College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Horticulture

Degree Requirements

 A graduate degree in Horticulture requires:

  • A broad understanding of a large body of knowledge in horticulture and
  • A specialization within that body of knowledge.

To achieve the goals of graduate education, requirements for each degree are set by the Graduate School, the Department, and the student’s Graduate Advisory Committee. The graduate student’s Graduate Advisory Committee will be responsible for setting, assessing, and maintaining standards for each student’s specialization. This will allow each student’s program to be individualized for that student’s particular needs and interests. Requirements for the area of specialization may be in whatever form the student’s committee members feel is most appropriate and will include courses and independent research. The department also expects graduate students in Horticulture to acquire a broader understanding of Horticulture, as set forth below.

Recommended Courses

To acquire a broad understanding of what constitutes the field of horticulture, it is recommended that all Horticulture graduate students complete courses from each of these four groups:

  • Applied Plant Sciences
  • Basic Plant Sciences
  • Research Foundation (foundational, analytical, methodological, or techniques)
  • Supporting Areas (courses that contribute to an understanding of the agricultural disciplines that directly support undergraduate horticulture degrees)

For incoming graduate students who already have a B.S. or M.S. degree in Horticulture or related plant sciences, this may have been fulfilled in their previous degree before admission into our graduate program. For graduate students with degrees in unrelated fields, they should endeavor to acquire some background in each of these groups. Completion of these course groups are the discretion of the graduate student and their Major Advisor. For specific courses, please refer to the Horticulture Graduate Student Handbook.

Horticulture Seminar

Graduate students are required to attend Horticulture seminars regularly and are encouraged to attend seminars from other departments periodically as part of their professional education. In addition, students are required to present two seminars during their program of study.

Statewide Graduate Student Orientation Tour

To provide graduate students with an overview of the breadth of our departmental resources and the diverse horticultural industries in the state and to acquaint students with our statewide WSU faculty, staff, and graduate students, all incoming graduate students are required to attend the Statewide Research and Extension Center Tour at their earliest opportunity.

Graduate Teaching Requirements

All students for advanced degrees in horticulture are expected to participate in teaching/outreach activities, as well as research activities, while at WSU. This experience is intended to provide some knowledge of how to communicate horticultural information to students and/or stakeholder groups. M.S. and Ph.D. students are required to satisfy departmental teaching requirements for each degree separately, regardless of previous teaching experience. Realizing that each graduate student’s experience will be different, this teaching/outreach experience requirement can be met by completing one or a combination of the following teaching/outreach duties at some time during the student’s graduate program:

  • Prepare and present lectures in person or by distance delivery at the undergraduate or graduate level in courses offered at any WSU campus.
  • Conduct tutorial sessions for undergraduate students.
  • Assist with the preparation and conduct of laboratory periods.
  • Prepare and present asynchronous presentations, each equivalent to a lecture period, for possible use later in departmental programs. Topics and presentation format must be approved by his/her advisor. For example, the student might prepare computer-assisted learning modules.
  • Perform required teaching duties on a Teaching Assistantship.
  • Prepare and present extension presentations to stakeholder groups.
  • Prepare and present scientific presentations at professional meetings.

Other Degree Requirements

Other requirements, including selection of a Graduate Advisory Committee, research proposals, doctoral preliminary examination, thesis/dissertation requirements, and final defense, are provided in the Horticulture Graduate Student Handbook and in the Graduate School’s Policies and Procedures Manual.

The progress of all Horticulture graduate students is reviewed once a year to help keep them informed of Graduate School and Horticulture Graduate Program requirements, so that they can make timely progress toward degree completion. A formal Learning Outcome Assessment is used at the PhD preliminary exam and at the final thesis/dissertation defense exam.

More information

WSU Graduate School

Learning Outcomes Assessment

PhD Preliminary Exam Assessment Rubric

Thesis/Dissertation Defense Exam Assessment Rubric (MS, PhD)


Department of Horticulture, PO Box 646414, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-6414, 509-335-9502, Contact Us
© 2018 Washington State University | Accessibility | Policies | Copyright | Log in