Study Horticulture Online: Diploma and Certificate Info
Since much of the work in horticulture is hands-on and occurs outdoors, online programs are scarce, but some certificate programs are available. Read on for a description of online certificate program requirements, and view a list of common course descriptions. You can also find career and continuing education information in the article below.
Online programs in horticulture that result in a college diploma are not widely offered, since most horticulture work is practical and requires in-person attendance. There are a few bachelor's degree programs offered fully online in this field, some of which may be offered as degree-completion programs. Available programs are typically offered at the certificate level.
Though some undergraduate certificate programs are offered, programs are more commonly available at the graduate level and designed to expand working professionals' knowledge. Applicants may have careers in greenhouse management, city park maintenance, golf course management or science teaching, or they may be gardening enthusiasts. Since typical students already have hands-on experience, these programs can still be effective teaching aids.
Certificates may be focused in specialized areas, like ornamental horticulture or floriculture, or they may allow students to select from a wide range of courses, like environmental stress, small fruit production or post-harvest physiology. These graduate certificate programs are profiled below.
Online Horticulture Certificate Program Overview
A horticulture online certificate program is designed for those who've already earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture or agriculture and professionals already working as horticulturalists. Online certificate programs are meant to provide individuals the opportunity to focus on a particular aspect of horticulture in order to gain further expertise. Students can choose to specialize in either food horticulture or ornamental horticulture. Due to the hands-on nature of the field, online certificate programs in horticulture are not especially common, but several programs do exist.
Information and Technical Requirements
Online certificate programs in horticulture are most commonly offered at the graduate level, and therefore require that applicants possess a 4-year degree. Some schools may require that specific courses be completed before beginning a certificate program. Although all required classes are offered online, some programs also offer optional classes that are available only on campus. Most online horticulture certificate programs consist of 12 to 15 credits and take anywhere from four months to four years to finish, depending on whether the student chooses to study full-time or part-time. Some certificate programs can be completed concurrently with a master's degree.
At minimum, students in online horticulture certificate programs should have access to a computer with a printer and Internet connection. Basic software, such as an Internet browser, word processing program and e-mail account, is also required. Some online classes may have additional technical requirements; for instance, a digital camera may be necessary to document insect or plant species.
List of Common Courses
Horticulture certificate program requirements vary by school, but there are some courses that are common across all programs. These include the study of plants, soils, weeds and insects.
Plant Breeding Course
Online students learn advanced breeding techniques for improving plants through the study of plant genetics. Methods such as hybridization and chromosome manipulation are presented.
Advanced Soil Science Course
Students learn about the chemical and physical components of soil and managing soil nutrients. They also study erosion control and different soil environments, such as wetlands.
Advanced Weed Science Course
Horticulturalists study the management of weeds by various approaches including the use of herbicides. Students also learn about the environmental factors that affect herbicide performance and dissipation.
Entomology is the study of insects. From knowledge of insect behavior, students can learn techniques to protect crops from unwanted insects while encouraging pollinators such as butterflies and bees.
Nursery Production and Management Course
Students are taught aspects of nursery production, such as greenhouse construction, field irrigation, soil improvement, harvesting and storage. The practical aspects of marketing and managing a nursery business are also discussed.
Horticulture Career Information
Graduates with a certificate in horticultural science may find supervisory jobs at greenhouses, public gardens and arboretums, or on farms and ranches. They may also work in landscape design, pest control or in their own plant nursery. There may also be government positions available in national forests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected in 2008 that job openings for agricultural managers should increase by six percent through 2018. According to the BLS, agricultural managers earned an average of $40,300 in 2008 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education in Horticulture
Students who complete an online graduate certificate may wish to study for their master's degree in horticulture. Some programs allow credits earned in the online horticulture certificate to be applied directly to a master's degree. Some master's level programs in horticulture are offered online, although the majority of graduate schools require horticulture students to attend classes in person.
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