WSU adds new online ag master’s degree with a twist

By Joshua Paulsen, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences

plantHealthMasters-80PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University is launching an online master’s degree to meet the growing need for highly skilled field practitioners and managers in today’s technologically advanced agricultural industry. The program begins this fall and is accepting applications.

The master of science in agriculture: plant health management couples WSU’s world-renowned plant sciences and plant protection programs with business management courses. The degree offers research opportunities mentored by faculty on the Pullman campus and at WSU’s statewide research and extension centers.

Gary Grove, director of the Irrigated Agriculture Research & Extension Center in Prosser, believes the curriculum is just what students need today to be marketable.

“Industry leaders often mention the shortage of personnel both skilled in science and adept at business,” he said. “This hybrid degree gives students the ability to go from field to lab to executive boardroom without breaking stride.”

A series of online information sessions will be offered on May 16, June 11 and July 12. Learn more at

Research experience available statewide

The new plant health management option follows a similar program recently launched with great success: food science and management.

plant-health-masters-350Offered by the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resources Science (CAHNRS), these online graduate degrees signal WSU’s commitment to providing advancement options for working students and enhancing their education by including access to WSU’s statewide network of expert faculty.

“The success of the food science and management program is evidence that online learning is what the market wants,” said Kim Kidwell, executive associate dean of the college. “The plant health management offering is another choice for people that want to continue their education without uprooting their lives.

“This program adds a twist to the typical online program by also enabling students to gain mentored research experience,” she said. She sees the degree as an important milestone for building an employee base with advanced skills for the industry.

Capstone project replaces thesis

The degree waives the traditional thesis requirement but students are expected to complete a capstone research project with their employer or in a related industry.

While students can complete the project independently, WSU has designed the program to integrate with its research and extension centers in Puyallup, Mount Vernon, Wenatchee and Prosser. The program also provides access to a myriad of resources at the WSU Pullman campus.

“Students may take their classes online, but we are ready for students near Puyallup to augment their studies at our research farm,” said John Stark, director of the Puyallup Research & Extension (R&E) Center. “We have faculty and allied area employers who are anxious to work with students on their capstone projects.”

The 30-credit program includes courses taught by WSU’s internationally recognized professors in entomology, plant pathology and crop and soil sciences along with training in economics, project management and organizational management.

To learn more about the program, visit


Joshua Paulsen, WSU CAHNRS director of communications,, 509-335-2806