Plant Science


The master of science degree in agriculture, plant science option, provides students the opportunity to enhance knowledge, competence, and specialization in the field of plant science, entomology, biological control, hydroponics, irrigation science, turf management and other current fields in the horticulture and agronomy fields.

The curriculum is designed to facilitate greater proficiency in research methodology and design, statistical analysis, utilization of technology, and advancement in a specific concentration area.

Students desiring additional experience with industry can include an internship or cooperative project in an industry sector they choose.

This degree has successfully enhanced the careers of individuals employed in community colleges, universities, cooperative extension, and other agricultural career fields, and has also provided experience and education necessary to pursue a doctoral program at other institutions.

Application for Admission

An applicant for admission to the master's degree program in agricultural science, plant science option, should have a baccalaureate degree in agriculture or related field.

Students who do not have an undergraduate degree in agriculture or related field may be admitted to the program and will work with their faculty advisor to identify any knowledge deficiencies.

A cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 2.75 overall, or 2.75 in the final 90 units of coursework is required. All applicants must take the GRE and provide the scores to the Department of Plant Science, although there is not a minimum score requirement.

In addition, the plant science department chair must receive three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant's academic qualifications and potential as a graduate student.

International students seeking admission into the program must achieve a score of 550 on the TOEFL. An applicant not meeting these standards may be conditionally admitted with the approval of the program's Graduate Admissions Committee. The conditional student must comply with the requirements of admission within three quarters.

The Graduate Program

The graduate student, along with an appointed advisory committee, will develop a program of study by the end of the second semester, based on the student's interests and preparation.

The student's approved program will include required basic core courses, a selection of additional courses in a specialization, electives, independent study, and a thesis. The student must have on file an approved program within two semesters of admission to the master's program.

It is preferable for students to begin the program during the fall semester to maximize efficiency in the flow of coursework. The majority of the student’s core coursework and the research proposal will be completed during the first year of the program. The actual thesis research and thesis preparation will be completed during the second year. Most students are able to complete the degree within two academic years, including the summer between.

Admission to the program does not admit a student to candidacy for the degree. Advancement to candidacy is contingent upon the recommendation of the graduate coordinator. A student who has not been admitted to candidacy is not eligible to register for the thesis (PLT 696). To advance to candidacy for the master’s degree, the student must have completed at least nine units of graduate coursework at Cal Poly Pomona with a GPA of 3.0 or better;

  • The degree program shall include a minimum of 30 semester units of which at least 18 units shall be in 5000- or 6000-level courses. Additional coursework may be required to eliminate subject matter deficiencies. At least 24 units must be within the broad field of agriculture.
  • A grade point average of 3.0 (B) or better must be maintained in all upper division undergraduate and all graduate courses. No course with a grade lower than "C" (2.0) may apply toward the fulfillment of degree requirements.
  • No more than nine semester units of acceptable graduate credit may be transferred from another graduate institution. No more than 13 units taken through Extended University may be used on a contract. No more than nine units of acceptable graduate credit may be petitioned by an undergraduate student. A total limit of nine transfer, Extended University, and/or units petitioned for graduate credit may be included on a master's contract. The stipulated time limit of seven years applies to all of the above.
    • The student will develop a program based upon the curriculum outlined in the Graduate Studies section of the catalog, in consultation with the major professor and the department graduate coordinator and be approved by the graduate studies analyst.
    • Advancement to candidacy is required.
    • A candidate completing thesis must submit two final copies for binding in accordance with university regulations and successfully complete a final oral examination covering the thesis and the candidate's area of specialization. The candidate must be enrolled in the university during the quarter of graduation.
    • Financial assistance in the form of Graduate Assistantships is sometimes available but not guaranteed.

Suggested Curriculum: Read more about the suggested curriculum for this degree.