North American Horticulture Graduate Program Survey: Demographics, Policies, Finances, and Metrics

Thursday, July 25, 2013: 9:45 AM
Desert Salon 13-14 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
R. Daniel Lineberger , Department of Horticultural Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Tim D. Davis , Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
David W. Reed , Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
A comprehensive survey of American and Canadian university departments/colleges was conducted resulting in responses from twenty seven programs reporting graduate degrees in the field of Horticulture at the masters or doctoral level.  Units were surveyed regarding the types of degrees offered, admissions policies, demographic characteristics of the students, financial assistance provided to students, faculty ranks and salaries, and metrics by which the programs were evaluated.  About 80% of the programs resided in 1862 land grant institutions with the remainder housed in other state or provincial institutions.  Thirty eight percent of reporting land grant programs existed as stand-alone Horticulture departments, whereas Horticulture programs were combined with other disciplines in the remainder. Admissions criteria consisting of applicants’ prior grade point ratios (averages), verbal and quantitative GRE scores, letters of reference, statements of purpose or essays and, for international students, TOEFL or similar English language competency assessment scores were typically required. Participation in distance programs was low, but growing.  Fifty-five percent of the programs permitted direct enrollment in PhD programs without a prior Masters degree.  On average, 84.3% of graduate students at 1862 land grant schools received institutional support, while only 66.1% at non-land grant schools received institutional support.  Most schools offered some sort of tuition reduction to those students on assistantships/fellowships and offered available health insurance. Payment of fees was rare and the level of stipends provided varied substantially among programs.  Mean international student enrollment was 34.8% of students at 1862 land grant schools, but was only 19.4% at non-land grant institutions.  Most graduate students at 1862 land grant schools were non-Hispanic White (63.2%) with Hispanic (6.8%), Black (3.0%), Asian (14.0%), Indian/Pakistani (4.9%), Native American (0.3%), and other (6.1%) reported as minority constituents.  Professors (46.7%) and Associate Professors (28.3%) dominated the faculty ranks while Assistant Professors (19.3%) and lecturers/instructors (5.7%) constituted a much smaller portion of the faculty. Faculty salaries varied tremendously among institutions, especially for senior faculty.  Doctoral student enrollment and total graduate enrollment were the top metrics used to evaluate many graduate programs, while student authored peer-reviewed publications, scientific presentations and awards were of secondary importance. Summary data on student remuneration and faculty salaries will be discussed.
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