Graduate Student Resources

Challenging and Innovative Graduate Study

The Department of Soil and Crop Sciences gives our graduate students a stimulating education and research experience for students seeking M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in soil and crop sciences.

Graduate programs are developed in applied and basic sciences to understand soil, crop and environmental systems, to improve production and management efficiency of food, feed, and biomass crops, and apply soil and crop sciences to problems of environmental quality.

students looking at cropping machinery


Graduate Student Application Deadlines

January 15th

November 15th

For Current Graduate Students

If you are already enrolled as a graduate student in Soil and Crop Sciences, additional resources and department related activities are available through the Soil and Crop Intranet Portal.

Login with your CSU eID

How to Apply for Soil and Crop Sciences Graduate Programs

Step 1: Get an Advisor

Our graduate study programs are linked closely to faculty activities and research interests. Before applying to the Soil and Crop Sciences Department, you will need to confirm an advisor.

The Graduate Committee will not review your application unless you have this in place.

Please visit our faculty page and contact a faculty member that most closely fits your research interest.

Once you have an advisor confirmed, you can proceed with the application process. You will need to enter your advisor’s name on the application under Identified Faculty.

Step 2: Gather all necessary information for your graduate school application


Our department does not requires GRE scores.

Official Transcripts/Credential & Certified Translations

Official transcripts or mark sheets and any certificates, diplomas, or degrees from each college or university attended is required regardless of the length of attendance, including courses in progress. Final records will be required upon completion of the course or degree. ALL records submitted must be in the native language; any credentials written in languages other than English MUST be accompanied by a certified English translation – Colorado State University transcripts are not required.

Letters of Recommendation

A minimum of three letters of recommendation are required from previous instructors or employers who are able to comment on your abilities and potential for graduate study. You may provide contact information for up to five recommenders. There is no standardized format unless specified by the academic department. Your recommenders will be notified and prompted to supply a recommendation letter through the system. Academic references should be prepared to discuss your academic knowledge and skills, aptitude for graduate study, ability for independent research, and classroom performance related to characteristics such as integrity, leadership, problem solving, and teamwork. Choosing an individual as a reference who has an impressive title but cannot discuss the aforementioned qualities will not result in an informative letter of recommendation that supports your admission. Writing any portion of the recommendations yourself, either in whole or in part, may result in rejection or dismissal.

Applying Online

When applying using the online application system, most documents are uploaded directly by the applicant. For documents that cannot be submitted through the application system, such as official transcripts and test scores, request the documents be sent to the Office of Admissions.

Send official electronic test scores using code 4075.

Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Step 3: Apply through CSU's Graduate School

General application information can be found on the Graduate School Website.

Applications can be started on the Graduate School ready to apply page.

Graduate Program Frequently Asked Questions

Who do I contact for questions about being a graduate student in the department?

The first and best resource for anything related to being a graduate student is the Grad Student Hand book site you are on and/or the Graduate student resource page. The resource has frequently asked questions about more general items, while the handbook has more specifics.

If you can’t find an answer on those pages, please contact Kierra Jewell, grad student coordinator. Email is fastest at: Office hours are 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. M-F.

The Graduate Studies Panel is there for you to bring up and discuss any policies and procedures, suggestions and/or issues you may have related to conducting your research in the SOCR department.

The Graduate Coordinator is Dr. Kelly Wrighton. The committee includes Drs Steve Fonte, Michaeal Wilkins, and Geoff Morris. Please reach out to Dr. Wrighton ( with any additional concerns so that she can address these at the Graduate Studies Panel Meeting, which occurs at least once a semester and includes a graduate student representative.

How many credits do I need for health insurance?

Graduate students must be enrolled for a least 1/2 time in order to qualify for health insurance.

1/2 time is considered 5-6 credits.

What are the minimum and maximum credits I can take per semester?

Graduate students must be enrolled at least 1/2 time to qualify for the GRA. Half time is considered 5-6 credits. Full time is considered nine or more credits.

The maximum number of credits in a semester is 15. If you wish to take more than 15 credits you will need to get permission from your advisor and fill out a form from the graduate school for permission.

Can I start my assistantship (GRA) without being registered for classes?

If your GRA starts in the fall semester and you wish to begin your research set up in the summer before, you do not need to be registered for summer classes. You do need to be registered for fall classes in order to start your assistantship.

If your GRA starts in the spring semester, you do not need to worry about summer course registration either (unless you want to take summer classes).

Why was retirement funding taken out of my summer check?

The university bills graduate students for retirement funds in the summer paychecks. You can petition to have the amounts refunded to you after graduation, by contacting the grad school.

What semesters do I have to be enrolled in, in order to be a current graduate student?

Registration should occur in the fall and spring semesters of each academic year but not the Summer sessions, unless the student plans to officially graduate during the summer or is enrolling for summer coursework.

What is Continuous Registration and do I need it?

Students who pursue their degree without interruption maintain their registration status by registering for any graduate credit-bearing course. Students who temporarily suspend their studies may pursue Continuous Registration.

Information regarding CR is available on the graduate school’s site at:

If I am an out-of-state graduate student, do I need to cover the out-of-state tuition?

The Department of Soil and Crop Sciences is financially responsible for the tuition payment for each graduate student on GRA or GTA appointment for the first year (out-of-state or in-state). In subsequent years the Department will be responsible for in-state tuition only. If an out-of-state student elects not to establish in-state residency within the first year, the tuition difference between and in-state and out-of-state resident will be paid by the student.

