Foundations of Gardening



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Foundations of Gardening is a comprehensive 10-week online MSU Extension course that explores many aspects of gardening. Lessons include self-paced learning opportunities and live lectures from experts in the field. Note: This course is entirely electronic - we do not provide printed materials for the course; however, participants can download many of its resources for local printing and personal use during the course.

Please read the syllabus to learn more about this course.  Starting in 2023, MSUE has a new structure for providing garden education to the public in combination with those who wish to apply to become MSU Extension Master Gardener® volunteers.  Foundations of Gardening is a non-volunteer gardening certificate course.  Alone, it is not the MSU Extension Master Gardener (MSU EMG) training class.  However, it is one pre-requisite to becoming an MSU EMG.  Anyone, including those wanting to later apply to become an MSU EMG, can take this course. 

Foundations of Gardening Course Syllabus 

Course Offerings


Fall 2023 - Registration is now closed.

There will be absolutely no refunds for this course after 5pm on Friday, August 25, 2023.  If you have ANY questions about the course format, expectations, or materials, please email us at before August 25.

Course Officially Opens/Practice Session: Tuesday, Sept 5, 2023, 10am - 12:30pm 

  • Weekly self-paced lessons Sept 5, 2023 until Nov 21, 2023.
  • Course kicks off with a practice session 10am-1130am on Tuesday, Sept 5, 2023.
  • Required live sessions Tuesdays, Sept 12 thru Nov 21, 2023 (no class on Sept 26); 10am -12:30pm 
  • Cost: $350/person; all electronic format (no printed manual included but option to order printed resources available to participants for an extra fee).

    After you register, note that the course does not open until 8am on Sept 5, 2023. You will not be able to access the course until this date/time. We will email you more information about the course as we get closer to the start date. 

    There is a very important practice session on Tuesday, Sept 5, 10-11:30.


Winter 2024 - Registration opening this fall.

  • Ten required live sessions on Tuesdays, 6-8:30pm, practice session starting Feb 1, 2024
  • Registration for the winter 2024 course will not open until fall, 2023.

Can't take the course right now? Enter your contact info here and we will keep you updated about future FOG courses.


Fall 2024 - Registration opening next year, 2024.

  • Dates/times TBD


More Information:

Please click on the above Syllabus link for more details on MSU Extension's Foundations of Gardening.

Other inquiries related to Foundations of Gardening:

Not everyone who registers for this course becomes an MSU Extension Master Gardener.  You may take this course for personal reasons and leave with our certificate if you pass the course.  If interested in joining the MSU Extension Master Gardener Program after enrolling in this course, click here for more details on steps to apply to become and MSU EMG.  Taking this course does not guarantee you will become an MSU EMG but is the first step needed to apply to become one.

Inquiries about the MSU Extension Master Gardener Program:

Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Please indicate any accessibility requests by emailing 


Foundations of Gardening Course Content


10 Self-Paced Units

(One per week)

Each unit is composed of several lessons, each with readings, videos, activities, and websites explorations. All lessons need to be completed prior to attending the virtual class for that week.  Each unit takes 5-7 hours to complete.

10 Live Virtual Class Sessions

(One per week)

Each week participants attend a 2.5-hour webinar taught by 1-2 experts in the field.  Instructors use this time to reinforce and expand on unit content using lectures, polls, and demonstrations, followed by a question-and-answer session.


Assessments and Certification

Weekly assessment reinforce knowledge you have gained.  Those who achieve a score of 80% or higher on all unit quizzes and the final exam earn a Certificate of Completion.


Social Opportunities

This course includes a virtual social discussion board that provides opportunities for connect with others taking the course.


Downloadable Resources

The contents of this course are entirely electronic.  All readings and additional resources can be downloaded on your own computer for personal use after the course closes.  We do not provide any pre-printed material or manuals; however, the amount of resources that you can download are compiled in easy to download zip files.