How to Apply to the Graduate Program

Finding a Major Advisor

The most critical step of the admissions process is finding a faculty member who is willing to accept you as a student and serve as your major advisor. A sponsoring major advisor is a requirement for admission into the Horticulture Graduate Program. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to directly contact potential advisors to learn about available graduate research opportunities and funding prior to applying to the program. Our graduate faculty have varied expertise and research interests spanning a range of disciplines, taxa, and approaches related to horticulture. The links on our graduate faculty page will take you to each of their more detailed research and program webpages. You should explore these pages to help identify faculty whose interests and expertise align well with your interests and goals. Note that our graduate faculty are a subset of the whole Horticulture faculty; graduate faculty can advise graduate students.

When communicating with faculty, you should craft a brief but individualized email that explains why you are interested in working with that particular faculty member. Briefly describe your own interests and career goals, as well as any relevant experience or notable accomplishments. Make sure to mention any financial support you may have such as scholarships or fellowships. It is also helpful to include a CV or resume as part of your correspondence. This blog post provides some more detailed advice on how to craft an effective inquiry letter. Note the author is not affiliated with OSU.

You do not need to find a committed major advisor before applying. All applications are made available to our graduate faculty for review. During the online application, you will be asked to identify potential faculty with whom you would like to work, and this interest will be highlighted when your application is distributed for review. Also, keep in mind that even if your initial inquiries with faculty members are discouraging, it can still be advantageous to submit a formal application. Sometimes the availability of funding changes or a faculty member that you may not have initially considered can express an interest in your application.

How to Apply

First, review the general graduate admissions process. Then complete the online Graduate School Application. The online application portal will lead you through the process of creating and submitting an application packet to the Horticulture Graduate Program. A complete application packet includes the following:

  1. Academic Records/Transcripts
  2. Three Letters of Reference
  3. A 1-2 page statement that outlines your research and professional interests, as well as your interest in the OSU Horticulture Graduate Program. Include information on specific major advisors with whom you would like to work or with whom you have corresponded.
  4. A questionnaire (part of the online application)

International applicants have additional requirements. These include:

  1. Financial Documentation
  2. TOEFL/IELTS Scores (if applicable)

Standardized Test Scores


We do not require GRE test scores. You are free to submit GRE test scores if you think they add something of value to our review.


All international applicants and applicants that did not receive a degree in the U.S. (or other specified English speaking country) must meet these English language proficiency requirements for admission. The ETS institution code for OSU is 4586. See the official TOEFL website or official IELTS website for more information on these exams.

Supplemental Information

You are welcome to submit optional supplemental information that may assist in evaluating your application. This could include a curriculum vitae/resume, reprints of publications, or GRE scores. Submit these documents as part of the online application.

Submission Dates

We accept applications at any time of the year, and accepted students can enroll during any academic term. However, we highly recommend that you start the application process early. The following are suggested guidelines for when to apply:

Desired Term for Admission Suggested Application Deadline
Fall Term (September) March 1
Winter Term (January) June 1
Spring Term (March) September 1
Summer Term (June) December 1

How Admissions Decisions Are Made

Applications are initially reviewed by the Chair of the Graduate Program. If the applicant meets the minimum academic standards established by OSU, the file is offered for review by the Horticulture graduate faculty. Admission decisions are primarily made by individual faculty after reviewing application packets. An applicant is not accepted unless a member of the graduate faculty agrees to serve as the major advisor.


Interested faculty may contact you directly to schedule an interview, to ask additional questions about your application, or to discuss the nature of a graduate opportunity in their program.


An informal offer of admission will typically be communicated directly by faculty members. At that time faculty will discuss details of their offer including the nature of potential projects and any offers of funding such as a research assistantship. A recommendation for admission is then forwarded to the Graduate School. Formal admission decisions are made by the Graduate School, which sends official notification of acceptance or rejection.


Contact Us

For more information, please contact:

Elaine Clark
Oregon State University
4017 ALS Building
Corvallis, OR 97331-3002
Phone: (541) 737-5477
Fax: (541) 737-3479

John Lambrinos
Director of Graduate Programs
4137 Ag Life Sciences Bldg
Corvallis, OR 97331-3002
Phone: (541) 737-3484