Plant pathology is the study of plants and their pathogens, the process of disease, and how plant health and disease are influenced by factors such as the weather, nonpathogenic microorganisms, and plant nutrition. It encompasses fundamental biology as well as applied agricultural sciences.
Plant pathology involves the study of plants and pathogens at the genetic, biochemical, physiological, cellular, population, and community levels, and how the knowledge derived is integrated and put into agricultural practice. Prerequisite to effective research, teaching, and extension in plant pathology is a breadth of interdisciplinary interest and knowledge, in a department and in its individual members, reaching from ecology to microbiology, from meteorology to applied mathematics, and from molecular biology to communication skills.
Learn through real-world, hands on experiences
Plant Pathology students learn in many field and lab courses, including classes that focus on economics of plant disease, interactions between plants and people, fungi, organic agriculture, and global food security. They can also take part in a summer field course, numerous internships, and research opportunities.
Build community and networks
Plant pathology is a field that thrives in, and makes its greatest contribution to, comprehensive institutions like the University of Wisconsin–Madison where the proximity and complementarity of basic sciences and the other applied agricultural sciences are exceptionally strong. Please visit the department's Extension and Outreach overview page for additional details on the departments outreach activities, public education programs, and student organizations.
Customize a path of study
Undergraduates in plant pathology can choose between two tracks. The plant–microbe biology track has courses in basic math and sciences, including biology, chemistry, and physics, along with upper-level courses in plant pathology, biochemistry, and microbiology. This track is geared toward students who have an interest in receiving a broad education in the basic sciences or plan to pursue a graduate or professional degree.
The plant health and industry track includes some courses in basic math and sciences, as well as additional courses in agriculture and economics/management and upper-level courses in plant pathology, entomology, and other agricultural sciences. This track is designed for students who intend to work in industry after receiving their undergraduate degree.
Students are also able to explore double majors and a multitude of undergraduate certificates based on their unique educational and professional interests. More information about careers in plant pathology is available from the department.
Make a strong start
Freshman who are interested in Plant Pathology are encouraged to participate in a First-Year Interest Group (FIG) program. Topics of interest to Plant Pathology students include global food security, plants and human well-being, and many other fascinating options. See the latest Choose Your FIG catalog for details.
Gain global perspective
One of the department's most popular courses is Plant Path/Botany 123: Plants, Parasites, and People. This course highlights the interaction between society and plant-associated microbes. Students explore global issues including the Irish potato famine, pesticides in current agriculture, the role of economics and consumer preference in crop disease management and the release of genetically engineered organisms. This course meets CALS International Studies requirement.
Additionally, the Plant Pathology program is a great choice for students who wish to participate in a study abroad experience. Students can choose from a multitude of destinations world-wide, and can travel abroad during summer, spring, or fall terms.
To declare this major, students must be admitted to UW–Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). For information about becoming a CALS first-year or transfer student, see Entering the College.
Students who attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have the option to declare this major at SOAR. Students may otherwise declare after they have begun their undergraduate studies. For more information, contact the advisor listed under the Advising and Careers tab.
University General Education Requirements
All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.
|General Education|| |
* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements
In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies, Science, and Capstone), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.
College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs
|Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.|
|Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.|
|First Year Seminar||1|
|Physical Science Fundamentals||4-5|
|General Chemistry I|
or CHEM 108
|Chemistry in Our World|
or CHEM 109
|Advanced General Chemistry|
|Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)||3|
|Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)||3|
|CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")|
Courses may not double count within the major (unless specifically noted otherwise), but courses counted toward the major requirements may also be used to satisfy a university requirement and/or a college requirement. A minimum of 15 credits must be completed in the major that are not used elsewhere.
|Select one of the following (or may be satisfied by placement exam):||5-6|
|Algebra and Trigonometry|
|Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I|
|Select one of the following:||5-9|
| General Chemistry I|
and General Chemistry II
|Advanced General Chemistry|
|Select one of the following options:||10|
|Option 1 (preferred):|
| Introductory Biology|
and Introductory Biology
| Animal Biology|
and Animal Biology Laboratory
and General Botany
| Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics|
and Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
and Cellular Biology
and Cellular Biology Laboratory
|Select one of the following:||4-5|
|Plant Pathology Core|
|PL PATH 300||Introduction to Plant Pathology||4|
|PL PATH/BOTANY 332||Fungi||4|
|Another Pl Path course above 300 1||3|
|PL PATH 590||Capstone in Plant Pathology||3|
|Select one of the following:||29-39|
Plant-Microbe Biology Track
Plant Health and Industry Track
Not including PL PATH 375 Special Topics or independent study credits—PL PATH 299 Independent Study, PL PATH 399 Coordinative Internship/Cooperative Education, PL PATH 590 Capstone in Plant Pathology, PL PATH 681 Senior Honors Thesis, PL PATH 682 Senior Honors Thesis, or PL PATH 699 Special Problems.
