The department provides graduate training leading to the master of science in horticulture.  Each M.S. student will have a major advisor who will supervise their program of study and their thesis research. Specializations are available in several aspects of crop science: organic and sustainable horticulture, diversified crop production for urban and regional food systems,  environmental impact of horticultural practices,  environmental regulation of plant growth and development, plant breeding, biochemistry and molecular biology of horticultural plants, microculture and biotechnology, weed control and herbicide physiology, and biostatistics. Students have the opportunity to develop their research projects using vegetables, fruits, trees, ornamentals, turf, specialty crops, or model species such as Arabidopsis thaliana.

The M.S. student’s thesis project will involve an in-depth mentored exploration of a research question and the development of a written thesis in conjunction with a graduate committee of three faculty members.

The department houses research labs, controlled environment chambers, and greenhouse facilities.  Field-plot areas with associated storage and laboratory facilities are available at the UW–Madison Arboretum, Horticulture Research Farm at Arlington, and the Agriculture Research Stations managed by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at selected locations throughout the state. In conjunction with the farm at Sturgeon Bay, the world's largest collection of tuber-bearing Solanums is maintained by the Inter-Regional Potato Introduction Project and is available for research use.

Fall Deadline December 1
Spring Deadline September 1
Summer Deadline December 1
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) May be required in certain cases; consult program.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

The department accepts applications for fall, spring, and summer entry. The applicant's academic preparation should include fundamental courses in the plant sciences such as botany, bacteriology, genetics, and physiology, as well as courses in chemistry (general, organic, quantitative), physics, mathematics, and biochemistry. The academic average should be at least 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) with evidence of proficiency in subjects related to agriculture and plant sciences.

Application Deadlines

Spring entry: September 1
Summer entry: December 1
Fall entry: December 1

Application Checklist

A complete application should include the following items:

  1. Graduate School Application and Application Fee
  2. Supplementary Application: The supplementary application will appear as a part of the Graduate School’s electronic application once the applicant selects Horticulture.
  3. Statement of Purpose: Your essay should be a concise description of your reasons for choosing to study horticulture at the University of Wisconsin.  Please include your research interests and career goals as well as a description of your preparation for graduate study including relevant coursework, related employment, research experience, publications, presentations, awards, and honors.  
  4. Transcripts: We require all applicants to submit an unofficial transcript in PDF format to their online application. If an applicant is recommended for admission, then they will be required to submit their official transcript to the Graduate School.  International academic records must be submitted in the original language and accompanied by an official English translation. Documents must be issued by the institution with an official seal/stamp and an official signature.
  5. Three Letters of Recommendation
  6. GRE Scores: GRE scores are not required for admission but are highly recommended. GRE scores are required for applicants who are interested in fellowships and other forms of financial support
  7. Proof of English Proficiency: Applicants whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must follow the Graduate School’s guidelines for proof of English proficiency.

Faculty Advisors

The Horticulture M.S. and Ph.D. programs do not support lab rotations. All students are admitted directly into a faculty member’s lab. Thus, we strongly encourage applicants to contact faculty members who work in their areas of interest before and during the application and admissions process.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

All applicants to the graduate program in Horticulture are automatically considered for financial support. There is no need to submit a separate application. Most of our students are supported through research assistantships, but additional sources of internal financial support include teaching assistantships, project assistantships, scholarships, and fellowships. 

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 18 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations Contact the program for information on required assessments and examinations.
Language Requirements Contact the program for information on any language requirements.

Required COURSES

Departmental Requirements

The specific program of study towards a master’s degree is developed by the student and the major professor. Considerable flexibility in the selection of courses is permitted to meet the needs and interests of the candidate. Students often complete the requirements for a master’s degree in one and a half years, and three years is usually considered the maximum time necessary.

  • All students must have successfully completed 14 credits of Horticulture courses and 11 credits of Botany courses during their enrollment in the undergraduate and/or graduate program(s). No more than 3 credits of HORT 699 Special Problems may be counted towards this requirement.

Students must complete a minimum of 30 credits and 15 of these credits must be graduate level (up to 3 credits of 990 may be used to satisfy this 15 credit requirement, but HORT 699 Special Problems may not be used to satisfy this requirement). This requirement for 15 graduate-level credits can only be satisfied by classes taken while the student is enrolled in the master's program.

