Academic Programs Catalog

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Graduate Study

The Department of Horticulture offers graduate study leading to the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Horticulture. In addition, students may work with Horticulture faculty to obtain M.S. and/or Ph.D. degrees in several  interdepartmental graduate programs including plant breeding, genetics and biotechnology, genetics, cell and molecular biology, molecular plant physiology, and ecology and evolutionary biology.

Faculty and students in MSU-Horticulture engage in scholarly research, teaching and outreach programs that are recognized nationally and internationally by our peer institutions and horticultural industries.  Furthermore, our faculty and graduate students comprise an inclusive community of diverse backgrounds, cultures and experiences from across the U.S. and around the world.  The Horticulture graduate curriculum is flexible and can be tailored specifically to individual backgrounds, educational experience, and career goals. Students can participate in an array of interdisciplinary studies in such diverse areas as plant breeding, genetics, genomics, molecular biology, bioinformatics, modeling, biochemistry, development, physiology and environmental response, sustainable and organic cropping systems, integration of plants with the human environment and marketing of horticultural/specialty crops. This integrated educational and research approach fosters new discoveries in the plant sciences and technological innovations in the sustainable production of food, ornamental and landscape crops.

Numerous fellowships and grant-funded assistantships are available on a career interest and competitive basis. Contact the MSU-Horticulture Graduate Programs Office ( or faculty members directly to explore the potential to earn an advanced degree working in their research programs.

Students who are enrolled in Master of Science degree programs in the Department of Horticulture may elect a Specialization in Food Safety.  For additional information, refer to the statement on the specialization in the College of Veterinary Medicine section of this catalog.

Horticulture - Master of Science

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, students must meet the requirements specified below.


Students must have completed a Bachelor of Science degree or its equivalent in a plant related field, a basic course in horticulture, 15 credits in plant or soil sciences including plant physiology, and one course each in trigonometry, physics, and organic chemistry. Exceptions must be approved by the departmental Graduate Affairs Committee. Applicants lacking the necessary undergraduate background will be required to complete either collateral courses in addition to the requirements for the master's degree or a second Bachelor of Science degree with a major acceptable to the department.

Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Horticulture

The student may elect either Plan A (with thesis) or Plan B (without thesis). A total of 30 credits is required for the degree under Plan A or Plan B.
The program of study for the Master of Science degree will include courses from departments other than the Department of Horticulture, but it should include at least 3 credits in the 800 series in horticulture in addition to research. For Plan A, at least 6 but not more than 10 credits of master's thesis research (Horticulture 899) is required. For Plan B, at least 2 but not more than 5 credits of research (Horticulture 898) is required. All programs of study are subject to departmental review.

A final oral examination on courses and research pursued during the program will be scheduled at the end of the student's final semester of enrollment.


Horticulture - Doctor of Philosophy

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Horticulture

An oral qualifying examination may be conducted by the guidance committee shortly after the student begins advanced graduate study to determine his or her qualifications and to provide a basis for developing the program of study.

At least 6 credits in the 800 series in horticulture are recommended. Three of the six credits may have been completed as part of master's degree requirements.


Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology - Horticulture

The Department of Horticulture offers Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree programs in plant breeding, genetics and biotechnology–horticulture. Students meet the requirements for admission and the requirements both for Horticulture, as specified above, and for Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology, as specified in the statement on Interdepartmental Graduate Programs in Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology.