Plant Pathology Graduate Program

Nationally and internationally ranked the Plant Pathology Graduate Program prepares scientists and leaders to meet today’s and the future’s scientific, agricultural, and environmental needs. Graduate education builds on the foundation of internationally outstanding faculty research programs and highly qualified and motivated graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. North Carolina’s climatic and ecological diversity allows for cultivation of a rich assortment of agricultural, horticultural, and forest plant species affected by diverse pathogens representing all major pathogen groups. Thus, our graduate students, working with their major advisors and advisory committees have a variety of options for planning their graduate program within their individual research interests and professional career goals.

We offer the Ph.D., Masters, and Minor degrees in Plant Pathology. Our faculty and course offerings build a fundamental knowledge base for a career in academia, government, and the private sector.

Before you apply...

  • In addition to meeting the academic requirements, admission depends upon funding from Plant Pathology faculty programs or that the student has obtained, such as a Fulbright Fellowship or other type of fellowships.
  • We strongly recommend that prospective students research potential advisors via the DEPP directory in advance of their application. This allows students to discover which programs and potential advisors best fit their research goals and interests, and to make direct inquiries to inquire about program space and available funding to support them, should their application be accepted.
  • Applicants will only be reviewed and considered for admission pending a complete application via the Graduate School’s application portal. Emailed materials to the Program or Department will not be accepted or commented on.
  • The Plant Pathology graduate program does not grant requests to waive application fees.

Admission Requirements

Prospective students seeking admission to the Plant Pathology graduate program at NC State must meet the admission requirements of both the Graduate School and the graduate program, (shown below) and complete an online application. We recruit highly competitive students for our graduate degree programs.

  • Applicants are encouraged to have a bachelor’s (B.S. or B.A.), master’s (M.S.) or equivalent degree in biological or agricultural sciences and appropriate courses in the physical sciences from an accredited university or institution of higher education.
  • Minimum undergraduate or graduate 3.0 GPA (>3.25 GPA is preferred).
  • Language requirement: TOEFL (a score of at least 80) or IELTS (band score of at least 6.5) for international students from non-English speaking countries.
  • The Plant Pathology Graduate Program does NOT require NOR use the GRE for evaluating applications; however, eligibility for some training grants may.

Application Deadlines

Please note that although Plant Pathology follows the Graduate School priority deadlines (the Graduate School) it is strongly recommended that both U.S. Citizens and International applications for fall semester be received by January 15. Initial screening of applications starts January 15.

It is recommended that students focus their applications for fall semester. The majority of openings and the possibility for financial support in faculty programs occur for fall semesters. This also matches best with the sequence of courses that is important for students who do not have previous plant pathology background. Students interested in spring semester or summer sessions should contact the Plant Pathology Director of Graduate Programs (DGP).

Applications and all supporting documents must be received in the Graduate School on or before the priority deadlines indicated below or sooner as indicated above. Applications must be submitted to the Graduate School by midnight Eastern Standard Time on the deadline. Do not submit materials to the graduate program or department. All application fees are handled by the Graduate School and are non-refundable.

FallSpringSummer 1Summer 2
U.S. CitizensJune 25November 25March 25May 10
InternationalsMarch 1July 15December 15December 15

Applicants are notified as soon as decisions are made pending final Graduate School approval but no later than April 15 for fall semester admissions. Spring semester and summer session admissions are made on a case by case basis.

**Note: Submitting your grad school application for department program review per the deadlines above will enhance your chances for securing a graduate research assistant stipend and to be considered for supplemental enhancements. However, our programs will accept applications after these internal deadlines up until Graduate School deadlines for applications.

Degree Requirements

Students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and remain in continuous enrollment spring and fall semesters; summer enrollment is not required. Courses taken in summer are not supported by the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP).

Master of Science (M.S.)

Students with a M.S. degree will learn the principles of plant pathology, appreciation and interpretation of the scientific literature, how to conduct research and to communicate scientific information.

