Horticulture plays a vital role in everybody’s daily life. Humans require fruits, nuts and vegetables for a balanced and nutritious diet. Ornamental plants such as trees, flowers and shrubs fill our parks and gardens that serve as both relaxing and recreational areas for human society and habitats for the wildlife that lives around us.
Because of the important role horticulture plays in human nutrition and the environmental issues raised by intensive farming processes, horticulture is a popular subject to study for those interested in the social elements of agriculture.
Highlighted courses and degrees in horticulture
Most institutions offering horticulture as an undergraduate degree have a college of agricultural studies. Generally, degree programs focusing on horticulture would include numerous science courses in its curriculum. These include plant biology, botany, plant disease diagnostics and soil science.
Since horticulture also deals with the business aspects of producing plants, some curriculums of a number of institutions also include courses in subject areas such as management, marketing and economics.
Classes will be conducted in a mixture of work in classrooms and laboratories and field work.
Students are also likely to be able to take a specialization or what some schools call program focus during their degree program. Specializations will be discussed later in the article.
As mentioned earlier in the article, specialisations are available in a number of institutions offering a degree program in horticulture. This may be a required part of the degree program or it may be optional, depending on the institution. Below is a short list of common specializations offered by universities:
AgribusinessEnvironmental LandscapingProduction HorticultureFood SystemsAccreditation
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates. Please check with the institution you are interested in for their accreditation details.
An undergraduate degree in horticulture can typically take three to four years. Another option for those who want to study horticulture is taking a certificate program, which would take around two years.
There are also various degrees available for those interested in horticulture at the master's and doctorate level. With these higher education programs, extensive research is usually required. The student also often chooses a specific focus for graduate studies. Some focuses are landscape design, entomology, and agroecology.
Entrance into a horticulture degree program varies from institution to institution. Some universities require you to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams. Another possible consideration would be marks in previous science courses such as chemistry and biology. For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
If you do not meet the entry requirements you may want to consider a pathway course.
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Graduates who have completed a degree program in horticulture can enter a broad range of professional careers in production, management, marketing, research and landscape design and maintenance.
A significant number of graduates choose to work directly in the field through employment in nurseries, greenhouses and garden centers. Other institutions that hire horticulturalists include government, schools, zoos, farms, design firms and educational institutions.
There are many positions available for graduates of horticulture. Some of these are in:
Production and sales – example: operating a horticulture business such as an orchard, vegetable farm, flower shop, landscaping service or garden center
Industry support – example: working as a consultant for companies dealing with seeds, fertilizers, sprays and those that need horticultural training for their employees
Inspection – example: Making sure fresh and processed fruits and vegetables are up to standards set by the government and other agencies
Landscaping – example: Either as a designer or contractor for landscaping projects for both residential and commercial properties
Because of the different subject areas that horticulture degree programs deal with such as plant sciences and business, graduates of horticulture programs possess many skills. Some of these include management skills, aptitude for research and technology, drafting, and of course, skills in the cultivation of plants.
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