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Graduate Programs

The UF Agronomy Department offers many academic options for M.S. and Ph.D. students. We are looking for engaged, highly motivated student leaders who are interested in addressing present and future challenges facing agricultural and natural ecosystems. Students interested in M.S. programs have the opportunity to choose either thesis or non-thesis options and may complete their program at the UF campus or 100% online. Our M.S. thesis and Ph.D. students conduct original research under the mentorship of our accomplished faculty in modern, well-equipped laboratories and field settings throughout the state and world. Agronomy faculty have a diverse array of research programs that provide students with a rich and immersive learning experience. Our faculty work with students to tailor programs that encourage collaborative approaches to research and enhance professional development.

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 Prospective Students

Ph. D. DegreeM.S. Degree
Agroecology Concentration Agroecology Concentration * **
Crop Physiology, Ecology & Management Specialization Crop Physiology, Ecology & Management Specialization *
Grassland Ecology & Management Specialization Grassland Ecology & Management Specialization *
Plant Breeding - Genetics & Genomics Specialization Plant Breeding - Genetics & Genomics Specialization *
Statistical Methods Specialization Statistical Methods Specialization *
Weed Science & Ecology - Terrestrial & Aquatic Specialization Weed Science & Ecology - Terrestrial & Aquatic Specialization *

* Thesis and Non-Thesis Options

** 100% online and campus-based options

Explore all of the graduate degree options available in Agronomy to find the program that best meets your interest and professional goals.

  • Agroecology Concentration

    Agroecology is a scientific discipline that integrates ecological and agricultural principles to optimize resource conservation, productivity, societal benefits, and profitability using an ecosystem framework. Agronomy graduate students seeking an M.S. degree (thesis or non-thesis) can enroll in the Agroecology Concentration, either 100% on-line or campus-based. On-campus students seeking a Ph.D. can major in Agronomy with a concentration in Agroecology. Students in the Agroecology Concentration are required to learn beyond the classroom by engaging in hands-on local, regional, national, and international research and study opportunities. Graduates leave the program with broad, scientifically rooted knowledge and skills, enabling them to successfully navigate the complexity of global food system challenges. The Agroecology Concentration requires students to take specific courses designed to increase their interdisciplinary exposure and foundational knowledge of ecological principles. Agronomy faculty across all specializations within the department advise graduate student non-thesis projects or thesis/dissertation research programs which align with student research and career interests. The Agroecology Concentration is an ideal choice for individuals who are already engaged in their careers or other activities yet desire a graduate degree for career advancement. Our graduates are successfully developing rewarding careers in the public and private sectors.

  • Crop Physiology, Ecology & Management

    Crop Physiology, Ecology & Management faculty conduct research to describe how plants function and respond to environmental and biological stress in a changing climate. They evaluate physiological processes at the canopy, whole plant, and cellular level. Studying crop responses to the environment enables researchers to use modeling to better understand how plants respond and adapt to changes in the environment, improve crop management and genetically improve plants to enhance their resiliency. Faculty work alongside their graduate students to design academic programs to fit student research and career interests. From understanding fundamental processes of how water stress impacts plant responses to developing management practices that help plants better adapt to environmental stress, our diverse research faculty provide excellent mentoring and opportunities to students. Most students work on interdisciplinary research projects to address eco-physiological research problems at regional, national and global levels. Our faculty are affiliated with many university-wide Centers/Institutes including the Water Institute, the Center for Stress Resilient Agriculture and the Food System Institute which provide resources and opportunities to students. Our graduates are successfully developing rewarding careers in academia and industry.

  • Forage Science and Management

    With favorable climatic conditions and capacity for growing forages year-round, Florida is one of the main states in cow-calf production in the United States, ranking 10th nationwide in beef cow numbers (900,000). From the sandy southern tip of the peninsula to the more subtropical panhandle, Florida hosts over 1.7 million head of beef cattle, over 125,000 dairy cows, and approximately 500,000 horses in over 3.2 million acres of pastureland and 1.3 million acres of grazed woodland. Besides being home to five out of the 10 largest cow-calf outfits in the country, there are almost 18,500 beef cattle ranchers, producing over 800,000 calves being shipped out west every year. This represents over $1.7 billion annually in revenue from livestock products for the state (USDA NASS 2016), helping to make Florida the 7th state in agricultural exports. The beauty of this: it is mostly produced on strong, forage-based production systems. Recently, forages (re)gained new horizons, with the increased use of cover crops and great potential for integrated livestock-cropping systems. Regained because those practices remount back to the primordium of agriculture. New horizons because the diversification of production systems, increased cost of production, and increased focus on environmental aspects have placed forages on the main stage for sustainable agriculture. Forages are important providers of ecosystem services, being a habitat for wildlife, securing atmospheric carbon in biomass and soil organic matter, regulating nutrient fluxes, and conserving soil and water.

