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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Horticulture

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Explore a Master's Degree in Horticulture

Horticulture is the application of science, technology, and business in the growth of plants for human consumption. Students interested in overseeing the cultivation and production of crops while also protecting the environment should consider getting a master's degree in horticulture online. Many horticulture degree programs focus on the genetics, breeding, propagation, production, management, and utilization of plants. Although some master's degree programs require the completion of 36 credit hours of academic work, the length of the program may vary by institution.

Class Curriculum

Horticulture master's degree curriculums are designed to give students a solid foundation of knowledge in the principles of plant growth and how it is affected by the condition of the soil and the natural environment. Therefore, these programs typically require students to enroll in courses such as arboriculture, applied geostatistics, problems in plant and soil science, seed science, soil physics, and soils and crops in arid lands. Read on for a closer look at three horticulture courses:

  • Greenhouse Management and Crop Production. A greenhouse management and crop production course examines the principles of greenhouse operation for the commercial production of crops. The class also provides instruction in greenhouse construction and operation, regulating and controlling the environment within the greenhouse, and influencing plant growth and development.
  • Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition. This course examines how soil conditions affect the availability of plant nutrients and the methods used to determine the level of nutrients in plants a and the soil. Students may learn the basic concepts of soil fertility, plant nutrition, and nutrition management so they will be able to identify soil fertility and plant nutrient problems and practice that maximize plant productability.
  • Soil Physics. A soil physics course covers the interaction between the physical, chemical, and microbiological processes of soil and the optimum growth of plants. The course may also consider the contamination potential for groundwater from the use of fertilizers and pesticides and the transport and retention of water within the soil.

Students of an online master's degree program in horticulture are typically assessed by their performance on homework and lab reports, class discussions, exams, and research projects. Homework and lab assignments are designed to test a student's understanding of the course material and may include testing soil moisture release or particle-size and pore size distribution.

Building a Career

A master's degree in horticulture could qualify a student for employment as a soil and plant scientist. These scientists conduct research and experiments concerning field crops, develop ways to improve the quality and quantity of crops as well as ways to control pests safely and effectively. They also advise food and crop developers about ways they can enhance their production efforts. Soil and plant scientists work for food production companies, farms, and production plants, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The median annual wage for a soil and plant scientist was $57,340, according to the BLS. Employment of soil and plant scientists is expected to increase 12% between 2010 and 2020, which is about as fast as average for all occupations. The BLS expects that agricultural scientists, including soil and plant scientists, will be needed to balance increased production with protecting the environment. However, these statistics are no guarantee of actual salary or employment, which is determined by the employer, location, and condition of the economy.