University of Vermont

College of
Agriculture and Life Sciences

Department of Plant and Soil Science

Doctor of Philosophy

Studies Committee

The studies committee is made up of at least four members and must be chosen during the student’s first semester in residence. A request to appoint the studies committee must be approved by the department chair and submitted to the Dean of the Graduate College using the appropriate form (SEE APPENDIX "1"). The major professor serves as chairperson of the Studies Committee and acts as both academic and dissertation advisor. Students and their major professors share joint responsibility to set up and hold meetings of the student’s studies committee at least once each semester and to report the current status of the candidate to the Graduate Program Coordinator on the Studies Committee Progress Report (See Appendix "10"). While studying at UVM, the student should consider his/her major professor as the first source for policy information, advisory guidance, and access to resources of the Department and University needed to complete all research, teaching, and outreach experiences required for graduation.

General requirements

A Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 75 credit hours earned in courses and in dissertation research, 51 of which must be completed “in residence” at The University of Vermont. A minimum of 15 hours in “graded” courses must be taken in residence at The University of Vermont. Of these 75 credits, some may be “transferred in” from the applicants Master’s degree program (if applicable). Transfer credits must be approved by the Graduate College. See appendix for the credit transfer request form. The Plant and Soil Science department requires 40 credit hours in course work of which 30 credits must be taken in Plant and Soil Science and closely related fields. Also required is completion of original thesis research, and satisfactory participation in seminars during residency.

With the prior approval of the Department and Graduate College, a student may apply one 100-level, three-credit course towards their graduate program (SEE APPENDIX "3"). The student's advisor must petition the Graduate College for approval BEFORE the student enrolls in the course. If at all possible, the graduate student should inquire if the professor for the course which they are considering taking at the undergraduate-level would be willing to set up a 297/298 "Independent Study" for them to take the undergraduate-level course WITH ADDITIONAL COURSE WORK to make it a "graduate-level" course. This is easiest to do "in-house" (ie: in PSS) however, other departments may also permit this on a case-by-case basis. Reserving the request for a "100-level course to count for graduate credit" (SEE APPENDIX "3") will allow the graduate student greater options when seeking relevant course work in other disciplines allied with PSS but which may not be able to offer an undergraduate-level course as a 297/298 Independent Study for graduate credit. A 297/298 "course" is set-up by the instructor and channeled through the Chair of the Department for approval. The request to set up the "course" is forwarded by the Chair to the Registrar. The "course" is set up and the student enrolls in it. Typically the enrollment is restricted to only one student who is requesting the "course".

All graduate students must take part in the Department's undergraduate teaching program.

Graduate Degree Program Outline

The students program of study must be reported on the Graduate Degree Program Outline (SEE APPENDIX "4"). This plan must be developed with the Studies Committee and be submitted to the Graduate College. This must be done before the end of the second semester in residence. The plan of Graduate Work, once approved, becomes the student’s official requirements for graduation. Any alteration in this program must be documented in writing and receive approval from the Studies Committee and Graduate College.

Requirements for advancement to candidacy

Satisfactory completion of two academic years of graduate study in the Plant and Soil Science Department, plus completion of a written AND oral qualifying doctoral examination. Satisfactory coursework means a minimum overall GPA of 3.00. Qualifying examinations are typically taken after two years in residence or at the completion of the majority of all coursework. A written AND oral comprehensive examination must be passed by the candidate at least six months before the dissertation is submitted. It is the student’s responsibility to schedule an examination time that is satisfactory for all committee members. There is no fee for the exam but the student must be enrolled in GRAD 497 (Doctoral Comprehensive Examination) during the semester in which the exam is to be taken (SEE APPENDIX "5"). The written comprehensive examination is taken first followed by the oral examination. The comprehensive examination is not the same as an oral dissertation defense and must be satisfactorily passed before defending the dissertation. A unanimous vote of approval by the members of the Studies Committee is required for the student to pass the preliminary oral examination. Approval may be conditional, depending upon completion of specified additional work. Failure to pass the preliminary oral examination terminates the student’s relationship with this Department, unless the committee recommends a re-examination. Only one re-examination is permitted.

A doctoral student is admitted to candidacy either after passing the preliminary examinations without conditions or after fulfilling any conditions specified by the Studies Committee.


At the conclusion of the research investigation, the student must present a dissertation that embodies the results of the work and demonstrates the capability for original and independent research.

Students must enroll in GRAD 499: Dissertation Defense, prior to defending their dissertation. A formatted copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate College for a Format/Record Check (SEE APPENDIX "6 & 7") at least three weeks prior to the scheduled defense and also post their defense with The Graduate College as well as in the Department (SEE APPENDIX "9").. Students must also provide defendable copies of the dissertation to members of their Dissertation Defense Examination Committee (SEE APPENDIX "8") at least two weeks before the scheduled examination. The Dean of the Graduate College will appoint a Dissertation Defense Committee based upon nominations submitted by the candidate’s major advisor. The Committee will consist of four UVM Graduate Faculty members with two of the four members coming from within the department. One member must be from outside the department and will be designated “Chairperson” by the Graduate Dean upon nomination by the dissertation advisor. The Chairperson of the Dissertation Defense has the responsibility of ensuring proper conduct of the examination and that signatures of endorsement are added to the acceptance page of the dissertation following a successful defense.

Following the dissertation defense, candidates must forward an original on 100% cotton, 20# weight, acid-free paper and three photocopies of the corrected dissertation to the Graduate College within the time period specified by the Committee. A $25 Advanced Degree Fee is due to the Graduate College at that time.

Last modified April 19 2012 03:56 PM