Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems

Main Content

The School of Agricultural Sciences offers the Master of Science degree in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural systems with a concentration in crop science, soil science, or horticultural science.  Students can also take courses with an emphasis in environmental studies in agriculture through each of these three concentrations. The concentrations in crop, soil, and horticultural sciences can be pursued with either a thesis-option or a research paper (non-thesis) option. We also offer graduate work in agricultural education and information and agricultural technologies.

Supporting courses in education, communication, engineering, plant biology, microbiology, chemistry, statistics, and other areas essential to research in the student’s chosen field may be selected. Supporting courses are selected on an individual basis by the student and the advisory committee. Once the general field has been selected, the research and thesis may be completed in any one of the many divisions of that field. In field crops, the research may be directed toward crop production, management and precision farming, weeds and pest control, or plant breeding, genetics and biotechnology; in horticulture, the research and thesis may be in landscape design, vegetables, tree-fruits, small-fruits, floricultural and ornamental plants, plant tissue culture, or turf management; in soils, the research may relate to soil fertility, soil physics, soil microbiology, soil chemistry, or soil and water conservation; in environmental studies, the research may be directed toward water pollution, reclamation of strip-mined soil, or agricultural chemical pollution problems. Often two of these more restricted areas can be combined in one thesis/research problem.

Agricultural education coursework is designed for instructors in secondary schools, for students preparing for employment at junior colleges, and for those desiring to continue their education by obtaining a Ph.D. degree. Agricultural information coursework is designed to provide graduate training for extension agents, agricultural communication professionals, product-education specialists, and others who are interested in agricultural information processing and transfer to a variety of non-student clientele. Agricultural technologies coursework is designed to offer students interested in technology-based systems the opportunity to study one or more of the following areas: (a) power and machinery; (b) product handling; processing, and storage, (c) farm equipment evaluation; and (d) precision farming. Each of these areas offers application in agricultural environmental studies.

Students interested in plant, soil, and agricultural sciences at the doctoral level can apply to Ph.D. programs in Agricultural Sciences, Plant Biology, or Environmental Resources and Policy at SIUC. 

Admission

Application for admission must include an online application available at gradschool.siu.edu, a statement of interest, college transcripts, and four letters of recommendation. Letters should be requested from four persons who can evaluate the student’s academic ability. Final admission to the program and a particular concentration administered by the Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems program is made by the department. Minimal admission requirements to the program are: a) completion of the plant, soil and agricultural systems or agricultural systems undergraduate requirements and b) a minimal grade point average of 2.7 (A = 4.0). The students who do not meet the requirement of completing the required courses in the undergraduate program in plant, soil, and agricultural systems or agricultural systems may apply to enroll as nondeclared students to make up these deficiencies. Undergraduate coursework taken to correct these deficiencies will not apply to the minimum requirements for the M.S. in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems degree. Students entering the M.S. in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems program with a GPA below 2.70 are accepted on a conditional basis and must enroll in 12 credit hours of structured courses at the 400–500 level and make a GPA of 3.0 or be suspended from the program.

This program requires a nonrefundable $65 application fee that must be submitted with the application for Admissions to Graduate Study in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems. Applicants must pay this fee by credit card. 

Master of Science (M.S.) in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems

Program Requirements

The crop, soil, and horticultural sciences concentrations can be pursued as a 30-credit hour with thesis program or a 40-credit hour with research paper (non-thesis) option. These are described below:

Thesis option

If the student submits a thesis, minimum coursework requirements for the M.S. in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems degree may be fulfilled by satisfactory completion of 30 hours of graduate credit. At least 20 hours of that credit must be from structured courses. 50% of course credit hours are required at the 500 level, of which no more than 10 credit hours may be from unstructured courses. Graduate seminar is required but is not a structured course. Overall, at least 15 credit hours must be from program courses.

Research paper (non-thesis option)

If the student submits a research paper (non-thesis option), minimum coursework requirements for the M.S. in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems degree may be fulfilled by satisfactory completion of 40 hours of graduate credit. At least 30 hours of that credit must be from structured courses. At the 500 level, 18 hours of course credit are required, of which no more than 10 credit hours may be from unstructured courses. Graduate seminar is required but is not a structured course. Overall, at least 25 credit hours must be from program courses.

Students who wish to teach in agriculture education must complete a minimum of 15 credit hours in agriculture (including agricultural education), six credit hours of research methods or statistics, and six  credit hours in education or community development. M.S. in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems students usually take four to six credit hours of research or thesis, and complete the additional hours by taking courses in education or agriculture.

Each student, whether in the thesis or non-thesis option, will be assigned a mutually agreed upon major professor to direct the program. The major professor will serve as chair of the student’s advisory committee, which will consist of at least two members from within the program and may include one member from another department or program. Each M.S. in Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems degree candidate must pass a comprehensive oral examination covering graduate work, including the thesis or research paper.

PSAS 590 Readings and PSAS 592 Special Problems - available for students who have completed a course for another degree and need additional coursework to fulfill 30 credit hours.