The Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Agriculture and Life Sciences focus area in Crop Science focus applying knowledge of crop plants to optimize crop use of light, water, mineral nutrients, and temperature, and to limit diseases, weeds, and insects.
Crop Science is the study of crop systems for growing food, feed and fiber crops. Field crops represent the largest sector of plant-based agriculture, therefore, crop scientists can choose from a wide range of professional opportunities that involve identifying traits and environmental factors that need optimization, using latest technology for monitoring and interpreting crop development and performance, and managing crops in a productive and environmentally responsible way.
Focus Area details
Crop science graduates provide a variety of expertise in environmental ecology, biotechnology, plant physiology, plant breeding, seed science, plant nutrition, digital modeling, and international development. Career options include:
- Crop advisor
- Crop consultant
- Extension educator
- Cropping systems specialist
- Crop production manager
- International cropping specialist
- Fertilizer, water & pest management specialists
- Field-trial, greenhouse, and laboratory technician and manager
- Educators and extension specialists.
- Farm business manager
- Environmental sustainability
- Grass bioenergy
- Profitable management of forage crops
- Biological weed management
- Invasive species
- Weed ecology
- International agriculture
- Tropical cropping systems
- On-farm research
- Precision agriculture
- Site-specific weed management and variable rate nitrogen management
- Agricultural sustainability, food security, water resources and climate
- Cropping systems ecology
- International agriculture, policy, and applied social sciences
- Cover crops and ecological weed management
- Organic production
- Sustainable cropping systems and agroecology
- Drought and environmental stress physiology
- International agriculture
- Maize, wheat and cassava breeding and genomics
- Agricultural and forest ecosystems
- Geospatial modeling, land use and environmental quality
- Greenhouse gas emissions
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:
- PLSCI 5500 Cultivating Community through Self-discovery and Skill Development
- ALS 5900 Master of Professional Studies Project Development
- ALS 5910 Master of Professional Studies Project Completion
- ALS 5211 Career Readiness: Engaged Learning for CALS Professional Master’s Students
Crop Science Courses (recommended):
- PLPPM 5010 Biology and Management of Plant Diseases
- PLSCS 5210 Soil and Crop Management for Sustainability
- ENTOM 5440 Integrated Pest Management
- PLSCS 5660 Soil Ecology
- BTRY 6010 Statistical Methods I
- PLSCS 5110 Field Crop Systems
- PLSCS 5150 Weed Biology and Management
- PLSCS 5290 Remote Sensing and Modeling for Ecosystems
- PLBIO 5430 Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering of Plants
- PLBRG 6030 Genetic Improvement of Crop Plants
- PLSCS 6140 Weed Ecology and Management
- PLSCS 6420 Mineral Nutrition: From Plants to Humans
- PLSCS 6660 Applied Plant Microbe Interactions
The ideal candidate will demonstrate a passion for working in Crop Science, 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.
School of Integrative Plant Science
Soil and Crop Sciences Section
Department of Global Development
- ajm9 [at] cornell.edu