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Master Gardeners enhance Colorado communities through outreach, education and environmental stewardship.

Frequently Asked Questions   arrow

FAQ: Training Programs

What’s the difference between your gardening training programs?

There are significant differences between our gardening programs and trainings and you should carefully choose what works best for you:

  • Certified Colorado Gardener: This is a training program that provides a certificate upon successful completion. The training program is called CSU Green School and is the same basic horticulture training required of our Colorado Master Gardener volunteers. Learn more: We have a flexible and interactive full course plus several self-paced short course options.
  • Colorado Master Gardener: The Colorado Master Gardener (CMG) program is a volunteer program that requires an application, interview, reference checks and a background check. CMGs serve as CSU volunteers in local counties through a local CSU Extension office. CMGs have volunteer service hours and continuing education required annually. Volunteers serve 50 hours in their first year followed by 24 hours in subsequent years.​ The program offers unique opportunities to learn and educate about gardening in their local community through various projects, helpdesks, and social events.
  • Certified Gardener Online: Not in Colorado? Just want to take a couple online gardening classes? We offer generic, non-location specific classes that could be useful for any gardener. These are 100% self-paced. No assignments and no live classes.

What is CSU’s Green School program?

Colorado Master Gardeners AND Certified Colorado Gardeners have access to the same basic horticulture/gardening training – to simplify this we call our training ‘Green School.’

Are there prerequisites prior to enrolling?

There are no prerequisites for Green School if you’re registered as a Certified Colorado Gardener – except to have reliable internet and a computer/laptop to access all courses. To access Green School trainings as a Colorado Master Gardener apprentice, you will need to apply and complete the required interview and background check. Once accepted, you’ll be given access to register and pay for Green School as a volunteer.

Is Green School accredited?

The Green School program and courses are offered through the Office of Engagement & Extension at Colorado State University, an accredited institution, which ensures that the course/program has gone through a comprehensive process that evaluates content quality. Our courses are all developed by faculty, staff and specialists employed by CSU and all course content is peer-reviewed; however, our noncredit programming is not accredited separately from the university accreditation.

If I complete Green School now, can I become a CMG later?

We regularly have folks that complete the Certified Colorado Gardener program and then at a later date apply for the CMG program in their local county. This is an option within 3 years of successfully completing the Certified Colorado Gardener Green School training. We do not provide refunds for the price difference if you choose to become a CMG later but you will have free access to re-take all online training classes if desired. Additionally, we offer loads of continuing education classes to all CMG volunteers annually both at the state and local level.

Interested in applying to become a CMG?

You can find out more about this process at > click on “About” and “Become a Master Gardener” – If you’d like to find out more about your local county program you can see contact information on our website.

How do Short Courses work?

Each short course includes 5 individual classes. We have 4 different short course options:

For instance, the ‘Growing Food’ Short Course gives you access to 5 classes (soils, vegetables, small fruits, tree fruits and entomology). If you click the title of the short course above, you’ll find registration details. These are self-paced so you can customize your schedule.

Are short courses customizable?

No, we have pre-set bundles of classes making up each short course. We cannot offer customized bundles or short courses. You are welcome to registered for 2+ short courses but please know that many short courses overlap content (for instance, soils in offered in each short course). If many of the courses interest you, you’re better off registering for the full course so you have access to all 14 classes – then you can self-select and self-pace the classes.

I’m interested in a career in Horticulture – are there other class options?

Yes! CSU has an excellent horticulture academic program. Here are some specific links to program pages with more info:




You can also fill out a ‘Request Information’ form on the Horticulture pages to get connected to a coach who could help you understand the content learned in each course to identify fit and courses you need for your next degree.

FAQ: Pricing & Payment

Why is there a price difference between programs?

We subsidize the price of Green School training for our volunteers since they’ll be required to provide 50 hours of service in their first year following training. If a volunteer does not complete their service hours, they are billed $15/hour up to $330. We know many people cannot commit to volunteer service, so we offer Green School to non-volunteers through the Certified Colorado Gardener program which provides access to Green School at a non-subsidized rate of $530.

Do you offer scholarship for Green School?

Yes! We offer need-based scholarships both for Colorado Master Gardeners and Certified Colorado Gardeners. Both are eligible for a 50% discount on training but are subject to availability and are only offered to those who apply by the deadline.

