Why Horticulture?

Students visiting China

What is Horticulture?

Did you eat any fruits or vegetables today? Enjoy beautiful landscaping in a park? Play golf at a well-managed course?

According to Liberty Hyde Bailey, one of the most famous American scholars of horticulture, "Horticulture is the growing of flowers, fruits and vegetables, and of plants for ornament and fancy." Simply put, horticulture is the art and science of plant production for both beauty and utility. We work with fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants, and turfgrass, in a variety of labs, fields, golf courses, and garden centers. Rather than staple crops, horticulture focuses on fruit, vegetables, flowers, and landscape plants. As a result, we use creativity to seek sustainable solutions in horticultural research to enhance health and quality of life for the world at large.

Students in the plant science and food systems majors study horticultural science to be challenged intellectually, to work in a job they love, and to make a difference in the quality of life for countless others. Horticulture affects everyone. As a result, the skills you'll learn here will help you to positively impact the world around you.

Careers in Horticulture

Earning a degree related to horticultural science will prepare you for a variety of careers. Whether you want to work in a lab, a field, a floral shop, at an arboretum, at a botanical garden, on the golf course, or something completely different, the possibilities are endless. Both plant science and food systems majors begin their career experiences early with a required internship and are notified of many other internships and part-time jobs throughout the year.

Alumni AccomplishmentsSome job titles in horticulture include:

  • Arboretum Director/Associate
  • Botanical Gardens Manager/Grounds Associate
  • Business Owner
  • Community Garden Planner
  • Entrepreneur
  • Extension Educator
  • Floral Designer
  • Geneticist
  • Greenhouse Manager
  • Garden Manager
  • Garden Center Operations, Sales, Maintenance, Landscaping
  • Golf Course Superintendent
  • Horticulturist
  • Horticulture Therapist
  • Horticulture Marketing/Sales Manager
  • Landscape Design
  • Lawn Maintenance Foreman/Technician
  • Plant Biologist
  • Plant Breeder
  • Produce Retail Team Member
  • Professor
  • Research Scientist
  • Urban Garden Manager
  • And many more!

A Curriculum That Fits You

Why HorticultureThe undergraduate curriculum is flexible for both plant science and food systems majors. Students take introductory courses in biology, chemistry, and math, and furnish their education by selecting from the many courses offered by horticultural science and its related disciplines. In addition to the common coursework, undergraduates specialize their degree by choosing a pre-planned program of study or by developing their own specialty in consultation with their advisers. Students also complete at least one internship during their time as an undergraduate to prepare them for the future.

Our graduate programs give students the opportunity to study across disciplines with world-renown faculty and complete a degree according to their interests. We offer degrees at the M.S. and Ph.D. levels, as well as a Master of Professional Studies in Horticulture degree through the College of Continuing Education.

Learning Outside the ClassroomOur students experience a vast amount of learning outside the classroom, and get to meet friends and gain horticulture experience by participating in student clubs, joining Cornercopia (The Student Organic Farm) and taking advantage of professional development experiences like the mentor program or membership organizations. The more hands-on experience, the better!

Additionally, the department looks to support students as much as possible through nearly $60,000 a year in graduate and undergraduate scholarships. We also have conference scholarships for undergraduates so that they can attend professional conferences such as the Northern Green Expo and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Organic Conference.

More Resources

Career and Internship Services

Stop by Career and Internship Services on the St. Paul Campus for additional help exploring career interests and opportunities.

Log in to GoldPASS for a current list of job openings.

Transfer Students

Plant science or food systems are great majors to consider if you are changing majors within the University of Minnesota, or if you are transferring from another school. The majors are flexible, and the large number of free electives built into them makes it easy to 1) transfer coursework into our majors from other departments or universities or 2) pick up a minor. Please contact Carolyn Larson at cllarson@umn.edu with any questions regarding a potential transfer.

Find out whether your status makes you a transfer student.

Success Stories

To see what real students and alumni of the department are doing with their degrees, see our news page.