Program Overview

The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Agriculture and Life Sciences focus area in Climate Change and Agriculture provides a solid foundation in the diverse sciences we need to solve the greatest challenge of our times.  You will learn about climate science, climate change mitigation and adaptation with respect to global cropping systems and sustainable development, biogeochemistry, soil nutrient and carbon cycling, and science policy. You will become proficient in handling and analyzing remote sensing data and in ecosystem modeling. Your experience and skills will help you stand out from the crowd when searching for climate change related positions in government, NGO and private sectors.

 

 

Focus Area details

Knowledge and skills gained in this focus area provide a foundation for a variety of career opportunities including:

  • Climate/environmental scientist 
  • Biofuels specialist 
  • Climate smart farming specialist 
  • Sustainability consultant 
  • Conservation scientist 

Taryn Bauerle

  • Woody plant root biology and physiological ecology
  • Water stress
  • Root herbivory

Mike Gore

  • Quantitative genetics and genomics
  • High-throughput phenotyping tools
  • Nutritional genomics

Johannes Lehmann 

  • Soil biogeochemistry, fertility management, organic matter, and carbon and nutrient cycling from wastes
  • Soil carbon sequestration and biochar systems
  • Sustainable agriculture in the tropics

Louis Longchamps

  • On-farm research
  • Precision agriculture
  • Site-specific weed management and variable rate nitrogen management

Andrew McDonald  

  • Agricultural sustainability, food security, water resources and climate
  • Cropping systems ecology, International agriculture, policy, and applied social sciences

Rebecca Nelson 

  • Genetics of quantitative disease resistance in plants
  • International agriculture and rural development
  • Mycotoxin management

Tim Setter   

  • Drought and environmental stress physiology,
  • International agriculture
  • Maize, wheat and cassava breeding and genomics

Diana Sinton  

  • Geographic information science and systems and natural resources management
  • Integration of in social and cultural data in GIS and humanitarian mapping projects
  • Geospatial literacy and spatial thinking, GIS in Higher Education

Ying Sun

  • Canopy- to global-scale modeling
  • Geospatial analysis and big data synthesis
  • Remote sensing

Janice Thies   

  • International agriculture
  • Soil biology quality assessment and remediation
  • Soil ecology

Peter Woodbury 

  • Agricultural and forest ecosystems
  • Geospatial modeling, land use and environmental quality
  • Greenhouse gas emissions

Dominic Woolf  

  • Biochar, Soil carbon sequestration and climate-smart agriculture
  • Sustainable landscape management, agroforestry reforestration and restoration of degraded land

 

View all Integrative Plant Science MPS faculty | Explore all faculty interests and focus area careers

To learn more about these courses,  visit the Courses of Study website.

Coursework is specifically designed to meet the needs of each student. A minimum of 30 credit hours related to the candidate's professional interest is required to graduate.  The student and their faculty advisor decide on a plan of study. Here are some of the classes that are available; there are several more from which to choose:

Integrative Plant Science Core:

Required:

  • PLSCI 5500 Let Your Life Speak: Selfhood, Community, Change
  • ALS 5900 Master of Professional Studies Project Development
  • ALS 5910 Master of Professional Studies Project Completion

Recommended:

  • ALS 5211 Career Readiness: Engaged Learning for CALS Professional Master’s Students
  • LEAD 5100 Leadership Skills for Graduate Students

Climate Change and Agriculture Courses (recommended):

  • PLSCS 5140 Global Cropping Systems and Sustainable Development
  • PLSCS 5290 Remote Sensing and Modeling for Ecosystems
  • PLSCS 6100 Plant Responses to Environmental Stresses and Global Climate Change
  • PLSCS 6710 Soil Chemistry
  • PLSCS 6720 Nutrient and Carbon Cycling and Management in Ecosystems
  • EAS 5443 Global Climate Change Science and Policy
  • BIOEE 6680 Principles of Biogeochemistry

The ideal candidate will demonstrate a passion for working with plants, competency in undergraduate science coursework, and interest in applying knowledge gained in a professional career. Admission requirements include:

  • Online application through Cornell Graduate School
  • Bachelor’s degree in scientific field
  • For non-science background, at least 15 credit hours of introductory college-level science courses, including general chemistry, general biology, and corresponding labs
  • Current résumé or CV
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • TOEFL/IELTS for international applicants, per Graduate School guidelines

CALS MPS program details

Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Master of Professional Studies (MPS) program is an accredited, course-based, one-year Master’s degree program that emphasizes professional development and intellectual investigation in the areas of agriculture, life sciences and global development.

Though similar to a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in its academic rigor, the MPS degree differs from a traditional M.S. degree in its structure and focus. An M.S. is research-based, with students building a thesis over the course of two or three years. In contrast, the MPS degree is a one-year, course-based program where students study the intricacies and in-depth questions of their field of study. Instead of a thesis or research project, MPS students complete a capstone project during their final semester. To understand this difference in greater detail, please visit our FAQ page.

MPS students are part of a community of diverse students and faculty who share common goals, connecting research and practice to solve complex problems. 

