Welcome to New Mexico State University's Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.
The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences offers a Master of Science in both Plant and Environmental Science as well as Horticulture, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Plant and Environmental Science. The faculty are experts in a variety of disciplines, including crop physiology, ornamental horticulture, social horticulture, soil science, environmental science, rangeland and desert ecology, plant breeding and genetics, nursery and greenhouse production, molecular biology, turfgrass, and forestry.
Although much of your time will be spent in class and with members of your committee, we encourage you to interact with other faculty members and fellow graduate students. They are valuable sources of information and may add to your personal and professional growth in many ways. We hope your graduate experience will prepare you to become a leader in your field and a life-long supporter of New Mexico State University.
The NMSU International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is the focal point for the University's international activities . The ISSS provides services and advisement to international students that come from many countries. New international students must contact an international student advisor who will coordinate admissions, provide immigration advice, enroll the student in orientation programs, provide general counseling, and develop special programs for the student. The ISSS also cooperates with international student associations and community organizations to organize socio-cultural activities for international students and their families.
The ISSS is located in Breland Hall, Room 152, telephone (575) 646-2834.
The ISSS cannot loan money to a student unless the student's government sponsor has made arrangements with the ISSS in advance.
International students must have a current Social Security number in order to be employed at NMSU.
Plant and Environmental Science - Doctor of Philosophy
Qualifications for admission will be reviewed by the departmental graduate faculty. Applications should include a letter of interest. A 3.3 grade-point average for the most recently completed degree (B.S. or M.S.) is needed for admission for Ph.D. studies. The department requires the GRE scores and three letters of recommendation, transcripts, as well as the student's letter of interest as an admission requirement. Acceptance requires that a graduate faculty member in the applicant’s area of interest accept the student into their program.
A student planning a program leading to a Ph.D. must satisfy one of the following departmental requirements approved by the doctoral committee:
Thorough knowledge of a language other than English
Reading ability in two foreign languages
Reading ability in one foreign language and proficiency with a research tool
Reading ability in one foreign language and one semester of supervised teaching experience
Proficiency with a research tool and one semester of supervised teaching
Two semesters of supervised teaching
A number of graduate assistantships are available each year. Inquiries should be addressed to the department.
Requirements for a Master of Science (M.S.) Degree
The general NMSU requirements for the M.S. degree are described in the Graduate Catalog. Students should familiarize themselves with these requirements. The PES Department has established specific procedures and requirements for the M.S. degree, including a minimum GPA of 3.0 for entering M.S. students.
Provisional status: In very rare instances, the Department may accept an individual as a provisional student in the M.S. degree program subject to the criteria specified in the Graduate School Catalog and the PES Graduate Studies Handbook. Such students will only be admitted if the graduate faculty member who is willing to serve as their major advisor provides an official letter that justifies why provisional status should be granted. Such requests will be forwarded to the Graduate Studies Committee for timely review and recommendation to the Department Head that the request either be approved or denied.
Student's Committee: The student's committee should be formed during the first semester of study. International students may delay forming a committee until the second semester of study; however, this is discouraged. The committee must have a minimum of three members of the University Graduate Faculty. The major advisor assumes the role of the committee chair. At least one member must have their primary tenure-track appointment in the PES Department. The Graduate Dean's representative must have an appointment outside the PES Department. The student's committee approves the Program of Stud form (usually by the second semester), guides the student in research, and administers the final exam. The Department Head will sign the program of study after the student's committee has approved the program. All forms needed by the graduate school must be filed by the student.
1. Course Requirements: General course requirements are described in the Graduate School Catalog. Courses numbered 450-499 are designed for senior undergraduates and graduate students; 500-599 are primarily for graduate students working on a master's or doctoral degree; 600-700 are principally for students working on a doctoral degree. A minimum of 30-semester credits in courses numbered 450 or above is required, including at least 15 credits at the 500-level or above. Specific course requirements are left to the discretion of the student's committee with the following exception: During their tenure at NMSU, all students will present at least one department seminar (AGRO/HORT/SOIL 590) covering the student's research.
2. Thesis Option: Most students are expected to complete a thesis that requires completion of research suitable for scientific journal publication. For students pursuing this option, a thesis will be written and formatted according to Graduate School guidelines. The student must know deadlines for thesis submission to the committee and the Graduate School. A minimum of 4 credits of AGRO/HORT/SOIL 599 (Master s Thesis) must be completed. Additional Master s Thesis credits may be completed by a student, however, a maximum of 6 credits may be counted towards the 30 credit degree requirement. Having once registered for thesis credit, a student must continue to register for a minimum of 1 credit thesis or graduate-level course work each fall and spring semester until the thesis is approved by the Graduate School and accepted by the Branson Library. If the thesis will be completed during the summer, the student must register for one credit hour during the summer session in which the thesis will be completed.