  • Students must satisfy the requirements listed in one of the three tracks listed below:
    • Track 1. The student must complete at least 30 credits while enrolled in Graduate School and write a master's thesis that is acceptable to the student's final examining committee.
    • Track 2. The student must complete at least 30 credits while enrolled in Graduate School.
    • Track 3. Master's Degree in Horticulture with Emphasis in Organic Sustainable Production. Students must satisfy the specific course requirements outlined below. The student must also complete at least 30 credits while enrolled in Graduate School and write a master's thesis that is acceptable to the student's final examining committee.

Organic Sustainable Production Emphasis1

Ecology (one course required)
F&W ECOL/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  460 General Ecology4
AGROECOL 701 The Farm as Socio-Environmental Endeavor3
AGROECOL 702 The Multifunctionality of Agriculture3
Horticulture (one course required)
HORT 345 Fruit Crop Production3
HORT 370 World Vegetable Crops3
Plant Pathology (one course required)
PL PATH 300 Introduction to Plant Pathology4
PL PATH 517 Plant Disease Resistance2-3
PL PATH 559 Diseases of Economic Plants3
Agronomy/Entomology (one course required)
ENTOM 450 Basic and Applied Insect Ecology3
AGRONOMY/​HORT  328 Integrated Weed Management4
Soil Science (one course required)
SOIL SCI/​PL PATH  323 Soil Biology3
SOIL SCI/​AGRONOMY/​HORT  326 Plant Nutrition Management3
STAT/​F&W ECOL/​HORT  571 Statistical Methods for Bioscience I4
Seminar (one course required)
AGROECOL 710 Agroecology Seminar1
HORT 372 Colloquium in Organic Agriculture1
Research (Total of 6 credits required)
HORT 990 Research1-12

Additional Coursework

At the discretion of the student’s major professor or master’s committee, additional remedial or advanced coursework may be required.

Seminar Requirement

Master’s degree students must enroll in a graduate level seminar class (1 credit) for at least one semester and obtain a passing grade for that class. Seminars offered by departments other than Horticulture may be used to satisfy this requirement

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Allowed; coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

Students are allowed to count no more than 7 credits numbered 300 or above toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement; if those courses are numbered 700 or above they may count toward the minimum graduate coursework requirement. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.


Every graduate student must have a faculty advisor (major professor) who is on the Horticulture faculty. The major professor advises the student about course work and supervises the student's research if they are writing a master's thesis. The major professor must approve the student's coursework and research direction. A student may have more than one major professor, in which case at least one of the professors must be a member of the Horticulture faculty.

A master's committee is composed of at least three current UW–Madison faculty members, including the major professor. The master's committee is empowered by the program to advise the student regarding coursework and thesis content, and conduct the final master's oral examination. Prior to the end of the first year of graduate study the student, in consultation with their major professor, should select two members of the UW–Madison faculty to serve on their master's committee. It is the student's responsibility to seek and obtain (verbal) approval from the faculty selected to serve on this committee.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.



Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Program Resources

The Horticulture Graduate programs encourage students to develop Individual Development Plans in collaboration with their Major Advisor to facilitate professional development.  Besides the extensive opportunities offered across the campus at large, students in the Horticulture programs also benefit from activities and  programs provided by the Plant Sciences Graduate Council, a student-led organization for graduate students at UW-Madison interested in plant science.

  1. Articulates the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry used in the field of horticulture.
  2. Identifies sources and assembles evidence pertaining to questions in the field of horticulture.
  3. Understands the primary field of horticulture in a global context.
  4. Selects and utilizes the most appropriate methodologies and practices.
  5. Synthesizes information pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of horticulture.
  6. Communicates clearly in ways appropriate to the field of horticulture.
  7. Recognizes and applies principles of ethical conduct.

Faculty: Professors Bamberg, Colquhoun, Goldman, Havey, Jansky, Krysan (chair), Nienhuis, Palta, Simon, Spooner, Yandell; Associate Professors Bethke, Dawson, Endelman, Jull, Weng, Zalapa; Assistant Professors Atucha, Wang