Do you offer refunds?

No, unfortunately, we cannot offer refunds. Please ensure you’re prepared to commit to the program before registering and paying.

Can I use GI bill or other sponsored funding to pay for Green School?

The GI Bill only applies to academic credit courses and Green School is non-credit. Students have inquired about military discounts for noncredit courses in the past, but unfortunately, we’ve never offered any special tuition rates for the military. If you have another sponsoring source (employer, partner/family member, AmeriCorps, etc.) we can accept sponsored payments. Please contact for information.

Can I ‘gift’ a registration?

We have limited options for gifting registration but will try to work with you. Please contact us at to learn more.

Can I pay with a check?

Our standard payment process during registration is using a card. If you need to pay with a check, you can start your online registration and mail a check (payable to: “Colorado State University”) to:

Colorado State University Online
Division of Continuing Education
Colorado State University
1040 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1040

Your registration will be in pending registration status until check is received. Once processed, You’ll receive the Canvas login information for the course with instructions how to access course by email.

FAQ: Green School Format

Where can I find the full course schedule?

The detailed schedule can be downloaded from our website:

What is the workload like?

We have a clear start and end date on our schedule but you’ll note the last month of classes are all optional plus we’ve got a couple “off/break” weeks included in the schedule to keep everyone on-track. Our goal is for you to be successful and learn as much as possible.

The first week of class provides an overview of the course, requirements, how to access/complete online classes AND an introduction to CSU Extension. We strongly recommend scheduling time to complete online trainings and weekly live class reviews. Weekly reviews are recorded and posted promptly if your schedule doesn’t align – it’s OK.

Most classes require up 4-6 hours to complete. The first month contains the longest classes (soils, botany, & trees) in terms of reading and online class content. To support students, we have several “off or catch-up” weeks scheduled to help you ease into the swing of things and have some breaks.

It might also be helpful to know that you’ll have access to all classes and course recordings for a full year.

What are the weekly live reviews?

Following online classes, we offer two sessions for students to join us online for a live class review including Q&A with a subject-matter expert. These are offered Wednesday evenings and Thursday mornings – students are only expected to attend ONE of the sessions. A recording will be available if you have to miss and a complete Q&A document is provided for most sessions.

Will I need to be on camera?

No need to dress up or worry about camera and microphone technology – we don’t allow students to share video because we’ve found it to be distracting and sometimes difficult to manage. Instead, we utilize the Q&A feature in Zoom as well as the Chat box to connect.

Do you take role?

We also don’t take role. These live sessions are highly encouraged – but optional to attend live. You can always watch the recordings.

How long can I access course materials online?

You’ll have access to our online course site (known as ‘Canvas’) for one year from the time you enroll.

What should I know about the Final Exam?

You’ll have unlimited time to complete 50 multiple choice questions. We recommend completing the test in one sitting – but you can leave and come back to the final in multiple sessions. It is open book, open note and researching is encouraged. You have ONE try and you must pass with a 70% or better to earn your certificate. Since the test is open-book, open-note and researching is encouraged, we feel this is very fair.

How do I earn a certificate?

To obtain certification, trainees in the full course must complete 8 online classes and pass the comprehensive final (open-book, research encouraged) with a 70% or better.

Upon completion of the course, you’ll receive a Colorado Gardener Certificate.  However, because there is no subsequent volunteer commitment, participants do not become Colorado State Extension Master Gardeners. The title of ‘CSU Extension Master Gardener’ is a federally registered mark and only to be used for CSU Extension events and purposes.

The Colorado Gardener Certificate may be displayed in a place of business and used in business marketing. 

Short Course participants will receive a Certificate of Completion for the specified short course. All courses must be completed to earn this certificate.

What if I can’t finish the course in the schedule provided? Can I defer to a later semester?

While we can’t transfer you to the next semester, you do have access to all of the curriculum, online courses and ALL recordings for a full year. This means, you can catch-up and watch everything within one year of starting. AND if you have questions along the way, you can still contact any instructor listed in Canvas by subject/course.

Are there resources outside of Canvas I can access?

Oh yes! We’ve got so much information and many excellent resources that will be shared as we go through the course. Here are a few available for free:



Extension Factsheets – Yard & Garden:

CSU Co-Horts Blog: