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Fellowship FAQ's

What is Public Garden Leadership?

Public gardens include botanic gardens, arboreta, historic landscapes, conservatories, and display gardens. This program provides students with the training and skills necessary to become leaders in managing such institutions. The Cornell Plantations Graduate Fellowship in public garden leadership is a specialization within the field of Horticulture.

What is a Masters of Professional Studies degree and how is it different than a Masters of Science degree?


An M.P.S. program emphasizes breadth of training via coursework rather than a research experience. M.P.S. degree candidates take the same courses as other graduate students and then complete a problem-solving or applied project.

What are the criteria you use to select new students?

In accordance with the vision of the program, Cornell Plantations Graduate Fellows are selected based on:

  • Dedication to the public garden field – looking for likelihood of future career role in the public garden arena
  • Work and life experience – looking for potential contribution to academic requirements of the program
  • Leadership qualities and potential contribution – looking for leadership characteristics and potential impact on this field
  • Academic background – looking for ability to excel academically at a world-class university


Must I have an undergraduate degree in horticulture to be accepted into this program?

No, however a strong background in horticulture or public garden management (such as landscape architecture, botany, agricultural economics, natural resources) is highly desirable.

How long does the review process take?

After the application deadline it usually takes up to two to three months for the selection committee to review applications and extend offers. Letters of notification (of acceptance or non-acceptance) will be sent out shortly after this review process.

How does the Public Garden Leadership program fit within Cornell’s horticulture department?


The Public Garden Leadership Graduate Fellowship is a joint program offered through Cornell Plantations and the Department of Horticulture. Fellows are considered graduate students in the Department of Horticulture. Cornell Plantations provides the funding for the fellowships.

Can I complete the program as a part-time, non-residential student?

No, university guidelines state that master's degree candidates must complete two full-time semesters at Cornell to earn their degree. The timeframe provided was designed to allow individuals to take leaves of absence or short breaks from work to pursue this professional degree. Finally we feel that active participation in the program - interaction between the students and the program leaders and other students in the program - is vital.

What type of funding do Fellows receive?

Support is provided for periods within the academic year only. Fellows are appointed Graduate Research Assistants and paid at the current rate as determined by the University; in 2008 the stipend was approximately $20,000 per academic year.  The fellowship provides a tuition waiver and payment of administrative fees, includes University-funded health insurance coverage through the Cornell Student Health Insurance Program (SHIP), and provides a professional development award for the period of enrollment in the program. This award may be used to support fellows’ participation in professional conferences and for approved expenses related to fellows’ action project.  The fellowship does not cover student housing, textbooks, class materials or a computer (though computer labs are available at Plantations, in the Department of Horticulture and across campus).

Where have former students done their internships?


  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • The National Tropical Botanic Garden
  • Chicago Botanic Garden
  • The United States Botanic Garden
  • The New York Botanic Garden
  • The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Cayuga Waterfront Trail in Ithaca, New York
  • The Fells Historic Estate
  • Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
  • Lotusland


What are former fellows doing now?

  • Curator of Collections, The Tyler Arboretum
  • Manager of Visitor Education, The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
  • Associate, Colvin and Moggridge Landscape Architects
  • Native Plant Nursery Manager, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation
  • Teacher, The Town School
  • Interpretation Coordinator, The New York Botanical Garden
  • Curatorial Intern, The Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College
  • Gardens Curator, Atlanta History Center
  • Research assistant, Virginia Tech University
  • Visitor Services Coordinator, Cornell Plantations