In addition to the Graduate School requirements, the departmental requirements for the PhD in Plant Biology and Conservation include the following. 

  1. Three core courses (4 units)
  • A) Field and lab methods in plant biology and conservation (PBC 450, 2 units)
  • B) Quantitative methods in ecology and conservation (PBC 435, 1 unit)
  • C) Critical topics in ecology and conservation (PBC 451, 1 unit)
  1. Nine elective courses for graduate credit at the 300- or 400- level chosen from PBC and other departmental courses (i.e. Anthropology, Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Political Science). These electives must include at least one course in each of the following areas: ecology, evolution, and genetics.
  1. Independent Research (PBC 590), Units of Independent Research (PBC 590), will be taken to fill out your full time registration during your first 8 quarters (including summer). These may be with your major advisor.
  2. Zero credit Ethics course for one quarter.
  3. Zero credit Student Research Seminar for Fall–Spring quarters starting the second year. Each student will give an annual presentation of independent research as part of this seminar series. This will give students experience and feedback on public speaking and keep other students and faculty updated on student progress.
  4. The Qualifying exam and PhD Prospectus is necessary to advance to PhD candidacy. These are completed simultaneously and should be completed by the spring of the student’s second year. Students should discuss the timing of their exam with their advisor and work with their committee to schedule the exam. Once the date is scheduled, the PBC program assistant must be notified so the PhD Qualifying Exam form can be submitted online. Read more about the process in the Graduate Student Handbook.
  5. Oral defense of a written dissertation under the direction of a faculty member and approved by a dissertation committee. Read more about the process in the Graduate Student Handbook.
  6. Teaching Requirements, Teaching experience is a crucial aspect of graduate student training and is required of all PhD students in Plant Biology and Conservation. Students serve as graduate assistants and will be expected to lead discussion or lab sections and grade homework and exams for at least two quarters (this will most likely take place during the second and third years in the program). Teaching is an essential element of the education and training experience of PhD students at Northwestern. The Graduate School requires that all PhD students serve in some instructional capacity for at least one academic quarter during their graduate education at Northwestern. This teaching requirement is unique to American higher education, and is an integral aspect of professional development. TGS expects students teaching work to be comparable to other students within their program, and strives to ensure teaching demands are as similar as possible across academic programs.
  7. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) must be maintained by students. A student will not be in good academic standing if he/she has an overall grade average below B (3.0 GPA), has more than three incomplete grades, fails to pass the qualifying exam by the end of his/her third year, or fails to make satisfactory progress with research as determined by the student’s thesis committee. If a student does not maintain SAP, he/she risks academic probation, loss of funding, and removal from the graduate program.