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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Botany

Explore a Master’s Degree in Botany

Botany is the scientific study of plant life in a particular region, habitat, or geological period. Students with an interest in plant life and a background in cellular biology, molecular biology, and anatomy, and working in laboratories or in field work may find botany an ideal graduate program. Botanists usually work on teams, and require interpersonal and communication skills, as well as critical thinking and observational skills for experimental work. A botany master’s degree will usually take two years to complete with approximately 40 semester hours of course work.

Class Curriculum

A master’s degree in botany may require foundational course work in plant anatomy, cell biology, molecular biology, and biochemistry. Botany may include course work in ecology, plant taxonomy, multivariate methods, molecular phylogenetic analysis, and mycology. Further course work may include biotechnology, environmental toxicology, plant systematics, and plant molecular biology. Below are descriptions of a few courses a botany graduate student may take:

  • Plant Taxonomy. Plant taxonomy covers the vegetative and floral characteristics used to identify flowering plants. Plant taxonomy also covers plant families, their phylogenetic relationships, and their importance globally and locally.
  • Plant Systematics. Plant systematics covers classification and field identification of vascular plants. Course work may also cover morphology and concepts of evolutionary studies in botany.
  • Plant Physiology. Plant physiology studies the function of plants through cell structure, water relations, metabolic processes, movement, and environment. Lecture may correspond with laboratory experiments.

Assignments in botany may consist of laboratory and field work with corresponding written assignments. Comprehension and reading assignments may follow lectures. Departments may require students to work on a thesis and may have research or internship opportunities available.

Building a Career

Plant scientists and botanists are employed most by educational institutions, federal and state agencies, and industries. While some positions may be available to plant scientists and botanists with a bachelor’s degree, advancement usually requires a master’s degree, and research or a college teaching position will usually require a Ph.D. Botanists may find work as plant biologists in branches of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Public Health Service, and industries including drug companies, the chemical industry, lumber and paper companies, and food companies.

Some individuals with a graduate background in botany become biochemists and biophysicists who apply their knowledge to the field of agriculture. Biochemists and biophysicists had a median annual wage of $79,390 in May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment for biochemists and biophysicists is expected to increase by 31% between 2010 and 2020. The pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry employed 22% of biochemists and biophysicists in 2010. Employment and wage figures may differ for prospective employees with a background in botany or plant biology.

Another potential career is agriculture and food scientists. The BLS reports that agriculture and food scientists had a median annual wage of $58,450 in May 2010, and employment for agriculture and food scientists is expected to increase by 10% between 2010 and 2020. Keep in mind, however, that wages and job opportunities depend on a variety of factors, including area, employer, position, and experience.

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