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Undergraduate Programs

Why Study Plants?

Plants play crucial roles in human societies and ecosystems across the globe.  Plants provide us with oxygen, food, medicine, fiber for clothing and shelter. They are critical components in ecosystems.  As a consequence, the knowledge of plant biology is essential to confront 21st century problems of global importance: hunger, energy supply, health, resource sustainability, climate change, and environmental stewardship.

Majoring in Botany

Scoring rice florets for sample collectionStudents majoring in Botany study the fundamental biology of plants and fungi from molecular and cellular to the global ecosystem level.   The curriculum includes core classes in plant structure, systematics, ecology, and physiology, along with courses in biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics.  Students also learn how to apply their knowledge to current issues and problems of in food production, conservation, and healthy ecosystems.

Undergraduate botany students can follow a general curriculum in plant and fungal biology or choose an area of concentration:

  • Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
  • Molecular, Cellular and Genomic Biology
  • Plant Health

The courses and curriculum are described in our Undergraduate Brochure 

Learning by Experience

Botany students earn upper-division credit and great job skills by putting their knowledge to work in undergraduate research projects and internships at OSU and off-campus.  Learn more about these activities and research scholarships here, and see some examples and get advice from our Botany alumni.

BOT453/553 small grains field trip

What can I do with a degree in Botany?

A botany degree is applicable to many types of careers.  Some plant biologists work primarily outdoors, in forests, parklands, or fields.  Others work in laboratories, museums, in botanical gardens, or in industry.  Graduates go into fields as diverse as biotechnology, environmental monitoring and protection, and agriculture.  More than half of Botany students go on to graduate studies in natural science, agriculture, environmental sciences, and education.

Here are some examples of what plant scientists do:

Plant Pathologists specialize in diagnosis, treatment and management of plant diseases in forests, crops, and landscape plants.  They are employed by the agricultural industry, international institutes, state and federal agencies, colleges and universities, or as private consultants.

Plant Ecologists do many kinds of work.  They conduct field surveys and technical work researching ecological issues, such measuring the environmental impact of human activities and climate change.  They develop and carry out management plans to mitigate environmental problems and conserve species and ecosystems.  They educate students and the general public on how to preserve diversity and create sustainable communities.  They are employed by private industry, ecological consulting companies, state and federal agencies that oversee public lands and resources, and educational institutions.

Plant Evolutionary Biologists and Taxonomists explore the diversity and origin of plant species across the globe.  They are employed by museums, botanical gardens, pharmaceutical companies, state and federal agencies, international institutions, and colleges and universities.

Plant Physiologists and Molecular Biologists work in laboratories in the agriculture and biotechnology industry, in colleges and universities, and in government agencies, like the USDA, EPA and DOE.  They do research on many aspects of plant function, and how plant genetic diversity contributes to improve crop performance, nutrition, and disease resistance.

How do I prepare?  How do I apply?

Students enter the BS degree program in Botany in three different ways.  Choose the one that applies to you for information on preparation and applying. 

You are always welcome to contact our Head Advisor, Richard Halse, with any questions ((541)737-5297).