Several schools offer online associate's and bachelor's degree programs in turfgrass management. Associate's degree programs can be found fully online. While much of a bachelor's degree program can be completed through distance learning, some on-site, hands-on work will probably be required, such as an internship.
While a turfgrass manager does not have to be licensed from the state in order to work, certification from a professional organization may increase employability. These designations are usually obtained through a combination of experience and the completion of continuing education courses. Certifications may be necessary for certain positions, such as golf course superintendent.
Attending online classes requires students to have a printer and to install essential plug-ins like Adobe Acrobat and Flash Player on their computers.
Associate of Science in Turf Management
The associate degree in turf management is geared towards those candidates already working in the field who want to advance their careers. Online associate's degree programs usually correspond to on-campus calendars, and students may set their own schedule within that time frame. Programs are taught fully online through lectures, discussions and interactive case study analysis. A computer with high-speed Internet access is required, along with an up-to-date browser. Plug-ins, like Adobe Acrobat or Flash Player, can be downloaded for free from the Web.
Core classes focus on components of lawn care. There are also general education classes built into the program, including English composition, biology and ethics.
Introduction to Turfgrass Course
Online students learn about the biological structure of turfgrass. The different species of grasses used for athletic fields, lawns and parks in addition to the environmental adaptations of each are explored.
Introduction to Soils Course
The characteristics of soils and their effects on turf are the focus of this online course. The impact of human culture, land use, the environment and plant growth are discussed.
Management of Insect Pests Course
This class presents information on beneficial and harmful insects, including how to manage them in both warm- and cool-season grasses.
Bachelor of Science in Turf Management
Students in the bachelor's degree program gain an advanced understanding of plant health and pathology, weed and insect pest control as well as soils and irrigation. In addition to online work, they do a local, supervised internship to acquire field experience.
Information and Requirements
While most classes in a bachelor's degree program are offered online, students may be required to take some courses locally, on-site. Technical program requirements include a computer with high-speed Internet, an up-to-date Web browser, word processing software and a printer capable of printing graphics. Downloadable plug-ins are free on the Web.
The bachelor's degree curriculum includes the same turfgrass classes as in the associate's program, plus more advanced courses. In addition to courses in general education and business management, courses in weather forecasting, biology and organic chemistry enhance the bachelor's turfgrass curriculum.
The focus of this class is on the biology of grass and how it receives nutrition. Enhancing health and growth through the use of mineral-balanced soil and fertilizers is discussed.
Management of Turfgrass Disease
Students learn about the pathogens affecting both cool- and warm-season grasses and how to control them.
The environmental and cultural advantages of grassy areas are considered, along with the importance of having grass with the right surface and consistency for various sports.
Turfgrass managers are in charge of lawns on golf courses, athletic fields, parks or sod farms. They may also be responsible for trees and gardens on these sites. They must thoroughly understand soil, grass and plant sciences as well as the interrelationships between these elements. Turfgrass managers may also plan and supervise projects, handle finances or train other employees.
Turfgrass managers have employment opportunities in a wide range of lawn care settings and in related fields, like landscape design. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), there were 1,282,000 grounds maintenance workers employed in 2014, and employment was expected to grow at an average rate of 6% from 2014 to 2024. The median hourly wage for grounds maintenance workers was $14.05 in May 2015.
Online turf management degree programs are available at the associate's and bachelor's levels from several schools. Especially at the bachelor's level, these programs may combine online learning and on-site, practical field experience.