Flowers in garden

Become a Better Gardener!

UVM Extension Master Gardener Program

The University of Vermont (UVM) Extension Master Gardener program started in 1991 as a unique volunteer program where Vermonters received training by university faculty and industry professionals on research-based gardening information. In return, participants volunteer in their communities by educating others on a number of home horticulture topics.

Our Course

The UVM Extension Master Gardener Course is our 16-week online signature course. It covers the fundamentals of home gardening including basic botany, soil fertility, insects and diseases, vegetable planning and production, herbaceous perennials, small fruit and tree fruit, pollinator plants, tree care, landscape design, and volunteerism. Content is specific to Vermont's growing conditions. The course is offered each winter/spring as required training to become a certified Extension Master Gardener volunteer or as personal/professional development as an at-your-own-pace asynchronous option.

2024 Extension Master Gardener Course

Registration is closed for the 2024 Extension Master Gardener course. 

The 2024 course is completely online and will start on January 19, 2024. The course runs for 16 weeks and students have access to materials until May 24.

Students interested in becoming a certified Extension Master Gardener (Track 1--volunteer certification) will attend real-time Zoom sessions with instructors on Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. from January 25 to May 9 plus attend a session on volunteerism.

Please read the information below to learn course details before you register to better understand the course topics covered, student expectations and how to set up an Extension campus account. You will need to select your course track -- Track 1 (volunteer certification) or Track 2 (at-you-own-pace) upon registration. 

The fee is $400 per person for Vermonters and $550 per person for people who live outside Vermont. Note that registration covers 16 weeks of instruction but does not include the course manual.

Registration for the 2024 course closed on January 12, 2024. Contact our office to be added to the notification list for the 2025 course.

Track 1 (Volunteer Track): Become an Extension Master Gardener!

Track 1 (Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Certification)

The UVM Extension Master Gardener (EMG) Certification program, also known as Track 1, requires an application process and background check for Vermont residents interested in participating. Students who are interested in this track have access to the online course with a weekly schedule that includes real-time Q&A sessions with instructors, quizzes, weekly activities and strict due dates. Students in this track commit to completing all course assignments on time, and go on to a 40-hour volunteer-internship requirement over a 2-year period after the course.

EMG volunteer Jodi Larison shares her experiences on being an Extension Master Gardener.

Expectations of Track 1 (Volunteer Track) Students:

  • Commit to completing all course requirements on time (including weekly readings, pre-recorded lectures, quizzes and final exam) and attending all the weekly Zoom sessions on Thursday evenings. We estimate that Track 1 students devote about 6 hours per week to successfully complete the course.
  • Complete volunteerism paperwork during the first week of the course: Volunteer Application, a background check consent form (if you have lived in Vermont for more than a year) or fingerprinting process (if you have lived in Vermont for less than a year); and our Minor Protection Training.
  • Participate in a 40-hour volunteer internship (over 2 years).

Benefits to Becoming a Certified Extension Master Gardener:

  • Course completion letter and intern badge.
  • Certified Extension Master Gardener badge and certificate (upon completion of 40 volunteer hours).
  • Access to UVM faculty and staff expertise and other professionals.
  • Learn from other Extension Master Gardeners.
  • Give back to your community.
  • A network of EMG colleagues that includes thousands of Vermonters.
  • Access to a number of special offers, discounts and educational opportunities.

Track 1 / EMG Certification is a Good Fit for someone who is:

  • A Vermont resident (required).
  • Comfortable using a online-course platform and Zoom.
  • Able to commit to the course schedule and complete all assignments on time.
  • Eager to make a difference in your community.
  • Enjoys sharing knowledge with members of your community / general public.
  • Committed to research- / science-based home horticulture information.
  • Able to interact amicably and professionally with others.
  • Committed to environmental stewardship.
  • Dedicated to completing 40 hours of volunteerism within 2 years of taking the course.
  • Committed to maintaining volunteer certification. 

Track 2: At-Your-Own-Pace

Track 2 (At-Your-Own-Pace)

Track 2 is open to students outside Vermont and Vermonters who would like to take the course at their own pace. Track 2 students have access to all course content but pursue the course at their leisure with a completely optional weekly schedule, assignments and due dates. There is no volunteer requirement and no Extension Master Gardener volunteer certification for Track 2 students. Students who successfully complete the course receive a Home Horticulture Certificate of Completion that may be used for personal or professional advancement purposes.

Expectations of Track 2 (At-Your-Own-Pace) Students:

  • If interested in a Home Horticulture Certificate, complete the course quizzes and final exam before the course closes.
  • It is estimated that Track 2 students spend 3 to 5 hours each week to complete assignments, quizzes, and watch recorded sessions.

Track 2 Benefits:

  • No schedule, no hassle.
  • Access the materials for your own learning as your leisure.
  • Receive the Home Horticulture Certificate of Completion.*
*Please note: The Home Horticulture Certificate of Completion does not imply that the holder is representing the University of Vermont as a certified ExtensionMaster Gardener volunteer.

