation. Any alteration in this program must be documented in writing and receive approval of the DGP. It is not necessary to file a new plan. Changes, upon official approval, become a part of the Plan of Graduate Work. There is no foreign language requirement in our Department. 


Basic Requirements for Master's Degree Students

  1. After the student arrives, she/he must consult with the major advisor and select members of advisory committee.
  2. Graduate advisory committee of three or more Graduate Faculty members is approved by the DGP.
  3. Student signs Patent Agreement.
  4. Student subject to continuous registration policy until graduation.
  5. Student develops a Plan of Graduate Work in consultation with the advisory committee, which must then be approved by the DGP.
  6. A GPA of at least 3.00 for the degree requirements as well as on overall graduate course work at NC State is required for graduation.
  7. All degree requirements must be completed within six calendar years, beginning with the date the student takes courses carrying graduate credit applicable to the degree program.
  8. Student submits Diploma Order Request Form to the Horticultural Science graduate administrative assistant by end of third week of the semester or summer session of anticipated graduation.

Master of Horticultural Science (MHS)

The MHS is a non-thesis program and is a professional degree that is considered to be terminal. Students pursuing this degree are eligible only for teaching assistantship funding. Information concerning the advisory committee is the same as that given under the MS. The major difference in the two degrees is that the Master of Horticultural Science substitutes additional course work in lieu of the research and thesis required by the Master of Science.  Thesis Research credit is not permitted in non-thesis programs, except upon approval by an Associate Dean of the Graduate School in cases where the student was initially enrolled in a thesis program but later transferred to a non-thesis program.

Other requirements include:

  • A minimum of 36 semester hours of course work
  • 18 hours must be at the 500-700 level (there is no minimum requirement for 700-level courses) 
  • At least 4, and no more than 6, hours of HS 693 (Master's Supervised Research) are required (see HS 693 below) 
  • One credit of HS 601 (Seminar Techniques and Technology)
  • Up to 12 hours of 400-level courses can be taken as a part of the MHS program; however, only 6 hours of HS 400-level courses are allowed. (The NCSU Graduate School does not allow any 400-level courses from the home department but only required 30 credit hours for a Master's degree. We require 36 credits, of whoch 6 credits can be HS 400-level courses. Permission from the NCSU Graduate School is required for HS 400-level courses.)
  • Students pursuing the Master of Horticultural Science degree may choose a minor, but this is not required.
  • Students are encouraged, but not required, to fulfill the 4 credit Horticultural Science core course requirement (HS 701-707, HS 717).
  • Non-thesis Master's Examination (HS 690) and Non-thesis Master's Continuous Registration (HS 688 and HS 689) may NOT be used to satisfy credit hour requirements.
  • At least 18 hours may not have been, and may not be, used to satisfy degree requirements for another Master's degree at NC State.
  • No more than 18 hours may be used to satisfy degree requirements for another Master's degree program at NC State, unless the student did not complete the other program.
  • The remaining 12 credit hours, or more depending on the requirements of the specific program, may be transferred from any of the sources listed in the NCSU Graduate Handbook.

    The requirements for the Master's Supervised Research (HS 693) are as follows:

The special topic will be coordinated with the student's major professor. The minimum requirements will consist of the planning, preparation, and execution of an independent study, culminating in a written report of the study with an interpretation of the results obtained, and an oral presentation given to the student's committee, and open and announced to the Department.

Students are allowed, even encouraged, to take courses from departments other than Horticultural Science. Horticulture is one area of a broad range of interconnected fields including soil science, plant biology, crop science, entomology, plant pathology, statistics, agricultural economics, agricultural engineering and agricultural education.

The project is a comprehensive project focusing on an area of interest to both the student and the faculty member. The project is not intended to provide basic horticultural training but to provide in-depth experience in a specific area of horticulture.  The nature of the project is cooperatively agreed upon by the student and their advisor. Projects vary greatly in the scope and depth:

  • A typical research project might include three components of variable depth, resulting in one research publication, one trade journal publication and one popular press article. Projects must be original work leading to publication in a scholarly journal.  On-line resource could be one of the publications.
  • A landscape horticulture project might include either a research project or library search summary combined with landscape plans showing the information being incorporated into one or more designs.