Plant–Microbe Biology Track
|Additional Mathematics and Statistics|
|Select one of the following:||5|
|Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II 1|
|Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1|
|Select one of the following:||3-4|
|Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2 2|
|Introduction to Statistical Methods|
|Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences|
|Select one of the following options:||4-8|
| Organic Chemistry I|
and Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory
and Organic Chemistry II
| Elementary Organic Chemistry|
and Elementary Organic Chemistry Laboratory
|Select one of the following options:||5-8|
| Biology of Microorganisms|
and Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory
|Principles of Genetics|
Select two of the following:
|Principles of Physiology|
|Principles of Physiology Laboratory|
|Select one of the following:||4-5|
|BOTANY 500||Plant Physiology||3-4|
|Select 5 credits from the following:||5|
|Introduction to Biochemistry|
or BOTANY 401
|Vascular Flora of Wisconsin|
|Introduction to Entomology|
Any PL PATH course above 300
MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1/MATH 217 Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II is a prerequisite for MATH 222 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2
Plant Health and Industry Track
|GENETICS 466||Principles of Genetics||3|
|PL PATH 559||Diseases of Economic Plants||3-4|
|or BOTANY 500||Plant Physiology|
|Plant Health and Industry Electives|
|Select 24 credits from at least two different departments from the following:||24|
|Principles and Practices in Crop Production|
|Forage Management and Utilization|
|Introduction to Biochemistry|
|Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology|
|Food, Culture, and Society|
|Agriculture and Social Change in Western History|
|Poverty and Place|
|Sociology of Agriculture|
|Insects and Human Culture-a Survey Course in Entomology|
|Introduction to Entomology|
|Forests of the World|
|Human/Animal Relationships: Biological and Philosophical Issues|
|Extinction of Species|
|The Vegetation of Wisconsin|
|Survey of Horticulture|
|Sustainable Turfgrass Use and Management|
|Landscape Plants I|
|Environment of Horticultural Plants|
|Fruit Crop Production|
|General Microbiology Laboratory|
|Biology of Microorganisms|
|Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory|
|Comparative Animal Nutrition|
|Human Nutritional Needs|
|World Hunger and Malnutrition|
|Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism|
|Community Nutrition and Health Equity|
PL PATH any course above 300 not already taken for another category
|Earth's Water: Natural Science and Human Use|
|Soil: Ecosystem and Resource|
|General Soil Science|
|Physical Principles of Soil and Water Management|
|Soils and Environmental Quality|
|Soils and Landscapes|
|Plant Nutrition Management|
|Select 6 credits from the following:||6|
|Introductory Financial Accounting|
|Introductory Managerial Accounting|
|Financial Reporting I|
|Financial Reporting II|
|Taxation: Concepts for Business and Personal Planning|
|Introduction to Agricultural and Applied Economics|
|Agricultural Systems Management|
|Cooperatives and Alternative Forms of Enterprise Ownership|
|Economic Decision Analysis|
|Economic Problems of Developing Areas|
|Principles of Microeconomics|
|Principles of Macroeconomics|
|Marketing Communication for the Sciences|
|Human Resource Management|
University Degree Requirements
|Total Degree||To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.|
|Residency||Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.|
|Quality of Work||Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.|
- Define and explain major concepts in the biological sciences including Plant Pathology.
- Appropriately use biological instrumentation and laboratory techniques.
- Explain and apply the scientific method including designing and conducting experiments and testing hypotheses.
- Recognize the relationship between structure and function at all levels: molecular, cellular, organismal, and ecological.
- Demonstrate a style appropriate for communicating scientific results in written and oral form.
- Integrate math, physical sciences, and technology to answer biological questions using the scientific method.
Sample Plant Pathology Four-Year Plan—Plant-Microbe Biology Track
|MATH 112, 113, or 114||3||MATH 113, 114, or 221||3-5|
|CHEM 103 or 109||4-5||CHEM 104||5|
|First Year Seminar||1||Gen Ed1||0-7|
|Total Credits 16-37|
|MATH 221||5||ZOOLOGY/BIOLOGY/BOTANY 152 or BOTANY 130||5|
|CHEM 343||3||CHEM 344||2|
|Select one of the following:||5||CHEM 345||3|
|Total Credits 25-33|
|PL PATH 300||4||PHYSICS 104, 202, or 208||4|
|PHYSICS 103, 201, or 207||4||PL PATH/BOTANY 332||4|
|MATH 222 or STAT 371||4||GENETICS 466||3|
|Gen Ed1||0-6||Gen Ed1||2-5|
|Total Credits 25-34|
|MICROBIO 303||3||BOTANY 500||3-4|
|MICROBIO 304||2||Capstone Experience||3|
|Core or Breadth Electives||3-8||Core or Breadth Electives||3-8|
|Gen Ed1||0-10||Gen Ed1||0-15|
|Total Credits 17-53|
Gen-Ed requirements include communications, ethnic studies, humanities, social science, or international studies. See Requirements tab for more details.
