Agronomy, MS

Master of Science Degree in Agronomy

University of Nebraska - Lincoln

  • Fully Online
  • 36
  • $446.00
  • $676.00

Program Overview

The online Master of Science degree in Agronomy program curriculum focuses on industry applications and research. The online program is designed with maximum flexibility for today's working professionals.  Agronomy is the application of plant and soil science to crop production and includes the study of plant genetics, breeding, biotechnology, molecular biology, physiology, biochemistry, weed control, and crop management. This flexibility allows students to complete coursework in areas that are specific to career needs and interests. The curriculum stresses the ability to apply course content to related industry work.

While the program does not require students to have specializations, UNL offers the following specializations for online students:

  • Crop Physiology and Production
  • Plant Breeding and Genetics
  • Range and Forage Sciences

Graduates work in the following career fields:

  • Seed Industry: Managers, breeders, technicians, sales agronomists
  • Crop Improvement: Consulting agronomists, crop advisers, co-op managers
  • Horticulture: Nursery managers, turf specialists; landscape specialists, golf course superintendents
  • Education: Science and agriculture teachers
  • Extension: Educators and specialists
  • Producers: Farmers and ranchers
  • Government: Specialists in regulatory agencies at all governmental levels and Communication

Admissions and Requirements

To be accepted to this program, you must have:

  1. A Bachelor's degree

    A bachelor's degree, preferably in agronomy or a closely related field.

  2. 3 GPA or above on a 4.0 scale

  3. Taken the TOEFL or IELTS

    (Only required if English is not your native language)

  4. A written personal statement

    In 1-2 pages describe 1) your professional goals and career aspirations and specifically what you plan to do with your degree, 2) background experiences, events and/or education that have influenced your professional goals and 3) how enrolling in this program will assist you in meeting your professional goals.

  5. 3 letters of recommendation

    These must be from professionals who are familiar with your work ethic or scholastic ability. Personal references from friends, relatives, etc. are not acceptable.

  6. Option I (Thesis): Successfully completed at least a semester of coursework in calculus, chemistry and physics (excluding soil physics), at least two semesters of biological sciences, and an additional semester of either physics or chemistry.

  7. Option II (Non-Thesis): Successfully completed at least a semester of coursework in plant production or plant system management, soil science, biological science, chemistry and algebra.

NOTE: This program is authorized, exempt, or not subject to state regulatory compliance and may enroll students from all 50 states

To apply to this program:

  1. Complete and submit the online application for Graduate Studies
  2. Pay $50 application fees
  3. Complete and submit a separate application the academic department

Courses You’ll Take

Course Information

Option I Thesis: Option I should be chosen by those who are preparing for careers in research and scholarly work or in college or university teaching. Students must earn a minimum of 30 semester hours of credit consisting of 20 - 24 semester hours of regular coursework, and present a thesis equivalent to 6 to 10 semester hours. At least one-half of the required work, including thesis, must be taken in one major subject. The remaining work may be in supporting courses or in a minor consisting of at least 9 semester hours. Eight credit hours, in addition to the thesis, must be earned in courses open exclusively to graduate students (900 level or 800 level without 400 or lower counterparts).

Option II Non-Thesis: This option encourages a wider range of courses than is permissible under Option I. Students must earn a minimum of 30 semester hours of credit in courses representing a major and either one or two minors. Students must complete a master's project of up to 6 hours; the project takes the place of the usual thesis; this brings the degree credit hour total to 36. A program of study consisting of a major and one minor must include no fewer than 18 hours in the major and 9 hours in the minor. If two minors are elected, the major must total at least 15 hours and the minors at least 9 hours each.

Core Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
AGRO/HORT 991Seminar Presentation and Evaluation2
Various topics in horticulture, agronomy or related subjects. Emphasis on techniques.