 

The Master of Professional Studies program has two main components:

  • Coursework: Students work with a faculty advisor to map out their individualized course of study based on their areas of interest. The majority of courses (20 credits) will be within CALS; however, students have the opportunity to take courses across Cornell.
  • Capstone project: With the guidance of a faculty advisor, students work on solving a real-world problem.
  • Satisfactory completion of a minimum of 30 credit hours related to the candidate's professional interest, as agreed upon with the faculty advisor.
    (a)   Twenty credit hours must be taken within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and at least 30 credits must be in graduate-level courses (5000-level and higher).
    (b)   A maximum of 6 of the required 30 credit hours may be earned through the student's problem-solving project (see third bullet).
    (c)   A maximum of 6 graduate-level credit hours earned outside the program, at Cornell University or elsewhere, may be counted toward these requirements at the discretion of the student's faculty advisor. These credits must be appropriate to the subject of study and completed not more than five years before admission.
  • Completion of a minimum of two semesters. One semester must be earned by carrying a minimum of 12 credit hours. In certain circumstances, the second semester credit may be earned by accumulating the remaining credit hours in the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions at Cornell University or through transfer of credit (see item c above).
  • Satisfactory completion of a problem-solving project under the supervision of the faculty advisor. This project may be an action program, the development of a plan to address a pertinent problem, the development of materials or methodology suited to the student's situation, or the development and execution of research appropriate to the profession. A formal project report must be submitted to and approved by the candidate's faculty advisor. 
  • A minimum semester grade point average of 2.5 (minimum of 18 credit hours with letter grades at Cornell).
  • Completion of the degree within four years of admission. Some fields of study may have special requirements, so students should check with the field's director of graduate studies for specific details.

Students work with top-ranked faculty who are leaders in their field on an experiential project that fosters professional skill development through the creation of solutions to real-world problems.

Next steps

Deadline to apply: February 15*

*For regular Fall Semester start. Late applications may be accepted under exceptional circumstances.  Contact Tara Reed for more information: tln2 [at] cornell.edu.

 

Image courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Assocation.

A river from above.

Faculty spotlight

Johannes Lehmann

Johannes focuses his research and teaching in soil biogeochemistry and soil fertility management. His specialization is in soil organic matter and nutrient studies of managed and natural ecosystems with a focus on soil carbon sequestration, nutrient recycling from wastes, biochar systems, circular economy, and sustainable agriculture in the tropics (especially Africa). His research stretches from ultra-fine scale microscopy to examine carbon stabilization in soils to global-scale carbon and nutrient cycles. 

johannes lehmann

Meet some of our Climate Change and Agriculture faculty

Taryn Bauerle
Taryn Bauerle

Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Horticulture Section

Taryn Bauerle
Woody plant root biology and physiological ecology
Water stress
Root herbivory
Mike Gore
Michael Gore

Professor and Chair

School of Integrative Plant Science

Plant Breeding and Genetics Section

Michael Gore
Quantitative genetics and genomics
High-throughput phenotyping tools
Nutritional genomics
Johannes Lehmann
Johannes Lehmann

Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor

Department of Global Development

Johannes Lehmann
Soil biogeochemistry, fertility management, organic matter, and carbon and nutrient cycling from wastes
Soil carbon sequestration and biochar systems
Sustainable agriculture in the tropics
Louis Longchamps
Louis Longchamps

Assistant Professor

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

School of Integrative Plant Science

Louis Longchamps
  • ll928 [at] cornell.edu
Precision agriculture
Site-specific weed management and variable rate nitrogen management
On-farm research
Andy McDonald
Andrew McDonald

Associate Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Associate Professor

Department of Global Development

Andrew McDonald
  • ajm9 [at] cornell.edu
Cropping systems ecology
Agricultural sustainability, food security, water resources and climate
International agriculture, policy, and applied social sciences
Rebecca Nelson
Rebecca Nelson

Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section

Plant Breeding and Genetics Section

Professor

Department of Global Development

Rebecca Nelson
Genetics of quantitative disease resistance in plants
International agriculture and rural development
Mycotoxin management
Tim Setter
Tim Setter

Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Plant Breeding and Genetics Section

Tim Setter
Maize, wheat and cassava breeding and genomics
Drought and environmental stress physiology
International agriculture
Diana Sinton
Diana Sinton

Adjunct Associate Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Diana Sinton
  • dss326 [at] cornell.edu
Geographic information science and systems and natural resources management
Integration of in social and cultural data in GIS and humanitarian mapping projects
Geospatial literacy and spatial thinking, GIS in Higher Education
Ying Sun
Ying Sun

Assistant Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Ying Sun
Geospatial analysis and big data synthesis
Remote sensing
Canopy- to global-scale modeling
Janice Thies
Janice Thies

Associate Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Janice Thies
Soil ecology
Soil biology quality assessment and remediation
International agriculture
Peter Woodbury
Peter Woodbury

Senior Research Associate

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Peter Woodbury
Agricultural and forest ecosystems
Greenhouse gas emissions
Geospatial modeling, land use and environmental quality
Dominic Woolf
Dominic Woolf

Senior Research Associate

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Dominic Woolf
  • dw433 [at] cornell.edu
Soil carbon sequestration and climate-smart agriculture
Sustainable landscape management, agroforestry reforestration and restoration of degraded land
Biochar