Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences Graduate Program

Click here for the TPSS Graduate Handbook!


Welcome to the Tropical Plants and Soil Sciences Graduate Program, offering graduate program degrees (MS and PhD) in Tropical Plants and Soil Sciences.

This YouTube video was made by TPSS former graduate students: Drs. Orville Baldos and Scott Lukas. The video highlights how agricultural and environmental sustainability are important issues in Hawai‘i. Click here to see additional photos and videos from our gallery.

Our Unique Program

Candidates may specialize in genetics and breeding of tropical fruits, vegetables, or ornamentals; physiology, culture, and management of tropical fruits, vegetables, or ornamentals; morphogenesis; crop and stress physiology; post-harvest physiology; growth regulation; plant biochemical genetics; plant cytogenetics; weed science; computer modeling; or turf and landscape management, cropping systems, plant-soil relationships, soil chemistry, soil physics, soil management, soil and water conservation, soil fertility, and soil microbiology.

Courses are available in tropical flower, fruit, and vegetable crop production; turfgrass and landscape management; plant physiology, breeding, and genetics; and soil science. The comprehensive curriculum affords students the opportunity to study tropical plants and soils across multiple scales, including molecules, whole plants, and managed agro-ecosystems.

  • Research can be conducted on laboratory bench-tops, in new campus greenhouses, or in the field on privately held lands or at research centers and experiment stations located on five islands. UH Mānoa is an accredited land-grant university in the tropics, and the TPSS program has a tropical emphasis that you won’t find on the U.S. mainland.
  • TPSS students have access to advanced molecular biotechnology and information technology and to plots where they can practice sustainable and organic farming approaches firsthand. They work with mouth-watering tropical fruits and vegetables and world-class specialty crops like coffee, cacao, and kava (‘awa). They grow eye-popping ornamental flowers and foliage and learn to manage turfgrasses for private lawns, public parks, and more than 100 golf courses statewide. (And they enjoy twelve months of spectacular weather, mountains, valleys, beaches, and reefs.)
  • O‘ahu is called the Gathering Place, and the TPSS program at UH Mānoa exemplifies this inclusiveness. Students, faculty, and staff from six continents and across the Pacific Islands bring a global perspective to our department. The TPSS program participates in WICHE, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, through which TPSS applicants from 14 Western states outside Hawai‘i can request reduced tuition rates for undergraduate study or automatically receive Hawai‘i-resident tuition rates for graduate study.

Where do our students come from?

Our students come from many backgrounds, including some who enter our program with little knowledge of the environmental or agricultural sciences. Mature students are especially welcome. What draws us together is a keen interest in applying science for the purpose of finding practical solutions to problems. If you share that interest, our academic programs could be right for you. Come on in! E komo mai!


TPSS Student Organic Farming Training (SOFT) is a diverse group of undergraduate and graduate students who share common interests in growing food sustainably and having fun. SOFT was initiated in 2007 and the SOFT Student Farm began in the spring of 2008 with a handful of students and faculty dedicated to creating a place for student exploration and leadership in agriculture. Since then, the farm has flourished, producing wonderful things to eat and a great community of lively students.



Every year, graduate students are elected for the TPSS Graduate Student Oganization (GSO). For the 2015 - 2016 school year, the TPSS GSO officers are:

  • Kauahi Perez - President
  • Tia Silvasy - Vice President
  • Greg Hoover ​- Secretary​
  • Aimee Uyehara - Treasurer​

The TPSS GSO strives to enrich the graduate student experience in our department by orchestrating social events and activities. The goal of these events is not only to provide camaraderie among students outside of the classroom and laboratory, but also to bring the entire department together, including faculty and staff, for informal events.

Annual Waffle Party

Before the start of the Fall semester, Dr. Ania Wieczorek, the TPSS Graduate Program Chairman, hosts a waffle breakfast for the TPSS graduate department to introduce incoming new graduate students and faculty members. It's a time to sit, eat and get to know new and old faces. And enjoy delicious waffles made by the graduate program chairman!