Note: Possible places where students may cut down on courses: COMM-A placement test, COMM-B taken as ZOOLOGY/BIOLOGY/BOTANY 152, QR-A placement test, AP/IB credits (biology, social sciences, humanities, language, chemistry, physics, math, statistics)
Students in plant pathology are assigned to both an academic staff advisor (Allee Hochmuth) and one of our faculty advisors. Current faculty advisors include:
Jeri Barak (lead faculty advisor)
Details can be found on our faculty webpage. Undergraduates in plant pathology are required to consult with an advisor before they can enroll for the upcoming term. A hold will be placed on student records until they consult with their advisor.
For more information about the Plant Pathology major or the department in general, please contact either the lead undergraduate advisor, Professor Jeri Barak (firstname.lastname@example.org) or advisor Allee Hochmuth (email@example.com). Students with questions regarding Plant Pathology lab positions - both paid and unpaid - should contact Professor Jeri Barak.
Please visit our Internship & Job Resources page for information on career opportunities available to plant pathology students. For more information on other academic, co-curricular, financial aid, and career services available to plant pathology students, please visit the CALS Career Services page. Students in the major are welcome to make an individual appointment with an advisor to discuss career related topics such as career exploration, search strategies, graduate school, and review of application materials (resume, CV, letters, etc.).
Plant Pathologists, from all educational levels, are able to seek employment in a variety of areas. Some examples include:
- colleges and universities
- biotechnology companies
- state and federal agencies
- international agricultural research centers
- nurseries, greenhouses and garden centers
- non-governmental organizations
- golf courses, public parks and landscape maintenance companies
- diagnostic laboratories
- seed, plant production and tissue culture companies
- a variety of private consulting firms
If you would like to know more about what is Plant Pathology and how an undergraduate education in Plant Pathology can help you make an impact on the world around you, please check out the “Plant Pathology: taking you further than you ever imagined” video from the American Phytopathological Society.
Gevens, Amanda (chair)
Ane', Jean-Michel (Bacteriology)
Groves, Russell (Entomology)
Havey, Michael (Horticulture)
Keller, Nancy (Medical Microbiology & Immunology)
Pringle, Ann (Botany)
Whitman, Thea (Soil Science)
Yu, Jae-Hyuk (Bacteriology)
Undergraduates majoring in plant pathology at UW–Madison will find an inclusive, welcoming community where professors know their students and are able to provide guidance based on students’ specific academic and career goals. There are numerous opportunities to conduct research with internationally prominent faculty and to take part in the Wisconsin Idea, whereby faculty and students extend the knowledge developed at the university to stakeholders in Wisconsin and beyond for the betterment of society.
Plant pathology offers paid research internships during summer term, as well as paid or credit-earning research opportunities year-round. Undergraduates get a firsthand view of how research is conducted and what it means to be a professional scientist. For more information on internship opportunities available to plant pathology students please visit our Internship & Job Resources page.
Nearly all Plant Pathology undergraduates participate in field- or lab- based research with a professor. Research in the department has a long tradition of supporting grower needs. Many faculty are using the plethora of research tools available, including molecular biology and systematics, to answer questions that are directly applicable to grower groups. Please visit the department's Research page for additional details on research activities in Plant Pathology.
By joining the Plant Pathology Undergraduate Club, majors get to know their fellow students outside the classroom. The department provides resources for students to meet experts who lead discussions on a range of topics including cutting-edge research and technology, career options, and how to apply and compete for jobs.
Undergraduate students are also welcome to join What's Eating My Plants (WEMP). This organization, founded in 2010 by Plant Pathology graduate students, is dedicated to bridging the gap between the University and the greater Madison community. The students visit Family Science Nights at schools, community centers, and Saturday Science at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) throughout the year.
Plant Pathology students interested in studying issues on a global scale are encouraged to enroll in Plant Path 311: Global Food Security, which explores drivers of food insecurity: barriers to food production (pests, land availability, climate), barriers to food availability (politics, price, biofuels), and a greater need due to population growth. The Plant Pathology program is an excellent choice for students wishing to participate in a study abroad experience. Students can find more information about study abroad on the CALS study abroad advising page.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND VOLUNTEERING
The UW-Madison Division of Extension provides statewide access to the resources and research of the University of Wisconsin, other universities and the United States Department of Agriculture, so that people of Wisconsin can learn, grown and succeed at all stages of life. The UW-Madison Division of Extension carries out the tradition of the Wisconsin Idea – extending the boundaries of the university to the boundaries of the state. UW-Madison Extension and outreach activities support educational programs for farmers, businesses, communities, families and youth. More details can be found on the department Extension & Outreach page.
On campus, the Morgridge Center for Public Service provides resources to help students connect with volunteer opportunities based on their interests and goals.
Department scholarships are available to Plant Pathology students and fellowships are available to support research work with a professor. Students across the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences receive more than $1.25 million in scholarships annually. Learn more about college scholarships here.