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Horticultural Science

Program Description

Just the Facts

Horticultural Science. A program that focuses on the scientific principles related to the cultivation of garden and ornamental plants, including fruits, vegetables, flowers, and landscape and nursery crops. Includes instruction in specific types of plants, such as citrus; breeding horticultural varieties; physiology of horticultural species; and the scientific management of horticultural plant development and production through the life cycle.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

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See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

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Additional Information

Got a green thumb? Your love of gardening can be more than just a hobby. Horticulture students learn to cultivate plant life in settings that range from greenhouses to golf courses.

Horticulture students can choose from a wide range of specialties and an array of programs. Within those broad program areas, students can specialize even more. For instance, horticulture students can choose from fruit and vegetable production, greenhouse crop production, landscaping and arboriculture (trees) and nursery crop production.

Many universities and two-year colleges offer technician and technologist programs that are two years or less. In many cases, students can eventually transfer to the bachelor's degree programs, or they can be employed in entry-level positions in the industry. For higher positions, though, you'll need a bachelor's degree.

What you will study will depend on the type of horticulture program and the area of specialization. Bryce Lane is the program coordinator at North Carolina State University. He says most programs include classes in general biology, chemistry, soil science, entomology (insects), plant pathology, plant identification, plant propagation and greenhouse management. Landscape horticulturists will also take courses in landscape design.

Most programs also have cooperative education, work term, internship or field study components.

Lane says students need a good science background, especially in biology and chemistry. English is also good.

Lloyd Maplebeck is the head of an agriculture department. He suggests getting some exposure to computer-aided design (CAD) programs while in high school.

Exposure to the field prior to applying to a program is important. Try getting a job with a landscaper, florist, golf course or park. There are many opportunities to volunteer with horticulture clubs in most cities.

Those who have had some experience working in the field, says Lane, are better able to apply the theory they learn in class. It also gives them an edge in getting a job after graduation.

Besides tuition, the main cost is books.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Agricultural and Food Scientists

American Horticultural Society
Gardening information for all levels of skill

Northern Gardener
Information resource for gardeners and horticulturists by the Minnesota State Horticultural Society

All-America Selections
Site dedicated to the development, production and distribution of new horticultural and agricultural varieties


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