New Graduate Degree Offered

The 5th Year Masters Degree in Plant and Soil Sciences

Stockbridge School of Agriculture is proud to announce an accelerated graduate program for students seeking a Master of Science in Plant & Soil Sciences.


Many bachelor degree students in Stockbridge or related interdepartmental majors wish to continue current undergraduate research projects and, in so doing, complete a masters of science degree efficiently.  While a traditional masters degree takes two years to complete, the 5th Year Accelerated Masters degree option now provides students the opportunity to earn the MS degree in just one year (following the completion of their bachelor degree).  Such acceleration can make graduates more competitive in job markets, sooner.


  • The Stockbridge Masters Degree qualifies graduates for advanced career opportunities, and prepares students for admission to PhD programs
  • The accelerated 30-credit degree can be completed in 2 semesters, is available to all Stockbridge BS majors and Environmental Science majors, and offers both a thesis and a non-thesis track
  • Up to 9 credits at the 500 level can be taken during the BS program and transferred towards the MS degree
  • Undergraduates in allied programs, such as Biochemistry, Biology, Chemical Engineering, ECO, Food Science, Geosciences, and Microbiology, are highly encouraged to apply
  • For more information email Graduate Program Director Dr Masoud Hashemi

Suggested Research Areas

  • Climate Change Adaption

  • Soil Pollution and Health

  • Nano-Enabled Agriculture

  • Plant Biotechnology

  • Agroecology

  • Plant Health and Physiology

  • Insect-Plant Interaction

  • Microbe-Plant Interaction

  • Soil Biogeochemistry

  • Turfgrass Science

  • Horticulture Science


Undergraduate students who are already conducting research or an independent internship/project is Stockbridge or related departments are eligible to apply for the Thesis track of the 5th Year Masters Degree Program.  Undergraduate students who are not conducting research are eligible for the Non-Thesis track of the 5th Year Masters Degree Program.  Students may apply to either program in the first semester of their junior year, or during their senior year, so long as required courses and lab work are completed or in progress.  Before the end of their senior year, undergraduate students must complete a minimum of 6 credits, and a maximum of 9 credits, earned from courses at the 500 level, within the student's indicated area of interest.  These credits will be transferable to the MS degree. 


No financial support is available for the 5th Year Masters Degree program.  Students must pay the tuition and other mandatory fees required by the program and the Graduate School.  Funding may be available for students who instead choose the non-accelerated, regularly paced MS Degree Program with Thesis.

General Requirements

Students first select whether to pursue the thesis or non-thesis option.  To complete the MS degree under either option, students are required to earn minimum of 30 credits at the 500-level or higher.  A minimum of 6 and a maximum of 9 credits can be applied to both the bachelor and masters degrees.  A minimum of 150 combined credits must be earned across their bachelor and masters programs.  A maximum of 6 credits with grade B or above can be transferred from other institutions. Students must complete their MS degree requirements within 15 months of completing their bachelor's degree.  The GPA of the completed courses submitted for the degree must be 3.0 or higher.

Requirements for 5th Year Masters Degree With Thesis

  • STOCKSCH 650: Global Challenges in Agriculture & the Environment (3 credits)
  • STOCKSCH 699: Master's Thesis (6-10 credits)
  • STOCKSCH 696/796: Independent Study (3-6 credits)
  • Graduate Level (500-800) Elective Courses (11-18 credits)

Pass/Fail grading is only allowed for 700-level seminars and thesis credits.

Requirements for 5th Year Masters Degree Without Thesis

  • STOCKSCH 650: Global Challenges in Agriculture & the Environment (3 credits)
  • STOCKSCH 696/796: Independent Study (3-6 credits)
  • STOCKSCH 698: Practicum/Internship or Individual Project (3-6 credits)
  • Graduate Level (500-800) Elective Courses (15-21 credits)

All STOCKSCH 698 Practicum projects must be approved by the Stockbridge Graduate Committee, and these credits must be earned while matriculated as a graduate student.

The STOCKSCH 698 Practicum project must include a written report, which may be an in-depth literature review, or reporting on a research project.

Students will present their Practicum project to the committee and to the graduate faculty in a seminar, followed by a final exam.

Elective courses must be approved by the Graduate Program Director in consultation with the potential practicum advisor.

Pass/Fail grading is only allowed for 700-level seminars and Practicum/Internship credits.

Preparation Steps for Juniors and Seniors

In your junior year, join a research lab working on a related topic.  Take appropriate pre-requisite courses in anticipation of taking 500-level courses in your junior/senior year.  Before the end of your senior year, complete at least 6 credits in your planned graduate research area, at the 500 level. (Up to 9 credits can be transferred to the MS program).  Learn about the MS program and discuss your application plans in advance with your potential graduate faculty advisor.  Seek letters of recommendation as described below.  Apply to the Graduate School by Feb 1st for fall admission.

How to Apply

Apply to the Graduate School by Feb 1st for fall admission.  Important: Application materials must include two letters of recommendation, at least one of which should be from the student's research advisor or mentor, explicitly assuring that they approve the students; proposed work.  Applications will be reviewed, and acceptance will be based on a vote of the Plant & Soil Sciences Graduate Policy Committee.  There is no longer any GRE (Graduate Records Examination) requirement.

The current list available graduate-level courses can be found at the end of the Graduate Student Handbook.

See other graduate degree options.