The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is set to begin only the second program in the country that will offer a doctor of plant health degree.

The Professional Program in Plant Health has been given final approval to begin in 2009. Gary Hein, who has served as professor of entomology at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, will be program director.

“It's comparable to the doctor of veterinary medicine program for animals and doctor of public health for humans, only it's for plants,” Hein said. “It will involve intensive course work but also intensive practicum or internship training.”

The program is designed to train practitioners rather than researchers in entomology, agronomy, plant pathology and soil science. The University of Florida is the only other U.S. university with a similar program.