Soil Science

Soil and Water Sciences involves managing land and water resources across a wide range of ecosystems, including agricultural, forested, range, urban and wetlands. Soil and Water Sciences students have a strong science and math background and study biology, calculus, microbiology, chemistry, physics, and ecology. 

About this Program

To graduate with this major, students must complete all university, college, and major requirements.

Department Information

The Soil, Water, and Ecosystem Sciences Department researches and teaches about soil, water, and environmental sciences in urban, agricultural, and natural ecosystems. Since its origins over 100 years ago, the department has made significant contributions to improving the productivity of Florida’s agriculture, helping protect the state's unique ecosystems, and contributing to soil and water science at national and international levels.
Website

CONTACT

Email | 352.294.3`51

P.O. Box 110290
2181 MCCARTY HALL A
GAINESVILLE FL 32611-0290
Map

 Curriculum

Students are trained in managing land and water resources in a wide range of ecosystems, including agricultural, forested, range, urban and wetlands through different degree programs. Specializations within this degree program are designed to give the student a strong background in soil and water sciences with a core of required courses taken during their junior and senior years. Beyond the core courses, students can select from several groups of electives that provide flexibility in their program.

Students may also prepare for professional schools by selecting appropriate elective courses.

Soil Science

Areas of study include soil and land use (with an emphasis on natural resources and the environment), environmental management (with an emphasis on agricultural and other applied aspects of soil sciences), physical and biological sciences (with an emphasis on physics, microbiology, botany and/or other biological sciences) and business (with an emphasis on policy, economics, business administration or entrepreneurship).

Water Science

Water’s abundance, quality, distribution and properties are essential to all people. Understanding water’s role in the environment and in our lives is integral to the future of this important resource. Water science is an interdisciplinary specialization that provides students with opportunities to develop skills essential for a diversity of careers in both government and private sectors. Students will work closely with advisors to develop a course of study tailored to their professional goals.

Critical Tracking records each student’s progress in courses that are required for progress toward each major. Please note the critical-tracking requirements below on a per-semester basis.

Equivalent critical-tracking courses as determined by the State of Florida Common Course Prerequisites may be used for transfer students.

Semester 1

Semester 2

  • Complete 1 additional critical-tracking course, excluding labs
  • 2.0 GPA required for all critical-tracking courses
  • 2.0 UF GPA required

Semester 3

  • Complete 1 additional critical-tracking course, excluding labs
  • 2.0 GPA required for all critical-tracking courses
  • 2.0 UF GPA required

Semester 4

  • Complete 1 additional critical-tracking course, excluding labs
  • 2.0 GPA required for all critical-tracking courses
  • 2.0 UF GPA required

Semester 5

  • Complete all critical-tracking courses, including labs, from semesters 1 – 4
  • 2.0 GPA required for all critical-tracking courses
  • 2.0 upper division GPA required
  • 2.0 UF GPA required

Semester 6

  • Complete 1 additional tracking course
  • 2.0 upper division GPA required.
  • 2.0 UF GPA required

Semester 7

  • Complete 2 additional tracking courses
  • 2.0 upper division GPA required.
  • 2.0 UF GPA required

Semester 8

  • Complete all remaining tracking courses from semesters 5 - 8
  • 2.0 upper division GPA required.
  • 2.0 UF GPA required

To remain on track, students must complete the appropriate critical-tracking courses, which appear in bold. These courses must be completed by the terms as listed above in the Critical Tracking criteria.

This semester plan represents an example progression through the major. Actual courses and course order may be different depending on the student's academic record and scheduling availability of courses. Prerequisites still apply.

