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The Stockbridge School of Agriculture offers an undergraduate program leading to a BS in the Plant, Soil & Insect Sciences, Sustainable Food & Farming, Sustainable Horticulture, and Turfgrass Science and Management.
The Undergraduate Major
The following sections are an introduction to the areas of concentrations and program tracts offered by the Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences Undergraduate Major Program.
The undergraduate curriculum in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture has been designed with the goal of allowing students to tailor their course work to best reflect individual academic interests and career objectives. The major encompasses a broad range of related disciplines dealing with applied biology and the environment in general. Programs of study include: Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences, Sustainable Horticulture, Sustainable Food & Farming, and Turfgrass Science & Management.
Students begin their studies with introductory classes in the major and with general education courses required of all University students. These initial courses, which include biology, chemistry, ecology and mathematics, form the foundation for more advanced study in the major. The exact sequence of courses is determined by the student's selection of one of the four majors. Independent studies and internships are available under each of the concentrations, providing students with the opportunity to integrate laboratory and field work into their curriculum.
Total School Course Requirements. Majors will complete a minimum of 30 course credits taken within the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. Specific course requirements vary by major.
Plant Soil and Insect Sciences
Plant Soil and Inscet Sciences , through theoretical and practical training, prepares students to tackle real-world problems by integrating and applying knowledge they learn from different disciplines. This program includes rigorous training in biology and laboratory methods. Students focus their study in one of two general areas: plant science or general applied biology. They may also choose to focus their advanced course work in plant science and biotechnology, entomology, horticultural sciences, plant pathology, conservation biology, soil science or a related discipline. Many successful graduates work in research or applied aspects of the biotech industries, pest management, agricultural and horticultural businesses, and environmental consulting arenas. Others go on for advanced graduate training for careers in business, the public sector, or academia.
View Plant Soil and Inscet SciencesCurriculum outline (APPLIED BIOLOGY AND BIOTECHNOLOGY)
Sustainable Food and Farming
Grow with us!
The major in Sustainable Food and Farming was developed in response to growing student demand and emerging work opportunities. If you care about good food, small farms, and local solutions to the climate and energy crisis, this major might be for you. Students in the major generally focus on growing and marketing good food, food advocacy, farm-based education and public policy. They study topics from permaculture and organic farming to medicinal herbs and community food systems, as well as how to grow and market good food.
Why choose a career in sustainable agriculture?
This major helps to prepare students for careers with small, organic and community farms, non-profit advocacy and policy agencies, government organizations, and food and farm related educational institutions. We offer students flexibility in choice of courses so a close working relationship with an academic advisor is imperative.
While students certainly are prepared to enter the workforce at the time of graduation, anyone who wants to thrive in this rapidly changing world also needs to learn how to learn. Students in our major will meet entrepreneurs who have followed their own dream and are busy creating new businesses, non-profit organizations, or are self-employed. Students are introduced to systems thinking, grant writing, and holistic decision-making, as well as the more traditional biological and ecological sciences. They are awarded academic credit for apprenticeships, internships and independent work related to their area of study.
Students in our major do more than go to class. We encourage you to get involved in your campus community, food and farming activities in the Pioneer Valley while you are at UMass. A few of the projects that have been either initiated or actively supported by our students are:
- The UMass Student Farm is a year-round class that gives students the opportunity to manage a small organic university-owned farm and sell their produce through a CSA, farmers market, and to university and private food service and retail markets.
- The UMass Permaculture Initiative a unique class and program that has converted underused grass lawns on the campus into edible, low-maintenance, and easily replicable food gardens.
- Permaculture in the Pioneer Valley is a class that designs and installs permaculture gardens off-campus in local elementary schools.
- The UMass Student Food Advocacy Group supports several projects, including the national Real Food Challenge, which is working toward a campus commitment to purchasing 20% “real food” by 2020. Students earn academic credit to create supportive networks which promote education, leadership and activism around just and sustainable food systems.
- The UMass Cooperative Enterprise Collaborative introduces the UMass campus and students to work opportunities in local foods and supports worker ownership, social entrepreneurship, alternative businesses, and the solidarity economy.
- The GardenShare Project is a one acre student-managed garden that introduces non-majors to gardening in community.
One of the most important aspects of student education is the emphasis on getting practical experience either with local farms and markets, or non-profit public policy and advocacy groups, and farm-based education collaboratives. Practical education built on a solid foundation of biological and ecological sciences prepare students to explore creative options and good work. Its surely a good time to be an “Aggie.”
Sustainable Horticulture stresses the concepts and practices vital to the preservation of natural resources in managed plant systems. This concentration provides students with the tools and knowledge to work in the horticultural field. Students receive scientific training in the production of herbaceous ornamentals, fruits, and vegetables. In addition, students have the option of taking business courses to complement their horticultural training or to further enhance their scientific training through more courses in basic science. The University- operated greenhouses, vegetable field, and orchard are used as laboratory spaces to provide students with hands-on experience related to knowledge they acquire in the classroom. Successful graduates find employment in plant conservatories and arboreta as well as manage businesses such as direct-market farms, greenhouse operations, landscaping firms and nurseries or they continue to graduate school for advanced degrees.
