UofG logo Plant Ag logo

Department of Plant Agriculture


Plant Agriculture
Graduate Studies
back to Choosing the Graduate Program in Plant Agriculture


Academic Program of Study

The MSc and PhD programs in the Department of Plant Agriculture offer specialization in three broad fields of the Plant Sciences: 1) Plant Genetics and Breeding; 2) Plant Physiology and Biochemistry; and 3) Crop Production Systems.

  • Plant Genetics and Breeding has long been a key focus of our faculty and students. Through breeding and biotechnology, Guelph researchers have helped society by developing new crop, fruit, ornamental and vegetable cultivars that are grown in Canada and worldwide. In addition to developing new plant cultivars, Plant Agriculture faculty and students seek to understand the fundamental mechanisms that enable plant improvement and to discover novel methodologies and technologies that will be the foundation for future advances.
  • Plant Physiology and Biochemistry is a broad discipline. Faculty and students in this area study the response of plants to environmental change and plant development at the ecosystem, whole plant, and molecular levels. Students in this area investigate ecologically friendly management strategies, studying the underlying molecular and biochemical mechanisms that regulate plant development, and investigate how plant performance can be optimized in the field or enclosed environments.
  • Crop Production Systems research develops agricultural management strategies. Production systems research includes yield improvements and development of economically and environmentally sound production practices in field and horticultural crops such as ornamentals and turf. Faculty and students in this area assist producers and industry in the control of weeds, insects and plant diseases, and investigate new management protocols for production of high quality crops.

The MSc and PhD degrees are both thesis based programs with minimum course requirements, including participation in the Seminar PLNT*6400 and in a Departmental Colloquium course dealing with current research topics. Students are expected to participate in Departmental events, particularly the Plant Agriculture Seminar Series and poster days.

The MSc program typically requires two years for completion with at least 1.5 credits in 6000 level courses and additional courses established by the student's advisory committee. In addition to the thesis, the candidate must present a seminar in conjunction with the final oral examination.

The PhD program has a major emphasis on research with the preparation and defense of an acceptable thesis and typically requires 3-4 years for completion. The final thesis is presented by a seminar in conjunction with the final oral examination. Most students, in consultation with their advisory committee, select some appropriate courses in preparation for the qualifying examination and thesis research. The qualifying examination is in two parts, a written and oral section, which evaluates the student's knowledge of their field of specialization and related topics. The qualifying examination is taken no later than the fifth semester.


Graduate, or 6000 level courses, which are taught by Plant Agriculture faculty cover the three broad fields of Plant Sciences, as well as a number of general courses. Courses can be investigated at the University of Guelph's Graduate Programs Calendar page. Note that the University's Graduate Calendar page is the official site for University course offerings and supersedes the Plant Agriculture Guide to MSc & PhD Graduate Studies. It is important to check course prerequisites and restrictions.