Plant Science - MS, PhD

College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences

About This Degree

USU is home to the only agriculturally focused plant science degrees in the state.

The plant science graduate degrees are centered on the biology, genetics, and management of plants and other issues related to agricultural and horticultural production. In particular, USU’s plant science programs focus on regional issues pertaining to the West and current environmental issues, such as the management of invasive weed species, specifically the weed problems of the Intermountain West, and the challenges of organic and sustainable agriculture in the West’s arid climate.

What You Will Learn

Each graduate student in the department follows a unique and completely customized plan of study.

Students work closely with faculty on research projects and receive individual attention and mentoring as they complete their research. Students can focus their research in a variety of areas as they develop solutions to current problems. Those areas may include environmental plant physiology, genetics, molecular biology, plant breeding, crop production, sustainable and organic crop and forage production systems, weed science, urban landscape management, and water management in agricultural and horticultural crops, including turf and other ornamentals.

Career And Outcomes

Career Opportunities

Graduates in plant science can pursue the following careers:

  • Plant breeder
  • Plant genetics
  • Fertilizer development
  • Pesticide research and development
  • Weed control
  • Weed scientist
  • Consulting scientist
  • Plant disease control
  • Research and development
  • Sales
  • Manage operations for large farms

Job Outlook



Jeanette Norton

Professor, PSC Graduate Program Advisor
Office: AGRS 344
Phone: (435) 797-2166

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Admission Requirements

Students without an undergraduate or graduate degree in plants, soils, biometeorology, or a closely related field may be required to complete selected undergraduate courses prior to admission.

Application Requirements:

  • Complete the online application
  • Pay the $55 application fee
  • Score at or above the 40th percentile on the GRE
  • Have a 3.0 or higher GPA on your last 60 semester or 90 quarter credits
  • Provide transcripts of all college/university credits
  • Provide three contacts for letters of recommendation

International students have additional admissions requirements.


Applications for graduate programs are accepted year-round. However, chances for acceptance are best if students apply between October and January of each academic year. The time it takes to process an application is primarily dependent on the speed with which the School of Graduate Studies receives letters of recommendation, transcripts, and test scores. For most students, this process may take six to eight weeks. Applicants should plan accordingly.

Program Requirements

PhD Qualifying Exams:

Each student must undergo some sort of qualifying experience. Depending on the student’s particular research and their faculty committee, the exam can either be a traditional oral and written exam, a scholarly proposal, or another option best suited to the student’s individual situation.

Plan Options

Students can receive the MS by pursuing one of two options:

  • In the Plan A option, students complete graduate-level coursework and must write a thesis.
  • The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or creative work of art and is expected to reflect equivalent scholarship standards as a thesis.

Students are encouraged to pursue the Plan A option.

Financial Aid

The department typically funds all of its graduate students with research assistantships.

A variety of funding opportunities are available on the graduate school website.

Take The Next Step

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