Plant Science

Get a graduate degree

Go beyond and stand out. Add to what matters most: your education.

Graduate programs

Master of Science, Plant Science

Michael Goerndt, Program Director
Karls Hall, Room 221; Phone 417-836-8824

Program description

This program is designed to prepare students to work in a wide range of jobs related to the production and economic uses of plants. Employment opportunities include the areas of crop, fruit and vegetable production, biotechnology, nursery and seed production, landscape management, wine production, environmental preservation, agribusiness, teaching, research, and extension education. Students may also continue their education in a doctoral program.

The Master of Science in Plant Science is offered as an interdepartmental major from the departments of Environmental Plant Science, Biology or Chemistry. Together with the plant science program coordinator, the student selects an advisor from one of the four departments. The student and advisor design an individual program of study, selecting courses which will help the student to achieve his/her career goals.

During the first semester, the student declares an area of specialization and begins to pursue a research problem (project) with close supervision of a graduate faculty advisory committee. Research areas include fruit production, soils and plant nutrition, ornamental plants and landscaping, plant physiology, enology and viticulture, crop management systems, plant genetics, and economic botany.

Most course work is usually completed by the end of the second or third semester, and the research and thesis completed after four or five semesters. A comprehensive exam is taken during the second year.

Graduate assistantships

Evaluation of applications for assistantships begins on March 1 (fall assistantships) and October 1 (spring assistantships), and will continue until positions are filled. Applicants must first be accepted into the program, and files must be complete to be considered.

Retention requirements

To remain in the program, students must maintain a GPA of 3.00 and make satisfactory progress on the thesis research.

Admission requirements

Students admitted to the plant science program in full standing must meet the following requirements.

  1. The student must meet all Graduate College Admission requirements. Students who do not meet the grade point standards outlined, but are admitted on the basis of their GRE scores, will be required to complete a minimum of 9 hours of specified graduate courses with a GPA of at least 3.00 before being approved for an Advisory-approved Program of Study in the program.
  2. The student must submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores from the General Test portion.
  3. International applicants are also required to submit a score for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of not less than 79 on the internet-based test.
  4. The student must possess an undergraduate degree with a background in an appropriate natural or applied science including one semester of genetics and one semester of organic chemistry or equivalents thereof. Applicants lacking the background courses may be admitted, but will be required to complete any of these deficiencies with appropriate course work.
  5. The student must receive a positive evaluation from the Graduate Coordinator of the Plant Science program before being recommended to the Graduate College for admittance into the program.

Accelerated Master's Degree option

Missouri State University majors in Agriculture, Biology, and Chemistry have the option to apply for preliminary acceptance into the MS in Plant Science program if they meet the requirements of the accelerated master’s option. This option is tailored to those undergraduates who have acquired considerable plant science-related research experience in a laboratory through the departments of Environmental Plant Science, Biology or Chemistry at Missouri State University. Students who are accepted to the accelerated program will be able to count a maximum of 12 credit hours of 600-or higher level course towards both their undergraduate and graduate degrees. The courses must be in the area of economic botany, plant physiology, plant genetics, crop management systems, plant nutrition, soils, chemistry, ecology, fruit production, viticulture, enology, or ornamental plants and landscaping. Courses to be counted toward both degrees must be identified jointly in agreement with the undergraduate advisor, the student’s research mentor, and the Plant Science Program Director.  This option will enable Agriculture, Biology or Chemistry majors to potentially meet the requirements for the MS in Plant Science degree within two semesters following the completion of the undergraduate degree. Contact the Plant Science Program Director for details and additional information.

To be allowed to enroll in a course which is counted toward both the undergraduate and graduate degree, the student must be accepted as an advisee by a graduate faculty member and must be admitted into the accelerated program and have the permission of his/her undergraduate advisor, the Plant Science Program Director and the Dean of the Graduate College. These signature approvals are shown on the Mixed Credit Form which is required prior to the end of the Change of Schedule Period for the selected semester.

Admission Requirements for the Accelerated Master’s option

  1. Junior or senior standing and a GPA of 3.25 or higher.
  2. A minimum of 25 credit hours of undergraduate hours relevant to plant biology (as determined by the undergraduate advisor, the student’s research mentor, and the Plant Science Program Director) with a GPA of 3.50 or higher.
  3. Laboratory research experience relevant to plant science under the direction of a faculty member in Agriculture, Biology or Chemistry at Missouri State University.
  4. Acceptance of the student as an advisee by a member of the MS in Plant Science Graduate Faculty.
  5. Approval by the MS in Plant Science Graduate Advisory Committee.

Degree requirements (32 hours)

  1. Graduate Advisory Committee. Initially, each admitted student will be advised by the graduate coordinator of the Plant Science program. As soon as possible, the student, in conjunction with the graduate coordinator, will select a graduate faculty member from one of the four participating departments to chair a graduate advisory committee. Together with the student, the chairperson of the graduate advisory committee will select a minimum of two additional graduate faculty members from one or more of the participating departments. This committee will supervise the remainder of the candidate’s program.
  2. Program of Study. If not a part of the student’s previous academic experience, courses in plant physiology (BIO 644) and biometry (BIO 650) or applied statistics (MTH 645) must be completed within the first year of the program. The remainder of the candidate’s program will be structured by the advisory committee in consultation with the student. Academic background, professional experience, and career objectives will be considered in establishing the individual’s program.
  3. Course Requirements. The student is required to successfully complete a minimum of 32 hours. Course work taken from the Departments of Agriculture, Biology, Chemistry, Fruit Science, or Mathematics must total at least 23 hours with a minimum of 16 hours from courses numbered 700 through 799 inclusive.
  4. Colloquium. Two hours of credit must be earned in AGP 700, Plant Science Colloquium.
  5. Electives. Upon approval of the advisory committee, graduate courses from related fields may be selected to a maximum of 9 hours within the 32-hour degree requirement.
  6. Research Requirement.

    Thesis Option: The Thesis option requires the completion of a research thesis supervised by the student's advisory committee. The thesis shall be approved by the advisory committee and by the Graduate College before the degree is granted. A maximum of six hours of thesis credit can be applied toward the minimum hours required for the master's degree. An oral defense of the thesis is required.

    Non-Thesis Option: The Non-Thesis option requires the completion of a minimum of one semester course which shall require an extensive research paper or creative work. The student's advisory committee must approve the final research paper and complete a Seminar Report Form that is submitted to the academic department chosen as the major area of concentration and subsequently to the Graduate College for the approval of the Dean.
  7. Qualifying Examination. A written qualifying examination will be administered after most of the course work has been completed. This examination must be passed by the candidate before a degree will be given.