Fully online and hybrid programs in horticulture that result in a college diploma aren't widely available. Though some undergraduate certificate programs are offered, programs are more commonly available at the graduate level and designed to expand working professionals' knowledge. Applicants may have careers in greenhouse management, city park maintenance, golf course management or science teaching, or they may be gardening enthusiasts. Since typical students already have hands-on experience, these programs can still be effective teaching aids. Certificates may be focused in specialized areas, like ornamental horticulture or floriculture, or they may allow students to select from a wide range of courses, like environmental stress, small fruit production or post-harvest physiology. A bachelor's degree in horticulture or agriculture is generally required for admission. These graduate certificate programs are profiled below.
A horticulture online certificate program is designed for those who've already earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture or agriculture and professionals already working as horticulturalists. Online certificate programs are meant to provide individuals the opportunity to focus on a particular aspect of horticulture in order to gain further expertise. Students can choose to specialize in either food horticulture or ornamental horticulture. Due to the hands-on nature of the field, online certificate programs in horticulture are not especially common, but several programs do exist.
Information and Technical Requirements
Online certificate programs in horticulture are most commonly offered at the graduate level, and therefore require that applicants possess a four-year degree. Some schools may require that specific courses be completed before beginning a certificate program. Although all required classes are offered online, some programs also offer optional classes that are available only on campus. Most online horticulture certificate programs consist of 12 to 15 credits and take anywhere from four months to four years to finish, depending on whether the student chooses to study full-time or part-time. Some certificate programs can be completed concurrently with a master's degree.
At minimum, students in online horticulture certificate programs should have access to a computer with a printer and Internet connection. Basic software, such as an Internet browser, word-processing program and e-mail account, is also required. Some online classes may have additional technical requirements; for instance, a digital camera may be necessary to document insect or plant species.
List of Common Courses
Horticulture certificate program requirements vary by school, but there are some courses that are common across all programs. These include the study of plants, soils, weeds and insects.
Online students learn advanced breeding techniques for improving plants through the study of plant genetics. Methods such as hybridization and chromosome manipulation are presented.
Advanced Soil Science
Students learn about the chemical and physical components of soil and managing soil nutrients. They also study erosion control and different soil environments, such as wetlands.
Advanced Weed Science
Horticulturalists study the management of weeds by various approaches including the use of herbicides. Students also learn about the environmental factors that affect herbicide performance and dissipation.
Entomology is the study of insects. From knowledge of insect behavior, students can learn techniques to protect crops from unwanted insects while encouraging pollinators such as butterflies and bees.
Nursery Production and Management
Students are taught aspects of nursery production, such as greenhouse construction, field irrigation, soil improvement, harvesting and storage. The practical aspects of marketing and managing a nursery business are also discussed.
Graduates with a certificate in horticultural science may find supervisory jobs at greenhouses, public gardens and arboretums or on farms and ranches. They may also work in landscape design, pest control or in their own plant nursery. There may also be government positions available in national forests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected in 2014 that job openings for farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers could decrease by two percent through 2024. According to the BLS, these professionals earned a median salary of $64,170 as of 2015.
Students who complete an online graduate certificate may wish to study for their master's degree in horticulture. Some programs allow credits earned in the online horticulture certificate to be applied directly to a master's degree. Some master's level programs in horticulture are offered online, although the majority of graduate schools require horticulture students to attend classes in person.
Online undergraduate diploma and certificate programs in horticulture are rare. Among the more common online options are graduate certificates designed to expand and sharpen the knowledge of students who already have a bachelor's degree in horticulture or agriculture and work experience in the field.