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Graduate Programs

Courses and hands-on experience provide the advanced techniques that will enable you to address environmental and agricultural problems facing our global community. If you’re interested in our graduate program, browse our scientist’s areas of expertise and current research projects. If a subject or project interests you, reach out to that researcher. For on-campus graduate students, a faculty member must agree to be your major professor before admission into the program. Those participating in the online distance program will be expected to find a major professor by the 2nd or 3rd semester. Our graduate students are mentored by their major professor, as well as their Program of Study committee which includes a small group of faculty members, one of which must be in a different field of study.

GRADUATE PROGRAMS
Overview

The Agricultural Meteorology major integrates knowledge from a variety of scientific disciplines in order to determine how cropping systems are affected by weather and climate, and how cropping systems themselves affect weather and climate.

Learning goals:
  1. Summarize scholarly work in an area of study, as demonstrated by a literature review in a creative component, thesis or dissertation
  2. Construct hypotheses and/or objectives that advance disciplinary knowledge, as demonstrated by hypotheses and/or objectives proposed in a creative component, thesis or dissertation
  3. Conduct quantitative research, as demonstrated by work described in creative component, thesis or dissertation
  4. Interpret research results and integrate them into existing disciplinary knowledge, as demonstrated by analyses and conclusions in a creative component, thesis or dissertation
  5. Clearly and accurately communicate research findings orally, visually (through the use of images and/or figures) and in writing, as demonstrated by oral presentations and by the creative component, thesis or dissertation
Overview

Become an expert in crop physiology, ecology, and management; forage quality and utilization; seed production and physiology; weed biology and control. Our emphasis is on corn, soybeans, oats, and forages. Students also have the option of specializing in seed or weed science.

Learning goals:
  1. Demonstrate comprehensive understanding of basic and applied knowledge pertaining the physiology and production of agronomic crops.

  2. Form testable hypotheses and articulate research objectives that, when met, will lead to significant contributions to better understanding crop production and physiology.

  3. Develop skills for the appropriate acquisition, analysis, and reporting of data.

  4. Interpret research results and integrate them into the existing knowledge of the discipline.

  5. Clearly and accurately communicate research findings in traditional and non-traditional forms such as in-person presentations, scientific publications, outreach publications, social media, blogs, video, and webinars.

  6. Conduct scholarship, in teams and independently, in ways that consistently demonstrate ethical practice and professionalism.

Overview

Plant Breeding is the genetic improvement of crop plants through the study and application of genetics, statistics, agronomy, plant pathology, entomology, and related sciences.

  • Maize
  • Soybean
  • Sorghum
  • Sunflower
  • Other crops in conjunction with the North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station.

An advanced degree in plant breeding offers tremendous job opportunity: 

  • Management and operation of public and private plant breeding programs
  • Research on plant breeding methodologies, bio-technologies, and information technologies to improve breeding efficiency and effectiveness
  • Cultivar development
Learning goals:
  1. Demonstrate comprehensive understanding of scholarly literature in the area of study, i.e., plant breeding.
  2. Form testable hypotheses and articulate research objectives that, when met, will lead to significant contributions to the field of study.
  3. Conduct original research via appropriate data acquisition, analysis, and reporting of data.
  4. Interpret research results appropriately, integrating them into the existing knowledge in the discipline.
  5. Clearly and accurately communicate research findings orally and in writing, and appropriate use of display items (tables, figures, and other appropriate types of presentation), electronic or other forms of media.
  6. Conduct scholarship, in teams or with independence, in ways that consistently demonstrate ethical practice and professionalism.
Overview

Get advanced knowledge, skills, and techniques to address environmental and agricultural problems facing our global community. Students majoring in Soil Science will select one of the following areas of specialization:

