Turfgrass Science: one of the smallest majors at Penn State

Penn State has always prided itself on its College of Agricultural Sciences, mostly because it is one of the best agricultural sciences colleges in the country. It’s also one of the university’s oldest academic colleges, as it was founded in 1861. The College of Agriculture offers 17 majors, 23 minors, and 18 graduate degrees.

The College of Agriculture is large and well-established, but it still has its smaller programs and degrees. In fact, this week’s edition of “Meet One Of Penn State’s Smallest Majors” comes out of the College of Agriculture. With approximately 130 students enrolled in the major and about 28 students graduating every year, it is one of Penn State’s smallest majors. Meet the Turfgrass Science program.

We caught up with program coordinator for the Turfgrass Science Major Andrew McNitt to ask him what makes the Turfgrass Science major so special at Penn State. “Our students are involved in maintenance on the golf courses and the research farm. It provides hands-on training, sometimes paid hands-on training, which you really don’t get anywhere else,” Dr. McNitt said.

With an incredible research and training environment, it’s no wonder Penn State graduates of the program go on to careers in prestigious areas. Dr. McNitt explained that both the New York Mets’ head grounds crew member and the Kansas City Royals’ assistant grounds crew member were graduates of the Turfgrass Science program. “Our graduates are at Augusta National, they’re hosting the PGA Open, and they’re at major league stadiums,” Dr. McNitt said.

According to Dr. McNitt, the Turfgrass Science program prepares students to start working immediately in the field. “Most students pursue a career. The job market is very good for Turfgrass Science graduates right now,” Dr. McNitt said.

One of the most common jobs for students in Turfgrass Science is golf course superintendent. “Some also go into sports turf where they work with major league stadiums and managing the stadiums,” Dr. McNitt explained. “But most go for a golf course superintendent.”

According to Dr. McNitt, the most successful Turfgrass Science graduates aren’t the best at growing grass, but the best at communicating.  The students of this major not only have to be well versed in turfgrass management, but also in understanding how to talk to a variety of workers and clients. “At one point, you could be talking to a worker where English isn’t his primary language, and the next minute you’re talking to the CEO from Exxon Mobil,” said Dr. McNitt.

In a field with such a high demand for graduates, the Turfgrass Science major at Penn State provides students with numerous opportunities to succeed during and after college.