    The very productive Forage Breeding program at the University of Florida has released over 47 cultivars in the past several years, not including biofuel and turfgrasses. The Forage Team has been an important ally of Florida’s farmers and ranchers, a partnership and a legacy transcendent beyond generations of faculty and producers.

  • Grassland Ecology & Management

    Our Grassland Ecology & Management faculty are recognized international experts in tropical and temperate forages. Their research addresses a broad range of topics including forage germplasm evaluation, management for increased sustainability of forage-livestock systems, and interactions among soils, plants, and herbivores. Current research programs are broadly focused on integrating legumes into warm-climate grasslands and enhancing delivery of grassland ecosystem services including nutrient cycling, soil carbon sequestration, nitrogen fixation, and amelioration of greenhouse gas emissions. Faculty work alongside graduate students to design academic programs to fit student research and career interests. Most students work on interdisciplinary research projects to address problems of regional, national and global significance. Our faculty are located in multiple environments throughout the state and are affiliated with many university-wide Centers/Institutes including the Food Systems Institute, the Center for Stress Resilient Agriculture and the Center for Latin American Studies which provide resources and opportunities to students. Our graduates occupy numerous tenure-track faculty positions in the US and internationally, and they are a conspicuous presence in national research organizations in the US and in numerous countries throughout the world.

  • Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics

    Our Plant Breeding-Genetics and Genomics Faculty conduct basic research on genes and their function in plants and utilize genetic information to develop new and improved varieties of the most important crops that feed, clothe and supply energy to the world’s population. The UF Agronomy faculty have created and released new cultivars of peanut, small grain, sugarcane, forages and turf grass that are used throughout the US and world. Faculty use traditional and modern plant breeding approaches and work alongside their graduate students to design academic programs to fit student research and career interests. From researching the potential of a new sustainable crop for biofuel production, to identifying the genes that confer resistance to a major crop disease, our students are trained in the latest gene editing technologies, genomic selection, and high throughput field-based phenotyping. Students conduct research in one of six Agronomic breeding programs but gain exposure to over 25 UF breeding programs of regional and global importance. Most students work on interdisciplinary research projects to address genomic-based research problems of regional, national and global significance. Our faculty are affiliated with the UF Plant Breeders Working Group and many university-wide Centers/Institutes including the Interdisciplinary Center for Biotechnology Research, Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology Program, Emerging Pathogens Institute and UF Genetics Institute. Our graduates are successful developing rewarding careers in academia and industry.

    The strength of the Genetics program area has been in traditional, applied breeding programs to develop improved cultivars of forages, legumes, sugarcane and small grains. Forage and field crop scientists in the Department have released 28 crop cultivars since 1988. Breeding programs from the Agronomy Department contribute crop cultivars which dominate production acreage in areas of adaptation both within the U.S. and internationally. Recent accomplishments of the program include the release of many important cultivars: e.g., improved peanut (yield, disease resistance and oil quality), small grain (pest resistance) and forage crop (pest resistant clover, rust resistant ryegrass) cultivars. The contribution of these programs to the graduate study of plant breeding has also been a major strength. Molecular biology programs are now making significant contributions to the more traditional forage, peanut, and sugarcane breeding programs. A strong team approach is essential to development of multiple trait cultivars to serve our agricultural industry and to research value-added traits to increase the value of our commodities. It is imperative that an appropriate balance be maintained between whole plant and molecular genetics for both teaching and research programs.

  • Plant Physiology, Nutrition and Management

    National and international strengths in the Plant Physiology, Nutrition and Management program area include forage evaluation, management, and utilization; diversified row crop and forage management; conservation tillage, multiple-cropping systems; utilization of urban and agricultural wastes as nutrient sources for crop production; and alternative crop plants. The University of Florida has maintained a strong international reputation in evaluation, management and utilization of tropical and cool-season forages. Recently, emphasis has been placed on environmental impact of forage production practices. Management recommendations have been developed that facilitate increased efficiency of nutrient cycling in grazed pastures and use of dairy wastes for production of forage crops while minimizing environmental impact. For field crops, an important strength has been the presence of a highly diversified crop management team that possesses expertise in cultivation practices of numerous crop plants including peanut, cotton, tobacco, corn, small grains, soybean, sugarcane and rice. Also, conservation tillage and multiple-cropping systems have been tested and implemented by Florida producers. Departmental scientists in this program area have developed management recommendations and programs for newly-released crop cultivars. The Agronomy Department has also had a strong program in energy crops and alternative crops.

