Botany Degree Program Information
Read about undergraduate and graduate degree programs in botany. Get information on admission requirements and common courses, and check out employment prospects and salary data for botany professionals.
Botany, a branch of biological science, is the study of plants, including how they survive and interact with other living and non-living things in the environment. Degree programs in this field are available at the bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. levels, and they emphasize plant biology, chemistry and plant genetics.
At the undergraduate and graduate levels, the curriculum typically includes lecture-based courses, laboratory components and field research. Master's and doctoral programs tend to be more research-focused, and applicants usually have bachelor's degrees in botany or closely related fields.
Undergraduate programs can prepare students for graduate-level enrollment or entry-level research assistant positions. Graduates of master's or doctoral programs may have more advanced job opportunities as plant scientists or college professors.
Bachelor's Degree in Botany
A bachelor's degree program in botany provides the foundation for prospective botanists to continue their educational track to the graduate level or find an entry-level career. Undergraduate students studying botany must have a high school diploma or GED prior to being admitted into a university. After completing most university core requirements, botany students begin to focus heavily on biological sciences, mostly non-animal biology, and chemistry courses.
Coursework specific to a bachelor's degree in botany is heavy in plant biology and basic chemistry. These courses are often accompanied by a lab and students are occasionally required to conduct field research, such as studying plants in their natural environments. Most undergraduate botany programs include course topics in:
- Organic chemistry
- Plant taxonomy
- Plant anatomy
- Plant physiology
- Plant ecology
- Cellular biology
Popular Career Options
Graduates of this bachelor's degree program have several employment options. Some career choices are research focused, while others offer chances to teach others about the foundations of botany. Possible careers include:
- High school biology or botany teacher
- Research assistant
- Research technician for a governmental agency
- Landscape designer
- Greenhouse or nursery operator or manager
Master of Science in Botany
Students entering Master of Science in Botany programs have the opportunity to further their education of plants by continuing a general botany program or selecting a more concentrated area of study. Graduate students deepen their understanding of the concepts introduced during an undergraduate botany degree program, including classification, environmental studies and various biological concepts. An undergraduate degree in botany or closely related field is required before proceeding with a master's program. Students have the option for thesis or non-thesis programs.
- Plant geography
- Regional botany
- Molecular biology
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS) estimates that the employment of soil and plant scientists, including botanists, will increase by approximately 12% between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported soil and plant scientists earned a median annual wage of $58,740 in 2012.
Doctor of Philosophy in Botany
By the time botany students reach the doctoral level, they begin to focus largely on their own research and dissertations. Some universities require that students declare a specialization, such as plant genetics or plant ecology, after beginning a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Botany program. Students may also be required to satisfy a teaching requirement during their work on their Ph.D.
In order to be prepared to handle the demands of a doctoral botany program, students are often required to have completed several math and science courses while enrolled in a bachelor's or master's degree program. This may include, but is not limited to, calculus, statistics, organic chemistry, physics and various biology courses.
Ph.D. coursework is primarily directed and independent research hours. Doctoral students may also enroll in graduate level courses focused on the more advanced and developing concepts in botany. Course topics often cover:
- Foundations of medicine
- Biomedical research
- Biological conservation
Popular Career Options
After completing a Ph.D. in botany, graduates have a wider range of career options and the opportunity for advancement. Scientists who hold a doctoral degree often opt to work in academia or head research teams to have the chance to make advancements in their field of study. Job options include:
- Independent researcher
- University professor
- Biological scientist
- Government researcher
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