Master of Science in Plant Breeding--Graduate College Procedures

Welcome to the MS Plant Breeding-distance option program! We are excited you are here to learn with us and hope the resources and action steps below help guide you through the process of being an online graduate student at Iowa State University. If you run into any issues along the way feel free to email us at

Program of Study Committee (POS) and  Program of Study submission

Major Professor:  New graduate students at ISU may be assigned a temporary academic adviser by the major program in the first semester of the students' program. This faculty member guides the student in the selection of a field of study and in development of a graduate program of study until the major professor and POS committee are officially selected. Dr. Lubberstedt will serve as this temporary adviser for you.

Early selection of a major professor, appointment of a POS committee, and development of a program of study are very important. It is recommended that the committee be formed as early as the second semester of graduate study. The major professor, who must be a member of the graduate faculty in the student’s declared major, serves as chair of the POS committee. Unless you have already indentified a major professor, Dr. Lubberstedt will help you identify who that individual could be based off your creative component project ideas. (see Creative Component).

POS Committee: The master’s POS committee consists of at least three members of the graduate faculty. It must include two members, including the major professor, from the major or program. For this program Dr. Lubberstedt and Dr. Loynachan will automatically serve as two members of this three member committee. Keep in mind: if your Major Professor is Dr. Lubberstedt, then you will need to get one other member to serve on the committee. Dr. Lubberstedt can help make suggestions if needed.

Action Step: fill out the Committee Appointment form

Program of Study: The student and the major professor develop the program of study (courses to be taken for program) with the consultation and approval of the POS committee. This agreement between the student and the Graduate College should be submitted as early as possible for approval. It is recommended that the committee be formed as early as the second semester of graduate study.

Action Step: fill out the Program of Study (POS) form

Creative Component, Oral Defense and Graduation

The creative component requirement is the final culminating project for the program, intended to be an in-depth application of the knowledge and skills acquired from the M.S. Plant Breeding curriculum. The creative component can take many forms, but in all cases includes a written report “based on research, library readings, or topics related to the student's area of specialization and approved by the student's advisory committee.” Since a majority of our students are working professionals, the Creative Component is seen as a means of applying course content to everyday plant breeding issues they may face. Ideally, it should be relevant to the student's career interests. Three credits of such independent work is required by the M.S.. Plant Breeding work, and the student must defend their creative component before his/her Program of Study (POS) committee as part of the final oral exam.

Email Dr. Lubberstedt ( with a possible creative component theme. Submit a brief synopsis of your idea to Dr Lubberstedt, half page is sufficient initially. Dr. Lubberstedt will provide feedback on whether it sounds reasonable and who might be a good thematic major professor for you to work with. The project will take form after you make contact with your major professor and get started. The project must show independence and creativity on the part of the student.

  • A written report must be developed about the project.
  • The project must be plant breeding related and demonstrate the student's understanding of these principles in the context of the project topic.
  • The project must be approved by the student's Program of Study (POS) Committee.
  • The results of the creative component must be defensible in terms of its findings, conclusions, or recommendations to the student's POS Committee.

Application for Graduation: Application for graduation should be made by the end of the first week of the semester in which the student expects to receive the degree. To apply for graduation, the student is required to submit to the Graduate College a signed “Application for Graduation” form.

Action Step: when ready to graduate from the program fill out the Application for Graduation form

Final Oral Examination:  The final oral examination must be held by the final oral examination deadline date for the semester in which the degree is granted. All coursework in the program of study must either be completed or in progress before the final oral examination can be scheduled. This examination is oral; it may also include a written component if specified by the student’s program of study (POS) committee. Students must be registered for at least 2 credits during the semester in which the final oral examination is taken.

Action step: Once all requirements are met, students must fill out the Request for Final Oral Examination form

  • In some circumstances the Graduate College will approve for online students to complete their final oral examinations at a distance. If this is a necessity for you, please fill out the "Exam at Distance" - Masters form

For more information about being a Graduate Student at Iowa State University please view the Graduate College Handbook. There is very important information available within this handbook, so please read it in full detail.

*This page was adapted from the ISU Graduate College Handbook and the MS Agronomy Program-distance programs student resources website.