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Plant Health Management

Degree: BS

Campus: Columbus

College: Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Graduates with expertise in plant health management are essential to address some of the greatest challenges to food security and the environment: pests, diseases and weeds. The world’s growing population needs a safe, nutritious and affordable food supply. Agricultural production must adapt to more sustainable and environmentally compatible methods. Invasive species, a problem exacerbated by international travel and trade, can devastate crops, forests and landscapes. 

The plant health management major is an excellent choice for students interested in becoming practitioners of plant health: crop advisers, Extension educators, growers, agriculture consultants, production managers, inspectors, diagnosticians, regulatory professionals, and landscape and turf managers.

Admitted students who indicate plant health management as a major on their applications are directly enrolled into the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and each student is assigned a faculty advisor to assist in program planning and provide academic consultation. 

Plant health management is an interdisciplinary major in the Departments of Plant Pathology and Entomology. The curriculum integrates several key disciplines, including fundamentals of biology and in-depth studies in horticulture; plant, weed and soil science; entomology (the study of insects); and plant pathology (the study of plant disease). 

All students majoring in plant health management take a specified set of required courses in plant pathology, entomology, horticulture, plant physiology and weed science. Students choose additional courses (8–12 credit hours) from an approved list of electives in biochemistry, chemistry, biology, entomology, horticulture, microbiology, molecular genetics, plant pathology and soil science. 

The curriculum also requires completion of a minor (12–15 credit hours). Students may select from over 100 minors at Ohio State, although common minors declared by plant health management majors include environmental science, sustainable agriculture, agribusiness, agronomy, landscape design and management, turfgrass management, and food safety. 

Flexibility in the curriculum allows students to pursue interests in commodities such as agronomic crops, turfgrass and ornamentals, fruits, vegetables, or forests and natural ecosystems. 

Students must complete an internship as part of the plant health management degree, which can range from work experience in industry to research in a university laboratory. Faculty advisors and academic staff can help students find internships that complement their career goals and interests. 

Many plant health management students become engaged in undergraduate research with faculty on both the Columbus and Wooster campuses. A research thesis option is available to any student with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Students who complete a research thesis and fulfill specified requirements can graduate with research distinction.

Plant pathology and entomology clubs provide unique opportunities to make the university “smaller” and allow students to interact with others that share common interests.

Professionals trained in plant health management are needed to address issues pertaining to food security, agricultural chemicals, food safety, genetically modified crops, organic agriculture, renewable resources and biobased technologies.

Governmental agencies and private sector industries need highly trained professionals to tackle challenges specific to environmental protection, agricultural production, sales and service, and landscape management.

Plant production industries such as agronomic crops, ornamentals and landscape, turfgrass, fruits, and vegetables need broad expertise in plant health management.

All states employ extension agents and specialists to provide growers and plant health professionals with up-to-date plant health resources.

Jobs in different areas are available to plant health management graduates. Depending on the level of education and prior job experiences, annual starting salaries range from $25,000 to $35,000.

Dr. Thomas K. Mitchell
Department of Plant Pathology
201 Kottman Hall 
2021 Coffey Road
Columbus, OH 43210

Dr. David Shetlar
Department of Entomology
2 Rothenbuhler Bee Lab 
2501 Carmack Road
Columbus, OH 43210

Interested in a career in the STEM fields?

Check out the STEM Pathway to discover the many majors Ohio State offers that can lead to a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.