Track 2 is a Good Fit for Someone who is:

  • Not a Vermont resident.
  • Not interested or doesn't have time to volunteer.
  • Self-motivated.
  • Interested in navigating course content at their own leisure without following the course schedule.
  • Interested in gardening information for your own knowledge.
  • Working in a field related to gardening and wants to learn more about the science of gardening.
  • Interested in a professional qualification (The Home Horticulture Certificate of Completion can be used as a professional qualification on a resume).

Tips on Registering for This and Other Courses Hosted by the Extension Foundation

Getting an Extension Foundation Account

This online course is hosted on the Campus Site of the national Extension Foundation at

To register for the course (and other courses we offer), you must have an Extension Foundation account. You may use your Google or your Microsoft account to create an account at this site and subsequently log in. If you do not have either, then please select the "Create new account" button at: or use the Account Creation Form which does not require email validation.

If you have any problems or questions about creating your account, see the Extension Foundation's Campus Help Page.

Finding Our Courses

Once you have an Extension Foundation Campus account, you will be able to enroll in our UVM Extension Master Gardener and Vermont Master Composter courses. You can find our courses through a search of the catalog, using "vt master gardener" as keywords.

Course Syllabus and Structure

Course Content

The 2024 course will start on January 19, 2024 and course content is available to students until May 24, 2024.

The 16-week course covers the topics listed below. See the full course syllabus here. 

Course Structure

The Extension Master Gardener course is offered online over 16 weeks. Each Friday afternoon, a new module opens. Each module contains:

  • An outline of topics covered in the module;

  • A pre-recorded lecture by the week's instructor,

  • Required readings from the course manual; and 

  • Other assignments for the week.

Track 1 students follow a weekly schedule as follows. 

  • Tuesdays by midnight: Turn in a question based on the lecture and readings.

  • Thursdays 6 to 7:30 p.m.: Attend the real-time Zoom sessions with the instructor.

  • Fridays by midnight: Take the module's weekly quiz. 

Course Grading

Grades are determined by the ability of Track 1 students ability to complete the items above by the deadlines. The course also includes a final exam. Track 1 students must achieve a total grade of 80% (160 out of 200 points) to pass the course and move on to becoming an intern.

Track 2 students must complete all quizzes and the final exam before the close of the course portal, and must achieve a total grade of 80% (80 out of 100) to receive a Home Horticulture Certificate. 

Required Course Manual

Extension Master Gardener Manual

The required text for the course is the Penn State Extension Master Gardener Manual available for $75 plus shipping through PennState. this 880-page book is comprehensive and covers topics included in and beyond the scope of the course. 

The manual is NOT included in the registration fee. Please order the manual upon registration.

Other Options

If you are unable to purchase the manual, we have placed copies in multiple libraries around the state, see list below.

You may lend the book from one of these libraries directly or through an interlibrary loan. Talk to your local librarian for details about how to make an interlibrary loan request. Please keep in mind that the library loan period will likely be shorter then the duration of the course, so you may need to renew the book several times. This period varies by library, so be sure to ask your librarian about their loan period policies. Some libraries will offer an extended loan period, so be sure to ask your local library if this is possible.

One copy of the Penn State Master Gardener Manual, are available at the following locations:

Scholarship Opportunities

The fee for the Extension Master Gardener course is $400 for Vermonters -- which translates into a value of $25 per week. However, we know that the registration fee may be a hardship and so we offer partial scholarships to Vermont residents interested in completing Track 1 (volunteer track) of the course.

Scholarship Information

We accept VSAC and AmeriCorps grants to cover course costs.

Some of our all-volunteer local Extension Master Gardener Chapters and other organizations also offer scholarships for students in certain locations in the state.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scholarship and grants for the 2024 course are due by no later than 5:00 pm E.T. on Friday, December 15, 2023.

Learn more about scholarship opportunities.

Refunds & Accommodations

Registration Deadline

Registration for the 2024 course will close on midnight on January 12, 2024. We are unable to accept students to the course after this date but would be happy to add you to our contact list for next year's course.

Dropping the Course / Refund Policy

The final date to drop the course and request a refund is midnight on Friday, February 3, 2024. We are unable to process refunds after this date. We can, however, move Track 1 students over to Track 2 upon written request.


To request a disability-related accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Deb Heleba at or 802-656-1777 by December 15, 2023 so we may assist you.


Please direct questions about the course to Deb Heleba at



2024 Course Registration Closed

Registration for the 2024 course closed on January 12, 2024. Contact our office to be notified about the 2025 course.

Course Fee:

In-State: $400 

Out of State: $550 

Note: The required course manual, not included in the registration fee, is available for $75 plus shipping through  PennState.

Student Testimonials

"The UVM Extension Master Gardener Course provided so much information in a way that was fun to learn and easily applicable. I recommend the course for anyone who wants to learn more about gardening, regardless of experience!"

"Having majored in environmental studies and minored in biology, I already had most of the basic knowledge. However, this course allowed me to dive deeper into topics that I am passionate about and provided new knowledge that I know will continue to be useful in my job."