Plant Sciences Major course requirements

Current students should refer to the lastest curriculum updates in Canvas. [Cornell netid required]

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

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.

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 below.

Program Requirement Details

  • Introductory courses
    • Biology: BIOEE 1610 , BIOEE 1780 , BIOG 1140 , BIOG 1440  or BIOMG 1350  (3-4 credits)
    • Chemistry: CHEM 1560  + CHEM 1570  or CHEM 2070  + CHEM 2080  + CHEM 3570  (7-11 credits)
    • Statistics: BTRY 3010 , ENTOM 3030  or STSCI 2150  (4 credits)
  • Primary courses in Plant Sciences
    • 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 4460  + PLSCI 4461 : Plant Behavior and Biotic Interactions, Lecture and Laboratory (4 credits)
  • Foundational courses in Plant Sciences (students choose at least four courses from this list):
    • PLBIO 2480 : Vascular Plant Systematics (4 credits)
    • PLBIO 3420  + PLBIO 3421 : Plant Physiology, Lectures and Laboratory (4 credits)
    • PLBIO 3430 : Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering of Plants (2 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)
  • Concentration courses in Plant Sciences
    • 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 sample concentrations
  • Broadening course in Plant Sciences
    • Minimum of 3 credits, PLxxx at the 3000+ level, structured course
    • This course is selected in conjunction with the student's faculty advisor to ensure that the student has sufficient breadth of learning in the discipline.
  • Experiential learning course in Plant Sciences
    • PLSCI 4900 : Reflection on Plant Sciences Experiential Learning (1 credit)
  • Bookend courses in Plant Sciences
    • 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.
  • Other requirements in Plant Sciences
    • 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.