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Master of Horticultural Science (MHS)

The Masters of Horticultural Science (MHS) is a professional degree program offered to students who prefer to take courses on-campus (OC) or online through Distance Education (MHS-DE). The MHS degree provides general training primarily in the area of horticultural crop production and management; landscapes, gardens, and urban horticulture; and community food systems and agroecology (see Horticultural Science Research Areas for specific programs).

The MHS degree substitutes additional coursework and a project in lieu of the research and thesis required by the MS degree program. The MHS students work with a graduate committee of three faculty to develop their plan of work, which includes both their coursework and a required project. This degree is ideal for individuals who do not plan on pursuing a PhD. MHS students are not eligible for a graduate assistantship.

If a student wants to complete their degree through the MHS-DE degree option, they must specify this on their application. Although the availability of online graduate courses is currently not as extensive as those on-campus, there is sufficient diversity and flexibility among online courses such that a student can obtain a solid background in horticulture science. Graduate courses are also offered online through partnerships with other universities.

To be admitted to the MHS program, you must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution and meet most of the eligibility requirements.

The following links provide vital information to the Master of Horticultural Science program.


Background courses

  • Horticultural Science or Landscape Horticulture courses (in your area of interest)
  • Background courses in advanced math and general chemistry; calculus, statistics, organic chemistry and physics are also recommended)
  • Biology courses in plant biology, botany, plant physiology, plant pathology, entomology, soils, genetics, and biochemistry

MHS requirements

  • GPA of 3.0 or better
  • For non-native English speakers, minimum TOEFL scores of 80 or better
  • A GPA of 3.0 must be maintained for all graduate course work during the degree program.
  • All degree requirements must be completed within six (6) calendar years, beginning with the date the student takes courses carrying graduate credit applicable to their degree program. Students must be continuously enrolled for the duration of their program.


  • A minimum of 36 credit hours of course work
  • A minimum of 18 hours at the 500-700 level
  • At least 4, but no more than 6, credit hours of HS 693 Masters Supervised Research (see below)
  • HS 601 Professional Presentation Skills
  • One graduate-level statistics course, with the statistics class(es) to be determined by student, advisor and committee. Examples of acceptable classes include ST511, ST512, ST531, and CS755.
  • Up to 12 hours of 400 level courses can be taken as part of the MHS program; however only 6 hours of Horticultural Science courses are allowed
  • Students pursuing the MHS degree may choose a minor, but this is not required
  • Students are encouraged, but not required to take the Horticultural Science core courses
  • A seminar presented by the student on their research project, followed by an oral examination with their graduate committee

HS 693 Masters Supervised Research

The MHS comprehensive project focuses on an area of interest to both the student and the faculty member. The nature of the project is cooperatively agreed upon by the student and their advisory committee. Projects vary greatly in scope and depth, but overall, are highly rigorous.

  • A typical research project might include three components, and at least one should result in a research publication, trade journal publication, or popular press article. An on-line web resource could also be one of the publications.
  • A landscape horticulture project might include either a research project or library search summary combined with landscape plans showing the information being incorporated into one or more designs.

Additional Requirements


The Master of Horticultural Science per semester graduate tuition and fee rates for North Carolina residents starting Fall, 2023 is $5,850.13 for 9+ credit hours of coursework. Online courses and the MHS-DE degree option may be subject to different rates. Visit NC State’s Tuition and Fees page for detailed information about graduate tuition and fees.

Financial aid eligibility is determined by the Financial Aid Office. We encourage you to contact your financial aid counselor in the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. Criteria for funding are based on academic merit, demonstrated financial need, and enrollment in multiple courses per semester. For additional information, please visit NC State’s Student Services Center website, or call (919) 515-2421. NC State also offers a monthly payment plan.

Students pursuing this degree may be eligible for teaching assistantship funding.

Director of Graduate Programs

Dr. Gina Fernandez
Professor and Director of Graduate Programs
John D. and Nell R. Leazar Distinguished Professor
Department of Horticultural Science
260 Kilgore Hall, Campus Box 7609
Raleigh, NC  27695-7609

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