Courses of Study 2020-2021 
    May 17, 2022  
Courses of Study 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Plant Sciences

In the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences .

Course Offerings in Horticulture  

Course Offerings in Plant Biology  

Course Offerings in Plant Breeding and Genetics  

Course Offerings in Plant Pathology  

Course Offerings in Plant Sciences  

Course Offerings in Soil and Crop Sciences  


Plant Sciences Major

The program in Plant Sciences prepares students for careers that focus on producing enough food for a growing world population; breeding plants to tolerate the heat- and drought-stress of climate change; developing sustainable cropping practices to produce healthful and nutritious food; investigating new methods to fight disease; and transforming sterile urban environments into vibrant microcosms of nature.

Plant Sciences courses are taught by faculty in the School of Integrative Plant Science , which is the administrative home for the Sections of Horticulture, Plant Biology, Plant Breeding & Genetics, Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, and Soil and Crop Sciences. Together, they represent one of the strongest groups of plant scientists in the world. Students in the program share a common interest in learning about topics associated with plant growth and development in the broadest sense, but beyond that common thread, individual career goals vary widely. Some have their sights set on careers in applied agriculture, others plan to contribute to advancements of our knowledge through teaching or research, and still others see study in plant science as a stepping-stone to specialized training in business, government, or law.

More than 140 courses that deal directly with some area of plant science are offered in the School of Integrative Plant Science. There are also opportunities for internships, undergraduate teaching, and research experience. Qualified students, especially those expecting to go on for graduate degrees, are encouraged to engage in one or more of those experiences. Students who are planning to enter the workforce immediately upon completion of the B.S. degree are encouraged to obtain practical experience. This may involve summer employment in research or in a plant production or maintenance-related industry such as a lawn and tree care company, commercial greenhouse, nursery, orchard, vineyard or winery, botanical garden or arboretum, crop production farm, or with Cooperative Extension.

In addition to classrooms and laboratories in five buildings on the Cornell campus proper, research and teaching facilities adjacent to the campus are freely available to students for hands-on practice, technical training, independent research projects, and internships. These facilities include research orchards and vineyards, golf courses and a turf research facility, the Cornell Plantations (including arboretum and natural areas), and vegetable and field crop farms. Demonstration/research facilities in Aurora (Cayuga County), Geneva (Ontario County), Highland (Ulster County), Lake Placid (Essex County), Middletown (Orange County), Odessa (Tioga County), and Riverhead (Suffolk County) are also sites administered by the School of Integrative Plant Science and are available for undergraduate and graduate field study.

For more information about this major, see


  • 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.
  • Program requirements: Plant Sciences majors are expected to take foundational coursework in biology, chemistry, and statistics, followed by a core group of plant-focused courses, plus a suite of courses concentrating on the student’s area(s) of interest in the Plant Sciences, rounded out with an experiential practicum and a senior symposium.
  • Number of credits/course credit breakdown:
    • Introductory biology coursework: minimum of 6 credits
    • Introductory chemistry coursework: minimum of 7 credits
    • Statistics: minimum of 3 credits
    • Plant Sciences core coursework: 36 credits
    • Concentration coursework: 12-15 credits
    • Experiential learning: 1 credit
    • Senior capstone courses: 4 credits
  • Required core courses
    • PLSCI 1101 : Plant Science and Systems (4 credits)
    • PLSCI 1110 : Explorations in the Plant Sciences: Pathways to Success (2 credits)
      This leadership course is required of all new Plant Sciences students, including transfers.
    • PLSCI 1420 : Functional Plant Biology (3 credits)
    • PLBRG 2250 : Plant Genetics (4 credits) or BIOMG 2800 : Genetics and Genomics Lectures (3 credits) + BIOMG 2801 : Laboratory in Genetics & Genomics (2 credits)
    • PLBIO 2410 : Introductory Plant Diversity and Evolution (3 credits)
    • PLBIO 2440 : Evolutionary Plant Biology (3 credits)
    • PLBIO 2480 : Vascular Plant Systematics (4 credits)
    • PLSCS 2600 : Soil Science (4 credits)
    • PLBIO 3420  + PLBIO 3421 : Plant Physiology, Lectures and Laboratory (5 credits)
    • PLSCI 4460  + PLSCI 4461 : Plant Behavior and Biotic Interactions, Lecture and Laboratory (4 credits)
  • Other required courses in Plant Sciences
    • PLSCI 4900 : Reflection on Plant Sciences Experiential Learning (1 credit)
    • 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 January or August.
  • Other requirements in Plant Sciences


Learning Outcomes for the Major
Upon completion of the Plant Sciences major, students will be able to:

Use major concepts and principles from multiple areas of life science to explain plant-related phenomena

  • Describe plant biology at genetic, molecular, physiological, and organismal levels to integrate plant functionalities in a hierarchical manner, from individual cells to the biosphere.
  • Discuss evolution as the foundation of all biological systems and integrate evolutionary biology to describe patterns of plant diversity and ecological interaction.

Contribute to the expansion of the plant science knowledge base in the modern era

  • Formulate original questions about plants and translate these into empirically testable hypotheses.
  • Collect and analyze data obtained from original research, using methods that are reproducible.
  • Translate and apply experimental data to advance the field and solve real-world problems.

Articulate the influences of plant science on the world

  • Discuss natural and managed ecosystems at local, regional, and global levels and evaluate their effects on environmental sustainability and human health.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the ethical principles and global consequences associated with past, present, and future advances in plant science.
  • Succinctly and clearly communicate information about the breadth of issues in plant science to diverse audiences in oral and written formats.