Program Overview

The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Agriculture and Life Sciences focus area in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), 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 Focus Area for the MPS degree program is focused on the development of specific skills to understand:

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

Focus Area details

With the world population estimated to be at 9 billion by 2050, and estimated annual growth of 31% for the global vertical farming market, there is demand for highly educated and skilled employees who have a deep understanding of the latest technologies in controlled environment agriculture. On a global scale, major investments are being made by start-ups and established corporations in hydroponics, vertical farming, urban agriculture, and technology to optimize plant yield in controlled environments.

Careers in the controlled environment agriculture sector include:

  • Commercial Grower
  • Production Specialist
  • Inventory Controller
  • Operations Manager
  • Research Support Specialist
  • Pest Management Specialist

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

SIPS Core

  • BTRY 6010: Statistical Methods I  
  • ALS 5211: Career Readiness for CALS Professional Master's Students
  • LEAD 5100: Leadership Skills for Graduate Students
  • PLSCI 5940: Skills for Public Engagement
  • PLSCI 5900: MPS Project

CEA Core

  • PLSCS 4130: Physiology and Ecology of Yield 
  • PLSCS 3800: Principles and Practices in Certified Organic Agriculture  
  • PLSCS 6100: Plant Responses to Environmental Stresses and Global Climate Change      

Plant Production

  • PLHRT 5025: Hydroponic Food Production and Management   
  • PLHRT 5100: Production and Marketing of Greenhouse Crops 

Pest/Nutrient Management

  • PLHRT 4551: Principles of Nutrition and Nutrient Management in Crops and Landscape Plants
  • PLSCS 4440: Integrated Pest Management
  • PLPPM 3010: Biology and Management of Plant Diseases

Engineering

  • BEE 4890: Entrepreneurial Management for Engineers
  • BEE 4010: Renewable Energy Systems                      
  • BEE 4350: Principles of Aquaculture

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
  • Three 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 24 credits must be in courses numbered 5000 or 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 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 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

Fall 2021 application deadline: February 1 (priority), March 15 (general)

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

Meet some of our CEA faculty

Neil Mattson
Neil Mattson

Associate Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Horticulture Section

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