How to Apply

Application Process

Although the interdepartmental Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology (PBGB) program has no deadline for acceptance of M.S. and Ph.D. graduate students, students are encouraged to apply by December 1st to be eligible for Plant Science and University Fellowships . Through funding from the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation, the Graduate School, and the Colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Natural Sciences, we offer 1- or 2-year Plant Science Fellowships for outstanding Ph.D. applicants in the plant sciences. At present, these fellowships offer a stipend of $30,000 per year, and include a tuition waiver and health insurance. There is no application procedure. All PBGB Ph.D. program applicants that are citizens or permanent residents of the United States will be considered for fellowship funding. Early submission of a complete application is important for full consideration as there are limited number of fellowships awarded annually.

If you are not awarded a University or Plant Science Fellowship, a qualified applicant can be admitted into the PBGB graduate program if a PBGB faculty member is willing to serve as the major professor and provide graduate research assistantship support. Special funding is also available periodically to assist in recruiting and supporting minority and female candidates.  Prospective students must be nominated by a PBGB faculty member to be considered for funds. The PBGB director recommends that interested students contact the PBGB faculty they are interested in working with directly to gauge interest in supporting a new graduate student. However, no commitment, either verbal or written, will be made by a faculty member until the completed application packet has been received in the Program and reviewed by the PBGB Advisory Committee and Director for acceptance.

Students interested in the PBGB program can apply online through the Horticulture, Plant Soil and Microbial Sciences or Plant Biology departments as described below.  Applications to any of the three departments can be viewed by all PBGB faculty. After an applicant's application packet is completed, a notice is sent to all faculty members listing the student's name, degrees held, awarding institution(s), areas of interest, and need for financial assistance. Exceptional applicants are invited for an on-site recruitment visit in late January or early February. Accepted graduate students to other MSU departments may join the PBGB program if they are co-advised by a PBGB faculty member and after consultation with Program Director David Douches.

Student accepted into the PBGB graduate program are contacted via a formal letter from the PBGB Program Director.  If at the end of the spring semester no PBGB faculty member has indicated an interest in serving as advisor, the applicant is notified by letter and the file is closed. In all instances, acceptance for international applicants is not formally granted until the English Language Center and /or the University Graduate Admissions have signed the application for admission.


Any student who has completed (or is completing) at least a Bachelor of Science or Arts with a GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale can apply for post-graduate education in PBGB. The GPA for admission to graduate school will be calculated on the basis of courses taken the last two academic years.

International students must meet the following requirements on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL):

  • Minimum overall score of 80
  • No subscore below 19 for reading, listening and speaking
  • No subscore below 22

If the prospective international student scored between 70-80, their admitting faculty member can request a waiver to admit provisionally which must then be approved by both the home department and the college. Further information on English language competency requirements can be found here:

Applicants considering a graduate degree program may be admitted on a regular or provisional academic status.


  • At least one college introductory course in: Advanced Mathematics, Biology, and Genetics.
  • 15 credit hours in plant sciences.
  • GPA of 3.0.
  • Exceptions must be approved by the PBGB Program Advisory Committee.


  • A student may be admitted to graduate school on a provisional status provided that no more than 8 collateral credits are needed. This indicates the student is lacking certain courses considered essential to their program (as listed for "regular" admission).
  • Courses taken to fulfill deficiencies will be listed as collateral and will not apply towards the minimum number of credits required for the degree.
  • Applicants with this status must have a GPA of 3.0 or better.
  • Collateral courses will be specified at the time of admission and may include other courses specified by the major professor.

How to apply

  1. Submit an online application and three letters of recommendation (links provided in the application form) through the MSU Graduate School.
  2. Applicants can apply to the PBGB program by selecting either the Crop and Soil Science (CSS)-PBGB, Horticulture (HRT)-PBGB, or Plant Biology (PLB)-PBGB degree options within the application forms online at:
  3. Send the following material directly to the PBGB Graduate Secretary (mailing address below)
    • Official, degree-granting transcripts from each college/university attended; academic transcripts from Michigan State University need not be requested. An electronic copy of official transcripts may be sent to the PBGB Graduate Secretary for initial review, but the application is not considered complete until the official transcript is received directly from the degree-granting institute
    • International Students must also send directly to the PBGB Graduate Secretary, in addition to the above:
      • Transcripts translated into English and certified if originals are in another language (include original).
      • Financial statement and evidence of financial ability to meet educational and maintenance expenses for each year of their proposed study.
      • TOEFL exam results must be sent directly from the TOEFL Scoring Office to MSU using the institution code 1465.

Contact Information

Please contact the PBGB Graduate Secretary with any additional questions. All official transcripts and the required financial statements for international students must be sent to the Graduate Secretary.

Graduate Secretary

Ms. Lauren Colby
Phone: 517-353-0111

Mailing Address

Graduate Program in Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology
Plant, Soil and Microbial Science Department
Michigan State University
A286 Plant and Soil Sciences Building
East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1112