Graduate Guidelines

Master of Science Degree (M.S.) - Non-Thesis Option

Graduate Advisory Committee:

Committees will consist of at least four members. The committee chair and at least one other member 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. 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.

Responsibilities of Committee Members:

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 topic, and seminar proposals in a timely manner.

Committee Meetings:

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 paper. This meeting will be scheduled through the Department Head=s office. A form indicating the committee's approval of the program of study and research paper will be maintained in the student's file in the Department Head's office. This form will include a descriptive title of the proposed research paper and signatures of all committee members. Following this meeting, the student will revise the 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. Subsequent changes to the degree plan during the course of the course work that significantly alter the scope or depth of the proposed degree will be made only with documented approval of all committee members. Additional meetings to discuss progress or problems will be scheduled as needed.

The final committee meeting of the research paper and course work 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 an oral examination is scheduled, committee members who cannot attend will not examine the student privately at another time in lieu of participation in the scheduled examination.

Class Requirements for non-thesis option students:

Students opting for the non-thesis option must complete a minimum 30 hours of graduate level classes (excluding 00 hours). Thesis hours obtained while attempting a thesis option will not apply to a non-thesis candidate=s degree program. As stated in the Graduate School Bulletin, half the total class work must be at 8000 level, but additional requirements stated in this document constitute the minimum requirements for the non-thesis candidate.

The 33-hour requirement will include three (3) hours of Directed Individual Study. This will include a written paper graded as a hard copy and oral presentation to the committee. The written research paper assigned with the consent of the Committee may be tied directly to one of the oral presentations.


Students pursuing the non-thesis M.S. degree will present two departmental seminars, one on directed individual study topic, the other on topic of value, approved by the student's committee.

Non-thesis option candidates will be precluded form MAFES Assistantships, but not necessarily from other sources of departmental funds (i.e. wage labor, teaching assistantships, or scholarship funds that may be available). Ask your major professor if funding is available.

Department of Plant and Soil Science policy grades below a "B":

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.

Department of Plant and Soil Sciences policy on "leveling courses":

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.