Horticulturists work to enrich our lives by integrating and applying plant science, environmental science, molecular biology, biotechnology, genetics, physiology, and management. Specifically, horticultural science deals with the development, production, growth, distribution, and use of fruits, vegetables, greenhouse crops, ornamentals, turf, and specialty plant crops (used for flavoring and medicine). Horticultural science is one of the most diverse biological sciences one can study at a university. Not only are the biology and genetics of crop plants interesting, but the application of this knowledge is equally important in a myriad of situations. Undergraduate horticulture majors will obtain specialized training in greenhouse/field management and the production and use of fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbaceous/woody ornamentals, and turfgrass through the bachelor of science degree program.

In addition to obtaining a job with an undergraduate degree in horticulture, the major provides an excellent background for graduate study in the field of plant sciences. Areas of graduate study include plant breeding and plant genetics, horticulture, agronomy, plant pathology, or other related fields such as biology, environmental science, natural resource management, agroecology, and genetics.

Students with either undergraduate or graduate degrees in horticulture have a variety of career opportunities. Recent studies show that there are more jobs in agriculture in the U.S. than there are students graduating with agricultural bachelor of science degrees to fill them. Estimates in 2015 showed that there were 57,900 job openings in agriculture and related fields and only 35,400 students graduating annually in those areas. As our world grapples with the need to contribute science-based solutions to feeding 9 billion people by 2050, students trained in the agricultural and horticultural sciences will be called on to contribute.

Horticulture graduates may find opportunities in working on developing higher yielding crops or crops that can withstand more stressful growing conditions. Others may find opportunities working on improving qualities such as flavor, appearance, texture, and postharvest shelf life for a wide range of horticultural commodities from fruits to vegetables to flowers. Sustainable production is a particular area of growth where horticultural expertise can make a contribution. Students may wish to read a recent report from the United States Department of Agriculture and Purdue University on the subject of employment opportunities in this area.

The horticulture degree serves as excellent preparation for careers in food production, plant nurseries, community supported agriculture (CSA), public gardens, landscaping, greenhouse production, teaching, public parks, vegetable fields, golf courses, urban agriculture, extension and community based educational work, work in research labs, and the health sciences. In addition, many horticultural science majors go on to work in public sector jobs including city and state positions with the Department of Natural Resources, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, and University of Wisconsin Extension. Students with degrees in horticulture also work in hospitals (horticultural therapy), aerospace (food and recycling in space labs), and zoos (managing environments for animals and visitors). Although the career opportunities are numerous, horticulture students have a common desire to work intensively with plants to improve our environment and our health. 

To declare this major, students must be admitted to UW–Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS). For information about becoming a CALS first-year or transfer student, see Entering the College.

Students who attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have the option to declare this major at SOAR.  Students may otherwise declare after they have begun their undergraduate studies. For more information, contact the advisor listed under the Advising and Careers tab.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Specific requirements for all majors in the college and other information on academic matters can be obtained from the Office of Academic Affairs, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, 116 Agricultural Hall, 1450 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-3003. Academic departments and advisors also have information on requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies and Science), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Major Requirements

Courses may not double count within the major (unless specifically noted otherwise), but courses counted toward the major requirements may also be used to satisfy a university requirement and/or a college requirement. A minimum of 15 credits must be completed in the major that are not used elsewhere.

