Foundations of Gardening



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Foundations of Gardening (FOG) is a comprehensive 10-week online MSU Extension course for adults interested in the MSU Extension Master Gardener (EMG) volunteer program AND for anyone in the public who wants to learn the scientific principles of gardening. The course is open to all. It explores many aspects of gardening through the use of self-paced learning modules partnered with weekly live lectures from experts in the field.  FOG is entirely electronic with many downloadable materials. There is also an option for a print version of the readings (at an additional cost) once enrolled in the course. Refer to the syllabus below to learn more.

Interested in applying to our MSU Extension Master Gardener Program® and not sure if you are in the right place? You are!  MSU Extension has a new structure for providing garden education to anyone in the public in combination with those who wish to later apply to the MSU EMG volunteer program. We no longer offer local in-person trainings - this is the new course for future MSU EMGs! Everyone who passes FOG walks away with an MSU Extension FOG Certificate. Certificate holders who want to apply to the MSU EMG Program later participate in additional steps (see link below for more information). Receiving a FOG certificate does not guarantee an individual will become an MSU EMG and the timing of volunteer application steps may vary by county. If you have any questions about how FOG relates to the MSU EMG Program, contact us prior to registering for FOG. 

Foundations of Gardening Course Syllabus 

Course Offerings - Two per year (Late Winter and Fall)


Fall 2024 Registration is Now Open!

Registration Period: July 10 - August 27, 2024

Fall 2024 - Sept 3 - Nov 19, 2024, live sessions Tuesday nights 6-8:30 p.m.

Cost: $350/person


REGISTRATION INSTRUCTIONS (complete steps 1 & 2) 

To register for this course, you will need to first create an account and sign in with your email/password, then return to this page to complete the registration process. Step-by-step instructions are below.  

STEP #1: Create your Michigan State University Guest Account by selecting the Create Your MSU Guest Account button below. (For detailed instructions visit the following page: Instructions: Creating Your Guest Account.) Once you have created your guest account return to this page. 

Create Your MSU Guest Account 

STEP #2: To register click the button below that lists your county of residence. You will be prompted to login with your Guest Account (your email) and Password. Upon registration, you will receive a confirmation email including instructions for accessing our online course platform, D2L.  

You must create an account to view the number of seats available per region. We will do our best to update the website regarding availability. 

You can only choose the button below that lists your county of residence. If it is full you cannot register for another location. You can return to this site to recheck your location for openings due to cancellations. 

More details on the course and when it starts is below the registration buttons.

Central MI - Clare, Gladwin, Isabella, Mecosta, Missaukee, Osceola, Wexford

Mid MI - Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Montcalm

NE Lower - Alcona, Alpena, Arenac, Crawford, Iosco, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, Roscommon

NW Lower - Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason

Oakland County

Saginaw Valley - Bay, Genesee, Midland, Shiawassee, Saginaw, Tuscola

Southwest - Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Van Buren

Southeast - Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, Washtenaw

Thumb - Huron, Lapeer, Macomb, Sanilac, St. Clair

Upper Peninsula - All Counties

Wayne County

West MI - Allegan, Barry, Kent, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ottawa

Fall 2024 - Course Details

Weekly self-paced lessons Sept 10 - Nov 19, 2024; final exam period to follow.

  • Course Officially Opens with a Practice Session: Tuesday, Sept 3, 2024. This a very important practice session where we will be live to show you around the course and answer questions.
  • Live sessions Tuesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. (live attendance highly recommended; also recorded).
  • Entire course is virtual and in electronic format - all readings are downloadable for future personal use.
  • No printed manual included - printed copy of all readings available for an extra fee - details on how to order posted in the course prior to the start of the course.
  • Absolutely no refunds for this course after 5 p.m. on August 27, 2024. 
  • If you have ANY questions about this course, you may email us at
  • After you register, unit learning materials are not available until Sept 3, 2024, but you can review welcome materials starting August 20, 2024.
  • Final Exam Due Date: December 10, 2024; course material access closes December 31, 2024. 


Will there be other courses offered? 

Yes!  We offer two course every year.  One Feb-May, the other Sept-Dec.

Enter your contact info here and we will keep you updated about future FOG courses. 

NOTE: The above link is for future communications about upcoming courses. It is not a registration link.


Scholarship Information

Scholarships of $150 can be applied (if awarded) towards the cost of MSU Extension's Foundations of Gardening (FOG) when registration opens. There are three short essay questions in this application where you can share your interest in the course and this scholarship.

    • Those who receive a scholarship are notified with instructions on how to register before FOG registration opens. Due to the volume of applications received, we do not contact those who do not receive a scholarship. If you are not contacted by MSUE on or before June 26, 2024, you have not received a scholarship. Questions related to this process or your application can be directed to  
    • Unclaimed scholarships cannot be used for future FOG courses - reapplication is necessary.

Additional Course 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:

This course replaces MSU Extension's former MSU Extension Master Gardener training; however, not everyone who registers for this course needs to apply to become 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. A FOG certificate can be used to apply to the MSU EMG Volunteer Program for up to three years after receiving the certificate.

Although this course is directed to adults, teens can take the FOG course; however, no one under the age of 18 can apply to become an MSU EMG.

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)

Ten units composed of readings, videos, activities, and website explorations. Learning materials are completed prior to attending the live virtual class each week.

10 Live Virtual Class Sessions
(One per week)

Each week a 2.5-hour webinar is taught by MSU experts in the field. Lectures reinforce and expand on content and include polls, demonstrations, and a Q&A session.


Assessments and Certification

Weekly assessments are used to track knowledge gains. Those who achieve a score of 80% or higher on all unit post-assessments and the final exam earn a Certificate of Completion.


Social Opportunities

A virtual social discussion board provides opportunities to connect with others taking the course.


Downloadable Resources

The contents of this course are entirely online. All readings and many resources can be downloaded for use during and after the course.