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Horticultural Science


Horticultural science programs teach people the scientific principles behind cultivating garden and ornamental plants.

Horticultural science programs include topics such as:


In horticultural science programs, students may be able to specialize in:


Many community colleges offer associate degree programs in horticultural science. An associate degree usually takes two years to complete. After earning an associate degree students can transfer to a college or university for further study.

Several colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in horticultural science. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study.

A few universities offer graduate degrees in horticultural science. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree.

See schools that offer this program.

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good scores on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General.

Additional requirements at most schools include:

Although it would be helpful, your bachelor's degree does not necessarily have to be in horticultural science. However, you usually need to take several courses in the life sciences and basic horticultural science before you can officially enter a master's degree program.

Since doctoral programs tend to emphasize advanced research, you should have a strong background in the life sciences, if not horticultural science as well. Prerequisite courses include:

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

In this undergraduate program, you typically take courses such as the following:

Graduate Program Courses

Course work in graduate programs tends to vary. However, the outline of a typical graduate curriculum looks like the following:

Some schools offer master's degree programs that focus less on research and more on advanced training for professionals. In these cases, you usually take a comprehensive exam in place of writing a thesis. You may also have to complete a project applying your classroom knowledge to a real-life horticultural science situation.

Some programs, both undergraduate and graduate, incorporate internships into their curriculums. An internship allows you to gain hands-on experience in a real-world horticultural science. You can use the opportunity to focus on an area of horticultural science in which you're already interested. Or you can use it to explore an area that you're undecided about pursuing.

Your program may work with you to secure an internship based on your interests, skills, and knowledge. In other cases, they may give you leads that you can pursue on your own.

Possible settings for an internship include a local arboretum, a seed company, or a citrus orchard. You might help plant seedlings, perform quality assurance on seeds before they're packaged, or treat citrus trees to prevent plant diseases and pests. These are just a few of the many possibilities. In whatever internship you have, you usually benefit from the guidance and supervision of an experienced horticultural professional.

Things to Know

For information about farm occupations, opportunities, and 4-H activities, contact your local county extension service office.

Some programs offer opportunities to study horticulture abroad. Others offer easy access to certain native plants or produce.


East Side Area

Washington State University - Pullman

King-Snohomish Area

Bastyr University

Edmonds Community College

South Seattle College

University of Washington - Seattle

Spokane Area

Spokane Community College

Statewide and Distance Learning

Washington State University - Global Campus