Plant and Environmental Sciences


Degrees Offered


The College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences houses departments that participate in the graduate degree programs in Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES). The PES faculty recognize their responsibility to the mission of a Land Grant Institution and provides exemplary academic and research mentoring and public service.  The Master’s (MS) and Doctoral (PHD) degree programs offer rigorous education and a solid foundation in basic and applied plant and environmental sciences, and educate individuals who will continue research or serve as professionals enhancing agriculture, horticulture, and environmental and economic sustainability of biological resources.

The MS and PHD degree programs are offered by faculty representing a broad range of disciplines including agronomy, botany, crop science, ecology, molecular genetics, horticulture, integrated pest management, plant pathology, plant breeding, plant physiology, weed science, turfgrass and soil sciences. Applicants should have a strong undergraduate background in the biological, agricultural and/or related sciences. Undergraduate curricula that may provide this background are agronomy, botany, biology, chemistry, geology, physics, plant science, soil science, plant pathology, entomology, horticulture, forestry or environmental sciences.  We welcome motivated students with non-traditional backgrounds, who may be required to take undergraduate prerequisite courses relevant to their research area.


More information can be found in this graduate handbook.


Program of Study

MS If you are accepted into the program, your course of study will be tailored to your professional goals and will be guided by an advisor and graduate committee. You will be required to select an advisor before admission. As a candidate for the Master of Science degree, you must complete the required course work and six hours of research and must present and defend a thesis based on original research. If you plan on a nonresearch-related career in public gardening, landscape design, extension, consulting or agri-business, you must complete the required course work and undertake a professional development/public service project in lieu of thesis-related research. Interdisciplinary studies in plant health and integrated pest management are also available under this option.

PhD You will be required to write a dissertation based on original research in order to earn the PhD degree. There is no semester credit hour requirement; the course work plan will be based on your interests and dissertation emphasis, as determined in consultation with your major advisor and graduate committee.


Laboratories of PES faculty members are affiliated with the Departments of Biological Sciences, Horticulture, and Entomology, Soils and Plant Sciences. Facilities include the Biosystems Research Complex, in which 40,000 square feet of greenhouse provides varied levels of controlled environment for plant-growth experiments; the Electron Microscopy Facility, equipped with transmission, scanning and confocal microscopes; the Analytical Laboratory, for quantification of pesticide residues, secondary metabolites and hormones; Microarrays and Prtoteomics Facility and the DNA Sequencing Facility.

The CU Genomics Institute is a state-of-the-art facility focusing on the structural and functional genomics of agricultural and horticultural crops and their pests. In proximity to the campus are Musser Farm, a 240-acre fruit tree research facility; Simpson Experimental Station, for plant genetics and breeding and crop ecology and the South Carolina Botanical Garden, a teaching and research facility.

Three research and education centers offer instruction and practical experience in crop, turf and vegetable physiology, pathology, entomology and production, while enhancing environmental quality. These research centers are located in the Piedmont region and the southern Appalachian Mountains-two of the most biologically diverse areas in North America.


Required Documents


Research assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis. External funds granted to PES faculty members are the major source of assistantships and research support. Thus, admission preference is given to applicants whose expressed research interest matches that of one of the faculty members. You are encouraged to contact individual faculty members to address common research interests and funding availability.


Program Contact(s)

Program Coordinator(s)