The MS degree is offered with thesis or non-thesis (report) option.
MS Thesis option: All students must complete prescribed courses and conduct original research under the supervision of the major professor and the advisory committee on a selected problem related to horticulture, park management and conservation, or wildlife and outdoor enterprise management. A hypothesis must be proposed and tested. A review of the literature in the selected area of study should precede the experimental work. The data collected must be analyzed, interpreted, and presented in the form of seminars and a bound thesis and appropriate peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals.
MS Non-thesis option: All students must complete prescribed courses and conduct in-depth study under the supervision of the major professor and the advisory committee on a selected problem related to horticulture, park management and conservation, or wildlife and outdoor enterprise management. A review of the literature in the selected area of study should precede the development of a comprehensive research report, in lieu of an experimental research-based thesis. A non-thesis Master's degree is expected to be a terminal degree, not suitable for students planning to continue their education in a doctoral program.
The advisory committee is made up of a minimum of three members of the Graduate Faculty. The advisory committee must be chosen during the student's first semester in residence. The major professor will serve as chair of the advisory committee. Students and their major professors share joint responsibility to set up and hold meetings of the student's advisory committee at least once each year.
The advisory committee will assist the student in formulating a program of study, review the student's thesis/project proposal, and make suggestions concerning the course of graduate study. The advisory committee will conduct a final oral examination that may include a defense of the thesis or report, an interpretation of other scholarly activities, and a testing of the student's understanding of their field of study.
The student should consider her/his major professor as the first source for policy information, advisory guidance and access to resources of the Department and University needed to complete all requirements for graduation.
Program of Study
The program of study will be developed initially through consultation between the major professor and the student. Courses to be taken should fit into a unified plan aimed at providing the student with a comprehensive background in the chosen area of interest. Initiative in program design by the student is encouraged. The program of study should then be presented at the initial meeting with the Advisory Committee.
Course and research credit requirements are as follows:
- At least 30 credit hours beyond a BS degree
- 2 credit hours of Graduate Seminar (HORT 951)
- At least 3 credit hours of Research Methods and/or Scientific Writing
- At least 3 credit hours of 700 level or above Statistic courses
- 6 (minimum) to 8 (maximum) credit hours of thesis research (HORT 899) OR 2 credit hours (exactly) of non-thesis research (HORT 898)
- Other courses to be selected with major advisor and committee
Master's students should earn a significant majority of their credit hours in courses numbered 700 or above. Therefore, of the 30 credit hours normally required for the master's program of study at least 18 hours should be at the 700 level and above, including the thesis/research and the report/problems hours required by the thesis and report options. Courses at the 600-level may be included, but 500-level courses in the student's major area (department) are expected to have been completed as undergraduate prerequisites to graduate study or as undergraduate deficiency courses assigned upon admission. The use of 500-level supporting courses in master's programs is therefore restricted as follows: (1) No course in the student's major area may be at the 500 level, and (2) normally no more than 6 credit hours may be at the 500 level. In addition, no more than 3 hours in problems or other individualized courses may be applied to the master's degree.
Upon approval by the major professor and advisory committee, the student will submit his/her program of study to the Graduate School. The approved program of study must be submitted to the Graduate School prior to the end of the student's second semester (excluding summer semester). All changes in the program of study must be approved by the advisory committee, Graduate Program Director or Department Head, and Graduate School.
Graduate Research for Thesis Option
All thesis option graduate students must conduct original research under the supervision of the major professor and the advisory committee, on a selected problem related to Horticulture, Park Management and Conservation or Wildlife and Outdoor Enterprise Management. A research proposal must be developed as the first step in the research process. The research proposal should demonstrate a sufficient level of understanding of the researchable problem, the appropriate methodology, and scientific rationale to be approved by the student's advisory committee. The experimental data collected must be analyzed, interpreted, and presented in the form of a bound thesis (candidates for the MS, non-thesis option, must submit a research report in lieu of a thesis).
