The field of plant biology, which encompasses botany and plant pathology, involves the study of plants at levels of organization ranging from the molecular to the global ecosystem. Plant scientists in the 21st century will be called upon to provide information useful for producing food, fiber and medicine for an increasing population and for increasing our understanding of the diversity of plant and ecological systems and their interactions with humans. Students studying botany and plant pathology at OSU receive the basic science background necessary for such contributions, and may choose to focus in a particular area within plant science.

The undergraduate program in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology is designed for students who wish to emphasize studies in plant biology and receive a B.S. degree in botany. Students may also have an undergraduate major in biology and emphasize botany courses in their upper division work.

Completion of the undergraduate curriculum can qualify students for graduate work in various areas of plant biology and plant pathology, and for positions in state and federal agencies and industries concerned with plants and their products.

It is desirable that prospective botany majors obtain a strong background in the biological and physical sciences at the high school level. Specifically recommended are a minimum of three years of high school mathematics, including algebra, geometry, and some exposure to trigonometry; one year of chemistry; one year of biology; one year of physics and courses designed to develop computer and writing skills. Students without an adequate background in mathematics and science can make up these deficiencies early in their college career.

Learning Outcomes: 
  • Communicate scientific concepts, experimental results and analytical arguments clearly and concisely verbally and in writing.
  • Apply scientific methods, reasoning and appropriate mathematics to describe, explain and understand biological systems.
  • Demonstrate understanding of five core concepts in biology: evolution; pathways and transformations of energy and matter; information flow, exchange, and storage; structure and function; and biological systems.
  • Use interdisciplinary approaches (applying chemistry and quantitative skills) to work on biological problems.
  • Ecosystems are defined by complex networks of interactions that determine energy flow, and the cycling of water, carbon, nitrogen, and minerals.
  • Identify and analyze the anatomical and morphological features of plants and plant structures as they enable plant function and reveal plant evolutionary histories.
  • Recognize and describe the features of vascular plant groups using standard botanical terminology. Interpret the evolutionary and phylogenetic relationships of plants by evaluating analytical and experimental tools used to understand organismal diversity.
  • Incorporate information from physiology, genetics, developmental biology, biochemistry and genomics to explain how plants integrate water ‐ relations, mineral and organic nutrition, solute transport, respiration and photosynthesis, hormonal and environmental signals to regulate the processes of growth and reproduction.
  • Describe and implement laboratory methods typically used in genome ‐ enabled plant molecular and cellular biology studies
Career Paths: 
  • applied to Graduate School (54%), e.g Masters programs in Botany and Plant Pathology, Crop and Soil Science, Horticulture, Mycology, Landscape Architecture, Environmental Science, Education
  • worked in a government position (17%), e.g. US Forest Service, US Geological Survey, Oregon Department of Agriculture, US Bureau of Land Management, US Natural Resources Conservation Service (some of these positions are seasonal)
  • worked in non-profit organization, or private sector (13%), e.g field botanist for private contractor, technician for scientific research company
  • worked in educational institution (11%), e.g, research technician at a College or University
  • taken courses as a post-baccalaureate student (6%)
Learn more: 

For more information, contact Marc Curtis, advisor for Botany.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
Department of Botany and Plant Pathology
Class Location: 
Corvallis Campus