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.

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 and future 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. For more information on those interested in using this course to apply to become an MSU EMG, click on the link in the contact information below.


Foundations of Gardening Course Syllabus 

REGISTRATION INSTRUCTIONS (complete steps 1 & 2 below) 

To register for this course, you will need to create an account, sign in with your email/password, and complete the registration process. Step-by-step instructions are below. To watch a video tutorial demonstrating an overview of the registration process, click on the following link: Online Course Registration Video Tutorial 

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 web 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.  

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. 
PLEASE NOTE: The course does not begin until 8am on April 6, 2023. You will not be able to access the course until this date/time. We will send more information about the course as we get closer to the start date. You can only choose the button below that lists your county of residence. If it is full you cannot register for another location; however, you can return to this site to recheck your location for openings due to cancellations. 

OAKLAND COUNTY IS FULL - no current openings

SOUTHEAST REGION IS FULL (Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, and Washtenaw Counties) - no current openings

Register: WEST MICHIGAN (Allegan, Barry Kent, Mecosta, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ottawa) - more openings now available

Register: Wayne County (more openings now available)

Register: Southwest Region (Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, St Joseph, Kalamazoo, and Van Buren Counties)

Register: Mid-Michigan (Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Isabella, and Montcalm Counties)

Register: Saginaw Valley Region (Bay, Genesee, Midland, Shiawassee, Saginaw, and Tuscola Counties)

Register: Thumb Region (Huron, Lapeer, Macomb, Sanilac, and St. Clair Counties)

Register: Northeast Region (Alcona, Alpena, Arenac, Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Gladwin, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle, and Roscommon Counties)

Register: Northwest (Antrim, Benzie, Charlevoix, Emmet, G Trav, Kalkaska, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee, Mason, Missaukee, Osceola, Wexford)

Register: Upper Peninsula (Alger, Marquette, Chippewa, Delta, Menominee, Dickinson, Gogebic/Onton, Hough/Kew, Baraga/Iron, Mackinac/Chipp, Schoolcraft/Luce) 

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


Important Dates

Spring Course (April 6 - June 15, 2023)

Course opens on Thursday, April 6, 2023, with a practice/QA session that night between 6-7:30 pm. 

Weekly Live Webinars take place on Thursdays, 6-8:30 pm, April 13 - June 15, 2023

Registration Opens  - March 1, 2023 (Registration link will be posted at 9am on March 1.)

Openings - 500 (45 openings per region); no reservations

Cost: $350/person

Scholarship Applications (now closed) - Scholarship opportunities are now closed.  Those receiving a scholarship were already notified. We did not notify those who did not receive a scholarship.


Fall Course (Sept - Nov, 2023)

Course opens on August 29, 2023

Weekly Live Webinars take place on Tuesdays, 10am - 12:30pm., Sept 5 - Nov 14, 2023 (no class on Sept 26)

Registration Opens in July, 2023 

Openings - 500 (40-50 openings per region); no reservations

Cost: $350/person; scholarships available prior to registration (date 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 needs to become an MSU Extension Master Gardener.  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.

Inquiries about the MSU Extension Master Gardener Program:


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.