Turfgrass Science Major

Career-focused business and science skills for an amazing career outside.

Master the science and business of golf courses, sports fields, parks, estates, and related industries. Armed with these skills and benefiting from an incredible alumni network, our Turfgrass Science graduates are in top leadership positions around the world.

Penn State Turfgrass—industry dominance.

Visit a big sports field anywhere in the country or elite golf course anywhere in the world and chances are a Penn Stater is in a senior leadership position. Walk on the grass at Augusta National and other premier courses and you are walking on a product of our research.

And while we are proud of our excellence and success, we are even more proud of our culture. The Turfgrass Science community is a tight-knit family of students, staff, faculty, and alumni who are passionately dedicated to our mutual professional development, success, and happiness.

Turfgrass Science is the right major if you’re:  

  • seeking a career field with incredible opportunities and explosive growth
  • ready to combine business acumen, people skills, and plant science interest
  • someone who enjoys working outdoors
  • aiming to do something different everyday
  • wanting to see the fruit of your efforts and see others appreciate your work
  • passionate about golf and other sports and enjoy making an immediate positive impact on safety and playability

A premier academic experience.

Valentine Center is a seventeen-acre research facility that focuses on high-maintenance turfgrass.

Valentine Research Center

Our 17-acre research facility focuses on high-maintenance turfgrass and provides opportunities for you to:

  • Gain exposure to a wide array of the latest turfgrass management equipment and specialized materials
  • Work alongside Penn State faculty and staff with hundreds of years of combined turfgrass experience around the world
  • Real lessons, on real turf—problem solve using the equipment and industry-leading ideas you'll bring to your future career.
Maintaining the turf on golf courses and sports fields

Career-driven curriculum

Turf professionals rely on their hard science and business expertise to thrive in their careers. So that’s what we study.

Example Courses

  • Biology: Basic Concepts and Biodiversity
  • Case Studies in Turfgrass Management
  • Economic Principles of Agribusiness Decision Making
  • Industry Internship
  • Introduction to Plant Biology
  • Introductory Soil Science
  • Turfgrass Insect Pest Management
  • Understanding Weather Forecasting

Real world experience in the college sports limelight

Work and learn on some high profile facilities like: Beaver Stadium, Penn State Golf Courses, Valentine Research Center, baseball, soccer, practice fields, and more

  • Build your resume through real world experience
  • Just like the industry: turf students learn working in teams, taking on leadership roles, and working shoulder-to-shoulder with industry leading professional staff

Ag Journey

“Everyone in turf loves what they do.”

– William Hilderhoff

Get out of the classroom and be the best in your field.

Our faculty are the best in the business, and they’ll be the first to tell you to get out there and get your hands dirty. Classrooms and labs are just the beginning of your Turfgrass Science experience. In fact, completing at least one internship isn’t just encouraged, it’s mandatory. We’ll help you line up a work experience during the summer where you can master skills, get paid, and discover potential job opportunities.

You can also apply your classroom learning right here on campus at facilities like the Valentine Research Center—home of A1/A4, the Penn State–developed turf used at Augusta National.

Craft your experience.

Related clubs and teams

Recent internships  

  • Groundskeeper at a professional athletics facility
  • Marketing and sales in turfgrass industry
  • University internships at Beaver Stadium and Penn State Golf Courses
  • Technical representative in supporting industries
  • Turfgrass maintenance at a country club

Popular study abroad  

  • Historic Golf Courses, Scotland
  • Golf and Soccer Facilities, Italy

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

Penn State Turfgrass Science grads walk off the stage at graduation, and walk into stellar careers all over the world. 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

  • Athletic fields
  • Chemical companies
  • Estates
  • Golf courses
  • Graduate school
  • MLB, NFL, and MLS stadiums
  • Parks
  • Research and development
  • School districts
  • Sod farms
  • Universities

Turfgrass Science Career Options

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

Golf Course Superintendent/Greenskeeper/Turf Manager 

A golf course superintendent uses biology, chemistry, plant pathology, and entomology in addition to business and people skills to care for the turfgrass and landscaped grounds on a golf course.

What will I do?

  • Prepare the course for professional golf tournaments
  • Oversee construction and renovation projects
  • Manage large staffs and budgets often in excess of $1 million
  • Study and diagnose disease and injury to the golf course’s turfgrass
  • Direct the application of fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides in an environmentally responsible manner
  • Cultivate turfgrass and other plants

Sports Field Manager

A sports field manager is responsible for gameday-ready sporting grounds.

What will I do?

  • Develop and implement plans for maintaining athletic fields and grounds
  • Oversee personnel and develop and manage budgets
  • Purchase, maintain, and manage equipment and supplies
  • Supervise the protection of athletic fields during special events
  • Monitor irrigation system performance
  • Supervise field use at sporting events
  • Manage major builds and field renovation projects

Lawn Care Business Owner

Owners of lawn care businesses have a hand in all aspects of the business—sales and marketing, accounting, inventory, creative design, carpentry, and installation.

What will I do?

  • Attract and retain clients
  • Develop schedules for maintenance of clients' properties
  • Design or oversee the design of landscape plans
  • Manage crews and third-party vendor relationships
  • Oversee complete turf and landscape installations
  • Keep current on industry practices and trends

Turfgrass Science students in the news

October 3, 2023

Noted turfgrass scientist retires from Penn State after 40-year career

Andrew McNitt, professor of soil science, director of the Center for Sports Surface Research and technical adviser to the National Football League, recently retired from Penn State after an innovative and distinguished career in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

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February 22, 2023

Penn State Turf Club nabs 1st place in national competition

A team of students from Penn State’s Turf Club recently secured first place in the 2023 Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Collegiate Turf Bowl, which was held during the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show in Orlando.

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December 2, 2022

Internships earn awards for College of Agricultural Sciences students

Twelve Penn State students have been selected as College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Society 2022 Internship Award winners. The award, which includes a $1,000 stipend, was established to encourage students to participate in a credit or noncredit educational internship program related to their field of study.

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March 14, 2022

College of Ag Sciences alumna, student recipients of Musser Award of Excellence

The Musser International Turfgrass Foundation has selected two recipients of its 2022 Musser Award of Excellence. Devon Carroll, a graduate of Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, and Travis Russell, a doctoral candidate in the college, are co-honorees.

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