Seed Science and Technology
Graduate Certificate Program

The objective of this Seed Science and Technology Graduate Certificate is to provide a graduate-level study in the science and technology used in the seed industry. This certificate is oriented toward individuals with a business background who want to understand the technical side of their industry in more depth so they can better apply their knowledge, skills, and experience. Seed science, in this case, includes not only the science associated with seed production and use; but also plant breeding and plant biotechnology. The course in Quality, Production and Research Management will address special aspects of operational management of the technical side of the business.

The Seed Science and Technology Certificate content represents approximately half of the content of the Master of Science Seed Technology and Business program or 19 credits. The certificate may be either the final objective of the student or an intermediate stop on his/her way to a master’s degree.

Seed Science and Technology Graduate Certificate Courses

Crop Improvement (3 Cr. Hrs) — A study of agriculture from its origins with the domestication of crop plants through basic genetics, demonstrating the challenges and elements of breeding strategies intended to manage gene x environmental interactions. Elements of biotechnology including use of molecular markers, development of genetically modified cultivars, gene mapping, cloning, and gene editing will be covered. Methods to measure the effectiveness of plant breeding (genetic gain) and the impact of improved agronomic practices contributing to increased agricultural productivity will be covered. The course covers the use of intellectual property protection, and the conservation and utilization of exotic genetic resources.

Seed and Variety, Testing and Technology (2 Cr. Hrs.) – Reference to basic statistical concepts. Concepts from seed science are applied to seed testing. The course provides seed testing procedures; sources of variation in seed testing results; and factors in the selection of vigor testing procedures. Variety evaluation procedures are presented: wide area testing in small plot trials; strip plot trials; and pre-commercial comparisons. Students will understand the function of the agronomist in seed business organizations: providing information for customers, providing information for internal decision making; and the integration of official trials into variety advancement plans.

Introduction to the Seed Industry (1 Cr. Hr.) This introductory course is a quick overview of the academic program and the seed industry. It describes how the STB program components relate to the seed industry scope; the role of the seed industry in global agriculture and society;  public and private institutions involved in seed research, development, and regulation; quality management for seed products . Current issues including industry consolidation, ethical and economic issues related to biotechnology, and incorporation of digital technology in the seed business will be discussed by course instructors and guest lecturers from the seed industry.

Quantitative Methods for Agronomy (3 Cr. Hr.) — Quantitative methods for analyzing and interpreting agronomic information. Principles of experimental design, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance, regression, correlation, and graphical representation of data. Use of SAS and Excel for organization, analyzing, and presenting data.

Seed Conditioning and Storage (2 Cr. Hrs.) – The topics of seed morphology, growth, and physiology are applied to seed harvesting, conditioning, storage, and enhancement. Students learn operational principles of seed equipment; management of quality and quantity of individual machines; principles of seed plant organization; organizing and managing processing teams, and design and the process of balancing variable and fixed cost with quality. Students will learn procedures for choosing between alternative technologies and sizing plants for expected sales.

Seed Physiology (2 Cr. Hrs) — Brief introduction to plant physiology. Physiological aspects of seed development, maturation, longevity, dormancy, and germination. Links between physiology and seed quality.

Seed Production (2 Cr. Hrs.) – Introduction to crop production principles for the basic agronomic crops; includes introductory concepts of  plant, soil, tillage, and pest control; the basic growth requirements of plants; the function plants and crop communities; planting, flowering, and maturity dates;  optimum spacing of plants; control of fertilization; and environment and managing factors that influence yield and seed quality. The topics of fertilization,  development, maturation, pathology, and deterioration are applied to seed production. Field management principles are presented: matching production and planting plans to drying and receiving capacity; choosing locations and growers, and managing field production.

Seed Health Management (2 Cr. Hrs) — Introduction to microorganisms. The course includes a description of the significance of diseases in the major phases of seed production and use. Pathogens considered include fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes, and abiotic agents. The emphasis is on control, epidemiology, host-parasite relationships, and seed health testing.

Quality, Production, and Research Management (3 Cr. Hrs.) This course presents the management and use of quality information, including the process of organizing seed quality data for use by management. The students will learn about the application of total quality management for seed laboratories and seed businesses. They will learn about the production planning process; planning for operating capital constraints; advancement systems; and using the entire organization to anticipate customer needs. The course will describe the components of research management: selection of goals for breeding; the characteristics of a good breeder or station manager; metrics for breeder performance; assignment of territory and projects; and balancing resources for selection and testing. Students will learn the structure of research activities; the nature of interaction among programs; and the process of allocating resources to associated activities: winter nurseries, intellectual property, breeder’s seed, data management, and others. They will study the relationships with other parts of the business; time patterns of annual expenditures; time patterns for annual decision making; and the process of communicating the status of the program to marketing managers.

Admissions Procedures

Similar to our master of science candidates, we will require certificate candidates to fill out an application for admission and submit a resume and essay answers. See our Admissions page for more information.
For information about tuition and fees for this certificate see our Tuition and Fees page.