Mar 04, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Bulletin 
2021-2022 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Integrated Plant and Soil Sciences, PhD

The interdepartmental graduate program in Integrated Plant and Soil Sciences offers graduate work leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree with specialization in Crop Science (including weed science and forages),  Environmental Science and Ecosystem Ecology (including ecotoxicology, biogeochemistry, environmental chemistry, and ecosystem modeling), Horticultural Science, Plant Biology (including biochemistry, molecular biology, physiology, and seed biology), and Soil Science (biogeochemistry, chemistry, fertility, microbiology, pedology, physics, and rhizosphere science). 

With their degree, students will acquire an extensive knowledge of the sciences and technology that support research, education, and technological innovation in plant, soil, and environmental sciences. They will be conversant with the literature, current concepts, and experimental and analytical methods that support research, teaching, and technological innovation in plant, soil, and environmental sciences, and in their application to agriculture and the environment. They will develop skills in critical and analytical thinking and in multiple forms of communication that may be applied to research, education, industry, government, and public service. They will have acquired those elements of professionalism necessary for rewarding and developing careers in plant,  soil, and environmental sciences in research, education, production agriculture, agribusiness, government, and public service. 

Graduate faculty belong to the Departments of Forestry and Natural Resources (, Horticulture (, and Plant and Soil Sciences ( in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment 

Financial aid and the research interests of participating faculty can be found on the websites of the participating departments.


Admission Requirements  

All students with strong training in science, including but not limited to baccalaureate degrees in agronomy, biology, chemistry, and horticulture are encouraged to apply. Admission to the IPSS Program is competitive and based on the applicant’s undergraduate and graduate records, performance on standardized exams if submitted, and letters of recommendation.  

Applicants must have an identified research advisor prior to admission to the program. 

It is expected that applicants will meet the minimum standards established by the University of Kentucky Graduate School.  

Applicants will automatically be considered for departmental research assistantships, which are awarded on a competitive basis. 

So that all entering Ph.D. students are at an academic level to successfully complete course requirements, the following courses or their equivalent should have been completed prior to admission: 1. Chemistry - a first semester course in organic chemistry (equivalent to CHE 230); 2. Calculus - a first semester course (equivalent to MA 113); 3. Physics - a first semester course (equivalent to PHY 201).  

For PhD students with a specialization in Soil Science, the following additional preparation is suggested: 1. Chemistry - Analytical Chemistry (equivalent to CHE 226) and Organic Chemistry (equivalent to CHE 230 or 236); 2. Introductory Soil Science with a lab (equivalent to PLS 366) and at least two additional soils courses; 3. Biology, two courses in basic biology (equivalent to BIO 151/152) and two additional courses in crop science, plant biology, or microbiology; 4. Statistics, including regression and experiment design (equivalent to STA 570 , STA 671 , and STA 672 ). Students are expected to make up deficiencies in these courses within one year of enrollment. 

Degree Requirements   


For the Ph.D. degree

  • A minimum of 36 credit hours of graduate level work of which 18 hours of course work are in residence at the University of Kentucky 
  • Create a discipline-specific committee (consistent with Graduate School Requirements -   4 members for the PhD Program), and an individualized program of study within one year 
  • Satisfy basic Graduate School requirements for residency, examination, and good standing 
  • Have a minimum GPA of 3.0 at graduation 
  • Successfully complete an oral and written qualifying exam 
  • Successfully defend the dissertation, present an exit seminar, and submit an approved dissertation. 

Required courses include IPS 610 , IPS 625 , PLS 772 , and at least one graduate level statistics course. Additional coursework may be required by the student’s dissertation committee. Details regarding the curriculum, program areas, and areas of specialization can be found in the student handbook. 

Graduate students in IPSS have flexibility in designing course work to suit individual goals, but are expected to demonstrate competence in basic areas of plant and soil science and excellence in their chosen area of specialization as demonstrated by novel research leading to a published dissertation. 

General information on electives and potential courses can be found at 

Incoming students are informed of the graduate-school and program-specific academic policies at an orientation held before classes begin each fall. A handbook is also on the IPSS website.