Plant Sciences – Turfgrass Science and Management Concentration Major Guide for 2011-2012

What is Plant Sciences – Turfgrass Science and Management Concentration

Turfgrass Science and Management combines science, art and creativity to develop and maintain a natural surface that is aesthetically pleasing and sturdy enough to play on. Turf is used for many sports, played for fun or health, or played professionally: football, baseball, soccer, golf, and other sports. Most turf is used in home lawn situations for looks and recreation. The professional turfgrass manager wears many hats. He or she manages the watering, mowing and nutrition for growing grass, and supervises crews to perform these tasks. Challenges involve providing a beautiful surface for sports fans while maintaining a safe and consistent playing surface for athletes. Turfgrasses are also important plants for environmental remediation and health; they prevent erosion, inhibit runoff, remove pollutants and filter groundwater. Turf can also improve property values substantially.

Career Opportunities in Plant Sciences – Turfgrass Science and Management Concentration

Most graduates with a bachelor’s degree in turfgrass become golf course superintendents and athletic field managers. Other opportunities include sales, sod farms and professional lawn care companies. For example, recent graduates from our program have gone to work for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers, and for the University of Oregon and University of Virginia, maintaining all of the university athletic fields. Several others work on Golf Digest’s Top 100 Golf Courses. Please see for many more examples. Currently, there are more jobs than there are turf graduates to fill them.

Salary Trends in Plant Sciences – Turfgrass Science and Management Concentration

Salaries for turfgrass graduates depend on level of experience and region of the country. Typically, graduates first obtain jobs as assistant superintendents of golf courses with salaries in the range of $28,000 – $45,000. Work ethic and knowledge gained from your education often allow rapid advancement in your career path. Public, resort and private golf course superintendents and other sports turf managers usually obtain attractive benefit and retirement packages

High School Preparation

High school students should follow a college preparatory curriculum. Take your school’s recommended courses in math, science, English, and foreign language. Summer experience on an athletic field or with a lawn company is a definite plus. Explore turfgrass associations and their websites, such as and

How to Major in Plant Sciences – Turfgrass Science and Management Concentration

The Turfgrass Science and Management concentration at UT is in the Department of Plant Sciences ( Our faculty and students enjoy talking with prospective students. A faculty member (or a student, if you prefer) will be happy to guide you through our turf facilities and answer your questions about the department. It is important to declare the Turf concentration early (preferably at or before enrollment), to avoid having to make up specific required courses. There are provisions for elective courses to be taken in specific subject areas at various stages of your degree program. Students consult with their faculty advisor each semester about their interests, appropriate classes and employment needs.

Requirements for Plant Sciences – Turfgrass Science and Management Concentration

The Turfgrass Science and Management curriculum builds upon the university-wide general education requirements with critical courses in botany and soils, and adds a set of required departmental courses. Students are able to customize their program by selecting electives. Students are trained to work knowledgeably in general turf culture: soil preparation, irrigation, pest control, fertilization. Students are encouraged to earn a minor degree in a supportive field, such as business or environmental science, to further enhance their academic training and professional competitiveness. While firmly grounding students in scientific knowledge and skills, the curriculum emphasizes critical thinking and creative activity.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

An internship is a structured 16-18 week work session, usually beginning in April after completing our department’s Spring Turf Block in your junior year. All students in the Turf concentration are required to complete a 3 credit-hour internship. The internship allows you to apply what you have learned in the classroom to real-life situations while being mentored by a trained professional. Our turf students are employed in paid full-time positions by major league baseball, professional football, and highly esteemed golf courses. Internships can be local but great opportunities exist to work in various regions of the country or even abroad. Many internships provide housing and meals. Your advisor will assist in identifying internship opportunities.

Highlights of Plant Sciences – Turfgrass Science and Management Concentration

These are some additional reasons to consider the Turf Program at UT:

  • A low student: professor ratio. This means more one-on-one time with professors for academic counseling and assistance with course work.
  • Excellent scholarship opportunities. Turf students are eligible for scholarship money from the University and the College as well as state and national organizations.
  • A student club offering professional development, hands-on experience and trips to regional and national conventions.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

Students are encouraged to participate in faculty-led study abroad programs sponsored by CASNR, which include Thailand and Jamaica. Other UT faculty-led and semester abroad programs are offered through the Center for International Education. CASNR does offer some scholarships for CASNR students participating in study abroad programs. Students, faculty and staff participate in the annual Unity through Diversity Dinner held each fall. Some students select a minor in Modern Foreign Languages and Literature.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Sample Curriculum

Freshman Year Credit Hours
1 Arts and Humanities Elective* 3
Chemistry 100* and 110*, or 120* and 130* 8
1 Cultures and Civilizations Elective* 3
English 101*, 102* 6
Mathematics 123* and 125*, or 151* and 152* 6
1,2 Social Sciences Elective* 3-6
 Critical Courses: BIOL 111-0112; ENGL 101-102
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Agriculture and Natural Resources 290 3
Biology 111*, 112* 8
Communication Studies 210* or 240* 3
2 Economics Elective* 3-4
Environmental and Soil Sciences 210 4
Plant Sciences 240, 241 4
Select from Plant Sciences 210, 220, 280, or 290 3
Unrestricted Electives 2-3
Critical Courses: PLSC 210, 220 or 221, 240; CMST 210 or 240
Junior Year Credit Hours
1 Cultures and Civilizations Elective* 3
Select from Plant Sciences 210, 220, 280, 290 or 291 3
Plant Sciences 330, 331, 341, 343, 348, 442, and 457-458 13
Technical Electives 3
Unrestricted Electives
(Summer) Plant Sciences 492 3
Critical Courses: CHEM 120; AGNR 290
Senior Year Credit Hours
1 Arts and Humanities Elective* 3
Biology 250 or Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology 321 4
Entomology and Plant Pathology 313 3
Environmental and Soil Sciences 334 3
Select from Plant Sciences 353, 360, 410, 421, 427, 429, 430, 434, 435, 436, 437, 446, 448*, 449, 451, 461, 469, or 494 6
Plant Sciences 441, 470 5
Technical Electives 4-5

* Meets University General Education Requirement.
1 Choose from the University General Education lists. Selection should be made in conference with academic advisor.
2 Economics 201 (4) Principles of Economics satisfies the University General Education-Social Science requirement and the major requirement for economics. If the student transfers Economics LD for 3 credits, it will satisfy the major requirement for economics but will not satisfy the General Education-Social Science requirement. In these cases, the student should take two courses from the approved General Education-Social Sciences list. Students must meet the University General Education Requirement Communicating through Writing by selecting a course with a (WC) designation. This course may be in the major or from another discipline.
Plant Sciences 448 satisfies the Communicating through Writing requirement.

For More Information

Department of Plant Sciences
2431 Joe Johnson Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4561
Phone: (865) 974-7324



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.