A horticulture degree gives graduates career opportunities in landscape design; management of parks, golf courses or nurseries; groundskeeping and horticultural research. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates the redevelopment and continual growth of residential areas makes landscape design a secure field. Schools offer a variety of online programs for students interested in pursuing a career in horticulture.
Some schools have online programs for undergraduate degrees focusing on horticulture. For example, at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, students can pursue a certificate, an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in horticulture. The undergraduate certificate requires only 15 credits, 12 of which must be from horticulture classes. For associate's and bachelor's programs, students take some general education courses in communications, math, science and social studies, then focus on horticulture topics for the remaining study. An associate's degree takes about two years to complete while a bachelor's takes about four. These online options allow students to take courses from home.
Students may elect to continue their education in online horticulture programs after finishing a bachelor's program by enrolling in a master's degree, doctoral or graduate certificate program. The certificate programs, like the one offered through the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, allows students to focus their learning in a specialized area such as floriculture and nursery program management; ornamentals, landscape and turf; or more general advanced horticulture. Such online programs cater to those who are working in the field, but looking for an advanced credential or focused study.
Undergraduate online horticulture programs require students to take courses in basic landscape design, principles of ornamental plants and general horticulture. Students learn about various plants and their requirements, weed control, plant identification and environmental policies. Graduate programs build on these foundations, focusing on the student's chosen area of specialization. For instance, those taking the online program through the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign focus on either horticulture or crop science. Courses in such programs have titles such as plant nutrition and nutrient management and floral crops production. Master's and doctoral online programs typically require research, while the masters certificate may not.
One difficulty presented by online horticulture degrees involves hands-on activities. Most states require landscape architects to gain experience before obtaining a license. Both undergraduate and graduate programs may require practical experience. For instance, Oregon State University in Corvallis allows students to work in one of their on-campus greenhouses and laboratory facilities. Students not in the area are encouraged to set up an internship and must complete home laboratory activities. Similarly, students in North Carolina State University's program must participate in what they term an outreach experience to obtain hands-on experience.