Academic Statement
Personal Statement
Departmental Admission Standards
Financial Assistance
Finding an Advisor
Application Review Process
Interviews and Visits

  1. Q: What is the application target date for fall admissions?
    A: December 1st of the previous year.
  2. Q: Are scholarships or financial aid available?
    A: The department provides financial support, as well as tuition, fees, and health waivers for all students admitted into our graduate program.
  3. Q: Is the application fee required on the University Graduate Application?
    A: Yes. If you do not pay the application fee The Office of Admissions will not send your application to the department.
  4. Q: Item 22 of the MSU Application for Admission to Graduate Study asks for Academic and Personal Statements. Are separate statements required?
    A: Yes. We require two separate written statements and they should be submitted as separate documents. They should be uploaded directly to your student portal.

    Academic Statement: should include a moderately detailed explanation of your plans for graduate study, your future professional goals, and how the graduate program in the Department of Plant Biology will help you meet your career and educational objectives. Be sure to indicate your area(s) of research interest and include mention of any research experience you have had prior to applying to graduate school at MSU. Please indicate specific faculty who you may wish to work within the Department of Plant Biology.

    Personal Statement: should explain how your background and life experiences, including social, economic, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree. You may also wish to explain how these factors have motivated you in pursuit of higher education and how they will help shape your contributions to the Plant Biology graduate program.
  5. Q: Do you accept the computer, paper, and Internet based GRE test scores?
    A: Yes, our department will continue to accept computer, paper, and Internet based GRE Scores.
  6. Q: Is the GRE subject test required?
    A: The department does not require the GRE Subject test
  7. Q: What are the minimum GRE Scores you will accept?
    A: GRE scores represent just one part of the criteria used to evaluate you for admission into our program. We typically don’t accept student with a score less than 75th percentile on the VERBAL, within the 80th percentile on the QUANTITATIVE, and a 4.0 on the ANALYTICAL.
  8. Q: What are the MSU Plant Biology GRE Codes?
    A: GRE Institution Code is 1465. GRE Department Code is 0203, (under Biological Sciences)
  9. Q: What are the MSU Plant Biology TOEFL codes?
    A: TOEFL Institution 1465. TOEFL Department Code 35.
  10. Q: What are the minimum TOEFL Scores you will accept?
    A: The TOEFL score represents just one part of the criteria used to evaluate you for admission into our program. The University has minimum requirements. These are: Paper-based test: 550 with no sub-score below 52, computer-based test: 213 with no sub-score below 19. Or Internet-based: 80 with no sub-score below 19, and no writing sub-score below 22.
  11. Q: How many applications do you receive each year?
    A: We average ~ 150 applications per year.
  12. Q: How many students are accepted?
    A: We admit 7-12 students per year, thus we admit only the most competitive applicants- both domestic and international.
  13. Q: When will I know if I have been accepted or not?
    A: Most applicants will be notified by April 15th. We notify all applicants whether they are accepted or declined.
  14. Q: How should letters of recommendation be submitted?
    A: Applicants should request that a letter from their three chosen recommenders through the student portal (see Letters of Recommendation Tab in the student portal). Letters of recommendation need to be submitted into the student portal by the recommender. When a letter is submitted by a recommender, an applicant can see that the letter has been submitted but is unable to open it. We require three letters of recommendation.
  15. Q: Do Chinese applicants need to have their transcripts verified by the CDGDG?
    A: Yes. All Chinese applicants who are admitted to MSU MUST have their transcripts verified by the CDGDC. http://www.chinadegrees.cn/en/
  16. Q: Do all application materials need to be submitted via the student portal? A: Yes, all application materials need to be submitted, by the applicant, via the student portal. https://grad.msu.edu/apply/online.aspx The only exception are transcripts and letters of recommendation.
  17. Q: How should I submit my transcripts?
    A: The Office of Admissions requires that we have all official transcripts from your institutions. Please send your official transcripts directly to the Department of Plant Biology to the address below:

Department Admission Standards

The Plant Biology Department has not established minimum cut-off values for any of the required application materials. Comparisons are made among all applicants, taking into consideration each applicant’s overall qualifications, as demonstrated by their academic record/scores, research experience, personal and academic statements and letters of recommendation. We attempt to select those students with the most promise for superior achievement in our program.
Individuals sometimes ask us to make a preliminary evaluation of their qualifications for admission. Unfortunately this is not possible. We make comparisons among all applicants each year and must have complete application files before a proper evaluation can be made.

Financial Assistance

The department offers graduate assistantships and, with the college and university, we offer various fellowship opportunities. When we accept a graduate student in our department it is with the expectation that we will be able to provide her or him with appropriate financial assistance, whether it is through a teaching assistantship, research assistantship, a fellowship or a combination thereof.

Finding an Advisor

The department only admits applicants who have been formally sponsored by a member of the faculty. Most faculty members scrutinize applicants' files to see if there is anyone they would like to sponsor, but to assure consideration of your file you should contact those faculty members whose interests match your own. Do this before you apply. You can find out about faculty members' research programs through the departmental directories at http://plantbiology.msu.edu/faculty/faculty-research which list research faculty alphabetically, as well as by interest areas.
Feel free to contact more than one member of the faculty, either by e-mail or by phone. Be prepared to send a curriculum vitae and a statement of your research interests and career goals. Ask the faculty member whether he or she is planning to accept new students for the coming year. Most faculty have a limit to how many students she or he can advise at the same time, and so it may not be possible for a given individual to sponsor a new student even if that applicant is very accomplished. However, you do have an opportunity to convince that faculty member why you would be a good addition to his or her lab.

Application Review Process

Once complete, application files are circulated among the faculty members serving on the department Graduate Admissions Committee for their individual evaluations of the applicants’ qualifications for admission. The Graduate Admissions Committee subsequently meets as a group to render final decisions on those applications. Applicants will be notified of the Committee’s decision as soon as possible. Since the number of new students that can be admitted each fall semester is strictly limited, we must proceed sequentially and can extend invitations to join our program to only a limited number of students at any one time. We will review complete applications as quickly as possible, but the timing of the procedure is not entirely under our control and we cannot guarantee date of notification. On occasion, incomplete applications may be reviewed if there is sufficient information to reach a decision. Incomplete applications that cannot be adequately assessed will be reviewed only when additional information is received, provided that unfilled openings for new graduate student still exist.

Interviews and Visits

In general we do not conduct personal interviews as part of the selection process. Highly qualified applicants who reside in the United States may be asked to visit Michigan State University and meet with members of the Plant Biology faculty and graduate students. In such case, the Plant Biology Department may cover travel expenses.