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Twin Cities Campus

Plant and Microbial Biology Ph.D.

Plant and Microbial Biology
College of Biological Sciences
Link to a list of faculty for this program.
Contact Information
Plant and Microbial Biology Sciences Graduate Program, 1479 Gortner Avenue, Suite 140, St. Paul, MN 55108 (612-625-4222; fax: 612-625-1738)
  • Program Type: Doctorate
  • Requirements for this program are current for Fall 2018
  • Length of program in credits: 54
  • This program does not require summer semesters for timely completion.
  • Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Along with the program-specific requirements listed below, please read the General Information section of this website for requirements that apply to all major fields.
Plant and microbial biology encompasses all aspects of plant and microbial life, from molecular biology to genomics to ecosystem science. Students study plants from the subcellular and molecular to the whole plant and community levels of biological organization. They also have opportunities for laboratory and field research at state, national, and international levels. Each student's program is planned to meet individual requirements within the framework of a multidisciplinary core of coursework.
Program Delivery
  • via classroom (the majority of instruction is face-to-face)
Prerequisites for Admission
The preferred undergraduate GPA for admittance to the program is 3.00.
Special Application Requirements:
Students are admitted only in fall semester. The deadline to apply is December 1. Refer to the Plant and Microbial Biology website for full details on application requirements and procedures:
Applicants must submit their test score(s) from the following:
  • GRE
International applicants must submit score(s) from one of the following tests:
    • Internet Based - Total Score: 79
    • Internet Based - Writing Score: 21
    • Internet Based - Reading Score: 19
    • Total Score: 6.5
    • Final score: 80
Key to test abbreviations (GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, MELAB).
For an online application or for more information about graduate education admissions, see the General Information section of this website.
Program Requirements
10 to 18 credits are required in the major.
12 to 20 credits are required outside the major.
24 thesis credits are required.
This program may be completed with a minor.
Use of 4xxx courses toward program requirements is permitted under certain conditions with adviser approval.
A minimum GPA of 3.00 is required for students to remain in good standing.
At least 1 semesters must be completed before filing a Degree Program Form.
Course plans are discussed and agreed upon by the student and an advisory committee of at least four faculty members. Students are expected to teach at least one semester at 50-percent time.
Required Core Coursework
Complete the following required courses, for a total of 9.5 credits. [Note: Take PMB 8900 three times (1 credit each time, for a total of 3 credits): section 001 (PMB colloquium), section 002 (Itasca orientation seminar), and section 003 (PMB graduate students seminar). Take one credit of PMB 8994 in fall semester of the first year.]
PMB 8081 - Succeeding in Graduate School: Skills, Ethics, and Beyond (3.0 cr)
PMB 8123 - Research Ethics in the Plant and Environmental Sciences (0.5 cr)
PMB 8900 - Seminar (1.0 cr)
PMB 8901 - Preparation of Research Proposals (2.0 cr)
PMB 8994 - Research (1.0-5.0 cr)
Electives/Supporting Courses
Take at least 20.5 credits of additional coursework, in consultation with the academic advisor and advisory committee, and with approval from the PMB director of graduate studies (DGS), to complete the 30 course credits total (9.5 credits of required core coursework and 20.5 credits of electives/supporting courses) required for the doctoral degree. A maximum of two 4000-level courses is allowed.
Take 21 or more credit(s) from the following:
· AGRO 5xxx
· AGRO 8xxx
· BIOC 4331 - Biochemistry I: Structure, Catalysis, and Metabolism in Biological Systems (4.0 cr)
· BIOC 4332 - Biochemistry II: Molecular Mechanisms of Signal Transduction and Gene Expression (4.0 cr)
· BIOC 4521 - Introduction to Physical Biochemistry (3.0 cr)
· BIOC 5xxx
· BIOL 4003 - Genetics (3.0 cr)
· BIOL 4004 - Cell Biology (3.0 cr)
· PMB 4121 - Microbial Ecology and Applied Microbiology (3.0 cr)
· BIOL 5xxx
· BIOL 8100 - Improvisation for Scientists (1.0 cr)
· CSCI 5xxx
· EEB 5xxx
· EEB 8xxx
· FNRM 5xxx
· FNRM 8xxx
· GCD 5xxx
· GCD 8xxx
· GRAD 5xxx
· GRAD 8xxx
· HORT 5xxx
· HORT 8xxx
· MICB 4xxx
· PLPA 5xxx
· PLPA 8xxx
· PMB 4xxx
· PMB 5xxx
· PMB 8xxx
· STAT 5xxx
· STAT 8xxx
Professional development requirement
Participate in at least one professional development activity. Options to fulfill this requirement include, but are not limited to: courses (e.g., GRAD 8101 Preparing Future Faculty, APSC 8124 Professional Skills for Plant Scientists, BIOL 8100 Improvisation for Scientists), workshops (e.g., career planning, research group management, teaching skills, writing skills, leadership development), internships in industry.
Required Doctoral Thesis Credits
Take at least 24 doctoral thesis credits.
PMB 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral (1.0-24.0 cr)
More program views..
View college catalog(s):
· College of Biological Sciences