Plan of Study Grid
Semester OneCredits
Select one: 3-4
Economic Issues, Food and You (Gen Ed Social and Behavioral Sciences)
Principles of Macroeconomics (Gen Ed Social and Behavioral Sciences)
Principles of Microeconomics (Gen Ed Social and Behavioral Sciences)
Select one: 4
Biological Sciences
and Laboratory in Biological Sciences (Critical Tracking; State Core Gen Ed Biological and Physical Sciences)
Integrated Principles of Biology 1
and Integrated Principles of Biology Laboratory 1 (Critical Tracking; State Core Gen Ed Biological and Physical Sciences)
State Core Gen Ed Composition; Writing Requirement 3
Elective 3
 Credits13-14
Semester Two
Quest 1 (Gen Ed Humanities) 3
MAC 2311 Analytic Geometry and Calculus 1 (Critical Tracking; State Core Gen Ed Mathematics) 4
MCB 2000
2000L
Microbiology
and Microbiology Laboratory
4
State Core Gen Ed Social and Behavioral Sciences 3
Elective 2
 Credits16
Semester Three
Quest 2 (Gen Ed Social and Behavioral Science) 3
AEC 3030C
Effective Oral Communication
or Introduction to Public Speaking
3
CHM 2045
2045L
General Chemistry 1
and General Chemistry 1 Laboratory (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Physical Sciences)
4
Select one: 3-4
Introduction to Statistics 1 (Gen Ed Mathematics)
Analytic Geometry and Calculus 2 (Gen Ed Mathematics)
Gen Ed Composition 3
 Credits16-17
Semester Four
CHM 2046
2046L
General Chemistry 2
and General Chemistry 2 Laboratory (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Physical Sciences)
4
PHY 2004
2004L
Applied Physics 1
and Laboratory for Applied Physics 1 (Critical Tracking; Gen Ed Physical Sciences)
4
SWS 3022
3022L
Introduction to Soils in the Environment
and Introduction to Soils in the Environment Laboratory (Gen Ed Physical Sciences)
4
State Core Gen Ed Humanities 3
 Credits15
Semester Five
Select one: 4
Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry
and Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry Laboratory
Introduction to Analytical Chemistry
and Analytical Chemistry Laboratory
SWS 4451 Soil and Water Chemistry 3
Approved electives 8
 Credits15
Semester Six
AEC 3033C Research and Business Writing in Agricultural and Life Sciences (Writing Requirement) 3
SWS 4231C Soil, Water and Land Use 3
SWS 4715C Environmental Pedology (Critical Tracking) 4
Approved elective 3
 Credits13
Summer After Semester Six
SWS 4905
Individual Work
or Full-time Practical Work Experience in Soil and Water Science
1-3
Approved elective 2
 Credits3-5
Semester Seven
SWS 4303C Soil Microbial Ecology (Critical Tracking) 3
SWS 4602C Soil Physics (Critical Tracking; State Core Gen Ed Physical Sciences) 3
Approved electives 10
 Credits16
Semester Eight
SWS 4244 Wetlands (Critical Tracking) 3
Approved electives 10-11
 Credits13-14
 Total Credits120

ALS 3133Agricultural and Environmental Quality3
EES 4401Public Health Engineering3
GEO 3162CIntroduction to Quantitative Analysis for Geographers4
GEO 3250Climatology3
GEO 3280Principles of Geographic Hydrology4
GLY 1150LFlorida Geology Laboratory1
SWS 2007The World of Water3
SWS 2008Land and Life3
SWS 4116Environmental Nutrient Management3
SWS 4180Earth System Analysis3
SWS 4207Sustainable Agricultural and Urban Land Management3
SWS 4223Environmental Biogeochemistry3
SWS 4233Soil and Water Conservation3
SWS 4245Water Resource Sustainability3
SWS 4307Ecology of Waterborne Pathogens3
SWS 4550Soils, Water and Public Health3
SWS 4720CGIS in Soil and Water Science3
SWS 4905Individual Work1-3
SWS 4911Supervised Research in Soil and Water Science3
SWS 4915Honors Thesis Research in Soil and Water Science3
SWS 4932Special Topics in Soil and Water Science1-3

Electives are chosen with the student's advisor. There are four areas of specialization: soil, water and land use, environmental soil and water management, physical sciences and biological sciences. The student is encouraged to take electives from a range of course groupings that include biology, building construction, chemistry, earth science, environmental science, hydrology, mathematics, physics, policy, production systems, programming and statistics.

The soil and water sciences major enables students to identify and to describe the morphology of soils, to differentiate soils according to soil taxonomy and to distinguish soil forming factors. Students will use this knowledge to assess properties of soils in relation to plant growth and environmental uses and to apply this knowledge to different soil uses in agriculture, natural resources and urban settings.

Before Graduating Students Must

  • Pass the soil and water sciences competency exam, given in four parts. One part will be given in each of these required courses:
  • Satisfactorily complete an approved research project in SWS 4905 or SWS 4941.
  • 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)

Content

  1. Apply fundamental principles of chemistry and physics in relation to critical zone processes in the pedosphere and hydrosphere.
  2. Classify fundamental biological processes and differentiate basic organism function in soil and hydrologic systems.
  3. Utilize field observations, case study evidence and experimental data to describe soil formation, morphology and interactions of the varied components of the hydrologic cycle.

Critical Thinking

  1. Critically evaluate the sustainability of water resources in relation to human needs and natural ecosystem function.
  2. Demonstrate quantitative problem-solving abilities by applying, analyzing and synthesizing content knowledge related to soil and water chemistry and physics.

Communication

  1. Create, interpret and analyze written text, oral messages and multimedia presentations used in agricultural and life sciences.

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
SWS 2007 I I I I
SWS 3022 I I I I
SWS 4245 R, A R, A R, A R R
SWS 4303C R, A R
SWS 4307 R, A R
SWS 4451 R, A R, A
SWS 4602C R, A R
SWS 4715C R, A

Assessment Types

  • Case studies
  • Field studies
  • Lab assignments and reports
  • Written analysis
  • Exams