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.  We also have an option to order a print version of the readings at an additional cost.

Please read the syllabus to learn more about this course.  MSU Extension 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 can take this course, including those wanting to apply to become an MSU Extension Master Gardener. 

Foundations of Gardening Course Syllabus 

Current Course Offerings

Winter 2024 - Feb 1 - April 11, 2024, live sessions on Thursday nights 6-8:30 p.m.

Registration for our Winter FOG Course is now open!

  • Please follow the registration instructions below.
  • There will be absolutely no refunds for this course after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, January 24, 2024. 
  • If you have ANY questions about the course format, expectations, or materials, please email us at before Jan 30, 2024.


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.  

SPECIAL NOTE: 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. 


There will be absolutely no refunds for this course after 5pm on Wednesday, January 24, 2024


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

West Michigan (Allegan, Barry, Kent, Mecosta, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, and Ottawa Counties)

Oakland County

Wayne County

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

Southwest (Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Van Buren Counties)

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

Southeast (Hillsdale, Jackson, Lenawee, Livingston, Monroe, and Washtenaw Counties)

Northwest (Antrim/Benzie; Charl/Emmet; G Traverse, Kalk, Lake, Leelanau, Manistee/Mason/Missauk; Osceola; Wexford)

UP (Alger,Marq,Chipp,Delta,Men,Dickinson,Gogebic,Onton,Hough,Kew,Baraga/,Iron,Mack,Chipp,Schoolcraft,Luce)

Northeast (Cheboygan, Presque Is, Otsego, Montmor, Alpena, Crawf, Oscoda, Alcona, Rosc, Ogemaw, Iosco, Gladwin, Arenac)

Scholarship application period Nov 1-30, 2023 - Application period is now closed and all recipients have been notified via email.  

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 were notified with instructions on how to register for the Winter 24 FOG course.  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 Dec 7, 2023, 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.

 Course Officially Opens/Practice Session: Thursday, Feb 1, 2024.

Course Details:

  • There is a very important practice session on Thursday, Feb 1, 6:00-7:30pm, where we will be live to show you around the course and answer questions.
  • Weekly self-paced lessons Feb 8 - April 11, 2024.
  • Required live sessions every Thursday, 6-8:30 p.m. 
  • Cost: $350/person; all electronic format (no printed manual included but an option to order printed resources is available to participants for an extra fee).
  • After you register, unit learning materials are not available until 8am on Feb 1, 2024, but you will be able to review welcome materials in the course starting Jan 18, 2024. We will email you more information about the course as we get closer to the start date. 



Future Course Offerings

Fall 2024 - Registration opening next year, 2024

  • Weekly self-paced lessons Sept 10 - Nov 19, 2024.
  • Course kicks off with a practice session 6-7:30 p.m. on Sept 3, 2024.
  • Required live sessions Tuesdays, 6-8:30 p.m. 

Interested in future course offerings? Enter your contact info here and we will keep you updated about future FOG courses. 

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


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.