University of Vermont

College of
Agriculture and Life Sciences

Department of Plant and Soil Science

Degree Programs

General Graduate School requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. programs are outlined in the UVM Graduate College Catalogue. Students are advised to study the portion pertaining to the degree sought. Guidelines for each of these degree programs within the Department are discussed below. This discussion includes some repetition and summary of general requirements as well as those specifically applicable to our department. It is expected that the research conducted in the M.S. or Ph.D. programs will lead to publication in a refereed journal, the end-product of original research.

Transfer from a MS to PH.D. program

Petition Process for Students Wanting to Change their Status from Masters to Ph.D. (Approved November 10th, 2008)

What "we" (PSS faculty) decided on was to allow this on a case-by-case basis.  To be considered, the student must be demonstrating exceptional abilities in their research, and self-motivation and independence for conducting doctoral-quality research (e.g.,  grant proposals, manuscripts, personal references, etc.). 


  1. The student will continue to work with their current advisor.
  2. The student has successfully completed at least the first year of their MS program.
  3. The student understands that funding for PhD work beyond the time already granted under the MS program is contingent on availability.

If these assumptions are met, the student will undertake the petition procedure described below. Any deviations from the two assumptions above will require the student to set up a meeting with the Graduate Affairs Committee to discuss the student’s eligibility to petition.

Petition procedure:

  1. Student meets with advisory committee to get endorsement.  If endorsement is given, then the student continues with step 2 below.
  2. Student submits a petition to the Graduate Affairs Committee to shift from an M.S. to a Ph.D., rather than earning an M.S. The petition should include the following:
    1. A letter of justification for doing the shift.
    2. A letter from the student’s current advisor confirming the student’s caliber and his/her willingness to continue to advise student through PhD.  In this letter the advisor should also corroborate the endorsement from the advisory committee.
    3. A summary of research and scholarly accomplishments, including completed research, grant submissions and awards, presentations and publications.
    4. A summary or a proposal of the proposed, additional research that would be undertaken for the Ph.D.

Review and Response

The Graduate Affairs Committee will review the petition and form a recommendation that is presented as a motion to the PSS faculty for a vote. If supported by the PSS Faculty, the faculty would need to make their recommendation to the Graduate College, through the department chair.  The Graduate Affairs Committee will inform the student of their recommendation and the department’s decisions to grant or reject their petition.

If the option of shifting to a Ph.D. program is granted, the student will only be eligible to obtain this degree, and will not be able to default back to an M.S. unless the circumstances have changed in a way that the student cannot finish the PhD. Petitions will be reviewed by the graduate committee and a decision will be made on the basis of demonstrated financial hardship or life events.

PSS Core Graduate Requirements

ALL PSS graduate students are required to attend Departmental seminars. Students on a teaching assistantship (GTA) should sign up for the course (PSS 393/394) for 1 credit offered as a P/NP option while those students that are self-funded or grant funded may sign up for credit at the discretion of their advisor and advisory committee but are not required to take the seminar for credit. Regardless, ALL graduate students will be expected to attend seminar, with the understanding that exceptions may occur and should be handled through the student's advisory committee.

  • MANDATORY FOR ALL STUDENTS ANNUALLY - PSS 302 Soil Science Colloquium in the spring (except if enrolled in GRAD 900 continuous registration).
  • Statistics: 1 semester for MS / 2 semesters for PhD - Select from STAT 201, 211, 221,225, 227 or 231 (or others by approval from the Graduate Coordinator).

Meeting Progress Forms

Meeting progress forms are due to the Graduate Coordinator each semester.

Last modified July 27 2012 10:55 AM