Ph.D. Degree

About the Degree

For the Ph.D. degree, candidates develop a course work plan with their advisor, and then meet with a faculty committee to have the plan certified.  Students also develop a Ph.D. thesis research proposal with their advisor and meet with a faculty committee to discuss the proposal.  Candidates must satisfactorily complete their course work requirements, fulfill the 32 credit minimum requirement (which can include research credits), and pass an oral preliminary exam to become thesis dissertators, which allows the student to register for only 3 research credits.  To receive the Ph.D. degree, candidates must also successfully defend their thesis in a final oral exam.


Certification is the means by which a faculty committee, hereafter referred to as the Certification Committee, and the student jointly determine the courses that are necessary to ensure an adequate preparation in the graduate program.  It involves review of the student’s previous course work and discussion of the proposed field of study within Agronomy.  Each Ph.D. student and his/her major professor should select a five member Certification Committee, which shall include the major and minor professor.  The Certification Committee determines the courses required by that individual student based upon the student’s prior training, the student’s educational objectives, and the nature and scope of the student’s proposed thesis research.  Because of this individual nature there is no fixed number of course credits required for the Ph.D. degree in Agronomy.  There is no foreign language requirement.

Two semesters of Agronomy Seminar (920, 950, or 957) are required beyond the M.S..  Teaching experience is highly recommended by the department and the time for completion of this recommended experience should be included on the certification form.


Students completing a Ph.D. in Agronomy must also complete requirements for a minor in another department.  The student may choose as his/her minor field either a single department or program (option A) or a distributed minor among two or more departments (option B).  The course work for completion of the  minor requirement will be decided at the time of certification, with approval of the minor professor.  Under option A the student is required to have at least 10 credits from a single degree program outside his/her major.  The requirements of the minor department must also be satisfied.  To satisfy option B, the student is required to have at least 10 credits from two or more programs outside his/her major.

Joint Majors

Graduate students may major in both Agronomy and another department by meeting the requirements of a major in each of the departments.  The two departments will share in directing the student’s graduate program.  No minor is required of a joint major.