In addition to courses and the final project, students are required to complete an Outreach Experience (see below) and a Teaching Experience (waived for students who are not on an assistantship for any portion of their degree).  These experiences listed below, in combination with informal activities, are intended to broaden the knowledge and range of learning opportunities for each student:

  1. Attend departmental seminars
  2. Interact with fellow graduate students through office sharing, Pi Alpha Xi activities, attending departmental activities, taking the same courses
  3. Interact with Horticultural Science faculty (other than the advisor) and committee members through departmental activities, working on project, serving as a teaching assistant, participating in outreach/extension experiences and taking their courses
  4. Interact with non-Horticultural Science faculty (other than the advisor) and committee members through departmental activities, project work and taking courses.
  5. Interact with undergraduate students as a teaching assistant
  6. Interact with the general public and the horticulture industry through project work and extension experiences

Students in MHS (Non-Thesis) Programs

  1. When all requirements, except completion of the course work in the final semester, are satisfied, the DGP submits to the Graduate School the Request for a Permit to Schedule the Master's Oral Examination.
  2. If Graduate School requirements are met, a Request for a Permit to Schedule the Master's Oral Examination is approved by the Graduate School within 10 working days of receipt of the request and the permit, Admission to the Final Master's Oral Examination, is issued.
  3. Final examination is scheduled and conducted.
  4. Final examination report, including date and result of the examination, submitted to the Graduate School by the Horticultural Science graduate administrative assistant. The Graduate School should receive the report within five working days of the examination.
  5. The deadline date for unconditionally passing the final examination in order for the student to graduate in a given semester or summer session appears in the Graduate School Calendar.

Master of Science (MS)

The general requirements for the MS degree have been established by the Graduate School.

  • A minimum of 30 credits is required
  • Up to 6 of the 30 credits may be research credits (HS 695), but there is no requirement to enroll for research credit
  • At least 18 semester hours must be 500-, 600- or 700-level courses, and 6 of these credits must be at the 700 level
  • Four credits of the core courses (HS 701-707, HS 717)
  • One credit of HS 601 (Seminar Techniques and Technology)
  • One final seminar covering the thesis research must be presented
  • No more than 6 hours of 400-level courses may be counted toward the minimal 30-hour requirement, and they may not come from Horticultural Science.
  • Master's Thesis Preparation (HS 699) or Summer Thesis Research (HS 696) may NOT be used to satisfy credit hour requirements.
  • At least 18 hours may not have been, and may not be, used to satisfy degree requirements for another Master's degree at NC State.
  • No more than 18 hours may be used to satisfy degree requirements for another Master's degree program at NC State, unless the student did not complete the other program.
  • Students pursuing a Master's degree after having completed a doctoral degree at NC State must complete at least 18 graduate credit hours at NC State after enrollment in the Master's program.
  • The remaining 12 credit hours, or more depending on the requirements of the specific program, may be transferred from any of the sources listed in the NCSU Graduate Handbook.
  • All requirements for the Master's degree must be completed within 6 calendar years from the date the student begins courses for graduate credit, including any approved leave of absence.

There is no comprehensive written examination for the MS degree. The only comprehensive examination is the final oral examination conducted by the advisory committee, scheduled after the student's final seminar. Authorization to schedule the final examination is requested through the DGP's office. This request can be submitted at any time after all course work on the Plan of Graduate Work is completed or during the semester of registration in which all required course work will be completed. At the time the request is submitted, the DGP will determine if all requirements, including the teaching and outreach experience, have been met. The request will then be forwarded to the Graduate School. The examination is scheduled only after the thesis is complete and meets Graduate School requirements for style and format, except for such revisions as may be necessary as a result of the examination.


