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Botany/Plant Biology


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What to Expect

The hands-on training that's part of many botany programs can give students a good idea of whether they want to go into research or choose a different career path.

"I think it's important to make younger students realize that botany is a lot more than just looking at plants and trying to classify them," says Mary Murphy. She took a master's degree in botany.

Several university programs have a component that gives students the chance to get some hands-on experience. Many students say these programs are the key reason they decided to pursue studies at a certain school.

"While our [graduate] department doesn't have a co-op program, we do have fourth-year courses that consist of a research project done under the supervision of a faculty member, in their lab," says Murphy.

"These projects are either one or two semesters in duration. [They] really give the students the opportunity to experience research first-hand."

Theresa Brimner did an undergraduate degree in environmental science and a master's in botany. Her university was affiliated with an agricultural college. Such affiliations are sometimes good for students, Brimner says. That's because they add resources to the university.

"The botany, crop science and environmental biology departments work together to provide the resources needed for successful undergraduate and graduate careers," Brimner says.

"At the undergraduate level, there are several co-op programs available that allow students to work in industry and gain valuable experience."

How to Prepare

Brimner has a little advice about what courses high school students should take to get ready for this program.

"Since most universities begin any science program with a general science schedule for the first year of studies, I recommend that high school students should take several science and math courses -- especially physics and calculus."

Take as much biology as possible, she adds. Environmental science and geography courses are also a good idea.


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