Horticulture Graduate Program​​

Welcome to the Horticulture graduate program in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue University.  The Horticulture graduate program offers the thesis-based degrees of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and Master of Science (M.S.), as well as a non-thesis degree, Master of Agriculture (M.Agr.).  Reflecting the research interests of our faculty, graduate students in the Horticulture graduate program have projects that explore fundamental concepts of plant biology, applied aspects of horticulture, or that integrate basic plant science with field and contained environment studies.  The goal of the Horticulture Graduate Program is to prepare students for professional careers in basic and applied plant science with an emphasis on improvement of food, fiber, fuel, and ornamental crops.
The Horticulture research program in Purdue HLA is internationally recognized for the importance of its discoveries, extraordinary publication and extramural funding records, and the strong involvement of the faculty in graduate student programs.  The program was very highly ranked in the latest National Research Council evaluation of plant biology programs.  The Horticulture graduate faculty includes a member of the National Academy of Sciences, five distinguished professors, and four fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Most members of the faculty have served as program managers or panel members for extramural funding agencies.  Many have served as officers of international and national scientific societies.  A substantial component of the research in the program involves international programs.  A majority of the research in the department is extramurally funded.  Areas of concentration in the program include plant molecular genetics and epigenetics, plant physiology and stress biology, plant genetics and breeding, plant cellular and developmental biology, sustainable production horticulture, bioenergy, contained environment growing, floriculture, and horticultural marketing.

If you would like more information about the program and would like to know how you could join us as a graduate student, please contact our graduate program coordinator or any of the faculty members listed below.
Faculty in the program conduct extramurally-funded research on such topics as:
  • ​Enhancement of salt tolerance in crop plants
  • Floral scent and plant volatile biosynthesis
  • Fruit breeding and specialty crop production
  • Hormone signaling and transport
  • Improvement of postharvest fruit quality
  • Mechanisms of heterosis;  hybridizatiion and species breeding barriers
  • Mineral nutrient utilization from cellular to global scales
  • Natural genetic variation
  • Plant cell cycle regulation
  • Plant epigenetics
  • Plant interactions with soil microbial communities
  • Regulation of plant architecture and reproduction
  • Sustainable biofuel production
  • Turfgrass science
  • Water utilization and stress responses 
  • Weed science in specialty crops
  • Graduate Handbook - Rules and Regulations
  • Graduate Curriculum

Graduate Curriculum

 Students enter the graduate program with different professional objectives and varying academic backgrounds. Therefore, there are few required courses and no fixed credit requirements in our M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs.  However, M.S. and Ph.D. students generally take 20 or more credit hours of coursework.  Students are advised to work with the advisory committee that they select to schedule coursework that will complement their research plan.  Candidates for the M. Agr. degree must complete at least 33 credit hours of course work. Training in biochemistry, plant physiology, genetics and statistics (from previous education or while in the program) is required of all Ph.D. students, and course work in computer science, physical chemistry, and molecular genetics is highly recommended. Graduate programs generally include required and elective course work and seminars, written and oral examinations, and original research guided by a major professor.  Graduate student research projects are generally funded by extramural grants, which usually increase the resources available to the student researcher. Participation by graduate researchers at professional society meetings is actively encouraged and financially supported by the department. The duration of graduate programs varies, but the average M.S. program takes two and a half years and the average Ph.D. program takes four to five years.  Students may also participate in research in the department via the  Purdue Life Science Interdisciplinary (PULSe) graduate program.  Many students and faculty within our department participate in these programs.


Graduate Faculty

The Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture has an outstanding faculty representing a broad range of disciplines within horticulture and plant biology. These individuals can provide training opportunities in their areas of specialization. We recommend that potential students identify particular faculty members who share their academic interests and contact these individuals directly. 
Please visit the web pages of faculty members for notices of postdoctoral and undergraduate internship positions.


Graduate Faculty in Horticulture and Area of Specialization


Research Facilities

Modern research laboratories and state-of-the-art analytical equipment are available for graduate student research in the Department of Horticulture, which also maintains greenhouses, controlled environment facilities, and several research farms. Multiple members of the faculty are participants in the Bindley Biosciences Center of Discovery Park which houses an array of the latest technological platforms for life science research.

Graduate students have access to one of the most extensive online libraries in the world and have access to extensive bioinformatics platforms, many of which have been developed at Purdue in collaboration with members of the HLA Department.

Financial Aid

Most horticulture graduate students receive a half-time research assistantship to cover living expenses while working on their degree. These assistantships are like fellowships in that students are paid to pursue their own research projects. The assistantship provides a base salary of $22,743 for a fiscal year period, along with a remission of all but a portion of fees, $298.00 for fall/spring per semester and $149.00 summer session. Research assistantships may be sponsored by grants or by the department. In addition, half-time teaching assistantships are available within the Department of Horticulture often at a higher stipend than research assistantships.

Horticulture Graduate Student Assistantships​​

Application Procedures

Admission criteria and selection for fellowships and assistantships is based upon several criteria. These include: the student's academic background, grade point average, letters of recommendation, relevant experience, a written statement by the applicant, and the availability of a major adviser in an applicant's interest area. Applicants whose native language is not English must take the TOEFL, even if they are already in the United States when they apply. A minimum TOEFL score of 550 (paper), 213 (computer), 77 (internet) is required by the Purdue University Graduate School.  Applicants who take the TOEFL iBT must achieve the following minimum test scores:  reading, 19; listening, 14; speaking, 18' and writing, 18.  As an alternative to the TOEFL, the Graduate School accepts IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher.

Applications for the Horticulture Graduate Program are accepted year round, but admission for a particular semester is subject to the deadlines listed on the Purdue Graduate School website.  Students who are interested in obtaining Purdue University-wide fellowships should complete their applications before December 1st.

To obtain instructions on how to apply to this program, please go to  Graduate School Application.


Contact Information

Jamie Moffatt, graduate program coordinator
Purdue University
625 Agriculture Mall Dr.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010
765-494-1301 (phone)
765-494-0391 (fax)
jmoffat@purdue.edu​ (e-mail) 

Prof. Cary Mitchell, graduate program chair
Purdue University
625 Agriculture Mall Dr.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010


Related Web Sites

Information on Graduate Programs at Purdue University 
Purdue University Interdisciplinary Life Science Ph.D. program (PULSe)
Graduate School Funding Opportunities
Graduate School Admissions Information
Graduate School Electronic Application
Graduate School Publications, Manuals, and Forms
Purdue University Department of Horticulture
Purdue University Graduate School
Graduate School Calendar of Events
Purdue University


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Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, 625 Agriculture Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010 USA, (765) 494-1300

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