Plant Science M.Sc. Program

It is the responsibility of students to plan their graduate program in consultation with their academic advisor. Students are required to meet all deadlines. Students should be aware that most core courses are offered only once per year.

The Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree is awarded upon successful completion of a minimum of 36 credit hours. A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be achieved to graduate. Individual courses require a minimum of a B- for course credit. Students are expected to complete the M.Sc. degree in three semesters. Satisfactory participation in every KAUST summer session is mandatory.

Assessment Test

Students are admitted to KAUST from a wide variety of programs and backgrounds. In order to facilitate the design of an appropriate study plan for each individual student, all admitted students are required to take a written assessment exam when they arrive on Campus. The exam will focus on mathematics and basic sciences. The purpose of the assessment is to determine whether students have mastered the prerequisites for undertaking graduate-level courses taught in the program. The Academic Advisor works with admitted students to develop a study plan if needed. Students are encouraged to prepare for the assessment by refreshing the general knowledge gained from their undergraduate education before arriving at KAUST. The remedial study plan requirements must be satisfactorily completed, in addition to the University degree requirements.

The M.Sc. Requirements

  • Core courses (12 credits)
  • Elective courses (6-12 credits)
  • Research/capstone experience (12-18 credits)
  • Graduate seminar 398 (non-credit) – all students are required to register and receive a satisfactory grade for three semesters during their M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees (three seminars in each program)
  • Completion of one Winter Enrichment Program (WEP)

Core Courses (12 credits)

B 211Fundamentals of Molecular Microbiology


B 241Molecular and Cellular Biology Lab


PS 201Concepts of Developmental Biology and Genetics


PS 202Plant Physiology and Adaptation


These core courses are designed to provide students with the background needed to establish a solid foundation in the program area.

Elective Courses (6-12 credits)

B 204Genomics


B 206Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology


B 209Molecular Genetics


Others upon approval of the academic advisor.

The elective courses (which exclude research and internship credits) are designed to allow students to tailor their educational experience to meet individual research and educational objectives, with the permission of the academic advisor.

M.Sc. Thesis

Students wishing to pursue the thesis option must complete total of 12-18 research/capstone credits, with a minimum of 12 credits of thesis research (297).

The thesis defense committee, which must be approved by the dean, must consist of at least three members and typically includes no more than four members. At least two of the required members must be KAUST faculty. The chair plus one additional faculty member must be affiliated with the student’s program. This membership can be summarized as:

Member Role Program Status
1 Chair Within program
2 Faculty Within program
3 Faculty or approved research scientist Outside program
4 Additional faculty or research scientist Inside or outside KAUST


  • Members 1-3 are required, member 4 is optional
  • Co-chairs may serve as member 2, 3, or 4, but may not be a research scientist
  • Members 2 and 3 must use primary affiliation only
  • Adjunct professors and professors emeriti may retain their roles on current committees, but may not serve as chair on any new committees
  • Professors of practice and research professors may serve as members 2, 3 or 4 depending upon their affiliation with the student’s program, they may also serve as co-chairs
  • Visiting professors may serve as member 4

View a list of faculty and their affiliations here.

M.Sc. Non-Thesis

Students wishing to pursue the non-thesis option must complete a total of 12-18 capstone credits, with a minimum of 6 credits of directed research (299).

Students must complete the remaining credits through one or a combination of the options listed below:

  • Broadening experience courses: courses that broaden a student’s M.Sc. experience
  • Internship: research-based summer internship (295) – students are only allowed to take one internship
  • Ph.D. courses: courses numbered at the 300 level
  • Additional directed research