Soils may be studied either as natural bodies or as a medium for chemical and biochemical interactions for transport of water, solutes and heat, and for plant growth. Washington State University is located in one of the best geographical areas in the world for the study of soils as naturally occurring bodies. Graduate programs are usually designed to specialize in the physical, chemical, biological, mineralogical, geomorphological, or fertility aspects of the soil system.
Current soil science research programs in which graduate students are participating include: unsaturated water flow; soil- plant relationships; stability of minerals and controls on heavy metal levels; nutrient budgets of cropping systems; movement and transformation of pesticides and xenobiotic chemicals; microbial ecology; fate of engineered microorganisms; phytotoxicity and crop residue management; no-till soil and crop management; fertility and mineral nutrition; soil interpretations for land use and development; benchmark soils; agricultural and urban waste recycling.
Faculty members in Soil Science also participate in the interdepartmental Department of Biochemistry/Biophysics and the Program in Environmental Science at Washington State University, and cooperate with the University of Idaho in teaching graduate courses.
Soil Science academic program requirements
Program requirements are outlined in detail in the Graduate Student Handbook.
Recommended Areas of Competency
To the extent possible, Soil Science graduate students should be knowledgeable in all five sub-disciplinary areas of Soils (chemistry, fertility, morphology, biology, and physics). However, because many students entering graduate school have received their BS and/or MS degrees from an area outside of Soil Science, it is sometimes not possible to take a graded course in each of these five areas as part of the graduate degree. Soil Science Faculty strongly recommend that a graded Soil Science course be taken in a minimum of three of the five sub-disciplinary areas in Soil Science. These courses can be obtained at any time during their educational career.