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UMass Extension's Green School

Program Background

Green School poplar logo

UMass Extension’s Green School is a comprehensive 60+ hour certificate short course that offers fundamental horticultural training in a compact time frame. The program is designed for professional practitioners such as landscapers, lawn care providers, nursery operators, public and private grounds managers, arborists, professional gardeners, landscape and garden designers, industry sales and support professionals, and others in the green industries. Both experienced professionals as well as those aspiring to be will benefit from this course.

The curriculum, which emphasizes a systems-based approach to plant and land care, is based on current research and is built on a framework of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The course is expressly designed to promote understanding of economically feasible and environmentally sound plant and land care practices, and the relation of those practices to the protection and preservation of natural resources and the health of non-target organisms. The primary learning objective is to communicate effective and efficient approaches for the production and maintenance of healthy, resilient, functional, and attractive managed landscapes with simultaneous emphasis on responsibility, sustainability, and environmental stewardship.

Green School has been successfully offered to the industry as a certificate short course since the early 1990’s, and more recently for UMass Amherst Stockbridge School of Agriculture academic credit. 

Green School is only offered every other year, and the course will not be offered again until Oct-Dec 2024. We expect to begin taking registrations for the next class in July 2024.

Click to expand the headings below for complete course information and registration instructions.

Course Format

The information below is from 2022 and is here to give future students an idea of how the course is structured and what topics are covered.

Green School in 2022 was an entirely virtual course taught by UMass Extension Specialists, UMass faculty, and distinguished guest instructors. While Green School has traditionally been offered as an in-person program and some aspects of the interaction and networking are certainly missed, this current shift to virtual instruction offers unique benefits, including registration cost savings due to reduced overhead, savings on time and travel expenses, and opportunity for those who have previously been unable to attend due to other commitments, travel restrictions or distance the ability to participate from the convenience of their own homes and offices!

When? Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from late October through mid-Dedcember.

Geographic Disclaimer: While attendees from far and wide are welcome to join us for this virtual course, please note that the information presented will have a geographic focus on Massachusetts and New England, and therefore will be most applicable to those locations. Scheduled class times are listed in Eastern Time.

Curriculum & Schedule

Green School students choose a "specialty track" when registering. Three tracks are offered.

Click the corresponding track name for complete curriculum and schedule information:


Program Fees & Options for Tuition Assistance

Registration Fee

The 2022 early-bird tuition rate until 9/15/22 was $900. The regular tuition rate was $1025. The registration deadline for the next class is 10/18/24, pending availability of seats. 

Green School Career Access Scholarship

The goal of this scholarship program is to enable students from diverse backgrounds to successfully prepare for and join the horticulture industry in the areas of General Landscape, Turf, or Arboriculture.

Please note that there are a limited number of Green School seats and a completed scholarship application does not guarantee a seat. Only payment upon registration or notification of a successful scholarship award secures a seat. If you have concerns about course availability while your scholarship application is pending, it is suggested that you register and pay in full. Should you be awarded a scholarship, your payment will be refunded.

Eligibility: We are seeking applicants who (1) have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED/HiSET, (2) are motivated to receive training in the care and maintenance of plants and soils, (3) and have an interest in entering the horticultural services industry workforce in a professional capacity.

We will prioritize applicants from one or more of the following categories:

  • from diverse backgrounds
  • in need of financial assistance to take Green School
  • facing barriers to entering the horticultural services industry
  • a resident of a Massachusetts not attending Green School under the sponsorship of an employer*

We accepted Career Access Scholarship applications for the Fall 2022 session. The scholarship application period will close on 9/15/2022, but applicants are encouraged to apply early. Qualified applicants may be contacted for a virtual interview to complete the application process.

The application period for a Career Access scholarship for the 2024 Green School closed on 9/15/2024.

If you have questions about the Career Access Scholarship, please email or call the UMass Extension Landscape, Nursery & Urban Forestry Program at (413) 545-0895.

*Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Express Grant Program

EMPLOYERS! For eligible employers, the Green School registration fee for employee training may be partially or fully reimbursed through the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Express Grant Program. Employers should submit an online application to the Express Grant Program at least 4 weeks in advance of UMass Green School’s starting date. To find out if you qualify and to apply for benefits, go to Other states may have similar programs... check with your local or state workforce development agency.

To apply for a Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Express Grant in 2024, you will need the following information:

  • Course name: 
  • Course ID:
  • Cost: 
  • Cost type: per person


Why Choose Green School?

  • 60+ classroom hours delivered over a condensed time frame; an alternative or a stepping stone to a more involved degree program.
  • Convenient, yet rigorous remote learning from the comfort of your home or office.
  • In-depth, research-based training for skills that are in high demand, and are applicable to active and engaging outdoor work.
  • Three educational track options to tailor the curriculum to fit your personal goals.
  • Structured interaction with University educators and researchers.
  • Competitive fees.
  • An established program with a 30+ year history and a certificate that carries weight in the industry.

Move your career or business forward, and achieve better results with a smaller overall impact!

How Does the Virtual Green School Work?

The information below is from 2022 and is here to give future students an idea of how the course is structured and what topics are covered.

Instruction in 2022 was 100% virtual, providing attendees with online activities and resources via an online learning management system (Moodle). Most class sessions were delivered synchronously (live) via Zoom, although some content was pre-recorded. All synchronous material will be recorded for later on-demand viewing (while most lecture recordings will be available within approximately two hours following the conclusion of class, note that technical difficulties may sometimes interfere and that timing cannot be guaranteed). Handouts, polls, surveys, assigned readings and guided discussion/Q&A opportunities complement class instruction.

