The best Colleges for Plant Science and Horticulture majors cover a range of subjects and generally have a broad-based College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Often overlooked, not all universities offer a strong agricultural sciences curriculum. However, as the world food supply has become increasingly vital with the population explosion, we expect a well-round university to provide opportunities to study biological and agricultural sciences, and for students in other fields to interact with others who may be interested in those fields. As Cornell has said, “Majoring in Plant Sciences will help you make a positive difference in the world.”
Plant science involves a number of disciplines, including, plant breeding and genetics, plant health and growth, soil management, sustainable agriculture, biology, plant physiology, and plant pathology. It no longer is just family farm management. This covers not only agricultural food plants, but ornamental and fibers. Among the practical applications of plant science and horticulture are:
- Fighting plant based diseases.
- Plant conservation such as in arboretums.
- Food production.
- Sustainable biofuel development.
- Irrigation, water and soil management.
- Developing breeds of plant that are more environmentally tolerant to changing weather patterns due to long-term climate change (whether anthropomorphic or historically trending cycles).
- Sustainable agricultural development.
Scroll down for the top 20 ranking of the best colleges for plant sciences and horticulture.
Economic Value of A Major in Plant Science or Horticulture
Plant sciences majors have a wide array of potential career paths. In addition to these paths, students who wish to pursue careers in agricultural research or genetics development often pursue advanced degrees as well. Among the careers paths available are:
- Agricultural scientist
- Food scientist
- Environmental scientist
- Family Farming
- Corporate Farming
- Agriculture management
- Genetics research
- Genetics engineering
- Seed development
- Plant breeding
- Water management
- Arboretum management
- Park Ranger
- Park management.
Plant Science Has a Mid- To High-Range Earning Potential for Recent Graduates
The wide variety of careers open to undergraduates majoring in plant sciences or horticulture makes it difficult to make a generalization about early career prospects. Generally speaking the initial jobs available are in the mid-range. Often a graduate degree is required to qualify for fields with higher entry level compensation, such as in research and development or plant genetics. For undergraduates, most of the top programs in these fields are at public universities. Indeed all of the top 10 are state schools, even Cornell, which often is thought of as a private university. However, its College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is a land-grant college, and its tuition level is comparable to state universities.
20 Best Colleges for Plant Science and Horticulture
This is our RealRanktm ranking of the best colleges for Plant science and horticulture majors. Each of the listed universities in this listing is understood to provide an excellent credential in these fields. For each listed university, we have included a link to its official website as well. You can search around those websites to find out more about their agricultural sciences programs. (Independence Note: We do not earn any commissions from the links!)
|1||University of Florida||Gainesville||FL||Visit|
|3||The Ohio State University||Columbus||OH||Visit|
|4||Penn State||University Park||PA||Visit|
|5||University of California - Davis||Davis||CA||Visit|
|6||Iowa State University||Ames||IA||Visit|
|7||Texas A&M University||College Station||TX||Visit|
|8||North Carolina State University||Raleigh||NC||Visit|
|9||University of Minnesota||Twin Cities||MN||Visit|
|10||Texas Tech University||Lubbock||TX||Visit|
|11||Oregon State University||Corvallis||OR||Visit|
|12||University of Georgia||Athens||GA||Visit|
|13||Michigan State University||East Lansing||MI||Visit|
|14||University of Maryland||College Park||MD||Visit|
|15||Washington State University||Pullman||WA||Visit|
|16||University of Arizona||Tucson||AZ||Visit|
|17||University of Tennessee||Knoxville||TN||Visit|
|18||Purdue University||West Lafayette||IN||Visit|
|19||Louisiana State University||Baton Rouge||LA||Visit|
|20||Colorado State University||Ft. Collins||CO||Visit|
|20||University of Illinois||Urbana-Champaign||Il||Visit|
Do you have any personal experience with any of these majors, or universities? Would you add any or change the ordering of the list?