Skip to main content

Plant Biology Degree Requirements and Focal Areas

Plant Biology Degree Requirements

This webpage is intended to help you to select which PB Elective and Restricted/Free Elective courses fit within your chosen focal area of Plant Biology to complete your degree requirements.To view plant biology degree requirements, visit the NC State Course Catalogue.

Focal Areas

Plant biology is a diverse discipline that ranges in scope from molecules to ecosystems and to the many ways in which plants are used. Although a focal area is not required, plant biology students may choose to focus their major and elective coursework in one of three areas: Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology, Plant Systematics and Ecology, or Ethnobotany. Students may also choose courses across all three areas to get a broader perspective, depending on their objectives.

When completing degree requirements, we recommend taking at least one advanced (300-level or higher) course in another plant science discipline (Crop and Soil Sciences, Forestry and Environmental Resources, Horticultural Science, Entomology and Plant Pathology). Multiple advanced courses in another discipline are encouraged for all plant biology focal areas.

Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology

What is Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology?

Students interested in learning about plants at a molecular level are encouraged to consider courses that provide them with the necessary background and rigor to work for biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies.

Image of immunoflourescent data

PB Major Electives

Course NumberCourse NameCredit Hours
PB 413/513Plant Anatomy2
BIO 414Cell Biology3
PB 421Plant Physiology3
PB 422*Methods in Plant Molecular Biology & Physiology3
PB 480/580Introduction to Plant Biotechnology3
*Course currently listed as Plant Physiology – 1 hour.

Restricted/Free Elective Choices

Course NumberCourse NameCredit Hours
BCH 351General Biochemistry OR3
BCH 451Principles of Biochemistry4
BCH 452Intro. Biochemistry Lab2
BCH 453Biochemistry of Gene Expression3
BIT 410Manipulation of Recombinant DNA2
BIT  Modules2 each
CS 413Plant Breeding2
CH 201/202Quantitative Chemistry / Lab3+1
CH 223/224Organic Chemistry II / Lab3+1
GN 312Elementary Genetics Lab1
GN 421Molecular Genetics3
MB 351/352General Microbiology / Lab3+1
MB 455Microbial Biotechnology3
PB 215Medicinal Plants3
PB 488/588Systems Biology Modeling of Plant Regulation3

Other Courses

CS 224 – Seeds, Biotechnology, & Society (3 credits)

Plant Systematics and Ecology

What is Plant Systematics and Ecology?

Students interested in floristics, plant-plant and plant-environment interactions, and conservation typically complete courses that equip them will skills and training for positions in government agencies, conservation organizations and land management groups.

Marsh along the shoreline of Harkers Island.
Marsh along the shoreline of Harkers Island.

PB Major Electives

Course NumberCourse NameCredit Hours
PB 220Local Flora2
PB/AEC 360Ecology4
PB 400Plant Diversity and Evolution4
PB 403/503Systematic Botany4
PB 450/550Plant Ecology3
PB 464/564Rare Plants of North Carolina3

Restricted/Free Elective Choices

Course NumberCourse NameCredit Hours
AEC 400Applied Ecology3
AEC 460Field Ecology and Methods4
CS 230Introduction to Agroecology3
FOR 221Conservation of Natural Resources3
FOR 261Forest Communities2
FOR 330NC Forests3
FOR 339Dendrology4
GIS 280Introduction to GIS3
NR 406Conservation of Biological Diversity3
PB 321Intro. Whole Plant Physiology3
PB 445Paleobotany4
SSC 200/201Soil Science / Lab3+1
SSC 452Soil Classification4
SSC 470Wetland Soils3
ST 312Introduction to Statistics II3

Other Courses

IDS 201 – Environmental Ethics (3 credits)
IDS 303 – Humans and the Environment (3 credits)


What is Ethnobotany?

Ethnobotany is the study and documentation of dynamic interactions between plants and people, including traditional knowledge and plant-use customs of diverse cultures. It is sometimes called the “science of survival”. Ethnobotanists may pursue a number of different career paths depending on their specialized training and experience.

Students learning in the field

PB Major Electives

Course NumberCourse NameCredit Hours
PB 213Plants & Civilization OR
PB 219Plants in Folklore, Myth, & Religion3
PB 215Medicinal Plants3
PB 345/346Economic Botany / Lab3+1
PB 403/503Systematic Botany4
PB 325Culinary Botany OR
PB 407/507Medical Ethnobotany3

Restricted/Free Elective Choices

Course NumberCourse NameCredit Hours
BCH 351General Biochemistry4
PP 222Kingdom of Fungi3
PB 421Plant Physiology3

Other Courses

ANT 252 – Cultural Anthropology (3 credits)
At least two additional course in Cultural Anthropology