Graduate Study - Application Process

Below is information regarding the admissions process to the Plant Pathology MS and PhD programs at UW-Madison.  This information includes information on required application materials, advisors, application deadlines and a basic overview of the degree requirements.

Application Process Contents

Please use the links below to jump to specific sections of the application process page.

Application Materials

The Plant Pathology department requires specific materials for the graduate application.  These materials include:

  • Graduate School Application Form and Application Fee
    • All applicants must complete the Graduate School's online application which is available on their Electronic Application website.
  • Supplementary Application
    • To assist the admissions committee in reviewing files, we require applicants to submit a supplementary application.
    • The supplementary application will appear as a part of the Graduate School's electronic application once the applicant selects Plant Pathology.
  • Resume or CV
    • Applicants must submit resume or CV electronically through the supplementary application (preferred) or via email to the Student Services Coordinator, Sara Rodock.
  • Transcripts
    • All applicants must upload an unofficial transcript (non-encrypted) in a PDF format to their online application
      • Any school listed must have a transcript uploaded, otherwise the application will not be complete
      • If an applicant is recommended for admission they will be asked to submit an official transcript to the Graduate School; official transcripts are not to be mailed to the department
    • International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Documents must be issued by the school with the official seal/stamp and an official signature.
    • The Plant Pathology department requires all applicants to have a BA/BS degree from an accredited institution.
    • A minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours from the most recent bachelor's degree institution is required for regular admission. If an applicant has received a post-baccalaureate degree and the GPA for that degree is above a 3.0, then they may be admitted with full standing even if their undergraduate GPA does not meet the standards above. Under some circumstances, applicants with lower averages are admitted on probation but this is not common.
  • Statement of Purpose
    • This should describe the applicant's graduate program objectives and career focus. Since applicants are rarely admitted to our PhD program without prior research experience, applicants must describe past research experiences in their statement.
    • The statement of purpose should be around two pages in length.
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
    • These letters are preferably from people acquainted with the applicant's academic, research and/or professional qualifications.
    • Letters must online through the Graduate School's electronic format; references experiencing difficulty with the online system should contact the Student Services Coordinator, Sara Rodock.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
    • The UW-Madison code is R1846 and no departmental code is needed.
    • The department does not require any subject GRE test scores.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
    • Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide official scores from TOEFL, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB).
    • An admitted applicant whose TOEFL internet based (iBT) test score below 92; TOEFL (paper-based) test score is below 580; TOEFL computer-based test (CBT) score below 237; IELTS score below 7; or MELAB below 82 must take an English assessment test upon arrival. Students must then register for any recommended English as a Second Language (ESL) course(s) in the first enrolled semester.

Note: International student financial information will only be requested by the Graduate School after the departmental recommendation for admission. The Graduate School provides a list of international student expenses

Additional information regarding admission requirements can be found on the Graduate School website. Please refer to the Application Process at a Glance for items that should be sent directly to the Graduate School.

Admission to the Plant Pathology graduate program is competitive.  Admission is ultimately determined by the Graduate School, but no applicant is admitted without a favorable recommendation by the Department. In general, the Departmental requirements meet or exceed those of the Graduate School, detailed in on the Requirements for Admission page.

Submitting Application Materials

All materials are to be submitted electronically through the Graduate School's online application.  The only exception being the official transcripts, if a recommendation of admission is made.

All questions regarding the admissions process and the application should also be directed to Student Services Coordinator, Sara Rodock (email, or 608-262-9926).

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Faculty Advisors

All applicants are encouraged to contact Plant Pathology faculty members and affiliates during the admissions process, but this is not necessary for applicants applying for a PhD rotation.  MS students are admitted on a direct admission basis into a faculty member's lab.  Most PhD students are admitted on a rotating basis and will spend their first semester rotating in three to four labs.  Students who wish to be considered for direct PhD admission into a specific lab should indicate as such in their application.

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Application Deadlines

Fall and Summer Application Deadline

The application deadline for the fall semester is the preceding January 2. Applications received by the department after that date are at a disadvantage for admission and financial support. Only exceptional students may be considered for admission at other times.

  • Applications completed by January 2: When an applicant's file is complete in the Department and in the Graduate School, including receipt of all documentation and payment of the fee, the Graduate Admissions Committee reviews the application. The best applicants may receive offers of admission and accompanying financial support. Applicants whose qualifications are acceptable are notified and may receive offers of admission as funds become available.
  • Applications completed after January 2: Completed applications will be reviewed by the Admissions Committee upon completion. Applicants whose qualifications are acceptable are notified and may receive offers of admission as funds become available. However, only in exceptional circumstances will late applications result in offers of admission.

We make every effort to finalize admission decisions for the fall semester by the preceding April 15.

Spring Application Deadline

The Plant Pathology department does not admit rotating PhD students in the spring term.  The only applicants that should apply for the spring term are applicants who know of an opening in a specific lab, have been encourage to apply for the spring term by the faculty member in the lab and are applying for direct admission into that lab.

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Curriculum Overview

MS Curriculum

The course requirements include minimum of 30 credits total:

  • at least 9 credits in Plant Pathology courses
    • must include Plant Pathology 300 Introduction to Plant Pathology
    • only counting 1 credit of Plant Pathology 923 Seminar
    • at least 1 credit of Plant Pathology 875 Special Topics Seminar
    • cannot include Plant Pathology 990 research credits
  • the remaining 21 credits may include Plant Pathology 990 research or courses outside of Plant Pathology
  • at least 15 of the 30 credits must be courses notes as having the "graduate-level attribute"

All MS students are also required to write and defend a thesis or significant research paper as a part of their degree requirements.

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PhD Foundation Courses

Majors in biology, including plant biology- or microbiology-related disciplines, will often meet the PhD foundation requirements (there are no foundation requirements for the Plant Pathology MS). Highly qualified students from all majors who are willing to remedy deficiencies after enrollment are encouraged to apply. International applicants must have a degree comparable to an approved US BS/BA and quality of work high enough to warrant admission.

Foundation course requirements are basic science courses, usually completed prior to entering graduate school. If foundation course requirements have not been fulfilled beforehand, they must be completed as early as possible in the graduate student's course of study.

  • Biological sciences: courses in three of the four areas: genetics, structure of organisms, function of organisms, ecology; and an introductory-level course in Plant Pathology
  • Physics: equivalent to two semesters, including electricity and light
  • Chemistry: general chemistry, two semesters; organic chemistry, one semester including laboratory; biochemistry, one semester at the upper undergraduate level
  • Mathematics: introductory calculus, including both differential and integral calculus; statistics including analysis of variance and regression analysis is recommended

PhD Curriculum

All Plant Pathology PhD students are required to complete the following major requirement courses:

  • Plant Pathology 300 Introduction to Plant Pathology
  • Plant Pathology 505 Plant-Microbe Interactions: Molecular and Ecological Aspects
  • Plant Pathology 559 Diseases of Economic Plants
  • Plant Pathology 602 Ecology, Epidemiology and Control of Plant Diseases
  • Plant Pathology 799 Practicum in Plant Pathology Teaching
  • Plant Pathology 875 Special Topics (taken twice)
  • Plant Pathology 923 Seminar (taken twice)

The Graduate School has also set the following credit minimums

  • At least 51 credits post-baccalaureate
  • At least 26 credits must have the "graduate-level attribute"
  • At least 32 credits as a graduate student at UW-Madison
  • At least 32 credits are required to achieve dissertator status

All PhD students are also required to complete a minor, pass their qualifying exam, preliminary exam and produce and defend a dissertation.

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Last updated: July 14, 2016 (SR)