Agronomy and Horticulture graduate students are members of the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, and as such the Department will make every effort necessary to enable its graduate students to be part of its overall mission and to have the opportunity to successfully complete their graduate programs. The advisor will provide frequent and thorough advice on coursework and research. The department will provide the necessary tools and the environment for the growth and professional development of its graduate students. The students must exhibit the motivation, integrity, and professional ambition to use the resources available. Hopefully, completing the academic program, conducting research, and associating with the staff will be enjoyable and will satisfactorily prepare graduate students in the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture for their professional goals.

General Admission Requirements

Credentials of applicants are evaluated without consideration of gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin or sexual orientation. The applicant's grade point average (GPA) and letters of recommendation are the primary factors considered in the evaluation. A GPA of 3.0 or above is generally required, although strong letters of recommendation or a trend toward academic improvement later in the undergraduate or graduate program may warrant provisional admittance.

International students and/or applicants from non-English speaking countries must show evidence of adequate proficiency in the English language.

The department requires that all graduate students complete an M.S. degree before entering a Ph.D. program unless special approval is given by the Graduate Committee.

The department requires that all graduate student applicants meet the following basic science requirements for the thesis option:

  • calculus -- one semester
  • chemistry -- one semester
  • physics (not soil physics) -- one semester
  • physics or chemistry -- a second semester of either
  • biological science --  two semesters

The following admissions requirements are for the Option II (non-thesis masters program):

  • plant production or plant system management - one semester
  • soil science - one semester
  • biological science - one semester
  • chemistry - one semester
  • algebra - one semester

These requirements can be met by any of the following:

  • completing the above courses with a minimum grade of 2.0
  • completing equivalent courses  
  • testing out of the above courses
  • providing the syllabus from a prior course which included the required subject matter


The Department currently offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science (thesis and non-thesis) and the Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Students study within one of the following areas:

  • Agricultural Meteorology
  • Applied Ecology (Ph.D.)
  • Crop Physiology and Production
  • Environmental Studies (interdepartmental program)
  • Horticulture
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics
  • Plant Pathology
  • Range and Forage Sciences
  • Soil and Water Sciences
  • Weed Science

The Department also offers a non-thesis Master of Science in Agronomy via distance.

Bypass MS Program

Policy on Direct Admission to the Ph.D Program

Applicant files will be reviewed for direct admission to a Ph.D. from a B.S. on a case-by-case basis. Students currently in an M.S. program in our Department should follow the procedure below to request approval for by-passing the M.S. degree. 

Students desiring to enter a Ph.D. program without having previously obtained a Masters degree must demonstrate a high level of academic achievement, have excellent written and oral communication skills and provide evidence of scholarly creativity and independent thought. Students can be directly admitted to the Ph.D. program, or can petition to transfer from a M.S. to a Ph.D. program with the approval of their graduate advisor. In both instances, evidence supporting the student's ability to successfully pursue a Ph.D. degree is to be submitted to the Agronomy Graduate Committee for review and final approval.

Materials submitted to the Graduate Committee in support of the student's application or petition should include:

  1. Letter of intent from the student
  2. Academic transcripts
  3. Three letters of recommendation, one from the major advisor for students petitioning to transfer from a Masters program
  4. Additional documentation of the applicant's ability to initiate study at the Ph.D. level such as GRE score, qualifying exam score, publications, abstracts, invited presentations, teaching experience or other communication-related activities

Admission Status

Full Graduate Standing – Acceptance with full standing is extended to students who have met the minimum requirements for admission and who have been accepted by the department for work leading to a graduate degree or stated professional goal.

Provisional Status – Qualified applicants with prerequisite course deficiencies will receive (1) provisional admission or (2) a waiver of prerequisite course deficiencies, based upon recommendation of the advisor, as explained below. These prerequisites do not apply to applicants to the Graduate Certificate programs.