Students in MS (Thesis) Programs

  1. A preliminary copy of the thesis is submitted to the chair of the student's advisory committee.
  2. When all requirements, except completion of the course work in the final semester, are satisfied and after the thesis is complete, except for such revisions as may be necessary as a result of the exam, the DGP submits to the Graduate School the Request for a Permit to Schedule the Master's Oral Examination.
  3. If Graduate School requirements are met, the Request for a Permit to Schedule the Master's Oral Examination is approved by the Graduate School within 10 working days of receipt of the request, and the permit, Admission to the Final Master's Oral Examination, is issued.
  4. At least two weeks prior to the final oral examination, the student submits the thesis to the members of the advisory committee for review.
  5. Final examination is scheduled and conducted.
  6. The Admission to the Final Master's Oral Examination form is completed by the committee members, including date and result, and submitted to the Graduate School by the Horticultural Science graduate administrative assistant. The Graduate School should receive the report within five working days of the examination.
  7. Student follows guidelines for submitting thesis to the Graduate School as described on the Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) website.
  8. The deadline for submitting the thesis to the Graduate School in order for the student to graduate in a given semester or summer session appears in the Graduate School Calendar.
  9. The thesis is reviewed by the Graduate School Thesis Editor to ensure that the format conforms to the specifications described in the Steps in the ETD Submission Process.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Once obtained, the PhD degree represents the ability of the recipient to conduct original research and scholarly work at the highest level without supervision. As stated in the NCSU Graduate Catalog, "The degree is not granted simply upon completion of a stated amount of course work but rather upon demonstration by the student of a comprehensive knowledge and high attainment in scholarship in a specialized field of study. The student must demonstrate this ability by writing a dissertation reporting the results of an original investigation and by passing a series of comprehensive examinations in the field of specialization and related areas of knowledge."

Early in the program of the student, the major professor and student must consult and agree on the composition of the committee membership they wish to recommend to the DGP. The committee must include at least one representative outside of the Department of Horticultural Science (external member). If a minor is chosen, the external committee member must come from the minor Department. The recommendation must be made in writing to the DGP's office, who will process the required materials.

An advisory committee of at least four graduate faculty members will be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the major professor and the DGP. A full member of the Graduate Faculty may serve as chair or as co-chair with an associate member. The major professor may be an associate member of the Graduate Faculty, but in this case the major professor would be co-chair of the advisory committee along with a full member.

As soon as possible after the appointment (or after completion of 18 credit hours of course work), the committee must meet with the student and prepare a Plan of Graduate Work, which must be approved by the DGP and the Graduate School. In addition to the proposed course work, the subject of the student's dissertation must appear on the plan. This should be submitted to the DGP's office. When approved, this plan becomes the student's requirements for graduation. Any subsequent changes in subject of the dissertation, course work or committee membership must be submitted in writing for approval to the DGP. It is not necessary to file a new plan. The advisory committee should meet at least semi-annually and review the progress of the candidate. Each meeting must be reported to the DGP's office on the Advisory Committee Meeting Report (see appendix).

The Plan of Graduate Work must include three credits of the core courses (HS 701-707, HS 717), one credit of HS 601 (Seminar Techniques and Technology), and presentation of two seminars.  HS 601 is optional for PhD students.  Declaration of a minor is optional.

Preliminary comprehensive examinations are required for admission to candidacy for the PhD student. The examination may be held no earlier than the end of the second year of graduate study and no later than one semester (four months) before the final oral examination. The examinations consist of two parts: written examinations and an oral examination. If the student has declared a minor, requirements for written examinations in the minor field are set by the department in which the student is minoring. The written portion of the Department examination is conducted by having each member of the advisory committee prepare a set of questions for the student to answer. Answers to each set are returned to the appropriate member for evaluation. The questions may cover any portion of the course work taken by the student during graduate study or any subject logically related to the subject matter in the major and minor areas of study. Failure to pass the written preliminary examinations terminates the student's relationship with the Department. However, each case of failure can be reviewed individually for the possibility of re-examination.