View future requirement(s):
· Fall 2022
· Fall 2020

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PMB 8081 - Succeeding in Graduate School: Skills, Ethics, and Beyond
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
What to expect and developing skills for succeeding in graduate school. Research ethics training. Reading/evaluating primary literature. Oral presentations. Exploring career options. prereq: Plant and Microbial Biology grad student or instr consent
PMB 8123 - Research Ethics in the Plant and Environmental Sciences
Credits: 0.5 [max 0.5]
Grading Basis: S-N or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
History/values relating to research/scholarship. Social responsibility/reporting misconduct. Authorship plagiarism. Peer review. Copyright/intellectual property. Conflicts of interest. Research data management. Fiscal responsibility/management. Environmental health/safety. Research involving humans/animals. Mentorship presentations by faculty and invited speakers. Meets first seven weeks of spring semester. prereq: Grad student in [applied plant sciences or plant pathology or plant biological sciences or soil science]
PMB 8900 - Seminar
Credits: 1.0 [max 4.0]
Grading Basis: S-N only
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Current scientific research.
PMB 8901 - Preparation of Research Proposals
Credits: 2.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: S-N only
Typically offered: Every Fall
Grant writing process. Strategies and ethical standards for research proposal preparation/review. Students prepare an original proposal and critique work of others. prereq: Plant biological sciences PhD student
PMB 8994 - Research
Credits: 1.0 -5.0 [max 10.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Independent research determined by student's interests, in consultation with faculty mentor. prereq: PBio grad student, instr consent
BIOC 4331 - Biochemistry I: Structure, Catalysis, and Metabolism in Biological Systems
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Course Equivalencies: BioC 3021/BioC 3022/BioC 4331/
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Advanced survey of structure/catalysis, metabolism/bioenergetics. prereq: (BIOL 1009 or 2003 or equiv) AND (Chem 2302 or CHEM 2081/2085 or equiv)
BIOC 4332 - Biochemistry II: Molecular Mechanisms of Signal Transduction and Gene Expression
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Advanced survey of molecular biology. Mechanisms of gene action/biological regulation. prereq: BioC 4331 or Bioc 3201 or BioC 3022
BIOC 4521 - Introduction to Physical Biochemistry
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Physical chemical principles, their applications in biochemistry. Thermodynamics, kinetics, spectroscopy, solution dynamics as applied to biochemical reactions/ biopolymers. prereq: 4331 recommended, (Chem 1081 or 1061 and 1065) AND (Physics 1221 or 1201W or 1301W) required
BIOL 4003 - Genetics
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Biol 4003/GCD 3022
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Genetic information, its transmission from parents to offspring, its expression in cells/organisms, and its course in populations. prereq: Biol 2003/2003H or BioC 3021 or BioC 4331 or grad
BIOL 4004 - Cell Biology
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Biol 4004/GCD 3033/4005W
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Processes fundamental to cells. Emphasizes eukaryotic cells. Assembly/function of membranes/organelles. Cell division, cell form/movement, intercellular communication, transport, secretion pathways. Cancer cells, differentiated cells. prereq: Completion of Biol 4003 is preferred, Biol2003/2003H or Biol4003 or grad
PMB 4121 - Microbial Ecology and Applied Microbiology
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
Evolution/structure of microbial communities. Population interaction within ecosystems. Quantitative/habitat ecology. Biogeochemical cycling. Molecular microbial ecology, gene transfer in the environment. Molecular phylogeny of microorganisms. Application of microbes in agriculture. Production of commodity chemicals, drugs, and other high-value products. prereq: 3301
BIOL 8100 - Improvisation for Scientists
Credits: 1.0 [max 1.0]
Grading Basis: S-N or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall
This is a 7-week course designed to practice a wide array of strategies in order to gain awareness and control over your personal expression. Students will develop more effective ways to expand their ability to navigate the stress generally associated with delivering content in front of others. By learning how to manage their personal expression more effectively, students will be able to use specific tools in order to adapt their expression to various settings (large audiences, small groups, or one on one interviews/counseling). Adapting exercises from techniques such as improvisation and storytelling, this class will provide a comfortable and safe environment for students who want to expand their confidence when presenting for others.
PMB 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral
Credits: 1.0 -24.0 [max 100.0]
Grading Basis: No Grade
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Thesis credit: Doctoral. prereq: Max 18 cr per semester or summer; 24 cr required