Horticulture & Agronomy PhD Program

Hort & Agronomy Graduate Group

The Ph.D. program is structured to meet the needs of a diverse student body whose unifying characteristic is an interest in the application of biological principles to the solution of problems in crop production and resource management. Two primary objectives of the curriculum are to foster a sense of community among the students and to provide them with a breadth of knowledge about agronomic and horticultural principles and how they are used in a variety of practices.

Areas of Emphasis
Students will be aligned into one of five areas of emphasis - Agroecology, Crop Improvement, Crop Production Systems, Plant Physiology, and Post-harvest Biology/Physiology - and pursue projects in these cropping systems: Agronomy, Environmental Horticulture, Pomology, Vegetable Crops, Viticulture, and Weed Science.

A wide range of study areas can be pursued including: Biotechnology, Breeding and Genetics, Crop Physiology, Floriculture, Horticulture, Integrated Pest Management, Landscape Horticulture, Modeling and Quantitative Systems Analysis, Nursery Production, Plant Growth and Development, Plant Nutrition, Post-harvest Biology and Technology, Precision Agriculture, and Water Relations. In addition, students can become involved in Designated Emphasis programs such as Biotechnology.

Required and Recommended Courses
The Ph.D. curriculum requires that all students take a series of lecture, seminar, and laboratory courses that develop a breadth of understanding of basic principles within their area of emphasis. Each student will consult with a Guidance Committee (graduate academic adviser, major professor supervising the student's research program, and one other faculty member) during the first, third, and fifth quarters in order to arrange a program of courses in the student's area of emphasis. Service as a Teaching Assistant is recommended, although not a requirement of the program.

In addition to completing any pre-requisite courses deficiencies, students will be required to take 16 units of graduate level Core Courses and a minimum of 3 courses (totaling at least 9 units) exclusive of seminar and research units (e.g., 290, 299) in his/her area of emphasis, of which 2 (minimum of 6 units) must be at the graduate level.

Guidance Committee Report - for first, third, and fifth quarter meetings with Guidance Committee. After each meeting, return signed form to Jeremiah Thompson, jthompso@ucdavis.edu.

Ph.D. Core Requirements
  Units     Quarter  
HRT 200A   Integrative Horticulture and Agronomy - Principles 4 F
HRT 203 Research Perspectives in Horticulture and Agronomy 3 W
HRT 200B Integrative Horticulture and Agronomy - Practices     4 S
HRT 290 Seminar 1 S
One of:
  PLS 205 Experimental Design and Analysis 4 W
  PLS 206 Applied Multivariate Modeling in Agricultural
and Environmental Sciences   
4 W

In addition, PhD students must take another seminar class and give an exit seminar.

Area of Emphasis Courses
Your Guidance Committee will work with you to select the courses for your particular Area of Emphasis; see Suggested Courses List by Course and Suggested Courses by QE Topic for examples of courses that might be used. Other classes from the UC Davis Catalog may also be selected.

Qualifying Examination
Upon completion of all coursework requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Horticulture and Agronomy, the student must pass an oral qualifying examination administered by a five-member faculty committee. The student may suggest committee members with the advice of her/his Graduate Adviser, but the committee is nominated by the Advising Committee and appointed according to Graduate Council procedures. The exam is designed to test the student's mastery of the breadth of Agronomy or Horticulture and expertise within their Area of Emphasis. The exam will consist of a presentation of the student's research proposal, followed by questions from the Core and Required Courses in the student's area of emphasis.

More on Qualifying Exam

Research Dissertation
The focus of a Plan B Ph.D. degree is an original research project, culminating in a dissertation and a required exit seminar presentation before final action can be taken (dissertation signed). The research project is supervised, and the dissertation is evaluated and approved by a committee of three faculty members, chaired by the student's major professor.

Thesis/Dissertation Guidelines for Horticulture & Agronomy

Time to Degree
Students generally take 4 to 6 years to complete a PhD degree in the sciences at UC Davis, including students in Horticulture & Agronomy. The coursework usually only takes two to two-and-a-half years, but the length of research projects varies, depending on the type of research the student is doing.

Sample timeline for PhD students