Mathematics and Statistics
Select one of the following (or may be satisfied by placement exam):5-6
and Trigonometry
Algebra and Trigonometry
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I 1
Select one of the following:3-5
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II 1
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1
Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Programming II
Select one of the following:5-9
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Select one of the following options:10-12
Option 1:
General Botany
Animal Biology
Animal Biology Laboratory
Option 2:
Introductory Biology
Introductory Biology
Option 3:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
Cellular Biology
And select two of the following:
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
Cellular Biology Laboratory
Principles of Physiology Laboratory
Agricultural Breadth
ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  302 Introduction to Entomology3-4
or ENTOM 351 Principles of Economic Entomology
GENETICS 466 Principles of Genetics3
Select one of the following:3-4
Plant Anatomy
Plant Morphology and Evolution
Plant Physiology
PL PATH 300 Introduction to Plant Pathology3-4
or PL PATH/​F&W ECOL/​HORT/​LAND ARC  309 Diseases of Trees and Shrubs
SOIL SCI 301 General Soil Science4
Horticultural Core
HORT 120 Survey of Horticulture3
HORT 121 Horticulture Colloquium1
HORT 227 Propagation of Horticultural Plants3
HORT 320 Environment of Horticultural Plants3
HORT/​AGRONOMY/​SOIL SCI  326 Plant Nutrition Management3
Select one of the following:3
Greenhouse Cultivation
and Greenhouse Cultivation Lab 2
Special Topics (Organic Vegetable Production)
Select three of the following:9
Ornamental Plants
Sustainable Turfgrass Use and Management
and Turfgrass Management Laboratory
Special Topics (Arboriculture and Landscape Maintenance)
Landscape Plants I
Fruit Crop Production (alternate years) 2
World Vegetable Crops
Select 5 elective credits (see list below)5
Select one of the following:1-3
A course as approved by advisor and chair of the curriculum committee, usually taken as the following: 3
Tropical Horticultural Systems
and Tropical Horticultural Systems International Field Study
Coordinative Internship/Cooperative Education
Special Problems
Total Credits70-84

Elective Courses

Students may not double count courses within the major requirements (Agricultural Breadth, Horticultural Core, Electives, Capstone)