Upon satisfactory completion of the written portion of the preliminary examination, authorization for the preliminary oral examination is requested through the DGP's office. This request must be submitted at least two weeks before the scheduled date for the examination. The student will be notified of the examination conditions by the Graduate School. The examination is conducted by the student's advisory committee and a representative from the Graduate School (referred to as the Graduate School Representative) and is open to all graduate faculty members. It is the student's responsibility to schedule an examination time that is satisfactory for all committee members, including the Graduate School Representative. A unanimous vote of approval by the members of the advisory committee is required for the student to pass the preliminary oral examination. Approval may be conditional, depending upon completing specified additional work. Failure to pass the preliminary oral examination terminates the student's relationship with this Department, unless the committee recommends a re-examination. Only one re-examination is permitted.

A doctoral student is admitted to candidacy either after passing the preliminary examinations without conditions or after fulfilling any conditions specified by the advisory committee.

The final oral examination is scheduled after the thesis is complete and meets Graduate School requirements for style and format, except for such revisions as may be necessary as a result of the examination. The completed thesis should be given to the committee for review at least two weeks prior to the final exam. It is the student's responsibility to schedule an examination time that is satisfactory for all committee members, including the Graduate School Representative. Requests for a change in the Graduate School Representative will not be honored except under extenuating circumstances. The final exam may not be earlier than one semester after being admitted to candidacy. Upon completion of the thesis, the advisory committee requests permission to conduct the final examination. The request is submitted in writing to the DGP's office at least two weeks before the anticipated date for the examination. At that time the DGP will examine the student's Plan of Graduate Work to determine if all requirements have been met, including the teaching and outreach experiences. The request will then be forwarded to the Graduate School.

The Department has no foreign language requirement. Participation in the Department's teaching and outreach programs is required. For details, see the Teaching Experience and Outreach Experience sections.

The PhD residence requirements (not to be confused with NC residency) for the Department are the same as those for the University. The minimum requirement is that the student must be registered for graduate work at an accredited graduate school for at least six semesters beyond the baccalaureate degree. At least two residence credits are necessary in continuous residence (registration in consecutive semesters) as a graduate student at NC State University but failure to take courses in the summer does not break continuity. Residence credit is determined by the number of semester hours of graduate work carried during a given term. During a regular semester, residence credit is calculated as follows:

Semester Credits (Hours) Residence Credits
9 or more 1
6 - 8 2/3
less than 6 1/3
(including registration in 590, 690 series)

Summer course work can only be used in partial fulfillment of the residency requirement. A single summer session is equal to one-half of the corresponding amount for a regular semester (e.g. six semester hours carried during a summer session will earn one-third of a residence credit; less than six credit hours will earn one-sixth of a residence credit).

PhD students are allowed a maximum of four calendar years from admission to the doctoral program to attain candidacy for the degree and a maximum of seven calendar years to complete all degree requirements. This variance from University policy is permitted because the policy in the Department of Horticultural Science is more restrictive than University policy.


Graduate School Representative

The representative of the Graduate School on the PhD committee has a unique role on the examination committee in that she/he serves to protect the interests of the student, the advisory committee and the Graduate School. She/he is also a 'disinterested person' to whom the Dean may turn for judgment and counsel. While this representative need not be chosen from a related discipline, the attempt is made to appoint the same representative for both examinations. The Graduate School Representative will be appointed by the Graduate School at the time the Plan of Graduate Work is submitted for approval. (In scheduling the final oral examination, the student and committee chair must coordinate the time with the same Graduate School Representative who was appointed for the preliminary examination.)

The Graduate School Representative is provided a separate signature line with a space for comments on the examination report. Her/his signature with no comments indicates that she/he believes that the examination was properly conducted and that she/he does not take exception to the findings of the student's advisory committee. Her/his signature does not imply that she/he has approved the substance of the examination or dissertation, and she/he may comment to that effect. If she/he has any reservation about the conduct of the examination, the student's performance or any aspect of the dissertation (a copy of which the advisory committee chair or the student shall offer her/him no later than one week in advance of the final oral examination), the Graduate School Representative should sign the form and note any concerns in the space provided or note that a full letter of explanation follows. In the event the Graduate School Representative indicates any reservation, the Dean of the Graduate School will decide what course of action is to be taken. The Graduate School Representative, being a mature scholar who has not worked closely with the candidate, will contribute to the scholarly atmosphere of the examination. Moreover, the experiences of faculty members who serve as Graduate School Representatives should improve the overall quality of graduate examinations.


