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  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Horticulture Section
  • Plants
  • Horticulture
After working as a civil engineering analyst in Los Angeles, Charles Gagne, MPS ’19, decided to switch career paths, and he found the CALS Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program to be the perfect catalyst.

Gagne graduated with a degree in horticulture and a specialization in controlled environment agriculture and recently landed an apprentice grower position at BrightFarms, a company based in the Hudson Valley.

Controlled environment agriculture is just one of the many newly developed specializations that the Office of Professional Programs and Extended Learning (OPPEL) has launched to further support professional master’s programs offered by CALS.

Others include environmental management and sustainable systems in the Department of Natural Resources, plant biotechnology and geospatial applications in the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) and dairy business management in the Department of Animal Science.

“This has been a real team effort,” said OPPEL Director Janet Anderson. “We are grateful for the support of CALS’ senior leadership and collaboration with faculty experts.”

There’s a strong demand for OPPEL graduates. Anderson said that MPS food science graduates, for example, have found positions at a variety of companies, ranging from small, entrepreneurial startups to large, multinational companies and anywhere in between.

“It’s important for us to deliver a solid return on investment for our students, both in higher-paying jobs and opportunities for career-changers,” Anderson said. “With one year of coursework and a tailored capstone project, students have the opportunity to explore new disciplines and focus their graduate education over an accelerated time frame.”

Gagne said he grew immensely, thanks to the support of what he called “an incredibly diverse and intelligent community.” He said, “The realization that I can now have an engaging conversation with a professional about a subject I knew nothing about just months ago brings me a lot of joy.”

OPPEL has also seen considerable interest in a new MPS specialization in hemp science in SIPS, with the first cohort starting in fall 2020. “The hemp industry is poised for significant growth in the next several years, and it is important to deliver an educated workforce to address all aspects, from science to business to law and policy,” Anderson said.

Additional new specializations planned include animal health, plant protection (from pests and pathogens) and biological data science. CALS also offers an early admit program for qualified Cornell undergraduates to begin their master’s education in the final semester of their senior year.

“We are also actively moving forward with online courses and certificates to meet the needs of students who cannot join us on campus,” Anderson said.

Learn more about CALS professional master's degrees.

This article was originally published in the CALS Magazine.

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