Business and Economics
A A E 215 Introduction to Agricultural and Applied Economics4
A A E/​ENVIR ST  244 The Environment and the Global Economy4
A A E 246 Climate Change Economics and Policy3
A A E 319 The International Agricultural Economy3
A A E 320 Farming Systems Management3
A A E 323 Cooperatives3
A A E/​ECON/​ENVIR ST  343 Environmental Economics3-4
GEN BUS 310 Fundamentals of Accounting and Finance for Non-Business Majors3
GEN BUS 311 Fundamentals of Management and Marketing for Non-Business Majors3
Ecology, Conservation, and the Environment
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  460 General Ecology4
F&W ECOL/​C&E SOC/​SOC  248 Environment, Natural Resources, and Society3
F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  360 Extinction of Species3
F&W ECOL/​BOTANY  455 The Vegetation of Wisconsin4
F&W ECOL 550 Forest Ecology3
F&W ECOL/​LAND ARC/​ZOOLOGY  565 Principles of Landscape Ecology2
F&W ECOL/​BOTANY/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  651 Conservation Biology3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  120 Introduction to the Earth System3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  127 Physical Systems of the Environment5
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  139 Global Environmental Issues3
GEOG/​BOTANY  338 Environmental Biogeography3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  339 Environmental Conservation4
GEOSCI/​ENVIR ST  106 Environmental Geology3
HISTORY/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  460 American Environmental History4
LAND ARC/​ENVIR ST  361 Wetlands Ecology3
ZOOLOGY/​ENVIR ST  315 Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2
ZOOLOGY 316 Laboratory for Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources2-3
Food, Health and Human Well-being:
A A E/​C&E SOC/​SOC  340 Issues in Food Systems3-4
AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​NUTR SCI  203 Introduction to Global Health3
AGRONOMY 300 Cropping Systems3
AGRONOMY/​A A E/​INTER-AG/​NUTR SCI  350 World Hunger and Malnutrition3
AGRONOMY 377 Cropping Systems of the Tropics3
C&E SOC/​SOC  222 Food, Culture, and Society3
C&E SOC/​SOC  650 Sociology of Agriculture3
FOOD SCI/​AN SCI  321 Food Laws and Regulations1
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  309 People, Land and Food: Comparative Study of Agriculture Systems3
HORT 345 Fruit Crop Production3
HORT 350 Plants and Human Wellbeing2
HORT 370 World Vegetable Crops3
HORT 375 Special Topics (Organic Vegetable Production)1-4
NUTR SCI 132 Nutrition Today3
PL PATH 311 Global Food Security (Food Systems, Sustainability, and Climate Change)3
PL PATH 375 Special Topics1-4
Landscape Horticulture
BSE 201 Land Surveying Fundamentals1
BSE 243 Operating and Management Principles of Off-Road Vehicles3
F&W ECOL 375 Special Topics (Tree Risk Assessment and Decay Detection)1-4
HORT 234 Ornamental Plants3
HORT/​PL PATH  261 Sustainable Turfgrass Use and Management2
HORT/​PL PATH  262 Turfgrass Management Laboratory1
HORT/​LAND ARC  263 Landscape Plants I3
HORT/​SOIL SCI  332 Turfgrass Nutrient and Water Management3
HORT 334 Greenhouse Cultivation2
HORT 335 Greenhouse Cultivation Lab1
HORT 375 Special Topics (Arboriculture and Landscape Maintenance)1-4
LAND ARC 250 Survey of Landscape Architecture Design3
LAND ARC 260 History of Landscape Architecture3
LAND ARC 211 Landscape Inventory and Evaluation Methods4
Pest Management
ENTOM/​BOTANY/​ZOOLOGY  473 Plant-Insect Interactions3
ENTOM/​F&W ECOL  500 Insects in Forest Ecosystem Function and Management2
PL PATH/​BOTANY  332 Fungi4
Plant Biology
BOTANY 300 Plant Anatomy4
BOTANY 305 Plant Morphology and Evolution4
BOTANY 400 Plant Systematics4
BOTANY 401 Vascular Flora of Wisconsin4
BOTANY/​ANTHRO/​ZOOLOGY  410 Evolutionary Biology3
BOTANY 422 Plant Geography3
BOTANY/​AMER IND/​ANTHRO  474 Ethnobotany3-4
BOTANY 500 Plant Physiology3-4
F&W ECOL 415 Tree Physiology3
Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology
AGRONOMY/​C&E SOC/​MED HIST/​PHILOS  565 The Ethics of Modern Biotechnology3-4
BIOCHEM 501 Introduction to Biochemistry3
CHEM 341 Elementary Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 342 Elementary Organic Chemistry Laboratory1
CHEM 343 Introductory Organic Chemistry3
HORT/​AGRONOMY  338 Plant Breeding and Biotechnology3
HORT/​AGRONOMY/​BOTANY  339 Plant Biotechnology: Principles and Techniques I4
HORT/​AGRONOMY/​BOTANY  340 Plant Cell Culture and Genetic Engineering4
HORT/​AGRONOMY  360 Genetically Modified Crops: Science, Regulation & Controversy2
HORT 375 Special Topics (Epigenetics)1-4
HORT/​PATH-BIO  500 Molecular Biology Techniques3
HORT/​AGRONOMY  501 Principles of Plant Breeding3
HORT/​AGRONOMY  502 Techniques of Plant Breeding1
HORT/​GENETICS  550 Molecular Approaches for Potential Crop Improvement3
HIST SCI 202 The Making of Modern Science3
Public Policy and Environmental Ethics
C&E SOC/​SOC  541 Environmental Stewardship and Social Justice3
ENVIR ST/​GEOG  439 US Environmental Policy and Regulation3-4
ENVIR ST/​SOIL SCI  575 Assessment of Environmental Impact3
POLI SCI 272 Introduction to Public Policy3-4
POLI SCI/​ECON/​ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  449 Government and Natural Resources3-4
Soil Science
SOIL SCI 305 Field Study of Soil1
SOIL SCI 321 Soils and Environmental Chemistry3
SOIL SCI 322 Physical Principles of Soil and Water Management3
SOIL SCI/​PL PATH  323 Soil Biology3
SOIL SCI/​ENVIR ST  324 Soils and Environmental Quality3
SOIL SCI/​ENVIR ST  575 Assessment of Environmental Impact3
Weather and Climate Change
ATM OCN 101 Weather and Climate4
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOSCI  102 Climate and Climate Change3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  171 Global Change: Atmospheric Issues and Problems2-3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOG  332 Global Warming: Science and Impacts3
ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  520 Bioclimatology3

Honors in the Major

Admission to the Honors Program is not competitive provided students meet the required admission criteria.