The Master of Science (M.S.) degree requires students to complete a minimum of 30 semester (credit) hours and an original master’s thesis. Up to 12 semester hours of Post-Baccalaureate Studies (PBS) graduate credits earned at NC State University can be applied toward this degree. Courses with grades of B- or lower will not be allowed to transfer, however.

Master of Plant Pathology (MPP)

Students with a MPP degree will learn the principles of plant pathology, appreciation and interpretation of the scientific literature, and to communicate scientific information.

The Master of Plant Pathology (MPP) is a non-thesis degree that requires 30 semester (credit) hours of coursework. Up to 12 semester hours of Post-Baccalaureate Studies (PBS) graduate credits earned at NC State University can be applied toward this degree. Courses with grades of B- or lower will not be allowed to transfer.

The student must have an advisory committee composed of the Chair of the committee and two additional members of the graduate faculty. The Committee must be formed before the start of the student’s 3rd semester.

Doctoral of Plant Pathology (Ph.D.)

Students with a Ph.D. degree will learn the principles of plant pathology, appreciation and interpretation of the scientific literature, development of original hypotheses and how to conduct research to answer them, and to communicate research results and scientific knowledge.

Students must complete 72 semester (credit) hours beyond the bachelor’s degree and an original Ph.D. dissertation. Students cannot take 400-level courses or lower as part of the credit-hour requirement.  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 previous master’s degree may be applied toward the 72 semester hours, upon the recommendation of the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee. 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 relevant credit hours taken while in masters status may be used. Courses taken while in PBS status at NC State University may be considered for transfer to a doctoral program provided they are 500- or 700-level courses and that the grade is B or better. Maximum is 12 credit hours. Final approval is given by the DGP upon submission of the Plan of Work (PoW) to the Graduate School.

  • All degree requirements must be completed within ten (10) calendar years of the admission term or the date of the first course used in the Plan of Work (PoW), whichever is earlier. All doctoral students must attain candidacy (unconditionally pass the written and oral preliminary exam) for the degree within four (4) years of starting their program or after they have completed 48 hours of coursework, whichever is later (Graduate Handbook Section 3.5c). Students enrolled before 2018 fall semester have six (6) years.

Applicants applying to the Plant Pathology doctoral (Ph.D.) program have three options:

  • Students with M.S. degrees can apply directly to the Ph.D. program;
  • First, be admitted to the M.S. program, then after two semesters, if the student is making outstanding research progress judged to be leading to a doctoral dissertation they may petition to bypass the M.S. to pursue the Ph.D. in plant pathology. The request must have unanimous approval of the M.S. advisory committee and be approved by the DGP and Department Head and the Dean of the Graduate School;
  • Admission directly to the Ph.D. program. Exceptional students with baccalaureate degrees can apply directly for admission to the Ph.D. program. These students should have outstanding academic records including a breadth of courses in the sciences with an excellent GPA (>3.5) and should have completed at least one summer research internship or have other research type experience beyond the baccalaureate degree.


Students with a Minor degree will learn the principles of plant pathology.

A student may earn a minor in Plant Pathology by completing 9 credit hours of graduate level (>500) letter graded courses (500- or 700-level) selected from the following Plant Pathology courses and approved by the student’s graduate advisory committee. At least one member of the student’s advisory must represent the Plant Pathology graduate faculty. The DGP must be notified in writing when a student chooses Plant Pathology as a minor.

REQUIRED Special Topics Principles of Plant Pathology PP 590-003 3.0 credits Fall semester

Biology of Plant Pathogens PP501 3.0 credits Fall semester

Plant Disease: Methods & Diagnosis 2.0 credits Fall semester

Epidemiology and Disease Control PP506 3.0 credits Spring semester

Plant Microbe Interactions PP707 3.0 credits Spring semester

Special Topics – Field Plant Pathology PP590-001 3.0 credits taken in summer (Register in fall semester) even years