Why Soil Science? Soil Science, as we approach it here at NDSU, encompasses soil, water, and landscape interactions. It is the ground we walk on and view at distances. It includes the water that flows in the earth and waters our crops, ranges, wetlands, and forests. Our graduates are founded in principles that they successfully apply to environmental issues, conservation issues, agricultural issues, and surprisingly to some, to health issues. A big part of soil science concerns learning about the physical nature of soils and their distribution on the landscape. Soils are tremendously complex, and have a great story to tell about their development. A soil profile can tell you a lot about the quality of land, the climate, and the type of vegetation that can best grow there. Some soils have very high levels of natural fertility and others are nearly sterile.
If you were to earn a degree in soil science there are many different types of jobs that you could compete for. Employment opportunities exist in government, at both the state and federal level, and in private industry. Agricultural and environmental consulting jobs, which pay very well, have been more plentiful lately. There are way too many environmental problems involving soil erosion, groundwater pollution, and waste management that require the skills of a soil scientist to solve. If you do well in your studies, a soils degree will give you one of the strongest foundations for natural resource issues. Even if you wanted to work in water science, a soils degree could give you a tremendous advantage over other studies that did not have such training. The reason concerns the fact that water is intimately related to every aspect of soils--their development, their physical and chemical properties, and the way they respond to human management. Soil Science is THE environmental science, because you have to learn about climate and geology, about vegetation and the role of microorganisms, and all of this takes place at the landscape scale, over long, long periods of time.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
The Department of Soil Science provides seven scholarships each year. These scholarships range from $300 to $2,300 each. Part-time employment during the school year and summer is available. An internship program leading to full-time employment is available with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Loans and grants may be obtained through the NDSU Office of Financial Aid. Other scholarship opportunities are possible through the College of Agriculture. To receive scholarship information contact the Office of Dean, College of Agriculture, NDSU, Morrill Hall 315, Fargo, ND 58105.
Some faculty may have graduate research assistantships available. At NDSU there is a tuition waiver if you have a research assistantship appointment. Check the Assistantships page for currently offered opportunities in the department.