Admission Criteria for New Freshmen:

  • In the upper 10% of their high school graduating class
  • ACT score of 28 or higher
  • SAT score of at least 1240

Admission Criteria for Transfer and Continuing UW-Madison Students:

  • UW-Madison cumulative GPA of at least 3.25

Highly motivated students can apply for admission to the program in the absence of these requirements by including a letter with their application addressed to the Honors Dean in 116 Agricultural Hall explaining why they should be in the program.

How to Apply

Apply to the program online or pick up an application in the Office of Academic Affairs, 116 Agricultural Hall. Applications are accepted at any time.

New freshmen will automatically be enrolled in Honors in Research. It is possible to switch to Honors in the Major in the student’s first semester on campus after meeting with the advisor for that major by completing the application form and selecting Honors in the Major. Transfer and continuing students may apply directly to Honors in Research or Honors in the Major (after meeting with the major advisor).

How to Cancel Participation

Students who are no longer interested in pursuing Honors should complete the form to cancel their participation. Students may cancel their participation at any time, and this will not be noted on the student’s transcript.


To earn Honors in the Major, students are required to take at least 20 honors credits. In addition, students must take HORT 289 Honors Independent Study, HORT 681 Senior Honors Thesis and HORT 682 Senior Honors Thesis when completing their thesis project; please see the Honors in Major Checklist for Horticulture for more information. The Department of Horticulture also works collaboratively to strongly support students through the Honors in Research program.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Acquire, integrate and apply knowledge of plant science to horticultural systems.
  2. Demonstrate interdisciplinary knowledge and competency in managing horticultural systems.
  3. Synthesize knowledge and use insight and creativity to better understand and improve horticultural systems.
  4. Appreciate and communicate the diverse impacts of horticulture on people.
  5. Demonstrate professionalism and proficiency in skills that relate to horticulture.

Four-year plan

Sample Horticulture Four-Year Plan (with BOTANY/​BIOLOGY  130 in the first semester)

HORT 1203MATH 1133
HORT 1211Ethnic Studies Course3
MATH 1123International Studies / Electives Courses5
COMM A Course3 
First Year Seminar1 
 16 16
Total Credits 32
HORT 3203CHEM 1045
CHEM 1034HORT 334
HORT 335 (Organic Vegetable Production)2
COMM B Course3HORT 2273
 14-15 15-17
Total Credits 29-32
PL PATH 300 or 3094ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  302 or 3513-4
Horticulture Breadth Course3Math / Statistics / Computer Science Course3
Electives4-5Botany Course3-4
 15-16 15-17
Total Credits 30-33
Horticulture Capstone Course3Horticulture Capstone Course (if not taken in fall)3
Horticulture Breadth Course3Horticulture Breadth or Elective Courses312
Horticulture Breadth or Elective Courses6-7 
 15-16 15
Total Credits 30-31

Sample Horticulture Four-Year Plan (with CHEM 103 in the first semester)

HORT 1203Ethnic Studies Course3
HORT 1211CHEM 1045
MATH 1123COMM A Course3
First Year Seminar1 
 12 16
Total Credits 28
HORT 3203International Studies / Electives5-6
Hort Breadth3HORT 2273
HORT 335 (Organic Vegetable Production)2
5ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  302 or 3514
 14 15-17
Total Credits 29-31
PL PATH 300 or 3094Horticulture Breadth or Elective Courses10
Horticulture Breadth Course3Botany Course3-4
International Studies / Elective Courses4-5 
 15-16 16-17
Total Credits 31-33
Horticulture Capstone Course3Horticulture Capstone Course (if not taken in fall)3
Horticulture Breadth or Elective Courses10Horticulture Breadth or Elective Courses312
 16 15
Total Credits 31


Undergraduate students in the Department of Horticulture are assigned to a minimum of two advisors: our staff advisor and a faculty mentor. Prospective students should meet with the staff advisor first; the advisor will help match students to a faculty mentor in the area of interest. Current students can meet with either the staff advisor or their assigned faculty mentor. Students are required to meet with their advisor at least once each semester.

