Academics & Majors

Soil Science

College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
Offered as:
Graduate program


Soil science is a natural resource science devoted to studying the thin layer of the earth's lithosphere (crust) responsible for supporting life. Soil science is concerned with the physical, chemical, geological, and biological processes that govern natural and agricultural ecosystems.

Soil scientists apply an understanding of these fundamental processes to the management and protection of crop production, soil development, and environmental quality.

Requirements and core courses

Minor in soil science

The soil science minor requires at least 16 credits. Among the classes you might take are:

Soil: A Living System
Introduction to Soil Physics
Soil Biology
Environmental Soil Chemistry
Soil Fertility
Soil Analysis for Environmental and Crop Management
Physical Geology
Introduction to Statistical Methods

Note: See the WSU Catalog for degree requirements and talk with your academic advisor about planning and scheduling your courses. All students must meet requirements as outlined in the catalog in order to graduate.

Graduate programs in soil science

Washington State University offers both Ph.D. and master's degrees in soil science.

For a quick overview of admission requirements, see the soil science fact sheet on the WSU Graduate School website.

For information about requirements, courses, and faculty research, visit the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences web site.

Scholarships and financial aid

A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs.

For all students at WSU

Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.

To get all the financial help WSU can provide, start by doing these two things:

  • Complete the University's general scholarship application so you can be eligible for scholarship consideration.
  • Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) so WSU can consider you for aid (scholarships, grants, loans, etc.) based on financial need.

Click here for more info about WSU scholarships and financial aid

For students in the major

In addition to general university scholarships and other financial aid, the University's academic colleges, schools, and departments offer scholarships to students who are majoring in their programs.

Career options
  • Agronomic or environmental consultants
  • Biotechnologists
  • Crop advisors
  • Farm managers
  • Corporate or academic researchers
  • Turfgrass/golf course managers
  • Soil surveyors
  • Soil conservationists
  • Land-use managers
  • Soil fertility specialists
  • Research technologists
  • Global information systems specialists

Employment is available in government and commercial agencies such as the state Cooperative Extension Service, Agricultural Research Service, Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Ecology, and Natural Resource Conservation Service; as well as in private consulting firms, commercial companies dealing with farm products, waste management, and research.

Some areas of active interest include identification and transfer of best management practices for crop production, erosion control, and environmental protection; reclamation of contaminated soils; transport of pesticides through soils; bioremediation of hazardous wastes; soil-landscape development processes, use of microbes to control weeds and plant diseases; surface chemistry of soil minerals; modeling of cropping systems; remote sensing of soils and vegetation; strategies in precision farming; and global change.