Graduate Programs

In order to solve the complex problems facing agricultural plant production systems, many disciplines must be integrated successfully. Candidates may specialize in genetics and breeding of tropical fruits, vegetables, or ornamentals; physiology, culture, and management of tropical fruits, vegetables, or ornamentals; morphogenesis; crop and stress physiology; post-harvest physiology; growth regulation; plant biochemical genetics; plant cytogenetics; weed science; computer modeling; or turf and landscape management, cropping systems, plant-soil relationships, soil chemistry, soil physics, soil management, soil and water conservation, soil fertility, and soil microbiology.

Courses offered in botany, biochemistry, plant pathology, food science, genetics, microbiology, and zoology, combined with courses offered in TPSS, will provide considerable flexibility in the development of a program suited to a student’s career objectives.

The department offers graduate study leading to MS (Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C) and PhD degrees. The TPSS graduate program offers a degree in TPSS and option in TPSS (horticulture). The degrees emphasize the development of problem-solving skills that integrate molecular, biochemical, physiological, chemical, genetic, and ecological approaches to collaborative research in plant and soil sciences.

The TPSS degree aims to provide the student with a thorough hands-on understanding of the principles and techniques in the adaptation and application of biotechnology to tropical crop plant production, and the role of soils in supporting the whole system of crop production systems. The option requires understanding of fundamental biological processes, molecular and organism biology, genetics, plant physiology, chemistry, physics, and microbiology. Soil is studied both for intrinsic properties. as well as its role in supporting crop growth and as an environmental resource.

The horticulture option explores the many facets of tropical food and ornamental crop production and requires the understanding of agricultural systems, plant production, soil fertility, and protection of the environment, as well as supporting disciplines such as crop ecology, plant physiology, and molecular biology.

The MS and PhD in TPSS are recognized Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) regional graduate programs. Residents of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are eligible, upon admission, to enroll at Hawai’i-resident tuition rates.

For further information regarding the Graduate Study Guidelines, please go to this link.

Entrance Requirements

For admission to the TPSS graduate programs, applicants must present a bachelors degree with a GPA of 3.0 (4.0 equals A scale) or the equivalent in the last four semesters or approximately 60 semester credits of the applicant’s undergraduate record. The GRE (TAKEN WITHIN THE LAST THREE YEARS) is required for all applicants. A minimum CBT TOEFL score of 173 is required of all foreign students. All applicants must submit 2 letters of recommendation and a Statement of Objectives form at the time of application.

Transfer of Credits

The transfer of credits to meet the requirements of the MS or PhD is not automatic. The student must petition the graduate program chairman, certifying that the transfers make programmatic sense and that the courses to be transferred are equivalent in rigor and scholastic content to graduate-level (600 level) courses offered at UH Manoa. The graduate program chairman may consult with the graduate faculty as to the certification. The maximum number of credits that can be transferred is 12.

Only those credits that have not been applied towards the fulfillment of a previous degree may be transferred. An exception may be made if the subject matter area could not be met by course offering at UH Manoa, provided the courses transferred meet the rigor and programmatic appropriateness criteria described above.

Advising

Graduate students are advised initially by an advisor or by the department’s graduate program chairman.

Graduate Committee

Upon entering the graduate program, students will meet with their advisor. If a faculty advisor has not been selected, the graduate chairman or his representative will perform this function. The selection of an advisor must be made before the end of the first semester in residence. The advisor, with the approval of the graduate chairman, shall guide the student on course selection matters, insure progression in the program, and advise the student until the permanent graduate program committee is established.

Students shall meet their permanent graduate program committee at least once each semester to access academic and research progress and to establish goals for the next semester. It is the student’s responsibility to schedule this meeting and to file the Academic Progress Report with the graduate chairman.

Master of Science Degree, Plan A (thesis) and B (without thesis)

The intended study of the MS Plan A program is to further a student’s graduate studies leading to the PhD degree or successful entry to careers as researchers and technicians.  Graduates of the MS Plan B program typically enter careers in education, agribusiness, extension service, and other agricultural related occupations.

Requirements

Students will take a written diagnostic examination the week preceding the first day of instruction. The diagnostic examination consists of questions in eight areas including botany, chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics, physics, plant science. statistics, and soil science. The results of this examination will be used by the student’s graduate committee, with approval of the graduate program chairman, to select additional courses for the students program.

Master of Science Plan A: Students must complete a minimum of 24 credits hours of course work and 6 credit hours of thesis preparation.  A final oral examination is also required.

Master of Science Plan B: Students must complete a minimum of 30 credits as follows: at least 6 credits in TPSS 600+; 6 credits in TPSS/CTAHR/Botany 600+ (see Graduate Chair for list of allowed courses), 6 credits in other 600+; 6 credits of 699; 6 credits in other 400/600 level classes

Proposal defense: Master of Science Plan A students are required to give a thesis proposal seminar, preferably in the second semester

Seminar: All students must take TPSS654 (Communications in Science) during their graduate study and register for TPSS667 (Graduate Seminar) once every academic year in which they are registered as full-time student or equivalent.  An exception can be made during the final semester, in which the dissertation defense or Plan B project report is given in place of TPSS667.

Lecture Requirement: All MS students are required to give one lecture in a TPSS course during their program.  The student will be evaluated by the faculty teaching the course, and this evaluation will be added to the student’s file. 

Master of Science- Thesis Plan A: See Gradate Chair on thesis preparation.  Upon development of a thesis proposal in conjunction with your advisor and the selection of graduate committee, the student will advanced to candidacy. The thesis topic must be submitted and approved by your Graduate Committee prior to mid-term of the semester after you have been advanced to candidacy. You may register for TPSS 700 only after your thesis topic has been approved by your committee.

