Plant Sciences Major course requirements

Students who major in Plant Sciences must complete coursework for the college and program that includes: 

  • Completing approximately two years of “core” or foundational coursework, plus the required coursework in at least one concentration.
  • Developing an ePortfolio.
  • Engaging in an out-of-classroom experience related to the major.

Core coursework in biology, chemistry, statistics and plant biology should be completed as early as possible, and transfer students should complete most of these courses before matriculating at Cornell.

The current requirements are considered the minimum for a well-rounded foundation in plant science. Students interested in pursuing a scientific career or graduate education are encouraged to take biochemistry, calculus and physics as electives, over and above the core requirements.

The faculty in the School of Integrative Plant Science have developed a revised curriculum for the Plant Sciences undergraduate program, outlined below. All students matriculating in Fall 2021 and later will be held to these revised requirements. Current students should refer to the lastest curriculum updates in Canvas. Continuing students may choose, in consultation with their faculty advisor, to complete either the previous curriculum or the new curriculum.

General Requirements

  • Prerequisites: The Plant Sciences major does not have any specific prerequisites for students matriculating as freshmen. However, general science coursework at the high school level, especially in biology and chemistry, will better prepare students for the rigorous science coursework in this major.
  • Plant Sciences majors are expected to take introductory coursework in biology, chemistry, and statistics, followed by a primary core of four plant-focused courses, plus a selection of foundational courses and a suite of courses concentrating on the student's area(s) of interest in the Plant Sciences, rounded out with a broadening course, an experiential practicum and a senior symposium.
  • Number of credits/category breakdown:
    • Introductory courses: minimum of 14 credits
    • Primary courses: 14 credits
    • Foundational courses: minimum of 13 credits
    • Concentration courses: 10 credits
    • Broadening course: minimum of 3 credits
    • Experiential learning course: 1 credit
    • Bookend courses: 6 credits

See details in accordion sections below.

Program Requirement Details

  • Biology: BIOEE 1780, BIOG 1140, BIOG 1440 or BIOMG 1350 (3-4 credits)
  • Chemistry: CHEM 1560 + PLBIO 1560 + CHEM 1570 or CHEM 2070 + CHEM 2080 + CHEM 3570 (9-13 credits)
  • Statistics: BTRY 3010, ENTOM 3030, STSCI 2150 or STSCI 2200 (4 credits) 

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

  • PLSCI 1101: Plant Science and Systems (4 credits)
  • PLSCI 1420: Functional Plant Biology (3 credits)
  • PLBIO 2410: Introductory Plant Diversity and Evolution (3 credits)
  • PLSCI 2430: Plant Ecology and Evolution (3 credits)

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

At least four courses from list below:

  • PLBIO 2480: Vascular Plant Systematics (4 credits)
  • PLBIO 3420 + PLBIO 3421: Plant Physiology, Lectures and Laboratory (4 credits)
  • PLBIO 3430+ PLBIO 3431: Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering of Plants, Lectures and Laboratory (4 credits)
  • PLBIO 3440: Evolutionary Plant Biology (3 credits)
  • PLBRG 2250: Plant Genetics (4 credits)
  • PLPPM 3010: Biology and Management of Plant Diseases (4 credits)
  • PLSCS 2600: Soil Science (4 credits)

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

  • Ten-credit minimum of related upper-level (3000+) courses from across the university that share a common plant-related theme built on foundational courses.
  • The courses chosen for a student's concentration must be selected in consultation with the student's faculty advisor. Students are expected to submit a proposal to the Plant Sciences Curriculum Committee for approval of the concentration courses no later than pre-enrollment for the student's first semester of the junior year--or if the student transferred in with junior standing, no later than pre-enrollment for the student's second semester of the junior year.

View example concentrations. 

  • Minimum of 3 credits, 3000+ level, structured course
  • This course must be selected in consultation with the student's faculty advisor to ensure that the student has sufficient breadth of learning in the discipline. Students are expected to include their broadening course in their concentration proposal to the Plant Sciences Curriculum Committee.
  • PLSCI 4900: Reflection on Plant Sciences Experiential Learning (1 credit)

To learn more about this course, visit the Courses of Study website.


  • PLSCI 1110: Explorations in the Plant Sciences: Pathways to Success (2 credits)
  • PLSCI 4925: Plant Sciences Senior Portfolio (1 credit)
  • PLSCI 4950: Senior Seminar in Plant Sciences (3 credits) This course is required of all graduating Plant Sciences students, including those who graduate early or in December or August.

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

ePortfolio: Plant Sciences students are required to create an ePortfolio to track and highlight their learning in the program. Plant Sciences students are expected to update their ePortfolio every semester and to present it to their advisor for academic credit in PLSCI 4925 before graduating. The ePortfolio requirement is introduced and started in PLSCI 1110.

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