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The Graduate School encourages students and faculty to come together around shared intellectual interests. Cornell’s Courses of Study provides an overview of graduate coursework in Plant Biology.

Overview of the PhD Graduate Curriculum

Laboratory Rotations

During their first year, students carry out short-term (6-8 weeks), experimental projects in the laboratories of three different faculty field members. These rotations provide students with experience in different research areas and various lab environments before selecting a thesis major advisor.

Core Courses

Core courses are highly recommended for all graduate students in the Field of Plant Biology. They provide common experiences for students coming from diverse backgrounds and prepare them for further graduate study and research. They include introductory courses such as  "Concepts and Techniques in plant biology" and  "Laboratory in Plant Biology," as welll as discussion format courses such as "Current Papers in Plant Biology."

Selective Courses

Selective courses are tailored to students’ research interest. They cover a wide range of topics at an advanced level ranging from "Plant Biochemistry" to "Botanical Nomenclature."  They can be one-semester long or one-month long (named modules). Modules offer in-depth discussion on specific topics such as ‘Signal transduction in plants" and "Proteomics and Mass Spectrometry."


The weekly student seminar series is based on student thesis research (each student once per year), typically followed by a meeting with the student’s thesis committee members. Internationally recognized speakers are also invited to discuss their work as part of the weekly Plant Biology seminar series.

Other Coursework

Students may add other courses as their interests and background dictate; they are not limited to courses offered by Plant Biology faculty. Many students take advantage of courses offered in other departments.