Turfgrass Science and Management
Turfgrass Science and Management is an applied science program that focuses on the production and maintenance of grassed areas, including home lawns, parks, golf courses and other athletic surfaces. This concentration integrates scientific theory with practical experience, and covers such topics as grass and seed identification, turfgrass culture and physiology, pest control, and equipment maintenance. Students in this concentration have the option of selecting a business management or a science focus. Many graduates find employment in the golf course industry, while others choose to specialize in sports turf management. The lawn care industry also employs many of our graduates in jobs as varied as research, sales, and direct lawn maintenance.
The Undergraduate Minors
Undergraduate Minor Degree Programs
The Stockbridge School of Agriculture offers a Minor in Plant & Soil Sciences and Plant Pathology.
Please look over the information presented, and feel free to contact the Stockbridge School of Agriculture for updates.
The Undergraduate Minor In Plant & Soil Sciences
All students planning to minor in Plant and Soil Sciences must have completed PLSOILIN 102 or equivalent, CHEM 110 or 111, and PLSOILIN 105. In addition, a student must successfully complete 15 credits in Plant and Soil Sciences with at least 3 credits at the 500 level and, at most, one 100-level course. Students interested in minoring should plan their courses with a PSIS faculty adviser, prior to commencement of the program. An appropriate adviser can be selected through the Departmental Undergraduate Program Office. Certain course selections within the minor in Plant and Soil Sciences will be suggested to accommodate students specifically interested in Ornamental Horticulture, Sustainable Agriculture, Turf Management, or Soils.
The Undergraduate Minor In Plant Pathology
Plant Pathology is the study of plant diseases caused by biological organisms such as insects, viruses, bacteria, fungi, and environmental factors such as lack of water, improper nutrition, and pollution. Plant pathologists diagnose the condition of a plant, and determine the cause of the problem and what can be done to solve it. Requirements of the minor are outlined below, but students interested in minoring in Plant Pathology should contact the Plant, Soil & Insect Undergraduate Program Office for further guidance.
STOCKSCH 505 General Plant Pathology
A minimum of 12 credits chosen from the following courses:
STOCKSCH 510 Management & Ecology of Plant Diseases (Spring)
STOCKSCH 525 Mycology (Fall, odd years)
STOCKSCH 535 Diagnostic Plant Pathology (Spring, odd years)
STOCKSCH 397/597 Special Topics courses (up to 4 credits)
STOCKSCH 496 Independent Study (up to 2 credits)
Students are encouraged to enhance their programs of study with an Internship experience and/or an Independent Study research project. These opportunities provide students with experience and training that will be useful in career planning as well as in decision-making about fields of possible graduate study. Students must have attained at least sophomore status and be in good academic standing. Although the number of credits from Independent Study and Internship is restricted to 6 within the major, the University allows up to 18 credits of Internship to be applied towards the 120 credits required for graduation.
Internships: An Internship is a summer or semester-long work experience which allows students to “apprentice” with professionals in their field. Internships are intended to be a learning experience, and do not necessarily provide significant monetary compensation. Instead, academic credits are earned. Students can earn 12 credits for a full time, semester long internship experience and 3 to 9 credits for a summer program. Prior to undertaking an internship, an Academic Contract (Independent Study/Practicum form) must be completed by the student and his/her faculty sponsor including planned activities, a statement of objectives, as well as criteria for evaluation and grading.
Independent Study: Students wishing to complete a research project or independent learning project must select a faculty member within the school who will approve the project and provide guidance. An Independent Study Form must be completed which specifies the number of credits to be earned, a statement of objectives, planned activities, and criteria to be used for evaluation and grading. This form must be filed with the School’s Undergraduate Program Office before the project is initiated.
- INDEPENDENT STUDY/PRACTICUM CONTRACT
- OVERRIDE FORM
- REQUIREMENT EXCEPTION FORM
- PRIOR APPROVAL FOR TRANSFER COURSE WORK FORM
Stockbridge School of Agriculture's graduates are highly employable within their field of specialization. Our graduates are employed in professions as varied as environmental consulting, agronomic and horticultural crop production, secondary school instruction, and golf course and parks management, just to name a few. Recent school graduates are employed as:
- Scientists, research technicians, and environmental consultants
- Growers of ornamental and edible crops
- Regulatory officials
- Sales representatives of agricultural products
- Managers of golf courses, parks, garden centers, greenhouses, and nurseries
- Teachers of vocational agricultural and high-school biology
A significant number of our graduates continue working towards advanced degrees which provide additional opportunities in research, teaching, consulting and public service in their chosen area of specialization. Recent graduates are presently enrolled in M.S. and Ph.D. programs studying organismal and evolutionary biology, developmental plant biology, plant pathology, environmental soil chemistry, and wetland science, just to name a few.
Students interested in transferring to the University should have taken courses in a variety of disciplines (including writing/composition, humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and natural sciences). The Stockbridge School of Agriculture majors requires more than 60 semester credit hours of plant and soil sciences or related course work, so early transfer is recommended to avoid delay of graduation. We recommend that prospective transfer students contact our Undergraduate Program Office as early as possible to discuss appropriate transfer course work.
William L. Mitchell
Office of Undergraduate Affairs
121 Stockbridge Hall