Applications & Curriculum

Contact Info

    Emily Laabs
Emily Laabs
Graduate Program Manager
(608) 262-5887


In This Section

Current Students: 

Your info is on the Hub site.

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Fall Admissions

The Plant Pathology department only admits graduate students in the fall term. 

  • Exceptions to other terms can be made only when directly admitted.
  • You will work with the Graduate Program Manager to apply.


Click the boxes below to learn more about applications.

+Application Materials - Required Materials and How to Submit Them

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.
    • The department is able to offer a limited number of application fee waivers. Please contact Graduate Program Manager  Emily Laabs for more information.
  • 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 online application.
  • 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 be submitted online through the Graduate School’s electronic format; references experiencing difficulty with the online system should contact the Graduate Program Manager Emily Laabs.
  • 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.

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.

All questions regarding the admissions process and the application should also be directed to the Graduate Program Manager Emily Laabs.

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, and therefore is strongly recommend that MS applicants contact faculty they would like to work with before submitting an application.  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.

Tips for contacting prospective graduate faculty advisors

+Application Deadlines for MS and PhD

Fall and Summer Application Deadline

The application deadline for the fall semester is the preceding December 1. 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 December 1: 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 December 1: 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 only admits graduate students in the fall term.

Exceptions to other terms can be made only when directly admitted. You will work with the Graduate Program Manager to apply.


Click the box below to learn more about MS and PhD curriculums.

+Curriculum, Foundation Courses, and Additional Requirements for MS and PhD

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 courses outside Plant Pathology and up to 15 credits of Plant Pathology 990 research
  • at least 15 of the 30 credits must be courses notes as having the “graduate-level attribute”

MS Foundation Courses

There are no foundation requirements for the Plant Pathology MS.

Additional MS Requirement

  • Write and defend a thesis or significant research paper.

PhD Foundation Courses

  • Majors in biology, including plant biology-related or microbiology-related disciplines, will often meet the PhD foundation requirements.
  • 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
  • Physics – equivalent of one semester
  • 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

Additional PhD Requirements

All PhD students are also required to:

  • complete a minor
  • pass their qualifying exam
  • pass their preliminary exam
  • produce and defend a dissertation


Additional Information

  • Overview – describes reasons to choose our department
  • Applications & Curriculum – application materials, deadlines, curriculum overview
  • Courses – list of when classes are scheduled to be held (Course Rotation Schedule), current list of Plant Pathology courses
  • Funding – links to info on stipends, international applicant financial info, and the Grad School’s list of external fellowships scholarships
  • Handbooks & Forms – MS and PhD handbooks; various MS and PhD academic forms
  • Grad Student Orgs – lists graduate student organizations in the department


Updated 10/30/2023