Staff Advisor

Our staff advisor is available to help prospective and current students with major exploration, general degree requirements and policies, academic planning, campus resources, and so on.

Contact: Kathryn Jones,; schedule an advising appointment via Starfish.

Faculty Mentors

Our faculty mentors are available to help current students with internships and careers, graduate school preparation, research opportunities, etc. Contact information for faculty mentors is available on the faculty profile page.


A degree in horticulture serves as excellent preparation for careers in: applied plant science, food crop production, plant breeding & plant genetics, urban agriculture, gardening, landscaping, community supported agriculture (CSA), extension and community based educational work, horticulture education, research, greenhouse production, horticultural therapy, etc. For sample career profiles in horticulture, see Career Opportunities on the department website.


Bamberg, Colquhoun, Goldman, Havey, Jansky, Krysan (chair), Nienhuis, Palta, Simon, Spooner, Yandell

Associate Professors

Bethke, Dawson, Endelman, Jull, Weng, Zalapa

Assistant Professors 

Atucha, Wang

Instructional staff

Calderon, Ellison, Futa, Luby, Oosterwyk

Students in the horticulture program have some unique opportunities for learning outside the classroom. Many of our students participate in internships during the summer and even during academic semesters at locations that vary from seed companies to wineries to public gardens. Multiple internship opportunities for horticulture students exist on or near campus at facilities such as the Allen Centennial Garden, the UW Arboretum, and the Agricultural Research Stations.

Horticulture students have unique opportunities to contextualize the learning acquired in traditional face-to-face courses on campus, by participating in short term field experiences abroad lead by program leaders from the department of Horticulture. The UW Tropical Horticulture in Costa Rica program allows a closer look at tropical horticultural systems during the fall semester, complemented with a two-week intensive field experience in Costa Rica during winter break. Students have the opportunity to visit tropical crop plantations (for example—banana, pineapple, cacao, coffee, palm oil) and contrast different agricultural practices (small & large scale, organic, conventional). The fall semester course (HORT/​AGRONOMY  376 Tropical Horticultural Systems) taken in conjunction with the international field trip (HORT 378 Tropical Horticultural Systems International Field Study) fulfills the horticulture major capstone requirement.

The UW Community-Based Learning and Sustainable Food Systems in Guatemala program offers an opportunity to integrate topics of agriculture, sustainability, health and nutrition with a community-based learning component.  This is another two-week opportunity to study abroad that takes place in mid-May.

In addition to these opportunities to work on tropical crops, the department of Horticulture offers the UW Food Systems and the Environment in Northern Japan, another two-week field study that takes place in mid-August.  In this program, students from UW are partnered with students from Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, and through a combination of lectures and site visits they will compare and contrast the landscape and ecology of Japan and Wisconsin.

The Department of Horticulture has a very active undergraduate club known as the Horticulture Society. The mission of the Horticulture Society is to interest and acquaint students in the college with career opportunities and requirements in the field of horticulture and related fields. They aim to provide opportunities to further this interest through combined effort and achievement; to create awareness and interest in students entering the college with the field of horticulture; to be available to industrious students interested in expanding their knowledge of horticulture; and promote an exchange of ideas and mutual understanding. The Society is made up of undergraduates, some of whom are majoring in horticulture. A faculty advisor works with the group, and the group meets bi-monthly. The society travels to horticultural events and meetings, visits botanical gardens and arboreta around the country, has traveled internationally, and runs programming for children at elementary schools and gardens around Wisconsin. The society runs a large and successful plant sale each fall on campus.