Soil Science Certificate

What is it?

A certificate is between a minor and major in how it provides official recognition for a focus area of study. A certificate from Iowa State University is unique in that you do not have to have a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State to earn a certificate. This soil science certificate is specially designed to match up with federal and state requirements for employment as a soil scientist. Anyone completing this certificate will have completed the curricular requirements to obtain a federal job classified for soil scientists and to obtain licensure in states that require it.

Why soil?

Soil science is a very interdisciplinary area of study. Traditionally, soil science has been highly valued by agriculture because of the obvious impacts that soil has on crop productivity. While that interest continues, many other fields have recognized the role of soil in Earth systems in general. Understanding soil is critical for addressing issues of food scarcity, infrastructure development, water management, climate change, biodiversity loss, and human health. Soil provides many ecosystem services that are crucial for achieving sustainability goals.

What are the benefits?

This certificate provides guidance for how the students can select their courses to open additional career opportunities. By completing this certificate, they will be eligible for jobs that require specialized education in soil science. That education reflects the many interactive components of soil, which is one of the reasons that soil is such a fascinating thing to study.

Why study soil at Iowa State University?

Iowa State University has been home to groundbreaking soil science since the inception of the university, which makes sense due to the importance of soil to Iowa’s economy. Today, Iowa State University has one of the largest, most recognized soil science faculty in the world.

How do I sign up?

Declaring a certificate is like declaring a minor. With the assistance of your home department adviser, you will need to complete a “Curriculum Change Form“, which will add the Soil Science certificate to your degree audit. We highly recommend visiting with the Soil Science Certificate adviser to discuss your course plans and opportunities for careers connected to soil science.


Bradley Miller, Soil Science Certificate Adviser
2301 Agronomy Hall,, 515-294-8077

Students examining soil in an excavated pit.
Two side-by-side soil cores. Note the difference in thickness of the darker brown color from the top of the soil core (left).
Soil profile from North Carolina. This soil locally known as ‘Evard’ can be described as a Fine-loamy, parasesquic, mesic Typic Hapludult.