M.S., Ph.D., Crop Science

Crop Science specialization areas include Plant Genetics and Crop Breeding, Crop Physiology, and Crop Ecology, Management and Production. While students may elect to specialize in one area, excellent opportunities are available for the development of graduate research projects integrating two or more areas.

Plant breeding and genetics research programs include improvement of spring and winter wheat, barley, oilseed crops, pea, lentil, and other legumes, as well as work on alternative crops like quinoa. Plant breeding and genetics faculty apply state of the art equipment and methodologies for genetic, genomic, molecular genetic, and phenotypic analyses, which are conducted in field, greenhouse, and laboratory settings. From model systems to participatory variety selection with small-holder farmers, our faculty apply integrated and comprehensive approaches to solve real-world problems in crop production.

Current research focuses on genetics, gene function, and physiology of water and nitrogen use efficiency, heat and drought stress tolerance, yield and its component traits, hormone signaling, germplasm development, polyploid evolution, grain end-use quality and nutrition, seed germination and dormancy, pest and pathogen resistance, and herbicide resistance. Crop production research includes investigation of weed control and ecology, seed production and technology, and turf management.

Crop or Soil Science degree programs can also be developed to study sustainability of alternative cropping systems such as organic, site-specific, biointensive and direct-seed systems that focus on crop productivity, economic stability, biodiversification, natural resource conservation, and environmental protection.

Crop Science academic program requirements

Program requirements are outlined in detail in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Recommended Areas of Competency

The advisor and thesis committee will discuss course expectations of incoming students on an individual basis. Entering students should have a solid B.S. level background in mathematics, chemistry, and the biological sciences. If it is determined that an incoming student is deficient in any of these areas, they may be asked to make up those deficiencies by taking or auditing courses or by doing extra reading.

Recommended deficiency coursework includes:

  • Soil Science:  A Living System (SOIL_SCI 201)
  • Crop Growth & Development (CROP_SCI 202)
  • Introduction to Statistical Methods (STAT 212)
  • Chemistry Related to Life Sciences (CHEM 102)
  • Organic Chemistry I and II (CHEM 345/346)
  • Introduction to Plant Physiology (BIOL 420)
  • Crop Environment Interactions (CROP_SCI 411)
  • General Plant Pathology (PL_P 429)
  • Soil Fertility (SOIL_SCI 441)
  • Plant Breeding (CROP_SCI 445) or General Genetics (MBIOS 301)