    Traditional strengths have been documenting and understanding the physiology of crops at the leaf, whole plant and crop canopy level, particularly in response to global climate change factors and other environmental factors, and to develop computer simulations of crop growth, development, and yield in response to various environmental factors. Significant contributions include documenting crop responses to rising carbon dioxide and climate change factors and development of crop simulation growth models for grain legumes that incorporate physiological mechanisms and allow hypothetical responses to climate change, crop management and genetic improvement. Current strengths are outstanding national and international reputations for crop systems modeling and research programs for assessing the effects of atmospheric carbon dioxide and anticipated global climate change on crop production.

  • Statistical Methods

    Our Statistical Methods faculty have expertise in experimental design, research methods and data analyses with a focus on plant breeding and genetics, ecology and agriculture sciences. Students will use statistical theory and applied statistics to address research questions pertaining to their area of interest. Students develop statistical learning methods to analyze and predict complex traits by analyzing factors including genetics, environmental factors and their interaction using high dimensional genomic data. Our faculty are affiliated with the UF Genetics Institute, UF Plant Breeders Working Group, and the School of Natural Resources and the Environment. 

  • Weed Science, Phycology & Invasive Plant Ecology

    Our diverse faculty are leading research programs that address invasive species ecology, weeds that interfere with agricultural production, and invasive plants and algae that threaten aquatic and natural areas. Faculty help their graduate students design academic programs that align with their research and career interests. From creating new methods that control troublesome plants in agriculture, aquatics and natural areas to understanding the dynamics and impacts of species invasions and elucidating the diversity and toxicity of cyanobacteria causing harmful algal blooms, our faculty provide excellent mentoring and opportunities for their students. Most students work on interdisciplinary research projects across different ecosystems to address challenges of regional, national and global significance. Our faculty are affiliated with the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants and the Fort Lauderdale REC Aquatic and wetland plant science lab, which provide resources and opportunities to students. Our graduates are successful developing rewarding careers in academia and industry.

    Weed scientists in the Agronomy Department have developed, evaluated and implemented weed management strategies for terrestrial and aquatic weeds in temperate, sub-tropical and tropical environments. Strong interdisciplinary teamwork, both within and across departments, and at regional and national levels, has been a tradition the program. Current strengths of the weed science program include biology, molecular genetics, and physiology of weed species; aquatic and invasive plant research and management; weed management strategies for southeastern cropping systems; weed/crop interference mechanisms; computer decision modeling for soybean and peanut; wetland mitigation; and pasture, rangeland and non-crop weed management systems. Graduate student placement in both industry and academia has also been a traditional strength due to the diversity of the weed science program.

 Application Information

Incoming students typically have a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture, agronomy, crop science, soil science, or a related life science. The most important considerations for applicants are an interest in continued study and intensive research in a specific area of agronomy along with minimum prerequisites for admission to the program. The biological, physical, and mathematical sciences are considered fundamental for all areas of agronomy.

  • Application Process

    Graduate admission is a collaborative effort between the UF Office of Graduate Admissions ( and the Agronomy Department. International applicants who are admitted to the Department will work with the UF International Center ( regarding their visa requirements. The Agronomy Department follows UF graduate admission policies and procedures so please review the graduate admission website to better understand all of the UF application process and requirements. The Agronomy Department recommends submission of a completed application at least six months prior to the intended term of admission.

    The Agronomy Department offers flexible M.S. and Ph.D. program options to meet our students’ educational and career goals.  It is important for applicants to understand the available options and choose a degree program (i.e., M.S. thesis or non-thesis or Ph.D.) and specialization (i.e., discipline area of interest within agronomy) that best meet their interests and needs. Master’s degree students can choose either thesis or non-thesis programs that are offered in-person or 100% on-line. A majority of on-line students enroll in the non-thesis option while most residential students conduct research and complete a thesis. Our Ph.D. is a research degree where students are in residence at UF and typically take both in-person and virtual courses. Both M.S. and Ph.D. students can choose a concentration in Agroecology if they wish (ADD Link to our concentrations). Our on-line non-thesis students are assigned an advisor based on their academic interests. ALL students seeking admission to a M.S. thesis or Ph.D. program must have an adviser identified before they can be officially admitted. Therefore, we encourage applicants to reach out to faculty whose research program best aligns with your academic and career goals.

