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Program Requirements


Among the attributes that distinguish this program is its alignment with the tremendous breadth of Cornell University courses and the ability to provide students with direct access to multiple departments, diverse courses, and to talented faculty.  There are few barriers to cross-departmental collaboration and student participation in various academic courses.

Fellows are encouraged to develop personalized courses of study based upon their backgrounds, individual interests and career goals.  Fellows are required to complete 30 credit hours of coursework.

Action project

Fellows select a topic for their action project during the first semester of the program. Projects may focus on any aspect of public garden management that is of interest to the student and of value to the public garden field.  Program leaders work closely with Fellows to help determine the scope of their project and to carry out their project within the two year timeframe.

The action project should be a problem-solving or applied project and while traditional research methods may be used to address a problem, they are not the focus of the project.  A final project paper is required; the form of this paper is determined by the student and their graduate committee.

Summer internship

A key emphasis of the Public Garden Leadership program is practical experience, therefore we require all fellows to complete a summer internship at a public garden between their first and second semesters. This may be done at a public garden in the United States, Canada, or abroad. Many public garden internships are listed on the American Public Garden Associations’ website. Program leaders will work with fellows to help them identify a suitable internship.  Funding for the summer period is not provided, however most Fellows are able to secure paid internships.

Plantations Practicum

Given the importance that this program places on practical experience, students are expected to gain additional experience by working with the staff at Cornell Plantations.  In addition to learning from experts at Plantations, we also recognize that students bring many attributes and experiences from which Plantations can benefit– we see this as a mutually beneficial partnership.  While the student’s coursework, internship, and action project are all likely to focus on the student’s area of interest, the practical experience at Plantations component can help to provide the student with a way to round out their understanding of the field and gain additional knowledge and experience.