College of Agriculture, Food & Environment

Plant Pathology - Graduate



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The Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Kentucky offers graduate study toward the Master of Science or the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Plant Pathology is the study, diagnosis, and management of plant disease. Plant diseases threaten worldwide food security, and cost billions in lost productivity annually. Plant Pathology encompasses a wide array of related disciplines including botany, microbiology, crop science, ecology, biochemistry, biotechnology, and genetics. 

Program Description

The department's philosophy is to provide each student with the training and credentials to maximize employment prospects in the student's area of interest. Even in times of limited employment prospects, this department has consistently placed its graduates in highly desirable professional and academic positions.

The M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are based primarily on independent research. Regular courses provide the underpinnings of Plant Pathology at both a holistic level (such as in epiphytology and plant protection strategies) and a reductionistic level (such as molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis or resistance). Required courses are PPA 400G (for those students without a prior course in Plant Pathology); PPA 500; PPA 600; PPA 640, PPA 641; and the seminar course, PPA 770. The student's Major Professor and Advisory Committee recommend what other courses in various programs will enhance prospects for the student's research and intended career. The M.S. degree requires 24 credit hours of graduate coursework and a successfully defended research thesis. The Ph.D. program requires four terms of residency before the Qualifying Examination, two semesters of post-qualifying residency, and a successfully defended research dissertation.

A student is assigned to a Major Professor either before admission or during the first few months of residence. This assignment is principally based on the student's chosen area of specialization. Under the guidance of the Major Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies, the student chooses an Advisory Committee and begins thesis/dissertation research.
Students gain experience in plant pathology through participation in a variety of activities. All students are required to present formal seminars to the department and are encouraged to present the results of their research at regional and national scientific meetings. Practical experience with plant diseases is gained in Plant Disease Diagnosis (PPA 640), which includes field trips throughout the crop season.

Master's (MS) or Doctoral (PhD) Degree - Application Requirements

  1. CV
    • Standard academic CV
  2. Personal Statement
    • ‚ÄčThe personal statement should describe the applicant's background and interests in Plant Pathology. It should address how the graduate program can help the applicant to meet their specific career goals.
  3. GRE
  4. Three letters of recommendation
  5. All of the instructions for applying to our program can also be found on our website at:
Application Deadlines

Spring: August 15

Summer: August 15

Fall: March 15