Committees will consist of at least five members. The committee chair, who must be a full member of the Graduate Faculty (Level 1), and at least two other members will be drawn from the major field. At least one committee member, who may be the minor professor, will be drawn from another department or from a discipline outside the major field within the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. The primary responsibility for selecting members of the committee lies with the major professor. Members of the committee will be selected no later than the beginning of the second semester of graduate study. It is strongly suggested that one member of the committee serve as an academic advisor*. Approval of the Department Head will be obtained before committee appointments are finalized. When selecting members of a committee, the student=s interests and professional goals will be considered. The option of a minor will be at the discretion of the advisory committee. Major professors will avoid routinely choosing essentially the same committee for all their students.
*An academic advisor is a faculty member familiar with academic deadlines, paperwork, due dates, etc. involved with the administration of a graduate student program.
Those who accept an invitation to serve on a committee assume responsibilities that are the same for both on and off-campus members. They are expected to attend all committee meetings and to serve in an advisory capacity for the student throughout the period of study. Committee members will review programs of study, research proposals, and dissertations in a timely manner.
During the second semester of study toward the degree, the advisory committee will meet to discuss and approve the student's program of study and research proposal. This meeting will be scheduled through the Department Head's office. At this meeting the student will not only present his/her research proposal, but will also be examined by the committee to determine whether he/she is sufficiently well qualified to continue in the degree program and, if so~ whether deficiencies exist that require additional courses or even remedial work. A form indicating that the student was found to be qualified to continue in the degree program and the committee's approval of the program of study and proposed research will be maintained in the student's file in the Academic Records Assistant's office. This form will include a descriptive title of the proposed research and signatures of all committee members. Following this meeting, the student will revise the research proposal previously provided to all committee members to reflect necessary changes. Each committee member will receive a copy of the revised program of study and an approved program of study. A copy of this proposal will also be maintained in the student's file in the Academic Records Assistant's office. Subsequent changes to the research plan during the course of the investigation that significantly alter the scope or depth of the proposed research will be made only with documented approval of all committee members. Additional meetings to discuss progress or problems will be scheduled as needed. The oral preliminary examination for admission to candidacy for the degree may be taken only when the student has completed, or is within six hours of completing, all course work. The request to take the examination must be filed with the Graduate School at least one week prior to the anticipated date of the examination. Written examinations will be at the discretion of individual committee members; however, these examinations must be satisfactorily completed before the oral examination is scheduled. The final defense of the dissertation must be scheduled no later than the last day for examination during the semester the student plans to graduate as listed in the Graduate Academic Calendar. A student who does not pass the examination must wait at least six months from the date of the original examination. Two failures will result in the student's being dropped from the degree program. All committee members are expected to attend the committee meetings and oral examinations. It is the responsibility of the student and major professor to schedule meetings far enough in advance to avoid or minimize conflicts. Should a committee member be unable to attend a meeting in which an oral examination is to take place, the committee chair will seek the Department Head's approval for naming a temporary replacement. If the absence is long term such as might result from an extended illness or foreign assignment, a permanent replacement may be appropriate. This will be a joint decision of the major professor and Department Head. In those meetings in which oral examinations are scheduled, committee members who cannot attend will not examine the student privately at another time in lieu of participation in the scheduled examination.
Students pursuing the Ph. D. degree will present their research proposals including a review of relevant literature at a Departmental seminar. This seminar will permit students to get feedback from a larger group before the research is undertaken. An exit seminar describing the student's research will also be presented.
In order to maintain a level of consistency in how subpar academic performance is handled, a departmental wide policy on grades below a "B" will incur the following:
At the first occurrence of a student a grade below a "B", a letter of notification will be sent to the student and his/her major professor informing him/her that the department is aware of the grade and the consequences of a second grade below a "B".
Should a student receive a second grade below a "B", the student will be placed on "Departmental" probation. A letter of notification will be sent to the student and his/her major professor. The major professor will be required to respond with a letter to the student and the department indicating that he/she has met with the student to discuss the consequences of any subsequent low grades and what steps will be taken to remediate the current situation (retakes, etc.)
Should a student receive any other grades below a "B", the student will be dismissed from the department.
At any time, the student will lose any departmental assistantship should his/her cumulative GPA drop below a 3.0. Students with alternative sources of funding (scholarships, fellowships, etc.) must follow the rules and regulations of the funding source.
The Department of Plant and Soil Science recognizes that many students who hold bachelor degrees from other educational areas may wish to study towards an advance degree within the department. These students may come from areas with different requirements than those normally associated with Agronomy, Horticulture, or Weed Science. To increase the possibility of success in attaining the advanced degree, the department requires all graduate students to have a fundamental understanding of soil and plant science. To this end, all graduate students must have had at least one course in soil science equivalent to Soils (PSS 3303) and a plant science course covering basic plant physiology. Graduate students who don't possess these courses upon acceptance will be required to complete these courses during the first or second semester of their attendance at Mississippi State University.