Discover CALS

See how our current work and research is bringing new thinking and new solutions to some of today's biggest challenges.

Graduate Field of Horticulture

Shaping the food systems and landscapes of today and tomorrow

Our interdisciplinary graduate education programs empower you with communication, leadership and innovative problem-solving skills.

The Field of Horticulture includes the study of fruits, vegetables and landscape plants for the purpose of sustaining the environment, enhancing economic vitality and improving the quality of life of individuals and their communities.

Graduate Field of Horticulture

The MS/PhD Graduate Field of Horticulture includes the study of fruits, vegetables and landscape plants to sustain the environment, enhance economic vitality, and improve quality of life. As the only horticulture program in the Ivy League, our faculty, staff and students are working to shape the food systems and landscapes of today and for the future. Faculty in this field are associated with the SIPS Horticulture Section and also the SIPS Plant Breeding & Genetics Section.

In addition to their major field of study, students will select minor field(s) of study from such areas as plant physiology, pathology, anatomy, ecology, biochemistry, botany, entomology, taxonomy, genetics, education, soils, economics, communication, biological and environmental engineering and landscape architecture. All students are encouraged to gain experience in academic instruction or Cooperative Extension programming.

Master of Science (M.S.)


Students for the Master of Science degree majoring in horticulture are expected to demonstrate competence in the three core areas of Horticultural Biology, Horticultural Production and Management and Horticultural Methods. 

  • Students select a special committee composed of one professor representing the major field and at least one professor representing a minor field.
  • The student's special committee determines coursework and credits for the M.S. degree.
  • Committee members advise students in the selection and conduct of research problems for the thesis.
  • Candidates must submit an acceptable hypothesis-driven thesis based on a research project and pass a final oral exam.
  • Teaching experience is required and can be satisfied by assisting a faculty member in teaching a course.
  • Fulfill a minimum of two registration units (two semesters). Candidates are expected to complete degree requirements in two years, but have up to four years to complete requirements.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or M.S./Ph.D.


For a full list of requirements, please visit the Doctor of Philosophy or M.S./Ph.D. page.

Graduate Field Concentrations

The MS/PhD Graduate Field of Horticulture has four concentrations:

  • Horticultural Crop Breeding
  • Horticulture Crop Management
  • Physiology & Ecology of Horticultural Crops
  • Human-Plant Interactions
man in dark coat examining grapevines

MPS focus areas related to Horticulture

Close up photo of a plant.

Controlled Environment Agriculture

One of the fastest growing areas of agriculture, is an advanced and intensive form of hydroponically-based agriculture. Plants are grown within a controlled environment so that horticultural practices can be optimized. This specialization emphasizes specific skills to understand lighting, hydroponic production, pest control and horticultural aspects of production will be part of the program.

Hemp Science

Focused on the development of specific skills to understand plant breeding and genetics; hydroponic and field crop production; processing; food, fiber and medicinal applications; and product development. Students will also have a broad-based understanding of the industry from seed to sales, exploring the legal and regulatory environment and challenges facing the cannabis industry today and in the future.

Public Garden Leadership

Focused on the management of public gardens and requires a mix of academic training and practical experience. This specialization emphasizes leadership, strategic decision making and business management, preparing students for managerial and leadership roles in the public garden field.


Viticulture is the science, production and study of grapes. This specialization emphasizes knowledge development and hands-on experience. With Cornell’s ideal location in the Finger Lakes region—home to nearly 10,000 acres of vineyards—students will be exposed to every aspect of grape growing and wine making.

Plant Protection

Plant Protection encompasses strategies and tactics for managing insect pests, weeds, and plant pathogens. Students take courses with Integrated Pest Managment experts and master the application of applied concepts from allied fields such as economics, ecology, and toxicology. 

Learn more about the Plant Protection specialization