Classes are generally scheduled for 3 hours (two 1.5 hour blocks with a ½ hour break in between) on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from late October through mid-December. For more specific schedule information, check the details for the track you are interested in by clicking on the tab for each track under the Curriculum & Schedule heading above. Please note that class schedules may be subject to change.
Quizzes: Regular graded quizzes will be assigned consistently throughout the course to assess mastery of the material and to keep students progressing appropriately. Generally, each class/topic will have an associated quiz. For maximum flexibility, each quiz after it opens can be completed within a multi-day window as opposed to a specific date and time. Generally, access to quizzes will open at 6:00 PM on each class day, and close the following Monday at 9:00 PM before the next class week begins.
Prospective students should have a basic understanding of online learning and access to a computer or other device, a reliable high speed internet connection, functioning speakers and microphone or headset, and a webcam (optional, but strongly encouraged). These materials will not be provided. Previous experience with Moodle and Zoom is not required.

What to Expect:

  • 3-5 classes, comprising approximately 9 hours of instruction, per week. These will consist predominantly of live lecture material, and may also be supplemented by live interactive discussion, Q&A, and review. Select lecture material may be pre-recorded and accessed directly through Moodle on-demand.
  • 1 quiz per class, each week.
    • Quizzes open at 6:00 PM the day of instruction (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) and close at 9:00 PM the following Monday before the start of the next class week. Each quiz will be timed and must be completed in a single attempt.
  • Note that additional time will be needed to study and to take quizzes. This can add an additional 5-10 hours or more per week, depending on the individual.
  • A syllabus indicating when course materials will be available in Moodle, the online Learning Management System for the course.
    • Learning objectives, outlines/notes, and pre-recorded lectures for each class week to be posted by 5:00 PM on Mondays.

Course Requirements

Computer Access: Regular, reliable access to a computer or other device and the internet is a must! Delivery of lectures, outlines, supplemental materials, and quizzes will all be online.

Students will be issued a UMass NetID, which is needed to gain access to Moodle, all Green School materials, to view live and recorded lectures, and to take the quizzes.

To prepare for this virtual learning opportunity: 

  • Have a device capable of connecting to the internet (e.g., desktop or laptop computer, tablet, smart phone; these are listed in the order of preference/convenience for remote instruction) with audio capability. Having a webcam is encouraged and will enhance the interactive experience.
    • If you plan to use a tablet or smart phone, plan to download the Zoom app onto your device. Accessing Moodle with a tablet or smart phone may not be as convenient as with a desktop or laptop. While a smart phone may be used to attend lectures, it is not recommended since the small screen size makes viewing PowerPoint slides difficult.
    • The ability to print is highly recommended. Students are strongly encouraged to make a copy of the outline to take notes on during each lecture.
  • Check the bandwidth on your device in the location where you will participate in Green School.
  • You’ll need a reliable internet connection – broadband wired or wireless (3G, 4G/LTE or 5G). The following page has detailed information that will help you to determine bandwidth requirements for Zoom:
  • Get familiar with Zoom.  If you are a new user, consider practicing with family or friends.  There are also a variety of YouTube videos that can be helpful.
  • Become familiar with Moodle, the Learning Management System at UMass Amherst that we will be using:
  • Attend a Green School Orientation/Technical Check-In via Zoom before the first class to do a practice run with Zoom and to ask questions about the course (you'll receive information on these after registration).

Key Information

  • Pesticide & Professional Contact Hours: 12 contact hours for Massachusetts categories 29, 36, 37; 6 contact hours for Massachusetts Licensed Applicator Training (the full requirements for a 3-year renewal cycle). Pesticide credits awarded will be valid for all New England states, but not for any states outside of New England (you are encouraged to check with your pesticide license authority outside of New England for the applicability of training received at Green School). Credits available for MCH, MCLP, MCA, ISA, SAF, CFE and AOLCP professional certifications.
  • Certificate: Awarded upon achieving at least a 70% final average score. There will be a quiz associated with most class sessions and an average of all quiz grades will comprise your final grade. It is not necessary to take the daily quizzes to attend Green School if receiving the certificate of completion is not desired (please let us know ahead of time of you plan to audit the course).
  • Quizzes and Grading: All quizzes are done online. Quizzes will be open-book, with limited time for completion once begun. Each quiz will be available for students to complete between 6:00 PM the day the class is offered and close at 9:00 PM the following Monday before the start of the next course week. All scores and grades are confidential and available only to the registered student.
  • Certification Exam Preparation: Green School is also helpful for people preparing to take the following professional certification exams - Massachusetts Certified Arborist (MCA) offered by the Massachusetts Arborist Association (MAA), Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist (MCH) offered by the Massachusetts Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA), and the Massachusetts Certified Landscape Professional (MCLP) offered by the Massachusetts Association of Landscape Professionals (MLP).
  • UMass Academic Credits: UMass academic credit is pending (3 credits requested) and will be available for an additional fee of approximately $450 ($130/credit plus a $60 registration fee). This is in addition to the Green School registration fee. Contact Jason Lanier at or 413-545-0895 for more information on this option.

Testimonials from Past Green School Attendees

  • “Green School is a must for the landscape professional. I had been in the landscape business for 29 years, operating at a high level. Yet, the amount of knowledge I gained helped to transform my business to the most effective tree care business in my area.”
  • "After a few months post-graduation (the following spring) I received a raise.”
  • “Yes, the amount of confidence I gained by knowing I had the latest research and scientific understanding has been immensely beneficial to my personal life and my business life.” 
  • [I became] “better qualified to charge a higher hourly rate."
  • “I loved this program. Thank you all so much for your hard work!”
  • “This was a very informative course. I was not expecting it to be so in depth. Thank you!”


E-mail or call the UMass Extension Landscape, Nursery & Urban Forestry Program at (413) 545-0895.