    The Agronomy Department offers that are available to on-campus students and self-funded distance students (Include the link to our programs here). Applicants to certificate programs must have an earned Bachelors’ degree from an accredited college or university. Applicants should have all documentation submitted for review at least one month before the beginning of the semester.

    For admission without conditions into a graduate degree or graduate certificate program, UF Graduate Admissions (school code 5812) requires the UF application (, a $35 application fee, undergraduate upper-division GPA of 3.0, and official transcripts from every university or college that you have attended. Applicants who attended colleges outside the USA are required to provide an official diploma/diploma supplements, all academic credentials in the original language as well as official English translations, and in most instances, a language proficiency test that satisfies the UF Graduate School minimum score. Please refer to International Admissions for a comprehensive overview

    In addition to the above, the UF/IFAS Agronomy Department requires the UF Application to include components on the application that might be listed as “optional.” They are:
    Statement of Purpose (one-page essay)
    Three Letters of Recommendation
    Unofficial copies of transcripts and test scores

    Make sure to indicate the that you are interested in when you complete your application. Once a non-thesis M.S. applicant’s packet is complete, it is evaluated by the Agronomy Admissions Committee for an admissions decision, and the applicant is contacted. For M.S. thesis and Ph.D. students, a completed packet is the first step toward admission. An admissions decision can be made only when a departmental faculty member has agreed to serve as the student’s adviser. In most cases, this means the faculty member has agreed to provide a stipend to the student and pay the student’s tuition.

  • Application Packet for Agronomy Major


    Recruitment of an Agronomy Faculty Member: We recommend that you contact an Agronomy faculty member before or while you are in the process of applying to a program. Visit both the research specialization information on this web page, as well as the “Faculty Page” on this website to begin matching your research interest with faculty prior to contacting faculty.  We advise you to read one or more publications by the faculty members to determine if your background and interests align with the faculty member’s research program.

    Please note: Applicants to the M.S. non-thesis degree or Graduate Certificate do not need to recruit a faculty member in advance.  Non-thesis applicants are not offered graduate departmental assistantship awards.

    Statement of Purpose:  Include components relevant to your life and academic experiences that have helped to form your interests/goals, and describe research you hope to pursue under the guidance of an Agronomy faculty member and how earning the degree contributes to your long-term career goal.

    Resume: Include achievements other than academic test scores – such as employment, research experiences, publications, presentations at seminars, individual studies, attendance at professional-society meetings, extension work, and outside activities relevant to the research area of interest.

    Letters of recommendation: On the UF application submit at least three email addresses of faculty or industry professionals who can speak about your academic and research interests and potential. Each recommender will be sent a web link to upload a letter and complete a UF template to rank the applicant. 

  • Application Deadlines

    Applicants should use these deadlines as a guide of when to apply:
    Assistantship Applicants:
    Jan 1 for Fall term
    Six months prior to term, as assistantships become available
    Self-Funded Degrees:
    May 1 for Fall
    Sept 1 for Spring
    Feb 1 for Summer
    International Applicants: apply 6-12 months in advance to desired term of admission.

  • Graduate Student Support

    Some faculty members have grant funding that supports hiring a Graduate Assistant. Potential applicants may contact the Agronomy Graduate Coordinator to identify these potential faculty advisors or may identify those conducting research in the student’s area of interest by viewing the Agronomy web site.

    Agronomy faculty members may nominate applicants for competitive merit-based awards managed by the Agronomy Department. Typically, these awards are made in the spring for admission in the fall semester. To be eligible for these awards, the student should submit a completed application by January 31. The Agronomy Admissions Committee evaluates these nominees and presents their recommendations to the Department Chair. The Graduate Coordinator distributes letters of offer before April 15. Graduate Assistantship offers include a full tuition waiver and part-time employment stipends.

    The qualifications of competitive applicants for Graduate Assistantships include:

    • Bachelor’s degree with a GPA 3.3 or greater in a major applicable to the graduate degree/research pursuit.
    • Undergraduate or thesis research in discipline similar to research specialization for advanced degree.
    • Work experience in their chosen field of study
    • A well written and thoughtful statement of your qualifications
    • At least three letters of recommendation matched to the application packet


    Graduate assistants have part-time teaching or research duties; they are required to register for reduced course loads, according to their appointment. Stipend rates paid are determined by the type of funding. Students on appointment are financially liable for excess credits beyond the required registrations. If a student on appointment drops below the required registration at any time in the semester, the student becomes financially liable for the entire registration.

 Current Students

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