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School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 48 months
University rank #301 (ARWU) Baton Rouge, LA, United States
The School of Plant, Environmental & Soil Sciences (SPESS) offers graduate programs leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in Plant, Environmental Management and Soil Sciences (PEMSS). There are three optional areas of concentration within the degree programs: Agronomy, Horticulture, and Soil Science.  
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Students with an agronomic focus concentrate their graduate studies in weed science, crop breeding and genetics/biotechnology, or applied plant physiology. Students studying horticulture may specialize in any branch of horticulture, including breeding and genetics, propagation, vegetable production, physiology, mineral nutrition, weed control, plant growth and development, postharvest physiology, and food processing. Students pursuing soil science study a wide variety of subdisciplines including soil classification, soil physics, soil chemistry, soil fertility, soil microbiology, environmental soil science, and land use/management.

Agronomy, which includes the soil and water environments associated with crop production, is the primary source of food for our world’s population. Agroeconomic activities are very important at the state, national, and global levels. Many opportunities await agronomists with MS and PhD degrees. Positions are available in the private sector as well as in government and universities. 

The graduate faculty of the school is engaged in both applied and basic research. Most agronomy and environmental management faculty members have joint appointments between LSU and the LSU Agricultural Center. These scientists conduct research and impart education and training to sustain productivity of food, feed, and fiber while maintaining environmental quality with efficient use of natural resources.

Horticulture at LSU has a great tradition. Some of the most important U.S. varieties of sweet potatoes, strawberries, and peaches have been developed at LSU during the past 50 years. Plant breeding remains a significant focus, but there is a new emphasis in woody ornamentals and floriculture. 

Traditional cultural practices of the past are now modified by a trend toward sustainable agricultural methods with less impact on the environment. In the last decade, physiological research in fruit, vegetable, floriculture, and ornamental production systems has increased. Turfgrass science and management have also become important areas of horticulture research. The horticulture faculty is unique in its strong emphasis on postharvest physiology.

Soils represent one of our greatest natural resources; a source for growing food, fiber, and building materials. Students in soil science are provided hands-on experience with advanced technologies such as inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy, x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, GreenSeeker proximal nitrogen sensor, global positioning system, carbon/nitrogen combustion analyzer, and gas chromatograph. 

Studies in pollution management and spatial/temporal variation in soil properties are modeled with advanced software such as ArcGIS. Students completing degrees in soil science have many career options available to them including: government sector (USDA-NRCS, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality), private sector (consulting, industrial services, wetland delineation, soil survey), and academia.

Environmental management uses scientific information to manage natural resources in ways that will ensure environmental sustainability. Both teaching and research in the School of Plant, Environmental & Soil Sciences are directly related to sustainability and provide graduate students with a background in such environmental management areas as wetlands conservation, water pollution prevention, waste management, pest-management practices, and environmental remediation.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 48 months
  • Credits
    60 alternative credits
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Courses include:
  • Advanced Soil Fertility and Plant Nutrition 
  • Quantitative Genetics in Plant Improvement 
  • Topics in Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences for Teachers 
  • Plant Molecular Biology
  • Plant Growth and Development 
  • Soilborne Plant Pathogens 

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120.

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL®PBT is administered in a paper format and measures your ability to use and understand English in a classroom setting at the college or university level. It accurately measures how well you can listen, read and write in English while performing academic tasks.

  • Minimum required score:


    PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English Academic) is a language test that enables students to demonstrate their writing, listening, speaking, and reading skills when applying to study in English. Delivered and marked by computer, it reports on a scale between 10 and 90.

Academic Requirements

You need the following GPA score:

Required score: 3

Applicants for graduate programs must have the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA equivalent to 3 on a US 4.0 grading scale. Admitted applicants typically have an undergraduate GPA of or better on a 4.0 scale. No exam grade should be lower than 4.5 (European grade scale) or D (American grade scale).

Your GPA (Grade Point Average) is calculated using the grades that you received in each course, and is determined by the points assigned to each grade (e.g. for the US grading scale from A-F).

General Requirements

Admission requirements:
  • Statement of purpose
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Official transcripts
  • A copy of the name page of your passport
  • A completed Affidavit of Support and supporting financial documents 

Tuition Fee

  • International

    29443 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 29443 USD per year and a duration of 48 months.
  • National

    29443 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 29443 USD per year and a duration of 48 months.
  • In-State

    12528 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 12528 USD per year and a duration of 48 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

Living costs for Baton Rouge

  • 900 - 1400 USD/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.


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