Off-Campus Masters Degree in Soil Science


Today's competitive market requires continuous professional development, particularly in academic areas that fell outside one's major during undergraduate training. Our school, in cooperation with UMass Continuing and Professional Education (CPE), offers the opportunity for advanced training in soil science. Students enrolled in this program already hold a Bachelor's degree in a science-related field such as geology, engineering, public health, biology, or environmental sciences. Over a decade ago, the school began offering soil science courses at an off-campus location to facilitate training of non-soil scientists, enabling them to meet the educational requirements for certification as a Professional Soil Scientist. Eventually this program developed into a 30-credit program that upon completion, grants a Master of Science degree in Plant and Soil Sciences. Although the degree is in Plant and Soil Sciences, our off-campus program is limited to the field of soil science. This program is designed to meet the needs of working professionals who do not have the time or the opportunity to enroll in a traditional, full-time graduate program. Most students enrolled in our classes want to further their education because it expands their technical expertise. Others have used the advanced training for job advancement.

The Application Process

You can apply for admittance to the UMass Off-Campus Master of Science Program in Plant and Soil Sciences by completing the standard UMass Graduate School application form available on the web ( The application process requires that you submit GRE scores less then 5 years old and that you hold a bachelor degree from an accredited academic institution. The GRE scores are a school requirement that is not waived. Please make sure that you apply to the Plant and Soil Sciences Off-Campus program when completing the application form. Fall applications should be received by November 1, and Spring applications by April 30.

Once admitted to the program you will be assigned an academic advisor. Contact your advisor prior to taking courses to ensure that appropriate classes are taken. Once you have taken some courses, your advisor, in close consultation with each degree candidate, will recommend to the Graduate School (through the school Graduate Program Director) appointment of a 3-member Guidance Committee consisting of at least 2 members of the UMass Plant and Soil Sciences Graduate Faculty. Eventually the Guidance Committee will take on the role of Examination Committee to administer the final examination.

Important! It is the MS candidate's responsibility to maintain academic eligibility by signing up for a formal academic activity at UMass each Fall and Spring semester. This may be accomplished by taking a UMass course, or signing up for the independent study project or the final seminar presentation. If you are not signed up for a formal UMass academic activity you have to pay the program fee or else you will be disenrolled by the Graduate School. See the Graduate School for details.

Statute Of Limitations

Upon admittance to the university you have 3 years to complete all degree requirements. This is called the Statute of Limitations. Because most of the students enrolled in this program are working professionals with limited time to dedicate to academic endeavors, most will exceed this time limit. The Statute can be extended by petitioning the school Graduate Program Director. The petition should explain the reason for the delay, anticipated progress, the projected completion date, and must be supported by a statement from your advisor. Contact the Graduate Program Director for additional details.

Transfer of Credits for Courses Taken Elsewhere

University regulations permit transfer of up to 6 credits (grade B or better) for appropriate graduate level courses taken at other educational institutions within three years of admission to the Off-Campus program. You must formally petition the UMass Graduate School for permission to transfer credits for graduate level courses taken elsewhere. The first step is to contact the Plant and Soil Sciences Graduate Program Director and request, in writing, permission to transfer the desired courses into your off-campus program. These courses may not have been applied to another degree program.


For additional information, contact:

Dr. Baoshan Xing -  Off Campus MS Program Director
410 Paige Labrotory
161 Hldlsworth Way
Amherst, MA 01003-9246
(413) 545-5212

Dr. Mickey Spokas, Program Coordinator
9 Stockbridge Hall
80 Campus Center Way
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003-9246
(413) 545-5215