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Undergraduate Certificate inTurfgrass Management, Basic

Program summary

Gain foundational knowledge of turfgrass maintenance practices, soil science, and pest management methods. Whether you work in golf course maintenance, professional lawn care, grounds maintenance, athletic field maintenance, or research support, this program can help you excel in your career.

100% Online

Complete your Penn State course work at your own pace and 100% online.

Application deadline

Apply by May 5 to start May 13

Credits and costs

15 Credits$626/$671 per credit

Gain Skills to Grow as a Turfgrass Professional

  • Comprehend and draw appropriate inferences from numeric data and quantitative models.

  • Identify common turfgrass pests and develop cultural and chemical management plans for each.

  • Interpret and make scientific decisions related to managing turfgrass under various conditions.

  • Identify, establish, and maintain grasses in various climates.

Study in a Variety of Online Turfgrass Courses

The online turfgrass management certificate program is a 15-credit program of study. Courses in this program introduce the field and cover turfgrass:

  • pest management
  • cultural systems
  • edaphology

In order to earn the certificate, you must complete at least 15 credits from the following course options. Students must earn at least a "C" grade in each course taken to be eligible for the certificate.

Note about prerequisites: For this program, listed course prerequisites may be waived by the course instructor if you can demonstrate the required level of competency.

Prescribed Courses (4 credits)

  • 1

    Covers chemical toxicity, formulations, environmental fate, labels, MSDS, calibration, IPM, safety, handling, storage, and Pennsylvania certification and regulations.

    • Note

      Students who have a valid (and verifiable) state pesticide license can request to be exempted from taking TURF 230.

  • 3

    Characterization of the primary plant species used for sports, lawn and utility turf; includes turfgrass morphology, environmental adaptation, and cultural requirements.

Additional Courses (select 11 credits)

  • 3

    Introduction to entomology and management of insect pests of cold- and warm-season turfgrass.

    • Prerequisite Concurrent

      TURF 235

  • 3

    Introduction to biology of turfgrass pathogens and management of cool- and warm-season turfgrass.

    • Prerequisite

      TURF 230

  • 3

    Introduction to the development of integrated weed management strategies utilizing a variety of cultural and chemical methods.

  • 3

    A study of irrigation topics with a strong concentration on turfgrass irrigation applications and a focus on surface and subsurface drainage.

    • Prerequisite

      TURF 235

    • Recommend preparation

      MATH 21 and SOILS 101

    • Note

      PLANT 217 may not be substituted for TURF 307 for prescribed course credit.

  • 3

    A study of turfgrass maintenance practices and how their interrelationships can be utilized to develop management systems.

    • Prerequisite

      TURF 235

    • Recommended preparation

      SOILS 101

  • 3

    Characterization of soil's physical and chemical properties for the establishment and maintenance of sports turf; includes root zone construction.

    • Prerequisite

      TURF 235 or equivalent, SOILS 101

  • 4

    Study of turfgrass nutrition and growth; emphasizing constructed and mineral soil fertility, nutrient uptake and function, and fertilizer-use efficiency.

    • Prerequisite

      TURF 235

    • Recommended preparation

      SOILS 101

  • 3

    Case study and discussion considering integrated management of selected turfgrass sites; emphasis on problem analysis, principle application, and decision-making.

    • Prerequisite

      TURF 235 and (TURF 434 or TURF 435)

    • Recommended preparation

      TURF 238 and TURF 425

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Prepare for a Career in Whichever Field You Choose

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You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.

Career Opportunities for Graduates

The certificate program was created for golf course and sports field personnel who want to take their career to the next level. With the basic certificate, you can earn credits toward a degree while securing a position or working toward advancement in a variety of areas, including:

  • groundskeeping
  • employee management
  • equipment care and operation
  • pesticide application

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

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From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Learn more about this program

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Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State undergraduate certificate?

Apply by May 5 to start May 13. How to Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

Learn about this program's tuition, fees, scholarship opportunities, grants, payment options, and military benefits.

Costs and Financial Aid

Undergraduate Tuition

Undergraduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register and the number of total credits you have accrued at or transferred to Penn State.

Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$626 per credit$671 per credit
12–19$7,602 per semester$8,206 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$632 per credit$678 per credit
12–19$7,678 per semester$8,288 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

Paying for Your Certificate

Students pursuing a certificate are considered "nondegree," a status that is not eligible for federal student aid, including the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program. A private alternative loan may be an option to consider.

Additionally, Penn State offers many ways to pay for your education, including an installment plan and third-party payments. Penn State World Campus also offers an Employer Reimbursement and Tuition Deferment Plan. Learn more about the options for paying for your education.

Students pursuing a degree and meeting all other eligibility requirements may qualify for financial aid.

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

To view the detailed list of cost of attendance elements, select “World Campus” as the location on the tuition site.

A Head Start toward a Bachelor’s Degree or Advanced Certificate

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Not only can this program help create opportunities in your career, it can also give you a solid head start toward an associate degree, bachelor's degree, or advanced certificate.

Programs Related to This Certificate

As a graduate of the basic certificate program, you can apply the credits you’ve earned to the following Penn State World Campus programs:

Build upon your existing skills and explore more advanced turfgrass topics, such as pest management, turfgrass cultural systems, turfgrass edaphology, and case studies in turfgrass management with this certificate.

Learn more about the Undergraduate Certificate in Turfgrass Management, Advanced

Take your turf career to the next level. This online program's integrated curriculum can help you sharpen your skills in communications and business management as you build a strong foundation in contemporary turfgrass management.

