M.S. Program

M.S. Degree

The following degree requirements apply to students who entered in March 2011 and after. Students who entered in Fall 2010 or before may click here to access the previous degree requirements.

Plans of Study for an M.S. Degree in Plant Biology

Plan I: This plan requires a minimum of 32 units of upper division (100 level) and graduate (200 level) coursework, a written thesis, and an oral presentation of the thesis research. A maximum of 3 units of research (299) may be applied toward the total unit requirement. The oral presentation of the thesis research will be held as a public seminar (also called an exit seminar), and, when scheduling allows, will be given during the Tuesday student seminar series (Plant Biology 291).

Plan II: This plan requires a minimum of 36 units of upper division (100 level) and graduate (200 level) coursework, a comprehensive final examination, and a written report.

Course Requirements - Core and Electives

The M.S. degree will be specialized in one of four areas of Plant Biology: (a) Cell and Developmental Biology; (b) Environmental and Integrative Biology; (c) Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Genomics; or (d) Systematics and Evolutionary Biology. Students are required to choose an area of specialization and change in this area is subject to approval by a Master Advisor in writing or via email. The area of specialization will determine which electives are taken.

a) Core Courses

Plan I (15 units) Plan II (15 units)
PBI 200A Core Course Series –Fall Quarter (5 units)
PBI 200B Core Course Series –Winter Quarter (5 units)
PBI 200C Core Course Series –Spring Quarter (5 units)

b) Specialization Requirements

Plan I (minimum 6 units) Plan II (minimum 9 units)
Two upper division or graduate courses (100 or 200 level) totaling at least 6 units, chosen from the courses designated in the student's specialization area Three upper division or graduate courses (100 or 200 level) totaling at least 9 units, chosen from the courses designated in the student's specialization area

*For both plans, other courses may be substituted with the approval of the Graduate Adviser. See the Advising Checklists in our Student Resources section for specific courses.

c) Seminar Requirements

Plan I (8 units minimum), Plan II (8 units minimum)

First Year: PBI 292 (1 unit ea/3 units total) Fall, Winter, Spring

First Year through Graduation: PBI 290B (1 unit ea/3 units minimum)
Fall, Winter, Spring first year and second year or Fall, Winter, Spring first year and then second year until graduation

First Year through Graduation: PBI 291 (1 unit ea/2 units minimum)
Fall, Winter, Spring first year and second year or Fall, Winter, Spring first year and then second year until graduation

Second Year through Graduation: PBI 290A (1 unit ea)
Fall, Winter, Spring first year and second year or Fall, Winter, Spring first year and then second year until graduation

Students may request exception to the seminar requirements if there is a scheduling conflict with a specialization course that is also required. Such requests are subject to approval by the student's Graduate Adviser.

d) Research Unit Requirements:

Plan I (maximum 3 units) Plan II (minimum 4 units)
PBI 299 (3 units) PBI 299 (4 units)

e) Coursework Summary:

Plan I Plan II
Core Courses: 15 units
Specialization Courses: 6 units
Seminars: 8 units minimum
Research Courses: 3 units of PBI 299
Core Courses: 15 units
Specialization Courses: 9 units
Seminars: 8 units minimum
Research Courses: 4 units of PBI 299
Total minimum units: 32 Total minimum units: 36

Both Plan I and II students: No single course may be used to satisfy more than one degree requirement (for example, the same course cannot be used to fulfill an undergraduate deficiency and satisfy the elective course requirement). All courses taken to fulfill degree requirements for which a letter grade is offered must be taken for a grade (and not Passed/Not Passed or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory). A grade of C- or better is required to satisfy the degree requirement for an advanced undergraduate level (100) course and a grade of B- or better is required to pass a graduate (200) level course. Please note for a full time student that a minimum course load is 12 units each academic quarter. Per UC regulations, students cannot enroll in more than 12 units of graduate level coursework (200) or more than 16 units of combined upper division and graduate level coursework (100, 200, 300) per quarter.

Special Requirements:

Plan I Plan II
In addition to an approved thesis, students must present an exit seminar on their thesis research; this will typically occur in the Tuesday student seminar series (PBI 291) in the quarter prior to graduation. In addition to passing the comprehensive examination, students must complete a written report (10 pages minimum, double spaced, 12 pt font, not including references and tables or figures), the subject matter of which must be approved by the Master's Examination Committee prior to the writing of the report.

Committees

Thesis Committee (Plan I)

The student, in consultation with his/her Major Professor and Graduate Adviser, nominates two Plant Biology Graduate Group faculty in addition to the major professor to serve on the thesis committee. These nominations are submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies for formal appointment in accordance with Graduate Council policy, typically in the 5th quarter.

Comprehensive Examination Committee (Plan II)

The student, in consultation with his/her Graduate Adviser, will submit nominations of three faculty members to serve on the Comprehensive Examination Committee to the Master Adviser. Nominations are typically submitted in the 4th quarter. One member on the committee must be from the student's area of specialization. Neither the faculty member who served as the instructor in charge of the 299 units, nor others deemed to have a conflict of interest with the student or the major professor (for example, close collaborators), shall serve on the committee. A committee member from the student's area of specialization will normally serve as chair.

