Graduate Studies

Graduate Studies

The department offers graduate study leading to the Master of Science in Agricultural Life Sciences with a concentration in Biochemistry, Entomology, or Plant Pathology; the Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Biology; the Doctor of Philosophy in Life Sciences with a concentration in Biochemistry, Entomology, or Plant Pathology. The department also participates in interdisciplinary programs leading to the following degrees.

  • Master of Science in Agricultural Life Sciences with a concentration in Animal Physiology or Genetics
  • Master of Science in Agriculture with a concentration in Animal Nutrition
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Life Sciences with concentrations in Animal Physiology or Genetics
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural Sciences with a concentration in Animal Nutrition

Admission Criteria

Prerequisites for admission include a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a physical or life science with a strong background in the program discipline of interest (biochemistry, molecular biology, entomology, or plant pathology). A graduate screening committee, composed of members of the Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology faculty, screens all applicants. Final acceptance into a graduate program is contingent upon the availability of a suitable major professor. A minimum 2.75 overall grade point average on a 4.00 scale is required for admission. The GRE general test and the scored results are required elements of a completed submission package. International students are required to have a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 500 PBT (61 iBT) or an IELTS (International English Language Testing Systems) score of 5.5 (non-English speaking international students).

Provisional Admission: An applicant who has not fully met the GPA requirement stipulated by the University may be admitted on a provisional basis. The provisionally-admitted student is eligible for a change to regular status after receiving a 3.00 GPA on the first 9 hours of graduate courses at Mississippi State University (with no grade lower than a C). The first 9 hours of graduate courses must be within the student's program of study. Courses with an S grade, transfer credits, or credits earned while in Unclassified status cannot be used to satisfy this requirement. If a 3.00 is not attained, the provisional student shall be dismissed from the graduate program. Academic departments may set higher standards for students to fulfill provisional requirements; a student admitted with provisional status should contact the graduate coordinator for the program’s specific requirements. While in the provisional status, a student is not eligible to hold a graduate assistantship.

Academic Performance: Maintenance of an overall GPA of 3.00 or greater is expected for students enrolled in M.S. or Ph.D. programs in the department. The student is allowed only two Cs. Any third C or the first grade below C (a D or F) is grounds for dismissal.


Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Programs

M.S. in Agricultural Life Sciences

Biochemistry Concentration: The program requires a minimum of 24 hours of graduate coursework including successful completion of BCH 6603 and BCH 6613 (prerequisites), BCH 6414, BCH 6804, BCH 8654 (students completing the split-level BCH core courses at MSU at the 4000-level are exempt from these classes and other approved courses will be substituted in consultation with the major professor and the student's graduate committee, and a final oral examination. The student may select either a research thesis or a project (non thesis) option in his/her program of study. If a thesis is selected, the student must register for a minimum of 6 credit hours of research/thesis and complete a thesis (research project). If the project (non-thesis) option is selected, the student must complete two additional graduate courses (6 credit hours) in an area of interest and complete an independent research paper related to the area of interest by enrolling in 3 hours of directed individual study. The research paper will be the equivalent of a research literature review and will be reviewed by the student's committee. All students are required to present two seminars (BCH 8101); one usually in the second semester in residence (e.g., proposal topic) and one on the final research results or project of the student.

Ph.D. in Life Sciences

Biochemistry Concentration: This program requires a minimum of 40 credit hours of coursework and at least 20 research hours above the baccalaureate degree (60 hours total), or if the student enters the program with an M.S. degree a required minimum of 40 hours past that degree utilizing a combination of coursework and research hours is expected (with a minimum of 20 hours of BCH 9000 – Dissertation Research). The program of study must include BCH 6603 and BCH 6613 (prerequisites), BCH 6414, BCH 6623 or BCH 8633, BCH 8654 or BCH 6804 (or equivalent BCH or Life Science-related coursework; students completing the split-level BCH core courses at MSU at the 4000-level are exempt from these classes, and other approved courses will be substituted in consultation with the major professor and the student's graduate committee), and two hours of Seminar credit (BCH 8101). The first formal seminar should be within the first 1.5 years the student is in residence. The final seminar will be a presentation of the final research results of the student. It is recommended that the doctoral program include enrichment courses to be approved by the graduate committee. The enrichment program would consist of 12 course credits or equivalent special projects or directed individual study related to the specific interests and needs of the student.

Ph.D. in Molecular Biology

The Molecular Biology Ph.D. degree is primarily a research degree. However, a minimum of 30-40 hours of coursework and 30 hours of research beyond the B.S. degree are required. A student entering the program with a master's degree will be required to take 30-40 hours past that degree. The courses shall come from the offerings of the department and from supporting programs. If the student desires a specific minor, 12 hours should be in that field. The selection of courses is left to the student in consultation with the major professor and graduate committee.

Graduate Coordinator

Dr. Kenneth Willeford


Entomology and Plant Pathology Programs

M.S. in Agricultural Life Sciences

Entomology or Plant Pathology Concentration: Students in this degree program and discipline concentrations must complete 24 credit hours in 2012-2013 MSU Graduate Bulletin 93 coursework above the baccalaureate degree; at least half of the coursework must be at the 8000-level or higher. The remainder of credit hours to be completed would include research thesis hours (a minimum of 6 hours is required on the program of study.) The program of study must include 2 credit hours of Seminar (EPP 8111 and 8121).

Ph.D. in Life Sciences

Entomology or Plant Pathology Concentration: This program requires 60 credit hours of coursework above the baccalaureate degree. The program of study must include 2 hours of Seminar credit (EPP 8111 and 8121). It is recommended that the doctoral program include enrichment courses to be approved by the graduate committee. The enrichment program would consist of 12 course credits or equivalent special projects or study areas related to the specific interests and needs of the student. The student's Ph.D. graduate committee will consist of a total of at least five members with at least three of these members from the department faculty. The student will submit a research proposal to the committee. The student must pass written and oral preliminary examinations dealing with his/her program of study. A student not passing the preliminary exams on a second attempt will be given the option of completing the research required for an M.S. (provided the coursework is also adequate). The student must pass a final oral defense of the dissertation upon

Graduate Coordinator

Dr. Kenneth Willeford