Graduate Programs

Two Programs, Unlimited Opportunities

The Department of Plant and Microbial Biology offers two graduate programs: plant biology and microbiology. Each program offers a doctoral degree, a master’s thesis degree, and a masters non-thesis degree. Students take rigorous courses taught by our faculty experts and conduct cutting-edge research that advances basic and applied knowledge in their fields of study.

Our programs also provide opportunities for students to work on interdisciplinary research projects with faculty members other departments and colleges at NC State, including Entomology and Plant Pathology, Horticultural Science, Crop and Soil Sciences, Molecular and Structural Biochemistry, Applied Ecology and the College of Engineering.

Our graduates are well-prepared for careers in science, government and industry. Join us. 

Cat Doyle

Plant Research Immediately Impacts People

Ph.D. student Catherine Doyle talks about her cassava research and its potential impact on a key African plant disease.

Read Catherine's Story

Interested in pursuing a graduate degree in plant biology or microbiology? Want to explore the possibilities at NC State? 

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Plant Biology

We offer three graduate degrees in plant biology: a doctorate (Ph.D.), a thesis master’s degree (M.S.), and a non-thesis master’s degree (M.R.).

The plant biology graduate faculty is a diverse, active, collegial, and well-funded group representing vast research approaches in plant biology, from molecules to ecosystems. We engage in interdisciplinary research projects and collaborate with faculty members in many departments across NC State. Our plant biologists (including USDA-ARS scientists) can be found the Departments of Crop and Soil Sciences, Horticultural Science, Molecular and Structural Biochemistry, Entomology and Plant Pathology, and Forestry and Environmental Resources. We also have several associate faculty members from agricultural biotechnology companies located in the Research Triangle.

Our graduate students benefit from this wide scope of plant biology research at NC State and the broader research community at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Duke University. They have the opportunity to conduct research in diverse areas of contemporary plant biology such as plant genomics, cell biology, plant-microbe interactions, and conservation biology, among others.



Emphasizes developing research scientists to become scholars in academia or leaders in industry or government.


A non-thesis, course-intensive degree suitable for students interested in increasing their knowledge or complementing prior research experience.


A research degree for students interested in environmental consulting or natural resource inventory, or in management positions.


Contact Us

For more information about the microbiology graduate programs, contact:

Dwayne Barnes
Graduate Coordinator

Eric Miller
Director of Graduate Programs

We offer four graduate degree programs in microbiology: Doctorate (Ph.D.)Master of Science (M.S.), Master of Microbiology (M.M.), and Master of Microbial Biotechnology (MMB).

Whether you’re interested in microbial diversity, basic cellular processes, interactions between microbes or viruses and their hosts — or any number of interdisciplinary microbiology areas involving food safety, bioenergy, the environment, etc. — this is a dynamic and exciting period for research in microbiology.

There are numerous opportunities for careers in academic and industrial research, teaching, government service, and many other areas in which microbiology has an impact. A strong undergraduate record in the life or physical sciences, supported by some exposure to a research experience, will prepare you for this program, giving you the professional training you need to launch your career.



The doctoral degree emphasizes research and training for professional careers in science and research leadership.


A non-thesis, course-intensive graduate degree option suitable for individuals already employed in government and industry.


The M.S. research degree is available for students interested in careers in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.


A two-year, cross-disciplinary, non-thesis program provides students with dual training in microbiology and business.