Doctor of Philosophy in Agronomy



    Agronomy was traditionally defined in the context of a speciality area of arable agriculture

    emphasizing field crops. While breeders attempt to match varieties to the environment,

    agronomists attempt to adapt them to the environment and management. Agronomy,

    therefore, is the cornerstone of all crop productivity which must be driven by the necessary

    education, training, research and capacity building in light of the following imperatives: use

    of improved seed and other inputs, knowledge in plant and cell physiology, management of

    rhizosphere dynamics, decision-making related to biological and environmental constraints.

    In the changing times, emerging interest in precision agriculture and the sensitivity of

    agriculture to climate widens the scope of agronomic education, training and research. For

    instance, possible changes of climate and their effects on plants, soil, pests and diseases;

    effects on agricultural potential, on production and land use; implications for food security

    and adapting to climate change are a few of the emerging concerns for contemporary crop

    production. The agronomy discipline is thus called upon to provide capacity that will

    produce abundant agronomic products in the 21st Century and beyond.

    The programme is thus tailored to meet the needs of a wider public clientele than has

    traditionally been the case. It is made more flexible and versatile to allow any course to

    be taken in an occasional mode or a carry-over on its own as a unit (or its fraction)

    toward the prescribed parts of the programme. Two specializations (one in field crop

    production and the other in environmental agronomy) do broaden the programme

    horizons as options students may wish to take relative to the prevailing job market

    opportunities and the emerging advances in the field of agronomy. More over, the

    programme is structured in such a way as to fit more library time, self-study and part-time

    learning where full time undertaking is not possible.

    The objectives of this programme are therefore: -

    (i) To produce graduates with ability to identify research problems, design and execute

    research projects aimed at solving the problems within a changing agricultural

    environment. At the same time, the training is to update the agronomists with the

    latest developments in the field of crop production and/or environmental agronomy.

    (ii) To train highly skilled agronomists who will help optimise the country

    1. The programme shall take a minimum of three academic years and a maximum of six academic years.
    1. Each academic year shall consist of two (2) semesters of 15 weeks each.
    1. The Doctor of Philosophy in Agronomy shall be offered by course work, examinations, research and a thesis.
    2. The programme shall consist of five (5) compulsory taught course units and a thesis.
    3. A course unit shall be defined as 60 instructional hours comprising lectures, seminars, term papers and independent desktop research.
    4. The research and thesis component of the programme shall be equivalent to 18 course units which is equivalent to 1080 Hours.
    1. A candidate shall carry out supervised thesis research, for a minimum period of two academic years, and a maximum of four academic years, culminating in a Doctoral thesis.


      Students are admitted once every year usually in September with exception of variation that may be caused by unforeseen circumstances. Applications are, however, received all year round and are processed for yearly admission.

    The common regulations for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in the University of Nairobi shall

    Holders of a Master’s degree in Agronomy or related plant sciences from the
    University of Nairobi or any other institution recognized by the Senate.

     In addition, the applicant shall hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture
    related disciplines from the University of Nairobi or any other institution
    recognized by the Senate.

     The applicant must be able to produce evidence of an adequate academic
    background in the discipline and capacity to carry out original research by
    submitting a research concept note on the proposed topic of study.

     The concept note shall include a brief statement of the problem, research objectives,
    research hypothesis, brief literature review, a summary of the proposed
    methodology, expected outputs, work plan and key references.

     Applicants from non-English speaking countries must produce evidence of
    proficiency in spoken and written English language

    Career Prospects/ Opportunities

    • Researchers in national and international research organizations such as KALRO and CGIAR centres
    • Policy makers in government agriculture sector ministries
    • Trainers in Agricultural tertiary technical and academic institutions
    • National and international regulatory institutions such as the FAO, IPPC, KEPHIS, KEBS, PCPB
    • Pest and Disease control experts/ consultants
    • Researchers and policy makers in agro-chemical industries/ Pesticide efficacy testing
    • Non-Governmental Organizations
    • Entrepreneurial self-employment in agricultural production


    Year 1

    Year 2

    Year 3









    Tuition (KES 25,000/ unit)












    Thesis Supervision






    Thesis Examination






    Laboratory and field fee






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    ID Card






    Caution money (Refundable)






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    Philosophy, Rationale

    Philosophy of the Programme
    The programme is driven by the need to train competent graduates who can engage at the local,
    regional, continental and global levels in crop production and environmental agronomy issues.

