MS Agronomy Creative Component Steps

Step 1. Decide on a topic on which you wish to work.

The topic may be based on knowledge needed for your job, knowledge needed to answer a specific question asked by a client, or knowledge needed to address an investigative question based on your own observations or those of clients you serve. Additionally, you may wish to pursue an area of interest presented in the MS Agronomy program to a greater depth. Whatever topic you choose, remember that you will be investing considerable time and energy in it; so choose one that excites and interests you.

Step 2. Develop a tentative outline.

The outline formulates your approach to the topic. A well-thought-out outline is often 3-5 pages long (double spaced). The outline structure will vary but a central component is your objective(s). The objective should be narrow enough to give focus to your work.

Suggested structure of outline:

  1. Background: why is the topic important and what is known?
  2. Objective(s): what specifically do you wish to do?
  3. Approach: how do you plan to accomplish your objective(s)?
  4. Results: how do you propose to present your results?
  5. Timeline: when do you plan to complete various stages of the work?

Step 3. Choose a major professor (or co-major professor if applicable).

It is important to choose a major professor early in the process of developing your creative component. It is the responsibility of the major professor to supervise your creative component. (An e-mail will be sent to students who have completed 4 courses in the program and still have yet to identify a major professor. After completing 6 courses in the program, students will not be allowed to register for additional courses until a major professor has been identified). A listing of faculty willing to take graduate students can be found on the Distance Education Graduate Faculty page. This listing includes both instructors within the program as well as additional faculty within the Agronomy Department. After you decide on a good fit with your creative component interests, send an e-mail to msagron@iastate.edu outlining your tentative creative component project and a possible completion timeline. The program staff will help identify possible major professors, review course completion timeline, and setup meeting times for you and the possible major professor candidates. Because of other commitments, a faculty member may not be able to work with you, and you will need to check with someone else.

Step 4. Complete and submit a Recommendation for Committee Appointment form.

Please contact the program to request a form. Your committee will consist of major professor, Dr. Moore, and Dr. Loynachan. This form should be signed by you and mailed or faxed to the MS Agronomy office when completed. They will arrange for signatures and forward it to the Graduate College.

Step 5. Complete and submit a Program of Study (POS) form.

This form should be signed by you and mailed or faxed to the MS Agronomy office when completed. They will arrange for signatures and forward to the Graduate College. Program of Study (POS) Form*

Step 6. Sign up for one credit of Agronomy 599M (normally done the semester after POS form is approved).

During this semester, you will work with your major professor to further refine your plans for your creative component. After plans are approved, you are ready to begin work.

Step 7. Complete work for creative component.

It normally takes several semesters to complete the work on a creative component (this is the reason for the earlier deadline to identify your major professor and submit your plans for POS committee approval). As you are working on your creative component, keep your major professor informed of your progress.

Step 8. Sign up for two credits of Agronomy 599M (normally done near the end of your studies).

After the work is nearly complete, sign up for 2 credits of Agronomy 599M. Students must be registered for at least 2 credits during the semester they plan to graduate and have their Final Oral Examination (be sure to alert msagron@iastate.edu the semester before you plan to graduate). Most MS Agronomy students register for 2 credits of Agronomy 599M, with major professor's permission, during their last semester in the program. University policy requires graduating graduate students to register for at least 2 credits during their final semester so make sure you will be ready for the final oral exam when you register for the final two credits of 599M. Provide your major professor with a draft of your work early in the term you plan to graduate. Your major professor will need time to review your creative component and to offer suggestions for improvement. Discuss with your major professor and arrange a time for the final oral exam via e-mail with your POS committee members (MS Agronomy staff can help reserve a room). After you and your major professor are satisfied with the creative component, provide POS committee members with a copy. This needs to be done at least two weeks before your final seminar/examination date. Present and defend your creative component as a Final Oral Examination with POS committee members on the ISU campus (if planning to graduate the term you defend your creative component, you must meet the ISU graduation deadlines). Make corrections identified by your POS committee and submit a final copy of your creative component to the Department of Agronomy in 1126 Agronomy Hall.

Creative Component Checklist

  • Step 1. Decide on a topic on which you wish to work.
  • Step 2. Develop a tentative outline.
  • Step 3. Choose a major professor.
  • Step 4. Complete and submit a Recommendation for Committee Appointment form. Recommendation for Committee Appointment Form*
  • Step 5. Complete and submit a Program of Study (POS) form. Program of Study (POS)Form*
  • Step 6. Sign up for one credit of Agronomy 599M.
  • Step 7. Complete work for creative component.
  • Step 8. Sign up for two credits of Agronomy 599M.