5. Application Procedures

5. Application Procedures

Application instructions and general information are posted online (plantpath.unl.edu) and the official application form for admission to a graduate program at UNL can be found at the UNL Graduate Studies website. The Graduate Coordinator is responsible for processing application materials and providing guidance to students expressing an interest in the Plant Pathology Graduate Program. To apply for admission, the following must be submitted in the online application:

  1. Application for admission with $50 non-refundable fee paid by credit/debit card or electronic check.
    1. M.S. https://go.unl.edu/plantpath-ms
    2. Ph.D. https://go.unl.edu/plantpath-phd
  2. One set of transcripts (original transcripts of all prior undergraduate and graduate coursework and degree confirmations)
  3. CV/Resume
  4. Letter of intent: Applicants should write a letter of intent that describes professional goals and reasons for applying to the Department of Plant Pathology, including a description of research interests and/or area of focus.
  5. If interested in research, applicants should identify up to two faculty members with whom they would be interested in working with
  6. Three letters of recommendation
  7. If international: Upload copies of all college- or university-level transcripts or mark sheets (records of courses and marks earned), with certificates, diplomas, and degrees plus certified English translations. *Official documents are required from all students who are admitted and enroll. Photocopies of certified records are not acceptable. International students enrolled in other U.S. institutions may have certified copies of all foreign records sent directly to the Office of Graduate Studies by their current school’s registrar office.
  8. If the applicant is not a U.S. citizen and expects an F or J visa: financial information.

Application Deadlines

All required materials for the application (including letters of recommendation) must be received no later than December 1 for Fall semester admission and no later than September 1 for Spring semester admission, unless stated otherwise in published advertisements. To be considered for a departmental GRA, it is recommended that students apply for the Fall semester admission. Applications for Spring admission are considered only at the request of a faculty member on behalf of an applicant and will be given consideration for GRA support, as available. Some students arrange with their advisors to begin research prior to formal matriculation (for example in May or June for field studies over the summer).

5.1 Admission Requirements
Minimum Test Scores and GPA

A GPA of 3.0 or above is generally required, although strong letters of recommendation or a trend toward academic improvement later in the undergraduate or graduate program may warrant provisional admittance (see below). The GRE is not required.

Prerequisite Coursework

Students entering the Plant Pathology Graduate Program are more likely to be successful if they already have a fundamental knowledge of math and science. In addition to admission requirements, the following courses are required for full admission into the M.S. (Option I and II) and Ph.D. programs:

  • One semester calculus and/or statistics
  • Two semesters basic chemistry
  • One semester advanced chemistry (e.g., analytical, bio-, inorganic, or organic chemistry)
  • One semester physics
  • Two semesters biological science
  • One semester advanced biological science (e.g., botany, cell biology, ecology, evolution, plant physiology, systematics)
  • One semester genetics

These requirements can be met by any of the following:

  • Completing the above courses with a minimum C grade or equivalent
  • Completing equivalent courses
  • Providing the syllabus from a prior course that included the required subject matter
  • Provisional admission may be granted for students not meeting the above requirements, however the student will be required to make up any deficiencies by passing the relevant undergraduate course approved by the PPGC (see below)

These prerequisites may be satisfied at either the undergraduate or graduate level. Otherwise qualified applicants with prerequisite course deficiencies will receive: (1) provisional admission or (2) a waiver of prerequisite course requirements based upon recommendation of the advisor, as explained below. As part of the application process, applicants will complete a Prerequisite Course Form, which gives course descriptions, UNL equivalents, and other information the applicant may find useful.

English Proficiency Requirements

A fundamental knowledge of the English language is required for admission into the Plant Pathology Graduate Program. International students and/or applicants from non-English speaking countries must show evidence of adequate proficiency in the English language. Therefore, the following minimum scores are required for admission of international students whose native language is not English: 79 on Internet iBT TOEFL; 550 on Paper PBT TOEFL; 6.5 on IELTS. Exemptions for the English proficiency requirement are granted for non-native speakers who have received a bachelor's or more advanced degree either from an accredited U.S. institution or from an institution outside the U.S. at which English is the official language of instruction. Decisions on English Proficiency exemptions are made solely by the Office of Graduate Studies.

Provisional Admission

Prerequisite course deficiencies will be listed in the student’s admission letter. Students admitted provisionally are expected to remove any deficiencies by the end of their first year. Students admitted on this basis will submit a written plan to the Chair of the PPGC within 30 days of enrollment, detailing how the deficiencies will be met. A grade of ≥ 2.0 (C) or "pass" is required to remove a deficiency. In certain circumstances, a student may be allowed to take a test to remove a deficiency. Students who fail to fulfill deficiencies by the end of their first year will be prohibited from course registration.

Waiver of Prerequisite Course Requirements

On a case-by-case basis, prospective advisors can request a waiver of prerequisite course requirements according to program needs, which will be stated in the student’s admission letter. Advisors of students that have been given a provisional admission may submit a letter to the Chair of the PPGC requesting waiver of these requirements. If approved by the PPGC, the student will be granted full admission status.

M.S. Bypass Option

Admission to the Ph.D. program requires an M.S. degree involving research or approval to advance to the Ph.D. program after completion of at least one year in the M.S. (Option I) program. Advancement to the Ph.D. program without an M.S. degree will require PPGC approval, as per policy the below. Students admitted to the M.S. program will follow the procedure below to request approval to bypass completion of the M.S. degree. Students desiring to advance to the Ph.D. program without having previously obtained an M.S. degree must demonstrate a high level of academic achievement, have excellent written and oral communication skills,and provide evidence of scholarly creativity. The procedure for changing from the M.S. to the Ph.D. program is described in detail below (see “M.S. to Ph.D.”)

5.2 Application Review and Decisions

Credentials of applicants are evaluated without consideration of gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.

Campus or Online Interview:

An interview with the PPGC is required for full admission. Interviews may be conducted through online video conference (Skype or Zoom) or by an on-campus interview. The PPGC will coordinate the initial evaluation of applicants, send invitations to interview, and make the final ranking of applicants. For students applying for the M.S. Option II program, interviews need only be online.

Admission Decisions

Acceptance for admission to the program is determined by the PPGC and the Dean of Graduate Education. After the interview is complete, the PPGC will make the final recommendation to Graduate Studies regarding admission and recommendation to the department head regarding financial support. Although the PPGC makes the recommendation on all degree applications, the final admission decision is the responsibility of the Dean of Graduate Education. Notification of acceptance by a department PPGC or faculty member is advisory only. Admission is granted solely by Graduate Studies and is confirmed by the issuance of a Certificate of Admission. The department head is responsible for notifying applicants concerning awards of financial assistance. Negative admission decisions are not appealable.

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