Our Graduate Progam

Plant Pathology: Taking you further than you ever imagined


The Department of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University offers a graduate program designed to prepare leaders for today and tomorrow’s science and agricultural needs.  All Plant Pathology graduate degree students complete a curriculum that provides a fundamental knowledge base for any plant pathology or related science career path. NCSU Plant Pathology has a strong job placement record in professional positions, such as academia, industry, public agencies, and many other professional organizations. The need for scientists with graduate-level plant pathology specialization has increased steadily over the last decade, particularly in the areas of host-microbe interactions, ecology, invasive and emerging pathogens, and evolutionary biology. We expect that the demand for demonstrated specialization will increase in the coming decades as emphases on research areas, such as genomic sciences, food and energy security, and the global effects of climate change continue to increase. The NCSU Plant Pathology graduate degree primarily provides specialization opportunities through individual student thesis and dissertation research projects.   The breadth of expertise in research and academic programs among our relatively large number of faculty uniquely position the NCSU Plant Pathology Department to address these challenges.


A solid and comprehensive education in the fundamentals of plant pathology is provided through an established core of introductory courses that are required of all NCSU Plant Pathology graduate students. To provide further focus, our graduate students have the option to take courses mostly within Plant Pathology or to build their own program by choosing from the menu of existing advanced plant pathology courses as well as courses outside the Department.  In essence, our students have the ability to tailor a program to their individual needs and goals. Students currently have the opportunity to enroll in the Master of Plant Pathology (non-thesis), Master of Science, or Doctor of Philosophy degree programs. Broadly speaking, students pursuing advanced degrees may focus on areas such as the development and application of fundamental plant pathology research and contemporary technology to address plant disease management in ways that are effective, economical, and environmentally sound; the interaction of microbes with their biotic and abiotic environments, how these interactions influence microbial and host genetics from the individual to community level, and the dynamics of these processes in disease spread and development of predictive models; the molecular and physiological basis of disease and host resistance, genetic adaptations for parasitism, signaling and response between microbes and hosts, and the application of genomic science to investigate and manage disease agents; or they may choose to pursue a more diversified program.