Final Examination- Master of Science Plan A: A final oral examination on course of study and project is required. The first part of the examination consists of a seminar presentation and defense of the research, which is open to the public and is one hour in length. Following the presentation, student will be examined in detailed on the conduct and results of the thesis by the committee.

Final Examination- Master of Science Plan B: A final oral examination on the thesis is required. The examination consists of a seminar presentation which is open to the public and is one hour in length. The seminar will be presented on a topic agreed upon by the student and their advisor/committee chair.  Topics presented included the research conducted under the advisor’s direction in TPSS 699.

Master of Science Degree Plan C

The UHM Graduate Division and TPSS in CTAHR allow for a Plan C Masters degree. See Gradate Chair for more information.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

PhD graduates are expected to enter careers as researchers and/or educators in institutions of higher learning, both in public and private institutions. The PhD is awarded only for original scholarly achievement. The dissertation, which is a significant original contribution to basic knowledge in the candidate’s field is required. Only students with above average academic records in pre-doctoral programs will be accepted in the program.

Requirements

For all PhD students, a minimum of 12 credit hours in courses numbered 400 or above is required for the major, not including seminar, directed research, thesis/dissertation research. Course requirements are established by the student’s Graduate Committee.

Proposal defense: PhD students are required to give a thesis proposal seminar within the first year of their program.

Seminar: Candidates must register for TPSS 667 (Graduate Seminar) once every academic year in which they are registered as full-time or equivalent.  An exception is made in the final semester in which the dissertation defense can be substituted for seminar.  All students must take TPSS 654 (Communications in the Sciences) or its equivalent during their first year as a substitute for one semester of TPSS 667.

Lecture Requirement: All PhD students are required to give three lectures in TPSS courses during the course of their program.  The student will be evaluated by the faculty member teaching the course, and this evaluation will be added to the student’s file.

Comprehensive Examination: An oral or oral and written comprehensive examination is conducted by your Graduate Committee for all PhD candidates. This examination may cover any subject thought pertinent by your committee members. The comprehensive examination may be repeated once at the option of your committee. If the student fails to pass the exam the second time, the student will be dropped from the program.

Dissertation: The PhD is awarded only for original scholarly achievement. The dissertation, which is a significant original contribution to basic knowledge in the candidate’s field is required. For further information see Gradate Chair. The dissertation proposal must be submitted and approved by your Graduate Committee during the semester following completion of the qualifying examination. You may register for TPSS 800 (Dissertation Research) only after approval of your dissertation proposal.

Final examination: A final oral examination on student’s dissertation is required. The first part of the examination consists of a seminar presentation and defense of your research, which is open to the public and is one hour in length.  Following the open seminar presentation, there will be more thorough examination of the research and results of the dissertation by the members of your committee and any other members of the Graduate Faculty who wish to attend.

Courses Available for Each Option

Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences

TPSS 500 Master’s Plan B/C Studies
TPSS 601 Crop Modeling
TPSS 603 Experimental Design
TPSS 604 Advanced Soil Microbiology
TPSS 610 Nutrition of Tropical Crops
TPSS 614 Molecular Genetics of Crops
TPSS 615 Quantitative Genetics
TPSS 640 Advanced Soil Chemistry
TPSS 650 Soil Plant Nutrient Relations
TPSS 652 Information Research Skills
TPSS 654 Communications in the Sciences
TPSS 664 Orchidology
TPSS 667 Graduate Seminar
TPSS 670 Agrarian Systems Analysis
TPSS 674 Plant Growth and Development
TPSS 680 Geospatial Analysis of Natural Resource Data
TPSS 695 Plan B Master’s Project
TPSS 699 Directed Research
TPSS 700 Thesis Research
TPSS 711 Special Topics
TPSS 800 Dissertation Research
MBBE 620 Plant Biochemistry
MBBE 680 Methods in Plant Molecular Biology

Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences – Horticulture

TPSS 500 Master’s Plan B/C Studies
TPSS 601 Crop Modeling
TPSS 603 Experimental Design
TPSS 604 Advanced Soil Microbiology
TPSS 610 Nutrition of  Tropical Crops
TPSS 614 Molecular Genetics of Crops
TPSS 615 Quantitative Genetics
TPSS 640 Advanced Soil Chemistry
TPSS 650 Soil Plant Nutrient Relations
TPSS 654 Communications in the Sciences
TPSS 664 Orchidology
TPSS 667 Graduate Seminar
TPSS 670 Agrarian Systems Analysis
TPSS 674 Plant Growth and Development
TPSS 680 Geospatial Analysis of Natural Resource Data
TPSS 695 Plan B Master’s Project
TPSS 699 Directed Research
TPSS 700 Thesis Research
TPSS 711 Special Topic
TPSS 800 Dissertation Research

Scholarships

The College and Department offers a number of undergraduate and graduate scholarships to students in the TPSS program. Some of these scholarships are based upon financial need, while others are determined by academic achievement, chosen field of study or other criteria.

The scholarships are administered through the University of Hawaii Foundation and can be accessed at http://www.uhfoundation.org/scholarships/search.aspx. Details can be obtained by entering in the Campus search box: UH Manoa, Unit: Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, and Department: Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences.

Example of scholarships available to TPSS students include: Charles Chu Hing Endowed Scholarship, Haruyuki Kanemoto Scholarship, Plant Pathology Graduate Student Travel Fund, Richard Airth Hamilton Fellowship Fund, and TPSS Student Scholarship. Students are also able to apply to scholarship administered by the Campus and our College.