Plant & Soil Science Graduate Program

The Plant and Soil Sciences Program in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture is accepting applications to the on-campus M.S. and Ph.D. degree and Off-Campus Professional Soil Science M.S. degree. All individuals pursuing a thesis-based M.S. or Ph.D. degree should first contact a member of our faculty to determine the compatibility of his or her research with your interests and, for Ph.D. candidates, to determine the availability of funding. Individuals who have not made such a connection likely will not be considered for acceptance. If you are uncertain who might be the best match for your interests, contact our Graduate Program Director, Dr. Masoud Hashemi. Students interested in pursuing a fifth-year M.S. or a non-thesis M.S. should contact our Graduate Program Director, Dr. Masoud Hashemi to discuss degree options. Those interested in the off-campus M.S. in Soil Science should contact Dr. Baoshan Xing or Dr. Mickey Spokas.


The Plant & Soil Sciences Graduate Program offers the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, and both thesis and non-thesis Master of Science (M.S.) degrees. A non-thesis, Off-Campus M.S. graduate program in Soil Science is also available. Plant & Soil Science Graduate program provides training, experience, and mentoring to the M.S. and Ph.D. in the full spectrum of agricultural and environmental study, including plant physiology, molecular biology, biotechnology, plant pathology, ecology, production technology, soil science, agricultural marketing, etc. The Plant and Soil Science Graduate Program ensures excellence by devoting considerable resources and faculty efforts to the graduate curriculum and preparing the students to be successful leaders in research, education, and industry.

M.S. students (thesis option) are required to take 30 credits of which nine may be thesis research credits. The M.S. non-thesis option is considered to be a terminal degree program and requires additional course work. For Ph.D. students, a personalized curriculum will be designed by the student and his/her Guidance Committee. All Ph.D. students must pass both written and oral Comprehensive Exams. More information about the program’s course and degree requirements, and our Graduate Student Handbook can be found on the Stockbridge School of Agriculture Page. In addition, consult the Graduate School website for general information and requirements.

Requirements for Admission:

Applicants to graduate school should be prepared at the undergraduate level by having taken basic science courses, including biology, botany, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and relevant courses in soils, horticulture, agronomy, plant molecular biology, environmental science, or other areas within plant or soil or environmental sciences, plant biotechnology, agronomy etc. Students wishing to transfer to studies in plant or soil sciences from other fields are encouraged to apply, but may be required to take some undergraduate courses in the plant and soil area to establish a background for advanced studies. Remedial English courses are offered for foreign students having difficulty with the language. Students must also meet all of the UMass Graduate School's admission requirements.

How to Apply:

Applications to the Graduate School should be submitted online via the Graduate School Website. The University requires submission of letters of recommendation along with a completed application form for admission. International students are required to submit the English proficiency test scores such as TOEFL or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) along with their application. Graduate applications that specify interest in Plant & Soil Sciences Graduate Program will bereviewed by a Plant and Soil Sciences Graduate Admissions/Policy committee to judge whether the qualifications of the student are acceptable to the program. The Program will then recommend acceptance or non-acceptance, but only the Graduate School can accept a student. The Graduate School application fee must be paid before an application can be reviewed.

Financial Aid:

Ph.D. students generally receive up to five years of financial support in a combination of research and teaching assistantships and fellowships. M.S. students sometimes receive teaching or research assistantships, but not guaranteed. Students are encouraged to seek support from several other sources as well. Prospective students who receive full-funding or scholarship from outside agencies, governments, etc. are highly encouraged to apply as their funding makes them desirable. Both the teaching and research assistantships carry a waiver of tuition for the student.

Statute Of Limitations

Upon admittance to the university in M.S. and Ph.D. degree, students should complete all degree requirements within the specified time frame described in the Plant & Soil Sciences Graduate Program Handbook and/or as specified by the Graduate school. This is called the Statute of Limitations. 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.