Summary of PhD Procedures

  1. After the student arrives she/he must consult with the major advisor and develop a plan of courses and decide on composition of advisory committee.
  2. Student signs Patent Agreement.
  3. Student subject to continuous registration policy until graduation.
  4. Advisory committee of at least four graduate faculty members, one of whom represents the minor field, if declared, appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the DGP.
  5. A dissertation subject is selected and an outline of the course work and proposed research is submitted to the student's advisory committee and the DGP for review and approval.
  6. As soon as possible after the appointment (or after completion of 18 credit hours of course work), the committee must meet with the student and prepare a Plan of Graduate Work, which must be approved by the DGP and the Graduate School. In addition to the proposed course work, the subject of the student's dissertation must appear on the plan.
  7. All course work scheduled in the graduate degree classification must be completed prior to graduation.
  8. Written examination in the major and minor fields are scheduled no earlier than the end of the second year of graduate study and no later than one semester before the final oral examination.
  9. If student is awarded a graduate assistantship, she/he must complete the preliminary oral exam prior to the start of the eleventh (11th) semester.
  10. When all written examinations have been completed satisfactorily, the chair submits the Request for Approval to Schedule the Doctoral Oral Examination, designating the preliminary oral examination, at least two weeks prior to the suggested date. Upon approval of the request, the student and examining committee are notified of the time and place. The Horticultural Science graduate administrative assistant sends the report of the exam to the Graduate School and if the exam is passed without conditions, the student is admitted to candidacy.
  11. A copy of the preliminary draft of the dissertation is submitted to the chair of the student's advisory committee for review. 
  12. The Diploma Order Request Form is submitted to the Horticultural Science Graduate Secretary and will be filed with the Graduate School by the end of the third week of the semester or summer session of anticipated graduation. Failure to submit the form by this date may result in the student's not receiving the diploma at graduation. 
  13. At least two weeks prior to the final oral examination, the student submits the dissertation to advisory committee members for review. 
  14. Four calendar months or its equivalent after admission to candidacy or later, permission for the candidate to take the final oral examination is requested of the Graduate School by the chair of the candidate's advisory committee. Requests should be filed at least two weeks before the date of the examination by the DGP. Upon approval of the request, confirmation of the time and place of the exam is sent by the Graduate School to the student and the examining committee, including the Graduate School Representative. The Graduate School Representative must receive a copy of the dissertation at least one week prior to the examination. 
  15. For submitting the dissertation to the Graduate School, the student follows the guidelines as described on the Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) website.
  16. The deadline for submitting the dissertation to the Graduate School in order for the student to graduate in a given semester or summer session appears in theGraduate School Calendar.
  17. The dissertation is reviewed by the Graduate School Thesis Editor to ensure that the format conforms to the specifications described in the Steps in the ETD Submission Process.

Requirements for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

  1. At least two (2) residence credit points secured in continuous semesters' residence as a graduate student at the University (see NCSU Graduate Handbook Section 3.15 for scale).
  2. Doctoral degrees at North Carolina State University require a minimum of 72 graduate credit hours beyond the Bachelor's degree.
  3. For a student who has a Master's degree from a university other than NC State, a maximum of 18 hours of relevant graduate credit from the Master's degree may be applied toward this minimum, upon the recommendation of the student's Graduate Advisory Committee. Therefore, the minimum credit-hour requirement in this case is 54 credit hours.
  4. If a student completes a Master's degree at NC State and continues for a doctoral degree without a break in time, up to 36 credit hours taken while in Master's status may be used to meet minimum requirements for the doctoral degree. Students cannot take 400-level courses or lower as part of the credit-hour requirement.
  5. Students cannot transfer courses into a PhD program (including those taken in PBS status).
  6. Students who hold a PhD are generally not admissible for a second PhD unless a "special exception" is requested and granted (see NCSU Graduate Handbook Section 2.3).
  7. A successful preliminary comprehensive examination (written and oral components)
  8. A dissertation.
  9. A successful final comprehensive oral examination (dissertation defense).
For all degree programs, if the final exam is scheduled during either summer session, and the student formally completes all degree requirements during either summer session, the student must be registered for one of the two summer sessions.

