Master's program 


High-quality graduate education. Our graduate program presents students the opportunity to work with LSU AgCenter faculty who conduct investigations in areas of plant pathology, crop physiology and plant molecular biology. M.S. graduates of the department are prepared for challenging careers in agricultural research at universities, governmental and private agencies.

Classes include: plant pathology, phytobacteriology, phytonematology, plant virology, mycology, plant disease management, seed physiology and molecular biology. There are seminars and visits by national and international scientists from government, industry and academia. The department has partnerships with universities worldwide.

Plant Pathology

A plant pathologist is a scientist who specializes in diseases of plants that may be caused by bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes and abiotic agents. The task of keeping plants healthy calls for knowledge of these organisms as well as related disciplines such as biochemistry, botany, ecology, epidemiology, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology and physiology. One or more of these disciplines are used to investigate the mechanisms by which pathogens cause disease and by which plants resist infection. Plant pathologists were among the first to use biotechnological and genetic engineering techniques in the plant sciences. Classical means of disease control, such as chemical, biological and cultural, also are studied.

Crop Physiology

Crop physiologists use basic and applied research to understand how plants function. Research in crop physiology has had major impacts on agricultural practices and our knowledge of life processes. It is an important component of the biotechnology revolution. Crop physiology has now become broadly defined and includes a wide range of areas including developmental biology, tissue culture, stress physiology and molecular biology. In addition to academic positions, crop physiologists work in government agencies to conduct research on improvements in food and fiber production and in the private sector in plant biotechnology and tissue culture laboratories, agricultural industries and environmental agencies.

Financial Assistance

Financial assistance is available to some students. Support may be available through the school or other units in the form of research or teaching assistantships. Graduate assistantships are available on a competitive basis. Assistantships are awarded through faculty members, so applicants should contact individual faculty members concerning the availability of funding. Students on assistantship receive full tuition waivers but are responsible for university fees. To ensure consideration for financial aid, all application materials should be submitted as early as possible before the actual admitting semester.

Guidance for Prospective Students

The recommendations below are meant as guidance for prospective students to increase their chances of being admitted into the graduate program in the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology. Funding is a limiting factor for admitting students into the program and there are two avenues to address funding for assistantships and research: 1) grant-funded assistantship and research support (typically awarded directly to faculty) or 2) self-funding. If you are self-funded, be sure you meet the requirements for admission by the graduate school and submit your application by the deadline. Be sure to note on your application that you are self-funded. You may still wish to review the guidelines below and seek faculty support prior to applying.

However, if you are not self-funded and are seeking an assistantship in the department, you will either need to seek grant funding independently or find a faculty member willing to support your research assistantship to improve your chances of being admitted into the graduate program. Below is a list of steps for prospective students to apply to the graduate program in this department.

Review the list of faculty in the department and determine which faculty have research programs that interest you. It is strongly recommended that you read some of the publications by those faculty members you are considering to be your advisor(s) to gain more insight into their area of research.

Contact the faculty member that you are interested in working with to determine if they are interested in bringing on a graduate student at this time and if they have funding to support an assistantship. Setup a meeting with the faculty member if possible. Be sure to note any correspondence with the faculty member so you can note that on your application.

Complete your application online. Once the application is complete and has been submitted to the Graduate School, notify the faculty member that you intend on working with so they can review your application and notify the admission committee that it is ready for review. You will then be notified once the application has been reviewed by the admissions committee.

It is not required to have secured faculty support for an assistantship prior to applying to the program, however students are not admitted into the program if they do not have financial support. There is the possibility that a faculty member will see your application and reach out to you to offer an assistantship, but this approach does not afford you the best chance of being admitted into the program and applications without financial support will not be reviewed by the departmental admissions committee.