Sep 30, 2023  
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2021-22 
OHIO University Graduate Catalog 2021-22 [Archived Catalog]

Plant Biology - PHD

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Doctor of Philosophy in Plant Biology

Plant Biology – PH2111

Department of Environmental and Plant Biology
Porter Hall 315
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701

Delivery Mode: Athens Campus

Terms of Entry: Fall, Spring, Summer

Program Overview

The Environmental and Plant Biology Ph.D. graduate program is a full-time program that provides educational and research experience in plant biology from the molecular to the organismal and ecosystem levels. Normative time to completion is four-five academic years. Most students are trained within three general areas of study: ecology, systematics and evolution, and functional genomics.. The program strives to foster communication across and beyond these areas of study to provide unique opportunities to meet each student’s specific career goals.

The Ph.D. program is designed to:

  • Train and prepare students to be successful in teaching and research positions in academia, industry, government, or non-governmental organizations.
  • Train students to conduct independent research in the pursuit of knowledge.
  • Mentor students in grantsmanship and have many opportunities to support their own research with internal and external funding.
  • Provide hands-on teaching experience to students because the program provides a teaching assistantship. As teaching assistants, students have the opportunity to assist in a variety of courses and interact with faculty. Students may additionally have opportunities to supervise and mentor undergraduate students in a research laboratory environment.
  • Expose all students to the national and international plant biology community through colloquia, seminars, and scientific meetings that will aid them in achieving their post-Ph.D. career goals.

Expected time to complete the degree is four years for a student entering with an earned M.S. or five for a student without.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate the professional standards and responsible conduct expected of scientists.
  • Synthesize literature in their area(s) of study.
  • Design a research study/scientific experiment. 
  • Analyze and interpret data.
  • Communicate scientific ideas in both written and oral forms to diverse audiences.
  • Demonstrate the breadth of knowledge in plant biology essential for the pursuit of different career paths.
  • Demonstrate the skills essential to building and maintaining the scientific community.
  • Demonstrate depth of knowledge within their area(s) of study and demonstrate the ability to think creatively.
  • Demonstrate grantsmanship.
  • Describe the applications and implications of scientific research to a broader audience and/or in a broader context.

PBIO-MCB track offers additional courses: MCB 7200 (Molecular Biology), MCB 7410 (Seminar in Molecular and Cellular Biology), MCB 7600 (Advanced Cell Biology), CHEM 5901 (Biochemistry I), CHEM 5902 (Biochemistry II), and computer science courses (bioinformatics, etc.)

See the Molecular and Cellular Biology - PHD  entry nfor details of the Plant Biology MCB track.

Further Information

Link to Program:

Link to Program Handbook:

Admission Requirements

An M.S. degree is preferred.

Minimum GPA: 3.00.

TOEFL score of 95 is recommended.

The following documents must be submitted with the application:

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Personal statement (see below)
  • Three letters of recommendation.

A faculty member willing to advise the student is required for admission.

Personal Statement

The personal statement submitted as a part of the application must respond to each of the six questions below. The entire statement should be 2 pages or less, single-spaced, using 12-point font. 

  1. Please describe your career goals and how graduate school at Ohio University would help you achieve those goals. (i.e., why do you want to earn an M.S. or Ph.D.?).
  2. Please describe any coursework or other training received during your B.S. or M.S. degree that is relevant to your application.
  3. Please describe your quantitative skills and relevant experiences (e.g., experimental design, data collection and entry, bioinformatics, and/or statistical analyses) from your prior degree(s).
  4. Please describe any relevant research or work experiences. This can include independent research, experiences as part of a course, internships, volunteering, paid jobs, presenting in a class or in a conference, communicating science, etc.
  5. Please identify your potential advisor(s) and briefly describe the project(s), research question(s), and/or general area of research that you are interested in pursuing while at Ohio University.
  6. In our department, most graduate students earn a stipend by being a teaching assistant (TA). If you are seeking TA support, then broadly describe the type of course you could imagine teaching, and what approach (maybe observed from your favorite teacher) you would take to engage undergraduate students. If you have teaching experience, please also broadly describe the courses you served as TA or lecturer.

International Students

This program permits full-time enrollment in residence at Ohio University, and an I-20 may be issued based on admission to this program.

Graduation Requirements

The Ph.D. in Plant Biology requires a minimum of 90 credit hours and other requirements as follows:

Minimum Graded Credit Hours

Students without an M.S. degree must complete a minimum of 30 graded credit hours, of which at least 20 must be PBIO. Students with an M.S. degree must complete a minimum of 21 graded credit hours, of which at least 12 must be PBIO.

All graded credit hours must be at the 5000-level or above. Seminar, supervised study, colloquium, and research hours may not count toward the minimum graded credit hour requirement.


Complete the following course:

Methods Courses

Students without an M.S. must complete at least two of the following courses. Students with an M.S. must complete at least one of the following courses.

Research Hours

Complete a minimum of 60 hours of research.


Complete a minimum of four semesters of Seminar.

Other Requirements

The comprehensive examination comprising written and oral sections must be successfully completed not later than the ninth semester in the program.

Culminating Experience

Students must write and successfully defend a research dissertation.

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