    The programme philosophy is consistent with the University’s vision, which is to be “a world-
    class university committed to scholarly excellence”.

    The programme is particularly inspired by the need to train high calibre agronomists,
    independent academics, research scientists and practitioners who competently apply critical
    thinking and analytical capabilities to respond to agricultural challenges. This will not only
    transform the way agricultural resources are managed but also increase efficiency and conserve
    the environment for sustainable development in Kenya and beyond.

    Rationale of the Programme

    The agricultural sector is the mainstay of Kenya’s economy as a source of food, industrial raw
    materials and employment for about 75 per cent of the population, both directly and indirectly.
    Agriculture accounts for about 33 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. Despite an
    increasing human population, agricultural productivity has significantly reduced due to

    declining soil fertility, shrinking arable land and climate change. In addition, available land,
    water and agro-input resources have not been utilized efficiently to maximise yield with
    minimal environmental degradation. Development of the agriculture sector and the economy
    underpins the need to build capacity that will drive increased crop productivity while managing
    resources and the environment sustainably. Universities play a pivotal role as training and
    research institutions to provide competent manpower. Crop productivity is primarily
    influenced by biotic and abiotic stresses and the interaction between crop genotypes, crop
    management and the environment.
    Under yield-limiting conditions, increasing crop yields while maintaining environmental
    quality will require the advanced knowledge and skills necessary to optimize crop-environment
    interactions. In addition, orientations, methodologies and research practices in agronomy have
    significantly changed in the modern world. The rapidly changing climates have led to the need
    to design highly productive and resilient crop systems while agricultural mechanization and
    artificial intelligence have transformed the way agriculture is practised. In addition, the need
    for competent agronomy teaching and research personnel has increased, both locally and
    regionally. Therefore, there is need for well-trained manpower in agronomy to meet the
    existing and future demand in research, training and outreach, to provide innovative solutions
    to the challenges of food security, climate change, improved livelihoods, economic
    development and wealth creation in Kenya and the region.

    Application Information


    Online applications are accepted all year round at:

    The following documents are required to be uploaded during the online application:

    1. KCSE/ O-level certificate
    2. Certified copies of undergraduate certificate and transcripts
    3. Applicants with KCSE C (plain) to attach certified copies of a diploma from KNEC in addition to those stated in 1&2
    4. Applicants with KCSE C- (minus) to attach certified copies of a certificate and a diploma from KNEC in addition to those stated in 1&2
    5. Certified copies of masters degree and transcripts
    6. PhD proposal

    International applicants are required to attach:

    1. Documents certified by the university attended
    2. Evidence of accreditation status of the university attended
    3. Proof of English proficiency
    4. Translated documents into English for applicants from non-English speaking countries


    Mode of Delivery

    Face-to-Face Mode
    The programme will adopt a face-to-face mode of delivery based on various techniques that
    include lectures, seminars, case-based learning and tutorials.
    Open and Distance Learning Mode
    The programme will be offered using a multi-media approach that includes self-instructional print and
    electronic study materials. The ODeL mode of delivery shall only apply for the taught course units,
    except the Graduate seminars.
    Blended Learning Mode

    The blended learning mode of delivery will be through e-Learning that combines minimal face-
    to-face and online learning approaches. Online lectures will be conducted both synchronously

    and asynchronously.

    Contacts of Support Persons

    Prof. Josiah Kinama

    Contacts: +254 20 4916020, e-mail:

    Prof. James Muthomi

    Contacts: +254 20 4916020, e-mail:

    Notable alumni

    Prof. Ratemo W. Michieka - Professor of Agronomy, University of Nairobi

    Prof. Daniel M. Mukunya - Retired Professor, University of Nairobi

    Prof. Agnes W. Mwangómbe – Emeritus Professor, University of Nairobi

    Prof. Rama D. Narla   Retired Professor, University of Nairobi

    Prof. Eunice W. Mutitu - Emeritus   Professor, University of Nairobi

    Dr. Robin Buruchara - CIAT Regional Director in Africa CIAT

    Prof. Ezekiel Kiprop – Professor, University of Eldoret

    Prof. Isabel Wagara – Associate Professor, Egerton University