Provisional Admission

Prerequisite course deficiencies will be listed in the student's admission letter. Students admitted provisionally are expected to remove any deficiencies by the end of their first year. Students admitted on this basis will submit a written plan to the Graduate Chair within 30 days of enrollment, detailing how the deficiencies will be met. A grade of ≥ 2.0 (C) or "pass" is required to remove a deficiency. In certain circumstances, a student may be allowed to test out of a deficiency. Students who fail to fulfill deficiencies by the end of their first year will be prohibited from course registration.

Waiver of Prerequisite Course Deficiencies

Advisors can choose to waive prerequisite course deficiencies according to program needs and this will be stated in the student's admission letter. Students that have been admitted prior to approval of these changes, can have their advisors submit an email to the graduate secretary stating they wish to waive these requirements. Note of the waiver will be put into the student's departmental file.

Full-standing status will be granted after the required courses are completed and a memorandum requesting full standing is forwarded to the Graduate College. The student must work through his/her advisor to submit the memorandum to the chair of the Agronomy and Horticulture Graduate Committee.  The Graduate Committee will recommend to the Graduate College that the student be granted full-standing status.

Low scholastic standing

M.S. students with a low scholastic standing (GPA lower than 3.0) may be given provisional acceptance. These students must complete nine graduate credit hours, all of which must be with a grade of at least a "B" (3.0) or better in each course. The student must also have (or maintain) a "B" (3.0) overall GPA in the graduate program (7/1/98).

The student, working through his/her advisor, should submit a memorandum to the chair of the Graduate Committee requesting that the provisional status based on GPA be removed. The Graduate Committee will forward a recommendation to the Graduate College. Students admitted on a provisional basis because of low scholastic standing are not eligible for financial assistance until they receive full graduate standing.

Ph.D. students are not accepted with a low scholastic standing. They are placed provisionally in the M.S. program until they have demonstrated the ability to do acceptable Ph.D. level work.

Seminar Requirements

  • AGRO/HORT 991: Seminar Presentation and Evaluation - required of all MS students

  • AGRO/HORT 992: General Seminar - expected of all graduate students.  Presentation of thesis/dissertation or non-thesis topics in agronomy, horticulture or related subjects.  Ph.D. students should enroll in this course twice.

  • Plant Pathology and Agricultural Meterology students should enroll in at least one AGRO or HORT seminar.

Comprehensive Exams

Written comprehensive exams are required for all Ph.D. and Option I (thesis) M.S. students. The type and format of the examination will be determined by the student's advisor and examination committee. These examinations are usually taken after the completion of all coursework requirements.

Oral comprehensive exams are required for all Ph.D. students. M.S.Option I (thesis)  students may be subject to an oral exam at the discretion of the student's committee. For M.S. students, the written and/or oral comprehensive examination in the minor field(s) may be waived subject to the approval of the minor department(s), provided all grades in the minor department(s) are at least a B or pass.

Progress Report Procedure and Academic Issues

Progress Reports are to be completed annually for all graduate students. The purpose of these reports is to assist and guide graduate students, their advisors, and their supervisory committees towards regular and meaningful updates regarding progress and expectations within each student's program. The Progress Report and associated review with advisors can help increase communication between faculty and students, anticipate problems or differences in expectations and resolve them before they become unmanageable or negative. In addition, students experience an evaluation process that is common among professionals.

All graduate students should complete this Progress Report. This includes M.S. students, Ph.D. students, Certificate students, international and domestic students, and full and part-time students.

Grievance and Academic Appeals - Refer to UNL Graduate Studies Bulletin Catalogue.

Graduate Student Participation

Each student should take the opportunity to assist in teaching or do guest lecturing at Nebraska.  The experience is invaluable and also exposes undergraduates to current research.  The student's teaching experience should be noted in the annual Progress Report.

Each student is encouraged to attend field days and participate when possible.

Each student is encouraged to participate in service through participation in University-wide or department graduate student association.

Personnel and Accounting

The staff at the HAPPI Business Center can assist with GRA, payroll, travel authorization, and supply order etc. For specific or more information visit the HAPPI Business Center website.