Plant Sciences Major

Roll up your sleeves and grow with us.

Embark on an in-depth exploration of plant life. Make the world a better place through a hands-on understanding of plants for food, fiber, medicine, and fuel. Science, academic, government, industry, and entrepreneurial careers await.

A small green world for the big blue planet.

Penn State Plant Sciences has world-renowned faculty, on-campus greenhouses, a plethora of laboratories, and thousands of acres of research farms where you can pursue your passion. But what’s really special is not how big it is, but how small. Faculty and staff put student needs first. And the facilities are truly unique in their proximity and accessibility.

Feeding more people on less land. Sustainability. Food deserts. Our small world is making a huge impact. Penn State Plant Sciences research and outreach are making a real difference, all over the world. Join us today as we tackle tomorrow’s biggest challenges.

Plant Sciences is the right major for if you’re:

  • seeking hands-on learning in greenhouse spaces, labs, research and teaching farms, a student farm, and hydroponics and aquaponics systems
  • interested in sustainable food, fuel, flower, and fiber systems with consideration for climate impacts
  • curious about growing and developing plants for better human nutrition, greater insect and disease resistance, and medical or aesthetic qualities
The major is designed for students seeking careers in agronomic and horticultural crop production systems, sustainable agriculture and ecosystem science.

One major. Five paths. Infinite destinations.

Agroecology Plant Science Option applies an ecological approach to cropping systems.

Agroecology option

Research innovative ways to produce crops and other plants for food and fibers with a constant eye on sustainability. This path leads to opportunities in alternative/niche food production in roles within government, institutions, and industry, and opens doors for the highly entrepreneurial.

Example courses

  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Intro to Agroecology
  • Principles and Practices of Organic Agriculture
The Crop Production Plant Science option provides practical and field-related skills in Agronomy.

Crop production

Develop practical, science-based skills for producing crops and managing soil. Grads enjoy careers as farm managers, leaders in ag-related industries, and roles in government.

Example courses

  • Crop Scouting
  • Forage Crop Management
  • Soil Composition and Physical Properties
Horticulture Plant Science option is focused on the production and physiology of horticultural crops.

Horticulture

Dig into the science of producing crops and ornamentals for food, fiber, fuel, and beauty. Grads run specialty agricultural operations like greenhouses, orchards, public gardens, and farms, and enjoy leadership in the plant science industry, government, and academia.

Example courses

  • Greenhouse Management
  • Vegetable Crops
  • Hydroponics and Aquaponics
For students interested in plant molecular genetics and plant biotechnology based industries.

Plant Genetics and Biotechnology

Dive into a combination of basic science and technology-based classes. This option teaches theoretical and practical skills of plant genetic manipulation needed in plant biotechnology, plant breeding, and genome research. It can help prepare students for employment in industry or academia.

Example courses

  • Molecular Biology of the Gene
  • Physiology of Agricultural Crops
  • Plant Tissue Culture and Biotechnology

Plant Science

Take a hard-science approach to cultivating plants for human nutrition, greater insect and disease resistance, and beauty. Grads work in plant science research and industry or continue on to graduate studies.

Example courses

  • Plant Microbe Interactions
  • Plant Nutrition

Ag Journeys

“I LOVE the greenhouses here. I’m over the moon with them.”

– Gabrielle Hennrichs

The classroom outside the classroom.

Clubs, internships, externships, and international exchanges aren’t just add-ons at Penn State. They are at the very heart of your Plant Science education and the gateway to endless social and professional opportunities. No matter how broad or focused your interests, there is a group and/or an experience with your name written all over it.

Craft your experience.

Related clubs

  • Agronomy Club
  • Blooms and Shrooms
  • Horticulture Club
  • Student Farm Club
  • Turfgrass Club
  • Weed Science Team
  • See all clubs and teams

Recent internships

  • Corn research
  • Crop producer
  • Nursery intern
  • Plant biologist
  • Plant pathologist

Popular study abroad

  • Economic, Community, and Agricultural Development, Kenya
  • Food Security Issues for Smallholder Agriculture in Asia, Thailand/Cambodia
  • New World Crops and Sustainable Food Production, Spain
  • Walking in the Footsteps of the Potato Famine, Ireland
Plant Scientists on a field research in Costa Rica. One of the career options for plant scientists is the commercial growers of fruit, vegetable, nursery, or greenhouse crops. The plant sciences major comes with a lot of study abroad opportunities.

A practical, workforce-ready degree—and a college experience you’ll love.

Penn State Plant Sciences grads are all over the world doing the most amazing things, from agriculture to medicine and law and everything in between. You can harness the awesome power of a truly unique education at one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

Our alumni out in the world

  • Agricultural chemical companies
  • Biological sciences
  • Cooperative extension and education
  • Crop consulting firms
  • Federal and state plan health and inspection services
  • Fruit and vegetable farms
  • Greenhouses
  • Medicinal plant industry
  • Public and private gardens and arboretums
  • Landscape companies
  • Seed companies
  • Universities

Plant Science Career Options

What can I do with a Plant Science degree? Here are just a few career examples:

Arborist

Arborists plant, grow, maintain, and remove trees.

What will I do?

  • Climb trees to trim or remove
  • Collect data on the size, age, and health of trees
  • Determine the health of tree species
  • Identify tree pests and diseases and prescribe needed care

Greenhouse manager

Greenhouse managers are responsible for the daily operations of running a greenhouse or nursery.

What will I do?

  • Oversee plant inventory
  • Plan species to be planted according to time of year
  • Provide supervision over greenhouse workers
  • Manage greenhouse equipment and computer controls

Plant scientist

Plant scientists plan, budget, establish, perform, and document research trials for a variety of cropping systems.

What will I do?

  • Understand the farmland (ground conditions, farming challenges, and pest issues)
  • Evaluate products, collect data, and make recommendations to management
  • Communicate research findings

Horticulturist

Horticulturalists oversee growing programs for a variety of ornamental and vegetative crops, including nuts, fruits, vegetables, flowers, shrubs, and trees.

What will I do?

  • Oversee the production and care of plants, fruits, and vegetables
  • Manage crop scheduling for timing of appropriate planting and harvesting
  • Perform plant propagation, irrigation, and pest management
  • Control plant growth regulation by monitoring fertilizers

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