Elective Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
AGRO 815DCross-Pollinated Crop Breeding1
Cross-pollinated breeding theory and methods. Genes in populations, recurrent selection methods, creating populations, hybrid production practices, and population improvement theory. Prerequisite: AGRO 315
AGRO 815ASelf-Pollinated Crop Breeding1
Self-pollinated plant breeding theory and methods. Pedigree, bulk, single seed descent, back-crossing methods and inbreeding theory. Prerequisite: AGRO 315
AGRO 851Grassland Plant Identification2
Prereq: Admission to UNL's Graduate School, and BIOS 101 and 101L and AGRO 240, or their equivalents, recommended. Study of plants that have ecological and/or agricultural importance in the Great Plains. Plant identification, grassland ecosystems and plants' forage value, palatability and utilization by both domestic livestock and wildlife. Cultural and historical uses of grassland
AGRO 809BCase Studies in Plant Breeding: Transgenic Strategies1
The application of basic science and technology by plant genetic engineering experts with the goal of teaming with plant breeders to improve disease resistance in crop cultivars. Learning is structured by the genetics discovery story told in published research articles and the thinking process of genetic engineers and plant breeders who will use these discoveries in their work.).
AGRO/HORT 814Turfgrass Disease Management1
Pathogens, epidemiology, and control of diseases specific to turfgrass. Prerequisite: PLPT 369 or one semester of introductory plant pathology.
AGRO 831Spatial Variability in Soils2
Basic concepts of soil variability, its underlying causes. The impact spatial variability has on soil management, primarily for crop production. Geographic and geo-statistical concepts. Use of spatial information for more profitable crop production. Prerequisites: AGRO/SOIL 366 and STAT *801. Offered spring semester of even-numbered years.
AGRO 815BGermplasm & Genes1
Obtaining germplasm and genes from cultivated plants, wild relatives of cultivated plants, and the biosphere. Origination of crops, mutation genetics, biotechnology as a source of genes, chromosomal engineering and plant reproduction. Prerequisite: AGRO 315
AGRO 816AHeterosis in Plant Breeding1
Classical concepts of heterosis; genetic hypotheses for hybrid vigor; quantitative genetics of heterosis; new tools to study hybrid vigor, structure and function; organization of germplasm into heterotic groups; prediction of heterosis and hybrid performance; mechanisms for making hybrid seed; and breeding methods/concepts for developing hybrids in plants.
AGRO/HORT 824Plant Nutrition & Nutrient Management3
Macro and micro nutrient elements and their function in the growth and development of plants. Role of single elements. Interaction and/or balances between elements and nutrient deficiency and/or toxicity symptoms as they affect the physiology of the whole plant. Relationship between crop nutrition and production and/or environmental considerations (e.g. yield, drought, temperature, pests). Prerequisite: AGRO 325 or basic course in plant physiology.
AGRO 832Learning Plant Science3
The biology of plants grown for food, fiber, fuel and fun. Connect applied plant science to basic science concepts in biology and chemistry. Integrate individually-designed plant science lessons into learning standards.
AGRO 846Forage Quality3
This online course provides an in-depth study of the chemical characteristics of forage components and the interactions with ruminant physiology and digestion that influence forage feeding value and the laboratory procedures used to evaluate forages for grazing livestock.
AGRO/HORT 813Turf & Landscape Weed Management (Tent.)1
Fundamental terminology associated with turfgrass and landscape weed management. Weed identification and the cultural practices and herbicide strategies to limit weed invasion and persistence.
AGRO 811Crop Genetic Engineering2
Basic steps required to produce genetically engineered crops. Genetic engineering procedures used to develop current crops and innovations that will lead to future products. Genetic engineering process and predicting how changes in different steps of the process influence the final crop. Application of genetic engineering technology to plan the development of new genetically engineered crops.
AGRO 821Learning Biotechnology3
Investigate biotechnology and its application in solving problems and connect biotechnology to basic science concepts in biology and chemistry. Integrate individually-designed biotechnology lessons into learning standards.
AGRO 812Crop & Weed Genetics2
Application of classical and molecular genetic principles to the explanation of variation observed in plant families and populations. Interpretation of information gathered from whole plant trait observation and from molecular analysis. Relationships between crops and weeds. Examples from genetic studies on both crop and weed species are the basis of course.
AGRO 809ACase Studies in Plant Breeding: Disease Resistance Breeding1
The application of fundamental genetics principles in inheritance, gene mapping and DNA analysis to decision making by plant breeders with the goal of improving disease resistance in crop cultivars. Learning is structured by the genetics discovery story told in published research articles and the thinking process of plant breeders who will use these discoveries in their work.
AGRO 828Scientific Illustration3
This course provides an introduction to scientific illustration and will hone your skills in both art and observation. Students will explore the history of scientific illustration, copyright, typography, resolution and scanning principles and the creation, publication and presentation of scientific artwork. Students completing this course will have the knowledge and skills to prepare scientifically accurate, high quality illustrations using a variety of traditional techniques for teaching, presentation and publication of scientific information. Students will also learn how to prepare graphs for scientific publication.
AGRO/HORT 822Integrated Weed Management1
Principles and application of (IWM). Noxious and invasive weed species. Crops and weed control. Plant population shifts. Use of herbicides and the biologically effective dose. Critical period of weed control and weed threshold. Herbicide tolerant crops. Prerequisite: 12 hrs AGRO and/or closely related HORT and/or BIOS.

Tuition & Fees

Nebraska Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours


Out of State Residents

Per Credit Hour


3 Credit Hours

Don Lee, Ph.D.

Don Lee teaches courses focused on plant genetics. His research interests are focused on the detection and assessment of molecular genetic variation in crops, weeds and native plants and the development of Internet resources for teaching genetics to a wide variety of learners. Understanding new and traditional genetic technologies and their role in the development of our food and feed are his primary Extension interests.

Application Deadlines
  • Fall SemesterMay 15
  • Spring SemesterOct 01
  • Summer SemesterFeb 15