Learn more about the Bachelor of Science in Turfgrass Science

Learn to plan and implement projects, communicate effectively, conduct training programs, and manage finances in this online degree program designed for those interested in or already working in the turf industry.

Learn more about the Associate in Science in Turfgrass Science and Management

A Legacy in Turfgrass Education

Penn State launched one of the first turfgrass programs in 1929. As the first university to offer a two-year program for golf course superintendents, and the first to offer a major in turfgrass science, we built a solid foundation for the turfgrass management programs offered through World Campus.

Set Your Own Pace

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Whether you are looking to finish your program as quickly as possible or balance your studies with your busy life, Penn State World Campus can help you achieve your education goals. Many students take one or two courses per semester.

Our online courses typically follow a 12- to 15-week semester cycle, and there are three semesters per year (spring, summer, and fall). If you plan to take a heavy course load, you should expect your course work to be your primary focus and discuss your schedule with your academic adviser. 

To Finish Your Certificate in One Year

  • Take 2 courses each semester 

To Finish Your Certificate in Two Years

  • Take 1 course each semester


Convenient Online Format

This program's convenient online format gives you the flexibility you need to study around your busy schedule. You can skip the lengthy commute without sacrificing the quality of your education and prepare yourself for more rewarding career opportunities without leaving your home.

A Trusted Leader in Online Education

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Penn State has a history of more than 100 years of distance education, and World Campus has been a leader in online learning for more than two decades. Our online learning environment offers the same quality education that our students experience on campus.

How to Apply to Penn State

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Apply by May 5 to start May 13

Application Instructions

Deadlines and Important Dates

Complete your application and submit all required materials by the appropriate deadline. Your deadline will depend on the semester you plan to start your courses.

  • Summer Deadline

    Apply by May 5 to start May 13
  • Fall Deadline

    Apply by August 18 to start August 26
  • Spring Deadline

    Apply by January 1, 2025, to start January 13, 2025

Steps to Apply

  1. To apply for this program, you must be a high school graduate, or have completed your GED.

  2. 2. Complete the application.

Admissions Help

If you have questions about the admissions process, email [email protected] or call 814-865-1146.

Contact Us

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Have questions or want more information? We're happy to talk.

For questions about admissions and applications, please contact World Campus Central:

World Campus Central
Phone: 814-865-1146
[email protected]

Learn from the Best

Penn State's turfgrass science program is widely regarded as the foremost program of its kind in the world. This program was developed and is taught by faculty from the Plant Science, Entomology, and Plant Pathology departments in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.


  • Michael Fidanza

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Agronomy, University of Maryland
    • Degree
      M.S., Agronomy, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Agricultural Science, Penn State

    Dr. Michael Fidanza is a professor of plant and soil sciences at Penn State Berks. His research and teaching focuses are turfgrass ecology, the translational evaluation and exploration of plant health products (fungicides, herbicides, and plant growth regulators), soil surfactants, seed technology, bio stimulants, turfgrass physiology, cultural practices in turfgrass ecosystems, and the biology and ecology of fairy ring disease in turf. He is the director of Penn State's Center for the Agricultural Sciences and a Sustainable Environment, and he is a Fellow in the American Society of Agronomy.

  • Brad Jakubowski

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Agronomy, Penn State, in progress
    • Degree
      M.S., Soil Science, Colorado State University
    • Degree
      B.S., Comprehensive Environmental Geography, University of Nebraska
    • Degree
      A.A.S., Printing Technology and Industry, Central Community College

    Brad Jakubowski is an instructor of golf course irrigation and drainage, landscape irrigation and water management, and turfgrass management. He is experienced in water management, irrigation management, turfgrass management, and soil. As a Ph.D. candidate, he is studying impact attenuation on natural and synthetic athletic turfgrass fields.

  • Peter Landschoot

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Plant Pathology, University of Rhode Island
    • Degree
      M.S., Agronomy, Penn State
    • Degree
      B.S., Agronomy, Penn State

    Dr. Peter Landschoot's primary job responsibility involves turfgrass extension and outreach in Pennsylvania. His research interests include disease and weed management, soil improvement, turfgrass variety evaluation, and soil fertility. Dr. Landschoot teaches Case Studies in Turfgrass Management in the resident and World Campus programs at Penn State.

  • Benjamin McGraw

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Entomology, Rutgers University
    • Degree
      M.S., Entomology, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    • Degree
      B.S., Animal Science, University of Maine

    Dr. Benjamin McGraw's main teaching foci at Penn State are general turfgrass management (TURF 235, 496a) and entomology courses (ENT 317, 952a). His research program focuses on understanding the biology and ecology of turfgrass insect populations to improve current management practices and develop novel, more sustainable management and monitoring programs. 

  • Max Schlossberg

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Agronomy, University of Georgia
    • Degree
      M.S., Agronomy, University of Georgia
    • Degree
      B.S., Agronomy, Texas A&M University

    Dr. Max Schlossberg's comprehensive instructional approach supports effective management of turfgrass in every hemisphere. His primary research focuses on developing fertilizer programs to optimize resilience, playability, and nutrient use efficiency of turfgrass systems. His laboratory team has identified cultural methods for rapid soil pH optimization of turfgrass root zones, enhanced efficiency mechanisms of N fertilizers, factors controlling soil water repellency development, and topographic dependence of soils fertility.


Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State undergraduate certificate?

Apply by May 5 to start May 13. How to Apply