Program Overview

The Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) concentration within the Integrative Plant Science MPS focuses on one of the fastest growing areas of agriculture, is an advanced and intensive form of hydroponically-based agriculture. This innovative method of growing plants focuses on key production benefits, such as:

  • High plant quality
  • Predictable crop timing
  • Consistently available quantity
  • Limited environmental impact

CEA techniques demand sound knowledge of chemistry, horticulture, engineering, plant physiology, plant pathology, computers and entomology. The CEA Concentration for the MPS degree program is focused on the development of specific skills to understand:

  • Lighting
  • Hydroponic production
  • Pest control
  • Horticultural aspects of production

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. (The Integrative Plant Science MPS program is STEM-designated degree program.)

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 Integrative Plant Science Master of Professional Studies program is a STEM-designated degree with coursework requirements that differ slightly from other MPS programs at Cornell.

Students work with a faculty advisor to map out their individualized course of study based on their areas of interest, and complete a minimum of 30 credit hours related to their concentration of study. While 20 credit hours must be taken within CALS, there is flexibility to take courses across Cornell.

13 credits in the core:

  • 5 credits of professional development
  • 2 credits of quantitative literacy
  • 2-6 credits for project

(If project is less than 6 credits, students must complete more credits in professional development and/or quantitative literacy.)

  • 12 credits in concentration-specific courses
  • 5 credits of elective courses
  • 30 credits total
  • 30 credits in graduate level classes (5000+)
  • 20 credits in CALS courses
  • 18 credits for letter grade
  • Gym/language courses do not count towards degree

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. 

Browse recent projects.

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]

Hydroponic lettuce with roots dangling from support.

Faculty spotlight

Neil Mattson

One of the nation’s leaders in CEA, Neil's research focuses on how environmental factors and cultural practices affect physiology, development, and biochemical characteristics of greenhouse crops, lighting systems, and energy efficiency. He is particularly interested in how water quality, nutrient availability, temperature, light, and abiotic stress conditions affect crop physiology. This fits well with Neil’s goal of providing producers with relevant, research-based information for the production of high quality CEA crops.

CEA expert neil mattson in greenhouse with experimental magenta lights
neil mattson
Neil Mattson


School of Integrative Plant Science

Horticulture Section

Neil Mattson
Greenhouse horticulture
Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)
Greenhouse lighting and systems engineering
Bill Miller
Bill Miller


School of Integrative Plant Science

Horticulture Section

Bill Miller
Flower bulbs and floriculture
Greenhouse and nursery crops
Physiology and post-harvest management

Questions about Integrative Plant Science MPS? Contact us:

Dan Buckley
Director of Graduate Studies
Graduate Field of Integrative Plant Science (IPS)
Phone: (607) 255-1716
Email: dhb28 [at]

Tara Reed
Plant Science IPS-MPS Program Coordinator
Phone: (607) 255-2131
Email: tln2 [at]

Marvin Pritts
IPS-MPS Student Experience Coordinator
Phone: (607) 255-1778
Email: mpp3 [at]