The doctoral programs in Plant Biology and Microbiology follow similar pathways to degree completion. Students enter the program and complete core class modules, lab rotations and ultimately secure permanent lab placement in their first year. During the second year, students continue with required courses, prepare and pass the qualifying exam in order to advance to candidacy before the start of their third year. The second year is also when students generally begin to teach as Graduate Student Instructors and take seminar classes. In years three, four and five students continue with required coursework and are expected to make progress in their research under the guidance of the faculty advisor. Students give a finishing talk and file the dissertation during their last semester in order to graduate from the program.

All graduate students in the Plant and Microbial Biology department are required to meet the Graduate Division and PMB program requirements in order to receive a doctoral degree in Plant Biology or Microbiology. Below is a general overview of the program requirements with their respective deadlines to help you understand how to ensure you are in good academic standing. The Academic Progress Report in CalCentral provides an individualized checklist of official graduate program requirements to help you track your progress towards the doctoral degree.

Students are expected to meet satisfactory academic standing throughout the duration of their graduate program. To remain in good standing, the Graduate Division requires that students:

  1. are making adequate progress toward the completion of degree requirements;
  2. have a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0 (or higher if the program has a higher minimum GPA requirement);
  3. do not have more than 2 Incomplete grades on their records;
  4. and have not received warning letters from the program or been placed on formal probation for academic or, in certain professional programs, clinical deficiencies.

In addition to the Graduate Division academic progress requirements, the PMB department uses the following milestones to assess a student's academic standing as you progress through the program within the normative time of 5 to 6 years. You are expected to meet the following requirements by the given deadlines.

Program Requirements Completion Deadline
Complete at least 3 lab rotations by mid-December of your 1st semester
Secure permanent lab placement by end of December of your 1st semester
Completion of 1st year modules by the end of your 1st year
Completion of 2nd year courses by the end of your 2nd year
Pass the Qualifying Exam by the end of your 2nd year (July 31st)
Advance to Candidacy by the beginning of your 3rd year (mid-August)
GSI for 2 semesters by the end of your 5th or 6th year
Completion of 3rd+ year courses every end of the academic year until graduation
Finishing Talk by the end of your 5th or 6th year
Filing the Dissertation by the end of your 5th or 6th year

To ensure that you are making good progress towards the degree, it is required that the student and thesis advisor conduct the Annual Thesis Meetings within the given timeline. This is important to ensure that any delays in progress can be documented and clearly communicated with the student, thesis advisor, and thesis committee.

Academic Probation

If a student is unable to meet the required milestone by the given deadline, the thesis advisor must inform the student, create a plan, and set a new deadline in writing. This communication is to serve as the preliminary warning and should be filed with the Graduate Student Services Office by sending an email to pmbgrad@berkeley.edu and lyn.rivera@berkeley.edu.  If the student remains unable to meet the newly established deadline agreed upon, the thesis advisor can move forward with a request to place the student in academic probation to the Head Graduate Advisor and Graduate Advisor. They will review the request and determine if a recommendation to the Graduate Division is appropriate. If yes, they will write an official letter of request to the Graduate Division who can place the student on official academic probation. 

The probation status will remain in effect until the student is able to meet the conditions of progress set by the thesis advisor. The Head Graduate Advisor and Graduate Advisor should receive an update on this progress and be notified of a recommendation for extended probation or recommendation for dismissal if continued deadlines are not met by the student from the Thesis Advisor. It is rare for a student to be dismissed from the program and the HGA and GSAO will work with the student to ensure they are given proper opportunities to make progress within a reasonable time frame before taking any action on dismissal. 

The student will continue to receive funding support from their thesis advisor if probation status occurs within the first five years in the program. Student funding after the five years and on academic probation will need to be discussed with the Thesis Advisor, Head Graduate Advisor and Department Chairs.