The research proposal should be presented to the advisory committee for their approval and recommendations prior to the end of the student's second semester (excluding summer semester). A baseline expectation for all thesis option students is that they develop a brief research proposal that addresses each of the following elements pertinent to developing scientific research skills:
- one or more testable hypotheses
- clear research objectives
- rationale for the proposed research, including a scientific literature review and, if available, preliminary data
- feasible proposed research methodology
- expected outcomes
- potential impact
- pertinent literature citations
The process of developing a concise research proposal is an appropriate and necessary prerequisite for the eventual completion of the research thesis. As a general rule, the proposed research effort should be rigorous and of high enough standard to merit its publication in a peer reviewed journal.
Outreach & Extension Experience
All graduate students are required to have at least two Outreach and Extension Experiences.
An outreach experience gives students exposure to a potential area of employment, adds to their expertise in their field of study, and helps them gain empathy for the industry and public that the discipline serves. Each student must participate in two of the three general categories listed below. Major advisers should arrange for these experiences, and the activities are ideally decided on at the time of filing the Program of Study. After completion of the extension experience, the activities conducted must be briefly described and documented by the student in their Annual Progress Report.
I. Developing and Communicating Information
- Present research-generated information in a form and in a medium designed to reach either the general public or industry.
- Prepare and present a talk on a horticultural, park management and conservation, or wildlife and outdoor management topic to an audience of non-scientists; examples include garden clubs, commodity groups, and extension meetings.
- Use an alternative or creative medium to deliver information; examples are websites, television or radio, on-farm or other demonstrations, or materials delivered electronically.
II. Interacting with the Public
- Assist in developing and conducting a commodity or other meeting designed to attract a large and diverse audience. Assisting with only clerical or audiovisual equipment duties does not fulfill the spirit of this requirement.
- Participate in the planning and execution of a tour. This could involve a facility tour or it could involve scheduling visits for a group of professionals, including international groups.
- Travel with an extension specialist on assignment for at least three days, which need not be consecutive.
- Assist in responding to requests for horticultural or natural resources information from extension agents.
III. Public Service
- Presenting programs or developing materials for public or private schools, including preschools, in your field of study.
- Presenting programs or developing materials for other educational institutions or groups, in your field of study.
The student may undertake an extension activity not described herein subject to approval by his/her major adviser and the Director of Graduate Programs. Waiver of this experience must be requested at the time that the Plan of Study is submitted, and it will only be approved for students with extensive backgrounds in extension. Waiver requests submitted near the completion of a student's degree will not be considered.
The thesis is based on original research conducted in partial fulfillment of requirements for the MS degree and is prepared under the supervision of the major professor. It must be approved by the advisory committee. The thesis may be written either in journal paper format, with each chapter prepared as an independent manuscript (strongly recommended), or in the "classical" chronological style.
A copy of a draft of the thesis that has been reviewed and approved by the major professor is given to each member of the advisory committee at least two weeks prior to the thesis defense date (final oral examination, see below). More than one review by the advisory committee may be needed prior to full committee approval.
Students in the non-thesis option must prepare a report based on in-depth study on a selected problem related to their field of study under the supervision of the major professor. It must be approved by the advisory committee. The format of the report is generally more flexible and is based on the intended outcomes of the in-depth study.
A copy of the draft of the report that has been reviewed and approved by the major professor is given to each member of the advisory committee at least two weeks prior to the final oral examination (see below). More than one review by the advisory committee may be needed prior to full committee approval.
Final Oral Examination (Thesis Defense or Non-Thesis Exam)
Prior to scheduling the final oral examination, all changes to the student's program of study must be approved and any incomplete or deferred grades (except HORT 898 or 899) resolved. The committee should have the thesis in hand at least two weeks prior to the oral examination. Students must be registered for at least one (1) credit hour during the semester of the final oral examination.
A thesis defense seminar based on the student's thesis research or project report will precede the oral examination. The defense seminar is open to the public, but the final oral examination that follows the thesis defense seminar is limited to the advisory committee. Notice of the seminar and final examination should be done at least one week prior to the examination. The thesis/report and the student's performance on the final oral examination must be approved by a majority of the committee members. If a candidate fails the examination, the examination must be retaken in the time period of 2 to 15 months. Only one re-examination is allowed.
All graduate students are required to submit an Annual Progress Report to their advisors by no later than end of August.