Viticulture or Applied Plant Science with options in Landscape Horticulture or Commercial Horticulture Operations - Benton Harbor, Michigan

Welcome! This site is intended to provide you with answers to the most commonly asked questions students have as they work toward completing the one of the Certificate options, either in Viticulture or in the Applied Plant Science Program, with options in Commercial Horticulture Operations or Landscape Horticulture.

Photo of a plant with purple flowersFounded in 1894, the MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology delivers innovative, educational programs that develop career-ready graduates through intensive, practical learning and skill enhancement in agricultural, environmental, and applied technologies. In that tradition the Applied Plant Science program in Traverse City, Michigan was started in 1995. Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor has joined this tradition and started offering the Viticulture and Applied Plant Science programs in fall of 2010.

The MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology, seeks to prepare students for dynamic careers in a changing world. It's Certificate programs vary in length, are highly respected statewide and nationally.


 Program Description

The Applied Plant Science program includes course work taught by faculty members from Lake Michigan College and Michigan State University. The degree and certificate programs contain specialty and general education course requirements which may vary some depending on area of study and community college associate degree requirements.

The Southwest Michigan Applied Plant Science program offers this same type of specialized curriculum as the campus programs. It differs from the on-campus programs in some significant ways. First, it combines MSU courses, with community college courses. Student may simultaneously earn both an MSU Certificate and a community college Associate degree. Second, it brings MSU courses to you without the need move to East Lansing.

Two or three plant science courses are offer each Fall and Spring semester in Benton Harbor and are held in the evening at Lake Michigan College. Some classes are offered by two-way interactive television system that connects you to MSU East Lansing campus faculty. Class meets in a special distance learning classroom which has interactive TV technology, there you can see, hear and talk to your instructor. Your instructor is able to answer your questions and speak to you directly. Other classes are taught, on-site by MSU faculty and additional highly qualified and experienced individuals. You may also connect to campus resources by computer and the Internet from home, work, and local libraries. Students have access to e-mail, the Internet and library resources through their MSU personal student accounts.

Program of Study

Employment and career opportunities continue to expand for those who have an educational preparation in applied plant science. The Applied Plant Science Program brings together the world-acclaimed expertise of Michigan State University's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the "close to home" learning resources of the outstanding Lake Michigan College partner. The Applied Plant Science Program prepares graduates for a wide range of employment and career choices in the 'green industries'. Each student receives personal one-on-one help in selecting her/his program of study (including a work place internship) as part of their Michigan State University, Institute of Agricultural Technology  certificate.

Career Outlook & Earnings

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment opportunities in the plant science field are excellent, with more job openings than job seekers. Moreover, employment in this field is expected to grow (between 14-20%) for all occupations through the year 2016 in response to the increasing demand for both products and services by commercial producers, landscape contractors, turf managers and the general public.

Occupational Skills and Personal Attributes

Those who wish to pursue employment and careers in the plant sciences should strive to have: 

  • visible and contagious energy level
  • good judgment, common sense as well as an ability to carry out projects and work independently
  • an ability to work in teams, get along with fellow employees/staff members
  • a commitment to quality and customer service
  • good communication skills - written and verbal
  • good computer and math skills
  • an appreciation for our natural environment

Degree and Certificate Options and Choices

The Southwest Michigan Applied Plant Science program meets your needs by offering you a choice of course "packages". Only complete the requirements for an MSU Certificate, or take the full complement of courses and earn a community college Associate degree. 

The community college Associates Degree requires a few more credit hours in addition to the MSU's Institute of Agricultural Technology  Certificate requirements. These additional courses include, English, math, and science classes. We encourage you to complete these degree requirements, especially, if you are interested in owning your own business or plan to continue your education at a four-year university.

