Undergraduate Certificate in Soil Science

Description of Undergraduate Certificate in Soil Science Online Program

This program enables students to obtain course credit hours necessary for advancement in soil related careers. To become a Soil Scientist in the U.S. Federal Government, the Office of Personnel Management requires 15 credit hours in subjects such as soil genesis, pedology, soil chemistry, soil physics, and soil fertility. In states like North Carolina and others with a soil scientist licensing program, 15 credit hours of soil science related coursework is required to qualify for the licensing exam. Nationally, to become a Professional Soil Scientist certified by the Soil Science Society of America, individuals must have completed 15 course credit hours in soil science or a related area. Those who complete this program will meet the coursework requirements for all three career advancement opportunities.

Those interested can learn more about North Carolina’s licensed soil scientist program. Students may also want to learn more about the national certification program.

This online certificate program may be completed totally online. Like all designated university certificates, this program has gone through an approval process at the university level.

Career prospects: What can I do with this program of study?

Graduates of this program working in the private sector will identify lands where new residential developments are most appropriate to maintain a community’s public health and environmental quality. This program is unique among those with environmental interests in that it trains students to identify how lands can best be used to address smart urban growth while preserving wetlands and protecting other surface waters and groundwater quality. Those who complete this program will be eligible to become licensed or certified as a soil scientist. Target employers include engineering firms, environmental firms, and specialized soil consulting companies.

Graduates of this program subsequently hired into the public sector will provide leadership in the areas of soil databases, soil interpretations and soil investigations for local, state and federal technical service centers. As a soil scientist you will write technical and non-technical articles dealing with soil surveys and the use of soil information. As a soil conservationist, you will provide assistance to farmers and ranchers needing natural resource conservation plans for compliance with the Highly Erodible Land and Swamp Buster provisions of the federal Food Security Act.

Curriculum: What will I learn?

The certificate requires 15 credit hours. Students pursuing university certificate programs are considered non-degree studies (NDS) students for the purpose of university registration. NDS students may register for a maximum of six credit hours per semester. Thus, the certificate may take from three to five semesters to complete.

Required courses:

  • SSC 200 Soil Science (3 credit hours)

Elective courses (select 12 hours from the following):

  • SSC 341 Soil Fertility and Fertilizers (3 credit hours)
  • SSC 440 Geographic Information Systems in Soil Science and Agriculture (3 credit hours)
  • SSC 470 Wetland Soils (3 credit hours)
  • SSC 511 Soil Physics
  • SSC 532 Soil Microbiology (4 credit hours)
  • SSC 551 Soil Morphology, Genesis, Classification (3 credit hours)
  • SSC 562 Environmental Applications of Soil Science (3 credit hours)

A grade of C- or higher is required in each course. None of the required 15 credit hours may be taken for S/U or “credit-only.” No transfer credits from other institutions to fulfill certificate course requirements are allowed.  Prerequisites may be required in some courses. Students should contact instructors before enrolling to determine eligibility.

Courses numbered 499 and below are undergraduate; those numbered 500 and above are graduate. The required and elective courses listed above are all available via distance education.

Admissions requirements: Is this Undergraduate Certificate in Soil Science online program for me? How do I apply?

No application for admission is required. Students must be in good academic standing to take courses at NC State University. Students pursuing university certificate programs are considered non-degree studies (NDS) students. Students desiring to earn the certificate should contact the certificate coordinator.

To pursue the certificate, students must have the following training in basic sciences:

  • 2 semesters of Chemistry
  • 1 semester of Physics
  • 1 semester of Biology
  • Mathematics through Algebra and Trigonometry

Registration information: When can I start?

Students pursuing university certificate programs are considered non-degree studies (NDS) students for the purpose of university registration. Apply to enroll NC State as a non-degree students.

Estimated Tuition and Fees: How much will it cost?

For tuition and fees information, go to the NC State Online and Distance Education website.