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Graduate Studies Check Sheet – Key Steps to Graduation – Ph.D. Candidate

Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture Graduate Program Key Steps to Graduation – Ph.D. Candidate


  • Visit the HLA graduate website. We encourage you to identify and establish communications with potential faculty advisor(s) with whom you share research interests. Complete your graduate school application.

Year 1:

  • Acceptance by major professor/advisor and join a research group. Meet with your advisor to plan your research project, decide on initial coursework, and discuss expectations. Encourage completion of an Individual Development Plan.
  • Select Graduate Committee members and schedule a first committee meeting by the end of the first year of graduate study. The purpose of this initial committee meeting is to:
    • Discuss and approve the coursework plan.
    • Present your research proposal and get committee approval.
  • Following your first committee meeting you should complete and submit your GS6.

Year 2:

  • Register for seminar, HORT792, and present your research project.
  • Complete majority of your coursework.
  • Schedule your preliminary exam by the end of the second year of graduate study – this must be completed at least two semesters prior to the planned graduation date. Ph.D. students are required to pass written and oral preliminary examinations that will test both breadth and depth of knowledge in horticulture topics, with in-depth knowledge in the areas of specialization, prior to proceeding to preparation of a dissertation.

Year 3 – Graduation:

  • Register for coursework, variable credits or continuing registration each semester as proposed in your GS6.
  • Complete your graduate research project.
  • Prepare and submit a manuscript for publication in an appropriate refereed journal.
  • Schedule annual progress meetings with your Graduate Committee. Submit your dissertation outline to your Graduate Committee for approval.
  • Write your dissertation – work with your major advisor to develop a writing plan and schedule for feedback and review. Submit your completed dissertation to your Graduate Committee at least two weeks prior to your defense.
  • Register for seminar, HORT792, and present your dissertation.
  • Defend your dissertation – if possible, coordinate defense/final exam with final dissertation seminar.


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