Departmental Seminar

Graduate students, like faculty, are expected to attend departmental seminars. Also, be certain to check the weekly University and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences seminar lists. Seminars are part of graduate training and continued professional development. 

Policy Governing Departmental Seminar and Graduate Student Seminar Preparation 

  1. HS 601 (Seminar Techniques and Technology) is required for MS and MHS graduate students in Horticultural Science. It is recommended for PhD students and HS minors. The HS 601 requirement can be waived only upon approval by the student's advisory committee and the DGP (consultation with the course instructor is recommended).
  2. All MS students are expected to give a formal departmental seminar immediately prior to their scheduled final thesis defense. A notice of the seminar and abstract of the thesis must be sent out to everyone in the Department of Horticultural Science at least 2 weeks prior to the presentation.
  3. All PhD students are expected to give 2 formal departmental seminars. The first will be early in their graduate program (usually the beginning of the third semester) and will focus on a review of the literature, proposed research, and research progress made to date. The second will be scheduled in conjunction with the defense of the thesis. A notice of the final seminar and an abstract of the thesis must be sent out to everyone in the Department Horticultural Science at least 2 weeks prior to the final seminar.

Teaching Experience

All graduate students, whether on departmental asistantships or their own funds, must participate in the teaching program in the Department of Horticultural Science for one semester during each graduate degree program. This requirement cannot be waived. Students who pursue both the MS and PhD degree must participate during each degree program.

The purpose of this program is to give you a personal experience with teaching and a chance to develop teaching and communication skill. It is important that she/he have a meaningful assignment equivalent to what is expected of a 1/2 time teaching assistant (10-20 hrs per week). An assignment involving only the grading of tests, taking of attendance, and cleaning up of labs is contrary to the purpose of this experience. These items logically fit into the assignment since they are part of the task of teaching, but more should be involved. A student should have direct teaching experience. This can be carried out exclusively during laboratory sessions or, if the abilities of the student permit, a few lectures may be included in the experience. Foreign students having an English language deficiency great enough to impair successful delivery of a lecture or laboratory will not be placed in such a position. However, such students should have an academic input. They can be assigned to assist with grading tests, setting up labs, etc. It should be possible to have a program in which the graduate student develops teaching expertise while not compromising the course content.

Students participating in the teaching experience are required to attend the NCSU New Teaching Assistants Orientation offered just prior to the Fall semester. 

Teaching assignments are made annually by the DGP in concert with the Undergraduate Teaching Coordinator.  Teaching assignments are typically made up the end of the Spring semester or beginning of the summer for the subsequent academic year.  Prior to assignments being made, current students will be asked to provide a list of courses that they would like to assist if possible.  The DGP cannot guarantee that such assignments will be made but will try to match as many students with their desired courses as possible.  New graduate students are typically not asked to serve as a teaching assistant their first semester, but may be asked to assist in their second semester.


Outreach / Extension Experience

An outreach experience has the same educational value to a graduate student as teaching and research experiences. It gives the student exposure to another area of potential employment and an opportunity to assess this type of work. It also adds to the student's expertise in Horticulture. Equally important is the empathy gained for the industry and public we serve. Guidelines for the outreach experience are given below.

Each student must participate in the outreach experience during their graduate degree program. Students pursuing both the MS and PhD degrees in our Department are only required to fulfill this requirement during their MS program. The MHS, MS and PhD student will participate in two of the three general categories listed below. The student may undertake an extension activity not described herein subject to approval by his or her major advisor and DGP. Waiver of this experience must be requested at the time the Plan of Graduate Work is submitted and will be approved only for students with extensive backgrounds in extension or other similar outreach programs. Waiver requests submitted near the completion of a student's degree will not be considered.