Students Landscaping

General Education Course Requirements for Applied Plant Science, all concentrations

Click here to download a PDF with additional information / printable course list

Course Number Course Title Credits
HRT 215 Landscape Industries Seminar MSU 1
PLP 200 Plant Diseases and Their Pathogens MSU 3
ENT 110 Applied Entomology of Economic Plants
CSS 210 Fundamentals of Soil Science MSU 3
HRT 213 Landscape Maintenance MSU 2
HRT 218 Landscape Irrigation MSU 3
ESA 225 Land & Enviromental Issues in Law and Policy MSU 3
AT 293 Professional Internship Agricultural Technology MSU 3 (min.)
BIOL 112
Principles of Biology II
CHEM 104 Fundamentals of General, Organic and Biochemistry
Principles of Macroeconomics LMC 3
CIS 100 Introduction to Computer Literacy LMC 3
ENGL 101
English Composition LMC 4
MATH 122
Intermediate Algebra LMC 4
    40 Credits 
Applied Plant Science With Concentration in Commerical Horticulture Operations
Click here for a printable MSU course list
Choose a minimum of 9 credits from the list below:
HRT 205
Plant Mineral Nutrition
HRT 208 Pruning and Training Systems in Horticulture MSU 3
HRT 221 Greenhouse Structures and Management MSU 3
HRT 242 Passive Solar Greenhouses for Protected Cultivation MSU 1
HRT 251 Organic Farming Principles and Practices MSU 3
HRT 253 Compost Use and Production MSU 1
HRT 332 Tree Fruit Production and Management MSU 2
HRT 335 Berry Crop Production and Management MSU 1
HRT 341 Vegetable Production and Management MSU 3

Applied Plant Science
With Concentration in Landscape Horticulture
Click here for a printable MSU course list
HRT 211 Landscape Plants I MSU 3
HRT 212 Landscape Plants II MSU 3
HRT 111 Landscape Design MSU 3
General Educational Requirements for Viticulture Program Click here for a printable MSU course list
ENT 110 Applied Entomology of Economic Plants MSU 3
PLP 200 Plant Diseases and Their Pathogens MSU 3
ESA 225 Land and Enviromental Issues in Law and Policy MSU 3
HRT 334 Current Issues in Viticulture and Enology MSU 3
HRT 432 Principles and Practices of Grape Production I MSU 1
BUSA 203 Principles of Economics (Macro) LMC 3
ENGL 101 English Composition LMC 3
BIOL 112 Principles of Biology II LMC 4
CHEM 104 Fundamentals of General, Organic and Biochemistry LMC 4
CIS 100 Introduction to Computer Literacy LMC 3
MATH 122 Intermediate Algebra LMC 3
Viticulture Program Required Courses from VESTA (Viticulture and Enolgy Science and Technology Alliance) Click here for a printable MSU course list
Course Number Course Title Credits
VIN 111 Introduction to Viticulture and Vineyard Establishment VESTA 3
VIN 113 Winter Viticulture Technology VESTA 2
VIN 114 Spring Viticulture Technology VESTA 2
VIN 115 Summer and Fall Viticulture Technology VESTA 2
VIN 190 Vineyard Safety VESTA 1
VIN 293 Soils for Viticulture VESTA 3
13 Credits
VESTA Electives Choose 1 Course
VIN 146 Introduction to Enology VESTA 3
VIN 266 Sensory Evaluation VESTA 3
3 Credits

MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology Certificate in Applied Plant Science - minimum 30 MSU credits required; 51 total credits from both MSU and LMC.

MSU Institue of Agricultural Technology Certificate in Viticulture - minimum 16 MSU credits required with a total of 53 credits from all partners.

Student taking a picture of orange flowers


*This is a dual-enrollment program. Students must be enrolled in both MSU's Institute of Agriculture Technology and Lake Michigan College. Tuition rates at LMC apply for their courses; MSU tuition rates apply to MSU courses. Tuition, fees and course information / schedules subject to change. For current MSU and Community College tuition and fees check their current web-sites.

Applying to MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology

Complete an application for admission to the IAT, including a $50 application fee, and mail it to the Institute of Agricultural Technology, at the East Lansing address on the form. You'll also have to contact your high school and/or other post-secondary institution to request they send an official transcript to the Institute of Agricultural Technology at MSU. You'll receive a student number so you can register for classes. There's no need to ever come to East Lansing! And remember, you'll have the assistance of an academic advisor from MSU who is a professional horticulturist and can advise you in choosing courses and making career decisions.

Please complete your MSU application for admission by July 1 for the fall semester or by November 1 for spring semester admission. Students who wish to apply after the deadline should contact the program coordinator.

