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Plant Molecular Biology and Physiology (M.S.)

Course Description

Faculty in plant molecular biology and physiology are exploring the genetic and molecular basis of important plant traits such as seed composition, disease resistance, stress tolerance, and mineral nutrition. In studying the cellular processes that control these traits, we seek to generate both basic scientific knowledge and new strategies for crop improvement.

The diverse interests of the faculty allow students to gain a broad perspective of modern plant biology and biotechnology research. An active weekly seminar series provides a focal point for participants in this program. In addition to plant molecular biology and plant physiology, core disciplines covered by this group include molecular genetics, cytogenetics, microbial genetics and physiology, plant biochemistry, plant transformation/tissue culture, plant genomics, and genetic engineering.

Research is supported by federal granting agencies, state and regional consortia, producer and consumer groups, and a variety of industrial sponsors. Opportunities frequently arise to interact with colleagues from other academic, governmental, and industrial institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

Research in plant molecular biology is attracting increasing attention within the scientific community, in no small part because biotechnology research is now at the center of product development for many agricultural, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies. Through application of molecular biology techniques, new plant varieties are being developed with altered nutritional characteristics and other improved traits. Knowledge is being generated that will help enhance the efficiency and adaptability of crop production, and minimize the effects of environmental and biological stress on plant productivity.

Opportunities for Study
Course work and thesis research for the M.S. are designed to meet the needs of the student. A specialization in genetics is available for students interested in a broad background in molecular, population, and development genetics.

Career Opportunities
Master's researchers from our department find employment in academic, governmental, and industrial settings. Many successful scientific careers have been launched directly from the faculty laboratories listed. Close ties are maintained in particular with a number of seed and biotechnology companies, and scientists educated at the University of Illinois can be found throughout the commercial biotechnology community.

Department of Crop Sciences
Creative experiences are boundless when you opt for advanced education in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. We offer advanced degree programs tailored to your specific interests that will prepare you for enriching and stimulating careers with a spectrum of public and private organizations in a global agricultural industry.

Our graduate degree recipients hold positions of leadership throughout the world. Our degree programs provide state-of-the-science education to match nearly every interest and career aspiration in crop sciences.

Department faculty is positioned at the leading edge of a growing knowledge base in crop sciences. We are committed to providing you with a nurturing environment for personal and professional growth.

International applicants whose native language is not English must score a minimum of 570 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Applicants who are not U.S. citizens also must submit evidence that they have sufficient financial support for their entire program of study.

Prospective students are urged to apply by February 15 for the following summer or fall, or by November 1 for the following spring. However, applications are accepted at any time; they are considered and acted upon by the departmental graduate applications committee monthly.

Financial Aid
To apply for fellowships, assistantships, and tuition and fee waivers, prospective students should indicate their desire to be considered for financial aid on the admission application form. Credentials submitted with the form are used in determining financial aid.

Students already enrolled in the graduate program without financial aid from the University of Illinois may apply for financial assistance. Demonstration of exceptional ability in their studies and/or research activities is an important criterion in selecting students for available fellowships and assistantships.

Fellowships are awarded to graduate students in the Department of Crop Sciences in recognition of superior achievement and potential. Funding comes from a number of sources, each with specific criteria and opportunities.

The Department of Crop Sciences offers part-time positions to study with departmental faculty on research, teaching, or extension activities. Research assistantships are offered based on availability of funds and space in an appropriate faculty member's laboratory. Teaching assistantships require meeting University standards of English language skills, excellent teaching potential, and competence in the area being taught.

These assistantships include an annual stipend and can be awarded at different levels of time commitment. In addition to the stipend, assistantships of at least one-quarter time carry a waiver of all tuition and most fees. These waivers are worth several thousand dollars over and above the stipend. The department will be pleased to provide current values for assistantships and waivers.

Entry Requirements

Applicants are considered for admission if they have a baccalaureate or equivalent degree comparable to that granted by the University of Illinois, with a "B" average or higher over the last 60 hours of undergraduate work and any graduate work completed. Graduate record examination (GRE) scores also are required. Taking the biology section of the GRE is recommended, but not required. Strong letters of reference, evidence of motivation to undertake graduate study, high GRE scores, and good preparation in basic science courses enhance an applicant's credentials.

Course Fees

Please visit http://www.registrar.illinois.edu/tuition-fees for more details.

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Recipient: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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