If I am an international GRA, will I be responsible for out-of-state tuition premium?

CSU will extend the Tuition Premium Program to international students appointed as a GRA for the length of their tenure in the graduate degree program as long as they are enrolled in a minimum of five resident-instruction credits during the fall and spring semesters and meet all terms and conditions of an assistantship. Tuition will be prorated as a percentage of FTE.

How do I establish residency for in-state tuition?

Colorado residency requires a domicile in Colorado for 12 continuous months on or prior to the first day of classes of each semester. You should start to establish residency within the first few months of being in Colorado.

“Domicile” is defined as your true, fixed, primary and permanent home and place of habitation. Both physical presence and evidence of intent must be in place to begin the domicile year. A “qualified individual” must reside in Colorado with the intent to make Colorado their primary permanent home and legal residence. Since domicile is defined as a permanent home and legal residence, being in Colorado solely for school purposes and/or temporarily for other purposes does not qualify as domicile for Colorado residency.

Physical presence is your actual permanent home and legal residence. Proof of physical presence may include all of the following:

  • Lease agreements
  • Rent receipts
  • Home ownership
  • Notarized statement from landlord

Evidence of intent to make Colorado your permanent home and legal residence is demonstrated by giving up all your legal ties with your prior state and establishing them with Colorado for 12 continuous months. Proof that demonstrates evidence of intent, as specified by the residency statue, may include all the following:

  • Colorado driver’s license or valid Colorado ID
  • Colorado motor vehicle registration
  • Permanent, full-time, off-campus employment
  • Colorado voter registration
  • Change in permanent address on all pertinent records
  • Payment of Colorado state income taxes as a Colorado resident
  • Withholding of Colorado state taxes from wages
  • Ownership of residential property in Colorado

You are expected to take appropriate action on all factors relevant in your circumstances. The “Petition for In-state Tuition Classification” (available at Student Financial Services) and all supporting documentation must be received by Student Financial Services by the published deadline date specified for the semester for which a change is being requested. The burden of proof rests upon the petitioner (i.e. the student) who has the responsibility to submit a timely petition along with the required documentation by the published deadline date. A change in tuition classification will be made when the Tuition Classification Office is convinced that physical presence and ties with the state have occurred at least 12 months prior to the first day of classes for which the applicant is petitioning.

Given that the summer term is not required for continuous registration, the office of financial aid suggests that students apply for residency starting in the Fall term.

Residency for Tuition Classification information can be found here:

The office of Financial Aid can assist with residency if you have any questions.

What GPA do I need to maintain as a grad student?

Graduate students must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in all formal course work. Two semesters below this average constitutes a reason for dismissal.Special studies, seminars, and research credits are not considered formal course work in calculating grade point averages. However, a passing grade must be maintained in these course areas.

Is there a waiver for department academic requirements?

Requests for waiver of Department academic requirements should be submitted in writing by the student’s advisor to the Department Graduate Panel. The waiver is granted upon approval by three of the four members of the Department Graduate Panel and the Department Head.

How do I gain access to a student desk, keys, and/or key card access?

Faculty should advise the grad admin that a student is incoming so a desk can be assigned. Please contact Kierra Jewell at if you need a desk assigned to you.

Kierra can also order keys for labs, offices, and other spaces you may need a key for. You’ll need to send her your CSU ID and the room numbers needed. See general key info below.

Keycard access is available to the graduate student offices (main offices) and coming soon to the outside building doors. Contact Kierra to add access to your CSU ID card.

General Key Info: Graduate students are issued keys to the Plant Science building, student’s office, and necessary greenhouse and laboratory areas. A written request or an email for keys is approved by the advisor and then submitted to the Grad Assistant. Keys may be picked up in the main Soil and Crop Sciences Office. If a graduate student desires access to a research laboratory other than the one to which he/she is specifically assigned, the student must obtain written approval for a key to that area from the staff member responsible for that room. University and Department policy state that keys will not be duplicated except by Facilities Services personnel. All keys must be returned to the Administrative Assistant upon leaving the University.

Where are graduate student mailboxes?

Grad student mailboxes are located in C124 in the plant science building (copy room).

What are the objectives for grad students in the SCS department?

All graduates will be able to:

  1. Critically apply theories, methodologies, and knowledge from Soil and Crop Sciences to address fundamental questions and to solve real-world problems in collaboration with professionals in other disciplines. (Research, Critical Thinking, Content Knowledge)
  2. Pursue original research of significance to advance the field of Soil and Crop Sciences. Students plan and conduct this research or implement this project under the guidance of an advisor while developing the intellectual independence that typifies true scholarship. (Research, Critical and Creative Thinking)
  3. Demonstrate professional communication skills, using effective strategies when writing technical reports, research proposals, journal articles, or popular press articles and when giving oral or poster presentations to scientific or lay audiences. (Communication)
  4. Follow the principles of ethics in Soil and Crop Sciences. (Ethics)
  5. Demonstrate, through service, the value of Soil and Crop Sciences to society. (Service, Content Knowledge)
  6. Demonstrate a mastery of skills and knowledge at a level required for college and university undergraduate teaching in their discipline and assessment of student learning. (Content Knowledge, Teaching)
  7. Interact productively with people from diverse backgrounds as both leaders/mentors and team members with integrity and professionalism.  Maintain, in collaboration with the faculty, an environment of discovery, professional pride, collaboration, and mutual support. (Communication, Leadership)

What form do I need to make changes to my GS6?

The GS52 is used to make changes to the GS6.