3. Non-Thesis Option: A non-thesis option, which the Department deems a terminal degree, is available for students with the approval of the advisory committee. The non-thesis option is not recommended for students wishing to pursue a Ph.D. For students pursuing the non-thesis option, a research project must be completed and a research report will be written on an area of an investigation conducted by the student. The student's committee will determine the format and final acceptance.
4. Final Exam: The final exam is administered by the student's committee. It is an oral defense of the thesis or research report, and also a general examination of the student's field of study. If an M.S. candidate (thesis option only) is interested in subsequently pursuing a Ph.D. at NMSU, the Ph.D. qualifying exam may be administered in conjunction with the M.S. final exam (subject to prior committee approval). In such cases, the original M.S. committee members would likely be retained for the Ph.D. committee, and additional members subsequently added (if needed).
Financial support may be available for graduate students in the form of assistantships, fellowships, scholarships, and loans. Departmental assistantships and university fellowships are generally limited and are awarded on a competitive basis. As a research assistant (RA) or teaching assistant (TA), graduate students pay resident (in-state) tuition and are committed to working 20 hours per week.
The financial aid office helps new graduate students apply for many types of financial support. Perkins loans (national direct student loans), Stanford loans, and college work-study are all available to graduate students. The amount of aid awarded will be based on the financial need of the student.
Graduate students wishing to apply for any of the above types of financial aid must maintain a GPA of 3.0 and must be enrolled for at least 9 graduate credits in a regular semester (Fall and Spring).
Teaching Assistantships (TA): Each year the department is issued a limited number of Teaching Assistantships through the Graduate School. If a student wants to be considered for a teaching assistantship, they should make the request through their advisor. A full-time TA is required to work 20 hours per week and may be responsible for two or more lab sections. Half-time TA s (10 hours/week) are also available and may only teach one lab section or provide grading and course/lab preparation support. The Ph.D. students are eligible for TA support for up to six semesters and M.S. students for four semesters. All must complete an online mandatory orientation offered by the Graduate School. In Assistant Orientation at the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters. New international students must pass the NMSU International Teaching Assistant (ITA) Screening administered by the Center for English Language Programs. If they do not pass the ITA Screening, a student must attend courses offered through the Department of Communications, to ensure that they have a good command of English and will be able to teach. Teaching Assistants may be asked to provide two hours per week of service to the PES Department. Teaching assistantships start at the beginning of the semester in August (on or around August 15) and run through the end of the spring semester in May (on or about May 15). Each year assistantships are reassigned. Continuation of TA support will be based, in part, on course evaluation forms associated with the course(s) taught by the student, and on the needs of the Department; therefore, a student receiving a teaching assistantship one year is not guaranteed an assistantship the next year. Available assistantships are assigned in July and December. Teaching assistants are paid twice per month (approximately the 15th and last working day). Internal Revenue Service tax withholding guidelines require NMSU undergraduate and graduate students to maintain three (3) credit hours of course work for summer sessions to be eligible for the student FICA tax exception. Student employees who do not meet this requirement during any given pay period will be subject to Social Security taxes and Medicare taxes.
Research Assistant (RA): A research assistant is responsible for working on research programs under the direction of a faculty member. Duties vary among research programs but can include fieldwork, data recording and analysis, lab analysis, report writing, and other assignments as necessary to perform the research. Some of these duties may be unrelated to t thesis/dissertation project but will contribute to the program research objectives. A research assistantship is granted by an individual professor after approval by the Department Head. Contracts are renewed yearly. A full-time research assistant is required to work 20 hours per week. Half-time research assistantships (10 hours/week) are also available. Research assistants are paid twice per month (approximately the 15th and last working day).
Payroll Deduction: All graduate assistants will pay tuition. Graduate students on halftime (10 hours/week) assistantship or more per week will be eligible for the resident tuition rate during the first 12 months of tenure. If New Mexico resident status (application is available from the Registrar's Office) has not been established by the time of reappointment, the graduate student may be subject to the non-resident tuition rate. Contact the Office for further details. Tuition payments can be deducted from the paycheck by the business office. When enrolling, if a student has signed a contract for an assistantship, the graduate school will supply a payroll deduction card.