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Botany is also known as plant biology and is broadly defined as the study of plants. Individuals working in this field research the physiology and biology of plant species, researching their behavior, their environmental conditions, and any other factors necessary to better understand a given species of plant. Botanists work in both outdoor and laboratory settings and may also be responsible for growing samples to perform key research and testing.
Plants can include a wide variety of species that include giant redwood trees, ferns, moss, lichen, fungi, flowering plants, and conifers. In the last decade, scientists have generally agreed that bacteria and algae are part of their own classification but are still taught in most botany programs nonetheless.
Botanists at Work
Do botanists effect unrelated industries such as politics, environmental science, and construction? While it may be hard to link botanists to indirect industries, a botany professional does indeed play a significant part in shaping policy, engineering advancements in building materials, and sustainability.
The byproduct of significant research discovered by botanists has lead to a number of improvements in our lives that you may not be aware cognizant about. For example, botanists have been directly or indirectly involved in the improvement or enhancement of: building materials, plant products, sustainability techniques, food supply, plant supply, agriculture, medicines, pollution reduction, legislation, ecology protection, public park management, forest protection, and wilderness management.
Given the broad nature of botany, the opportunity to specialize is ever-increasing versus being a generalist with a little knowledge in several areas. If you are considering becoming a botanist, the following list of specialties in botany may be a viable option for your career.
|Viticulture & Oenology||Natural Resource Management|
Best Botany Degrees
There are a number of degree options for botanists and those seeking to enter the field of botany. Degree programs from accredited colleges and universities include online bachelor’s degrees, online master’s degrees, and online doctoral degrees in botany along with mirror programs for traditional classroom programs. In addition, many research universities have dual degree programs or plant biology concentrations such as entomology or sustainable & green studies.
Botany Bachelor Degree
A bachelor’s degree in botany is a 4-year program conferred as a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA). The program is a combination of liberal arts classes such as creative writing, English composition, human philosophy, and speech communication along with core science classes in botany.
Science classes such as ecology, physiology, structural botany, conservation, and ethnobotany are designed to provide students with the basics of botany and prepare them for various jobs after earning a degree as a botanist.
Botany Master’s Degree
The master’s degree program in botany is conferred as a Master of Science (MS) and will take students 2-3 years of full-time matriculation to complete. Graduate students will be encouraged to pick an area of specialization that may include tracks such as: ecology, conservation, ethnobotany, evolution, plant structure, systematics, plant function, and marine botany.
A large number of accredited university program will provide two distinct tracks for students to pursue within the master degree program. One track is the choice to complete thesis project under the supervision of a department chair or approved botanist.
The other track a student may elect to follow is the ability to bypass the thesis by taking additional approved departmental credits. One track may not necessarily be easier than the other but come down to student predilection combined with school resources.
Botany Doctoral Degree
The doctoral degree in botany is conferred as a PhD program and is known as a terminal degree as there are no additional degrees beyond the doctoral degree. PhD programs in botany are four to six year programs intended for students performing research or teaching in a school, conservation agency, government entity, corporate setting, or consulting boutique.
Dissertation projects are typically required to be board-approved and substantially contribute to your specialized field in botany. Students that pursue a PhD in botany will be equipped to step into a research role with a private or public institution, teach at a college, or with a government agency to make an impact in the field of botany.
Top Online Botany Degree
Due to the overwhelming requests, we gathered key resources for online degrees. Distance learning programs have been flourishing at a record pace. In fact, there are over 23,000 online degree programs from over 2,400 accredited universities? Given the rapid ascent, earning a botany degree online may well be worth considering. After reviewing our online resources, please visit our proprietary matching portal for online colleges and online degrees.
- Is an Online College or Traditional College Setting Best for You?
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Botanical Science Curriculum
Students studying botany tend to pursue bachelor’s degrees which open up most entry level positions in the field. Botany utilizes multiple disciplines and requires students to be familiar with research methodologies in order to be able to successfully perform the functions attributed to a botanist.
Students will study over the course of four years, becoming familiar with identification processes, attributes, unique properties and any other interests a given species and sample may hold. A curriculum in botany may include:
- Cellular & Molecular Biology
- Genetics & Genomics
- Agricultural Science & Agronomy
- Research & Statistics
- Horticultural Science
- Plant Physiology
Schools that offer botany programs should have up to date facilities that allow for experimentation, research and practical experience. Laboratory work is a cornerstone of the field, and schools that have active programs, labs, and possible internships make for ideal candidates when considering which schools to apply to. Contacting schools to see what opportunities are available will assist in a students final decision as well.
Employment in Botany
Botanists may find employment in a variety of fields, including research positions, horticulture, agriculture, sustainability careers, and other similar fields. Individuals with a degree in botany should be able to readily find employment in both rural and metro areas.
Individuals in research positions may be responsible for the acquisition and discovery of new plant species, or may work in a school or lab setting to research such discoveries in more depth. The growth of botany jobs is expected to increase over the next decade as interest in plants as they relate medicinal use continues to increase.
According to the salary data aggregation company Payscale, individuals with a degree in this field can expect an above average salary. In fact, a botanist salary averages $49,284 according to their survey but can swell to in excess of $110,000 in total annual compensation depending on location, entity, experience, and opportunity.
Additional Botany Resources
For further industry insights and career advice, organizations such as the Botanical Society of America (BSA) offer unique membership opportunities. As a member, you have the opportunity to review leading-edge research, network with the brightest in the field, and attend workshops to help your chosen area of specialty in the field of botany. Also, students may be interested in joining the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) given their full range of professional opportunities and advocacy groups.
Lastly, the plant physiology annual review is available online for students to watch Joe Berry (Carnegie Department of Global Ecology), Christopher Field, Barry Osmond (former Director at Australian National University), and Harold Mooney (Stanford University) as they discuss relevant trend in botany and plant science.