Research Assistantships Information

The Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis, awards approximately 10 Graduate Student Research Assistantship Awards on an annual basis. For students pursuing a MS Degree, the award is for a maximum period of two years; for students who pursue a PhD degree, the award is for a maximum period of four years. In addition to a monthly stipend, the Graduate Student Research Assistantship Award covers in- and out-of-state tuition and fees; the cost is shared by the Department and the student’s Major Professor. Prospective graduate students who have applied to UC Davis and current UCD graduate students can apply for a Departmental Research Assistantship Award.

Areas of research emphasis in the Department of Plant Sciences include but are not limited to: agroecology, plant breeding, plant genetics and genomics, plant-microbial interactions, plant physiology, ecosystem management, restoration ecology, plant biochemistry, post-harvest physiology, urban ecology, and weed science.

Minimum Qualifications/Requirements to be Eligible

  • Candidates must be accepted by a graduate group/program by the Fall Quarter of the year of application and have been accepted by a Major Professor. (Applying for admission is a separate process.)
  • Only graduate students whose Major Professor is a member of the Department of Plant Sciences are eligible for a Departmental Research Assistantship. If the student will be co-supervised by two Major Professors, at least one Major Professor must be a member of the Department of Plant Sciences.
  • Only graduate students who conduct research to fulfill the requirements for a thesis (MS Plan I) or dissertation (PhD) qualify for a Research Assistantship.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.4 (undergraduate record) or 3.5 (graduate record).
  • Deadline to submit the completed Research Assistantship application packet is March 18th. The letter of reference and the Major Professor statement are also due by this date.
  • Applicants will be notified of the results in early April.
  • Awards for successful applicants will begin in Fall.

Application materials to be submitted

Prospective students:

  • On-line application form
  • Research proposal: maximum of two pages (plus references), font no smaller than 10 pt, line spacing no less than single spaced, margins should be at least 1 inch.  Concepts within the proposal can (and probably should be) discussed with your prospective Major Professor, but the writing of the proposal should be your own work.  The proposal should include the following sections:
    • Relevance and justification (approximately 1/2 pg) - why your research would be relevant to the mission of the Dept of Plant Sciences
    • Goals and objectives (approximately 1/2 pg) - list format recommended
    • Experimental plan (approximately 1 pg) - should align with goals and objectives
  • Resume or CV: can include, but is not limited to, scholarly papers and reports, honors and citations, grants, and previous graduate degrees.
  • Statement from prospective Major Professor: You will need to enter the name and e-mail address of your Major Professor (MP) in the on-line application. They will be emailed requesting a brief statement indicating that he/she has agreed to serve as your MP and understands the cost-sharing involved in this award. The MP must also clearly indicate the level of their involvement in writing research proposal (the goal of the proposal is to evaluate the student’s understanding and research potential).
  • Letter of reference: You will need to enter the name and e-mail address of your recommender in the on-line application, and an e-mail will be sent to him/her with instructions on uploading the letter. This letter should be provided by a faculty member from your previous university, unless you have worked for a number of months with your prospective MP and feel he/she knows you well enough to provide this letter.
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts: These should be scanned and uploaded with your on-line application. 
  • Copy of GRE scores: This should be scanned and uploaded with your on-line application; it can be a scan of the score report that was sent to you, or a screenshot of your scores from the ETS website.

Current UC Davis graduate students:

  • On-line application form
  • Research proposal: maximum of two pages (plus references), font no smaller than 10 pt, line spacing no less than single spaced, margins should be at least 1 inch. Concepts within the proposal can (and probably should be) discussed with your prospective Major Professor, but the writing of the proposal should be your own work.  The proposal should include the following sections:
    • Relevance and justification (approximately 1/2 pg) - why your research would be relevant to the mission of the Dept of Plant Sciences
    • Goals and objectives (approximately 1/2 pg) - list format recommended
    • Experimental plan (approximately 1 pg) - should align with goals and objectives
  • Resume or CV: can include, but is not limited to, scholarly papers and reports, honors and citations, grants, and previous graduate degrees.
  • Statement from Major Professor: You will need to enter the name and e-mail address of your Major Professor in the on-line application. They will be emailed requesting a brief statement indicating that he/she is your MP and understands the cost-sharing involved in this award. The MP must also clearly indicate the level of their involvement in writing research proposal (the goal of the proposal is to evaluate the student’s understanding and research potential).
  • Letter of reference: You will need to enter the name and e-mail address of your Major Professor in the Reference section of the on-line application, and an e-mail will be sent to him/her with instructions on uploading the letter.  If you have co-Major Professors, either can provide the letter, or they can write a joint letter, but only one letter will be accepted per applicant.
  • Undergraduate and graduate transcripts: These should be scanned and uploaded with your on-line application. You do not need to submit a transcript for your UCD graduate work; it will be provided separately.
  • Copy of GRE scores: This should be scanned and uploaded with your on-line application; it can be a scan of the score report that was sent to you, or a screenshot of your scores from the ETS website.
  • Evidence of research progress: Students who have been graduate students at UC Davis for at least a year at the time of application must also provide a half-page narrative or bullet points, detailing their research productivity and progress. This should include a paragraph on your research progress to date and current or expected results. It can also i list publications, presentations, posters, grants obtained, evidence of outreach activities, TAships, etc., undertaken at UC Davis.  It is understood that many continuing students may not have publications, thus progress can focus on highlights of research progress so far.

Potential for research accomplishment is ultimately the most important factor in choosing successful candidates. Students contemplating application for departmental support should prepare their research proposals carefully with this objective in mind.

It is very important to be aware that the application for admission to a graduate group/program is separate from the application for a Graduate Student Research Assistantship in the Department of Plant Sciences. Application deadlines vary for different graduate programs, so be sure to check your graduate program's website for their admissions application deadline.

If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Brown (530-752-7738) for further information.