The Master Adviser may appoint the comprehensive exam committee either:

1. At the Adviser Meeting held in Winter quarter, in conjunction with the PhD QE Committee assignments; or
2. At any time during the academic year as is necessary, in consultation with the student's Graduate Adviser.

Advising Structure and Mentoring

Each student will be assigned a Graduate Adviser from the PBI. The student is expected to meet with the Graduate Adviser before the first quarter, and during the third and fourth quarters. During the first quarter meeting, the Graduate Adviser will assist with coursework and career planning. The purpose of the third quarter meeting will be to evaluate progress (via the student progress report) and to discuss future coursework. The fourth quarter meeting will verify the completion of coursework and will discuss the completion of capstone requirements; additionally, students will submit nominations for their thesis or comprehensive examination committees during this fourth quarter meeting.

The Major Professor is the Thesis Committee Chair, and directs the student's research in 299 coursework. The Master Adviser is a PBI faculty member who has been appointed to serve as a resource for other advisers, and who approves the nomination of thesis committee and approves the membership of comprehensive examination committees. The Graduate Program Staff assists students in identifying appointments and is a resource for information on general program requirements and university policies. The Mentoring Guidelines can be found here.

Advancement to Candidacy

Every student must file an official application for Candidacy for the Degree of Master of "Plant Biology" after completing one-half of their course requirements and at least one quarter before completing all degree requirements; this typically in the 5th quarter of enrollment. The Candidacy for the Degree of Master form can be found online at: http://www.gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/forms/. A completed form includes a list of courses the student will take to complete degree requirements. If changes must be made to the student's course plan after s/he has advanced to candidacy, the Graduate Adviser must recommend these changes to the Office of Graduate Studies. Students must have their Graduate Adviser and thesis committee chair sign the candidacy form before it can be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies. If the candidacy is approved, the Office of Graduate Studies will send a copy to: the appropriate graduate staff person, and the student; the thesis committee chair will also receive a copy, if applicable. If the Office of Graduate Studies determines that a student is not eligible for advancement, the department and the student will be told the reasons for the application's deferral. Some reasons for deferring an application include: grade point average below 3.0, outstanding "I" grades in required courses, or insufficient units.

Thesis and Comprehensive Examination Requirements

Thesis Requirements (Plan I)

At the time of the thesis is submitted, the student must have advanced to candidacy and be registered or on filing fee. The student will conduct original research in the laboratory of a faculty member who will serve as sponsor for the 299 research units and as chair of the thesis committee, also referred to as the Major Professor.

The thesis committee will pass on the merits of the thesis. The thesis will include original research conducted by the student. The thesis should show the student's ability to identify research questions, develop and test hypotheses, and reach a well-justified conclusion. The research should be of publishable quality in a peer-reviewed journal but be not as extensive as a PhD dissertation.

The student must present an exit seminar on his/her thesis research (usually in the Tuesday student seminar series, PBI 291), during their last quarter of residence.

Comprehensive Examination (Plan II)

At the time of the examination, the student must have advanced to candidacy and be registered or on filing fee. The comprehensive examination is an oral examination that should not exceed three hours in length. The oral exam must cover general plant biology, the student's area of specialization and at least one additional area. In consultation with the student's Graduate Adviser, the student will choose the additional area (click here for suggested topics) and submit it along with suggested faculty members to serve on the examination committee to the Master Adviser. The additional area must be approved by the Master Adviser.

The results of the examination are submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies using the Master's Report Form. The outcome of the examination is either a pass, not pass or fail. If the decision is a not pass, then the student may be re-examined one additional time, with the approval of their Graduate Adviser. The outcome of the second examination can only be either a pass or fail. A student who receives a fail on the first or second attempts, will be recommended for disqualification by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Normative Time to Degree

The Normative Time to Degree for the M.S. program is six quarters (two years).

Plan I: Typical Time Line and Sequence of Events

Year 1

Fall Winter Spring
PBI 200A PBI 200B PBI 200C
PBI 291 PBI 291  
PBI 292 PBI 292 PBI 292
PBI 290B PBI 290B PBI 290B
PBI 299 PBI 299 PBI 299
  Elective (any quarter)  

Year 2

Fall Winter Spring
PBI 290A PBI 290A PBI 290A
PBI 290B PBI 290B PBI 290B
PBI 291 PBI 291  
PBI 299 PBI 299 PBI 299
Elective Advancement to candidacy Submission of thesis and exit seminar

Plan II: Typical Time Line and Sequence of Events

Year 1

Fall Winter Spring
PBI 200A PBI 200B PBI 200C
PBI 291 PBI 291  
PBI 292 PBI 292 PBI 292
PBI 290B PBI 290B PBI 290B
PBI 299 PBI 299 PBI 299
  Elective Elective

Year 2

Fall Winter Spring
PBI 290A PBI 290A PBI 290A
PBI 290B PBI 290B PBI 290B
PBI 291 PBI 291  
PBI299 PBI 299 PBI 299
Elective Advancement to candidacy Comprehensive exam