  • Chemistry
  • Fertility
  • Management
  • Microbiology & Biochemistry
  • Morphology & Genesis
  • Physics
Learning goals:
  1. Demonstrate fundamental knowledge of soil components and soil processes.
  2. Identify critical issues in fundamental and applied soil science and to formulate scientific approaches to those issues.
  3. Ability to apply knowledge of soil science to solve problems in nonacademic contexts and in collaboration with professionals in other disciplines.
  4. Demonstrate professional communication skills, using effective strategies both when writing technical reports, research proposals, journal articles, or popular press articles and when giving oral or poster presentations to scientific or lay audiences.
  5. Demonstrate an appreciation of the soil as a fundamental natural resource, deserving of wise use and protection.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of ethical issues that pertain to soil science and science in general.
  7. Maintain, in collaboration with the faculty, an environment of discovery, professional pride, collaboration, and mutual support.
Overview

The Master of Science in Agronomy was the first degree you could earn from your home or office by using your computer and the Internet. And now, distance students searching for graduate coursework in Agronomy have a new option. The Agronomy Department at Iowa State University is now offering a Graduate Certificate Program in Agronomy.

Built-in flexibility allows students in both programs to complete their courses at their own pace relative to their professional, family, and other commitments. This means students can study when and where their schedule permits. The time required to complete the degree is flexible and most students enroll in only one or two courses per semester while working full time. Therefore, most students achieve their masters in 3 to 5 years or a graduate certificate in 1-1/2 to 2 years.

Learning goals:
  1. Understand the scientific principles underlying crop management and physiology, plant improvement, climatology, soil management and fertility, integrated pest management, and the interaction of these principles
  2. Critically evaluate research in terms of design, content, potential application, and limitations with respect to agronomic systems
  3. Apply agronomic knowledge to real-world problems via application of scientific principles
  4. Understand moral, ethical, and legal perspectives of agricultural activities
  5. Understand group dynamics and facilitate the accomplishment of individual and collective goals
  6. Communicate effectively with scientists, professionals, farmers, other professionals, and the general public for the purposes of learning and informing
  7. Communicate electronically and utilize various Internet information services.
Overview

The online Master of Plant Breeding focuses on the genetic improvement of crop plants through the study and application of genetics, statistics, agronomy, plant pathology, entomology, and related sciences. The program offers fundamental skills in plant breeding, the study of advanced concepts such as genomic selection, and analysis of problems in plant breeding as they arise by global society.

This program prepares for careers such as

  • Management and operation of public and private plant breeding programs
  • Research on plant breeding methodologies, biotechnologies, and information technologies to improve breeding efficiency and effectiveness
  • Cultivar development
Objectives:
  • Understand the scientific principles underlying transmission genetics, quantitative genetics, molecular genetics, biotechnology, quantitative analytics, crop growth and development, host-pest interactions, plant breeding methods, and the interactions of these principles for cultivar development
  • Critically evaluate research in terms of design, content, potential application, and limitations with respect to plant breeding pipelines
  • Demonstrate comprehensive understanding of scholarly literature in the area of plant breeding
  • Clearly and accurately communicate research findings, orally and in writing, with appropriate use of display items (tables, figures, and other types of presentation) in electronic or other forms of media
  • Conduct scholarship, in teams or with independence, in ways that consistently demonstrate ethical practice and professionalism

Funding

We are always looking for qualified, self-starters to join our team of incredible graduate students.

Assistantships

Assistantships are largely project-based with the goal of participating in independent research to complete a thesis or dissertation. Availability depends on when faculty start new projects. Our standard assistantships are available to M.S. or Ph.D students. offer a yearly stipend, benefits, and either full or partial tuition support in exchange for research service per week.

Fellowships

Our department also accepts a number of fellowship opportunities, both granted by Iowa State University as well as external organizations. A few examples might include the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation or the United Soybean Board. Apply directly to the organization hosting the fellowship.

Scholarships

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences demonstrates their dedication to graduate education by hosting a number of scholarships.

The Department of Agronomy has a number of awards and scholarships available to graduate students.

Questions?

Kevin Desjean

Student Services Specialist II
Kevin is our go-to for on-campus graduate student education in agronomy. From the admissions process to scheduling your graduation, Kevin serves as a resource for all graduate students here in Ames.

Office:
2101 Agronomy

Questions?

Brenda Kutz

Academic Advisor II
Brenda is the academic advisor for the online M.S. Agronomy and Plant Breeding programs as well as the Agronomy Graduate Certificate.

Office:
2101 Agronomy Hall