Last year, Stockbridge announced a new "5th Year" Accelerated Masters Degree program in Plant and Soil Sciences.  This year, we are pleased to celebrate the first three students to graduate from the program.

The "5th Year" program allows students earning a bachelor degree to get a head start on some of the higher level courses required to earn a Masters degree.  Such acceleration can makes students more competitive in job markets, sooner.

Within the program, students can pursue the defense of a traditional thesis, or they can select the non-thesis track to put more emphasis on developing their laboratory skills. 

Jessica Rodriguez was the first student to seek the accelerated degree.  Under the supervision of Dr. Om Parkash Dhankher, Rodriguez' research topic is "Overexpression of Arabidopsis Wax Synthase (AtWSD1) Gene Protects 'Camelina sativa' Plants from Abiotic Stress."  An overall goal of such research is to develop a strain of the plant that can one day be used to make biofuels.  Rodriguez' Masters of Science degree will complement her dual bachelor degrees in Environmental Science and Chemical Engineering, also earned at UMass.

Alexander Wu, supervised by Dr. Ashley Keiser, recently defended his thesis "The Use of Biological Soil Health Indicators to Quantify the Benefits of Cover Crops." Wu’s work contributes to the science supporting the use of cover crops, a vegetative cover protecting the soil between growing seasons. His work demonstrates improved soil biological parameters under different cover crop management practices. Wu hopes to put his skills to work in the Amherst area, to continue improving his proficiency in the lab, and to transition from an academic to a commercial setting.

Jordan Smith, also under the tutelage of Dr. Om Parkash Dhankher, has just defended her thesis "Nanoscale Sulfur as a Novel Fertilizer for Promoting Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) Growth and Yield." Smith contributes to emerging work on nano-particles in soil chemistry, and the best practices for growers that result from such studies.  Such science can help to alleviate world hunger by improving and expanding the food supply.  Smith plans to find work doing research, or otherwise working in the plant biotechnology industry.

The Graduate Programs at Stockbridge School of Agriculture also include a traditional 2-year Masters degree program, and a PhD program in Plant and Soil Sciences.

Current bachelor degree students seeking to transfer into the Accelerated Masters program must first work closely with their advisor on appropriate course selection, and then apply to the Graduate School for Fall admission.

Stockbridge is proud to have strong international representation across our graduate faculty.  We also have strong international representation across our graduate students.  We encourage you to see a directory of our graduate students and their research topics.

The cutting-edge research conducted by the Stockbridge School of Agriculture contributes to the University's ranking.  We are consistently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as #1 in the nation, and #5 in the world, for Best Agricultural Universities.

Learn more about our graduate programs.