Transferring Previous College Credits to MSU

You may be able to transfer credits earned from previous Colleges or Universities you have attended, to help satisfy some of the Program course requirements. Have official transcripts mailed from previous colleges to Institute of Agricultural Technology, for evaluation when you apply for admission. Courses that cover similar content will be accepted in transfer if the grade received was a C (2.0) or better. Up to 24 transfer credits may be applied toward completion of the MSU Certificate. Community college courses take as part of the required course work for the MSU Certificate must have a grade of 2.0 or higher to be accepted.

Financial Aid

The MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology students are eligible for financial aid. The off-campus program students in Southwest Michigan apply for financial aid through the community college partner, Lake Michigan College.

Veterans Education

The programs offered by the Institute of Agricultural Technology are approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs as Cooperative Veterans Training Programs. Under some Chapters of Title 38, U.S. Code, veterans may receive educational benefits. Veterans planning to enroll should contact the Veterans Certification Section of the Office of the Registrar to determine their eligibility.

A student worker watering the flowers

Michigan Works

Students in Institute of Agricultural Technology are eligible for sponsorship under the guidelines of the Michigan Works Program. Students must arrange sponsorship with the appropriate Michigan Works office.


Scholarships are provided by industry groups and individual business firms and are awarded to students who have demonstrated superior scholastic ability or an outstanding work record.


The MSU Applied Plant Science Program Coordinator is available for personal advising at MSU - Institute of Agricultural Technology office in Benton Harbor, prior to registration for each semester. Call to schedule an appointment. You are encouraged to meet regularly with an academic advisor to plan courses and review your objectives. Please note that ultimately you, are responsible for meeting the requirements for graduation, regular meeting with your advisor will aid you in meeting that goal.

Academic Standards

A passing grade must be earned in each required and elective course. You'll need to maintain a 2.0 overall grade point average in order to remain in good academic standing, and to graduate.

Workplace Internships (Industry Placement Training)

A professional internship is required. The internship places you in a professional learning environment that challenges your ability to combine book knowledge and "hands-on" mastery, and your interpersonal and professional skills. You'll earn course credit for supervised on-the-job training. Employers are eager to hire MSU graduates, in part because of the field experience you'll take to that first job. Internships are individualized, and are as diverse as our students. You'll have flexibility in scheduling and employment options for your internship. You must enroll in AT-293, for at least three internship credits, but may enroll for up to six. Usually, each credit translates into one month of full-time employment in the industry. Instead of taking additional internship credits, you may prefer to spend your tuition dollars on electives, and take only three credits of AT 293.

* Landscape Horticulture internships include the jobs in production, selection, use and care of ornamental plants. Graduates are prepared for employment and jobs in nurseries, landscape contracting, and garden centers, along with many other entrepreneurial opportunities.

* Commercial Horticulture Operations internships are diverse and can prepare graduates for employment or career advancement in the horticultural industry, horticultural supply firms, or in orchard consultation and pest management. 

Generally, you'll obtain your own internship employment and negotiate wages and work schedules. We require that both you and your employer complete a written agreement, outlining the terms of the internship employment and expectations. Then, you'll report monthly to your Coordinator / advisor and receive regular feedback from your employer supervisor. You can expect a personal visit from your Coordinator / advisor during the time of your internship employment.

You're encouraged to seek new or expanded work opportunities for your internship. If you own your own business, we can negotiate a series of independent projects, which will help you satisfy this requirement. The best internships are planned in advance and benefit from the counsel of your academic advisor.

Completing the Program

At the end of the last semester of study, credits, must be transferred from your community college to MSU in order for the Certificate requirements to be met. Similarly, MSU credits, which apply to the Associate degree, must be transferred to your community college. Transcripts cost a few dollars, and are sent directly from one institution to the other. Copies released to you will not be accepted by either school.

To receive additional information or to visit with an MSU Applied Plant Science program advisor, please contact:

Stacey Rocklin, Coordinator
Southwest Michigan Applied Plant Science and Viticulture Programs
Institute of Agriculture Technology - MSU
2755 E. Napier Ave
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
Lake Michigan College, Napier Avenue Campus
Phone: (269) 927-8100 ext. 5712
Fax: (269) 927-8619