Master of Science Degree Requirements

A minimum of 30 academic credits is required for graduation. Most of these credits can be earned through enrollment in the off-campus soil science courses ( The university requires that at graduation you also will have completed at least 12 credits in courses at the 600-level or higher. This generally can be accomplished by completing the 600-credit independent study (PLNTSOIL 696), the 1-credit seminar presentation course (PLNTSOIL 793), the 3-credit soil literature seminar course (PLNTSOIL 697S), and one other course at the 600-level. This often can be accomplished by taking the 600-level biostatistics course mentioned below.

The program requires that by graduation time you have taken at least 2 courses in statistics, biometry, or related fields. Courses taken during your undergraduate studies may be counted towards this requirement. The UMass-Amherst Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology offers a statistics course each semester (Fall: BIOST&EP 540; Spring: BIOST&EP 640) at the UMass Medical school in Worcester. These courses are generally taught midweek at night and may now also be offered on-line. You can register for these courses through the UMass Graduate Registrar. You may also check with local colleges to see whether they offer a similar 600-level course that perhaps fits your schedule better. Make sure to get approval from the Graduate Program Director prior to enrollment in a non-UMass course. Note below the requirements for transferring such a course.

In addition to obtaining at least 23 credits in the listed soil coursesincluding 3 credits in statistica,  M.S. candidates are required to sign up for the following classes:
STOCKSCH 696 - 6 cr Independent Study
STOCKSCH 793 - 1 cr Seminar Presentation

Each M.S. candidate is required to complete an independent study project prior to graduation. This may be an extensive and critical review of the literature, a comprehensive evaluation of data or information gathered in your professional position, or another type of project that involves a critical evaluation of information. Once you have completed a minimum of four regular soils courses, you should talk with your academic advisor to select an appropriate project topic. Once a topic has been selected, you must prepare a project proposal and defend your proposal before your Guidance Committee (GC). Once formal approval for your course packet and the project is granted by the GC, you can start your project. A description of the project, a comprehensive review of the appropriate literature, and a critical evaluation of the results is to be summarized in a final report to be submitted to the Guidance/Examination Committee (GC/EC). You should submit drafts of your final report to your academic advisor prior to submitting the report to the entire GC/EC. You can sign up for the seminar course through Continuing and Professional Education. Contact the program coordinators (413-545-2484) about proper enrollment procedures.
Prior to graduation you must present a seminar to the School. You may select the topic of the seminar, and often the independent study results are used as the basis for this presentation. Be prepared to give a professional presentation using PowerPoint. Make sure you formally sign up for the 1-credit seminar presentation (STOCKSCH 793) through CPE at the beginning of the semester that you plan on presenting the seminar.

The final step in completing the requirements for the Master of Science degree is, upon finishing all other requirements, to pass an oral final examination. A 3-member Examination Committee will administer this exam. A positive majority vote by the Committee is required to successfully complete the program.