Plant Science


Plant scientists sustain and improve our current and future world as they work with foods, fibers, fuel, flowers, pharmaceuticals, urban forests, soil health, plant pests, and our natural environs. Plant Science students study biology, plant morphology and physiology, chemistry, entomology, physics, soil and water sciences, plant identification, plant pathology, plant propagation, and environmental horticulture.

The plant science degree offers diverse specializations that provide a wide range of professional opportunities. The specializations provide students with an interdisciplinary perspective of these areas and pursue coursework that tracks them into a variety of job opportunities.

The University of Florida offers some of the specializations in this major to transfer students who have the appropriate credentials through the statewide programs at the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center in Ft. Lauderdale, the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, or the West Florida Research and Education Center in Milton.

Course Requirements

All students, regardless of specialization, are required to take an introductory plant science course, an introductory statistics course, an economics course, a technical writing course, a speech course, a soil science course, a plant physiology course, a plant pathology course, a professional development course, and a capstone experience course. All students must also complete an internship related to their area of interest.

Each specialization has a specific set of required core courses and a number of upper-division electives to choose from that represent important interdisciplinary topic areas. Core courses provide students with the knowledge and fundamental concepts essential to the specialization. Upper-division electives are designed to build knowledge, competency and skills applicable to professional development.

Students should meet with an advisor as early as possible in their academic careers to choose their specialization and to plan their course of study.


General Plant Science

This specialization focuses on the biology and science of growing plants. It combines courses in propagation, plant identification and use, soils and plant nutrition, plant diseases, weed identification, and insects to give students a well-rounded background on plant management. This specialization develops skills that allow students to increase plant productivity and improve plant quality with less labor while controlling pests and weeds safely and effectively. Career opportunities include research and development, plant management, plant production, and preparation for graduate school. Employment opportunities exist in laboratories, government agencies, and commercial operations.

Greenhouse and Landscape Industries

This specialization provides skills and training for employment in the diverse ornamental horticulture industry, including theme parks, plant production facilities, and landscape management and landscape design firms. It studies the improvement of the human environment through proper selection, propagation, production, and placement of plants in the exterior and interior landscapes. It also combines business and plant production courses to provide the skills needed to manage a plant production facility or landscape firm.

Native Plant Conservation

This specialization prepares students to apply concepts of plant conservation and ecology to control invasive plants and establish, manage, and protect native plant communities, primarily in natural areas. Students also develop skills necessary for native plant propagation for ecological restoration and sustainable landscapes.

Plant Breeding and Genetics

Plant breeding and genetics play a critical role in enhancing the world's future food, fiber, and fuel supplies in response to challenges like climate change and population growth. Students will obtain a solid grounding in genetics and molecular genetics, plant processes and function, types and causes of plant stress and learn how this is applied for crop improvement and conservation of genetic resources. Modern plant breeding is an increasingly sophisticated, high-investment business. The majority of commercial plant breeding takes place within the private sector. Plant breeders are employed in plant breeding or agricultural biotechnology companies or academic institutions with the main goal to develop improved varieties or educate the general population about genetic techniques for plant improvement.

Plant Health and Protection

This specialization is designed for students who want to pursue careers related to plant health management in the public or private sector. It will prepare students for entry into the workplace in insect and disease control, plant diagnostics, crop production management, plant pathology and entomology research, plant growth consulting, integrated pest management, cooperative extension or to pursue advanced degrees in plant pathology, entomology, plant medicine, or other related disciplines.

Soil Management and Plant Productivity

This specialization closely integrates the study of soil science core disciplines with production agriculture and horticulture. Coursework focuses on foundational principles related to soil health, productivity, and fertility in relation to sustainable plant growth and agricultural practices. Among the principal outcomes of the program is to prepare students for certification as both Associate Professional Soil Scientists and Certified Crop Advisors to better position graduates for employment in related fields.

Sustainable Crop Production

This specialization prepares students for professions related to crop production and management. Students will explore and understand production practices that meet present world food needs without compromising quality of life for future generations. Courses emphasize crop ecosystem function, aquatic and terrestrial weed management, the importance of insects to crops and optimizing management techniques including energy utilization, nutrient management, and soil and water conservation.

Turfgrass Science

This specialization combines the study of grasses, soils, water, and pests affecting turf with the study of business and management. Career opportunities include work with golf courses, sports turf facilities, lawn-care companies, parks, agrichemical industries, cemeteries, environmental consulting firms, sod farms, government agencies, and preparation for graduate school.

The plant science major, offered jointly by the departments of Agronomy and Plant Pathology, enables students to apply principles associated with production and improvement of agronomic crops. Students will acquire knowledge about the scientific fundamentals of plant growth of field and forage crops. They will acquire knowledge about fungi, bacteria and viruses, as well as environmental factors that cause plant disease. This program prepares students to work in the lab and field settings and to develop applied skills for research and extension.

Before Graduating Students Must

  • Complete a research paper and an oral presentation with satisfactory faculty evaluation.
  • Achieve minimum grades of C in AEC 3030C and AEC 3033C. These courses are graded using rubrics developed by a faculty team.
  • Complete requirements for the baccalaureate degree, as determined by faculty.

Students in the Major Will Learn to

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)


  1. Describe plant growth and development in terms of plant morphology and physiology and evaluate the abiotic and biotic factors that impact plant growth and management.
  2. Recommend practices that growers and managers can implement to address the abiotic and biotic components of their cropping system.

Critical Thinking

  1. Analyze and apply science-based data to solve problems in plant production, distribution and/or utilization.
  2. Design and evaluate a project that addresses a problem or challenge related to their area of interest.


  1. Create, interpret and analyze written text and multimedia presentations.
  2. Communicate effectively through oral and multimedia presentations.

Curriculum Map

I = Introduced; R = Reinforced; A = Assessed

Courses SLO 1 SLO 2 SLO 3 SLO 4 SLO 5 SLO 6
AEC 3030C I, R, A
AEC 3033C I, R, A
PLS 3004C I I I I
PLS 4932 A A A A A A
PLS 4941 R R R R R R

Assessment Types

  • Standardized post-test
  • Capstone and individual projects
  • Final grades