Developing and Communicating Information

  1. Present research-generated information in a form and in a medium designed to reach either the general public or industry.
  2. Prepare and present a talk on a horticultural topic to an audience of non-scientists. Examples are garden clubs, commodity groups, and extension meetings.
  3. Use an alternative or creative medium to deliver information. Examples are web sites, mass media (e.g. television or radio), on-farm or other demonstrations or materials that can be delivered electronically.

Interacting with the Public

  1. Assist in developing and conducting a commodity or other meeting designed to attract a large and diverse audience. Assisting only with clerical duties, lights or audiovisuals during a session will not fulfill this requirement.
  2. Participate in the planning and execution of a tour. This could involve a facility tour (Arboretum or greenhouse) or it could involve scheduling visits for a group of horticulturists. Tours for international groups are especially encouraged.
  3. Travel with an extension specialist on assignment for at least 3 days. The 3 days need not be consecutive.
  4. Assist in responding to requests for horticultural information from extension agents.

Public Service

  1. Presenting horticultural programs or developing materials for public or private schools -- including preschools. This could be through established programs such as the Science and Mathematics Alliance or through contacts made personally by the graduate student, mentor or other faculty.
  2. Presenting horticultural programs or developing materials for other educational institutions or groups. Examples are: museums, state historical sites, the NC State Fair, and 4-H.
  3. Conducting horticultural programs at institutions where the objective of the activity is therapeutic as well as educational. Examples are: prisons, hospitals, retirement communities, and public housing.
  4. Assist in planning or judging in the 4-H program. Contact Liz Driscoll to get involved in this activity.

After completion of the extension experience, the activities conducted by the student must be briefly described and documented by the student in a memo addressed to the DGP. 


Thesis Preparation

The Graduate School and the Department strongly urges students to prepare theses so that only minor changes in the manuscript are required to meet the standards of publication of a particular scientific journal (journal article format thesis). Detailed information on form, organization and number of copies required of the thesis for both the MS and PhD is located at the Electronic Theses and Dissertations ETD website. Graduate students are also encouraged to attend the Thesis and Dissertation/ETD Workshops regularly given by the Graduate School.

The thesis prepared by the MS or PhD candidate must represent an original investigation into a subject that has been reviewed and approved by the student's advisory committee and the DGP. Go to the Electronic Theses and Dissertations ETD website for the Complete Steps in the ETD Submission Process. Before final approval, the thesis will be reviewed by the Graduate School Thesis Editor to insure that it conforms to the specifications prescribed in the Thesis and Dissertation Guide. It is expected that the research conducted will lead to a refereed journal publication, which is the end-product of research.


Plant Physiology Program (Interdepartmental)

Students with an interest in Plant Physiology may wish to enroll in the interdepartmental Plant Physiology Program. Students in this program affiliate in the usual manner in the departments of their major professor, and any degree subsequently awarded shall be credited to the respective participating Department. Students majoring in the Plant Physiology Program must meet the course requirements of this program in lieu of those normally required by the Department. Faculty members of the Plant Physiology Program are affiliated with the Departments of:

  • Biochemistry
  • Crop Science
  • Forestry
  • Genetics
  • Horticultural Science
  • Plant Biology (formerly Botany)
  • Plant Pathology
  • Soil Science

Students majoring in Horticultural Science who wish to participate in this program must have as a major or co-advisor a Horticultural Science faculty member who is currently a member of the Plant Physiology Program faculty. Further details regarding this program can be obtained from the program coordinator, Dr. Thomas Rufty, Department of Crop Science, NCSU. 


Minor in Horticultural Science

Master of Science - A total of 9 credit hours in Horticultural Science is required of students minoring in this Department at the MS level.

Doctor of Philosophy - A minimum of 6 Horticultural Science credit hours at the 500 level or above, and 4 additional Horticultural Science credit hours of course work at the 400 level or above, for a total of 10 hours will be required.

Should a student minor in Horticultural Science at both the MS and PhD level, the courses at the 500-800 level taken in her/his Master's program would not fulfill this requirement for the doctoral minor; additional courses must be taken.