Master’s Degrees in Agriculture
Agriculture has long been the backbone of many societies around the world. In recent years, however, the field has evolved to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world. From sustainable agriculture practices to food security, those who pursue careers in agriculture could be poised to make a significant impact on our planet.
One way to gain the knowledge and skills needed to be part of this dynamic industry is by obtaining a Masters in Agriculture. This article explores the benefits of a master’s degree in agriculture and what it might take to earn one.
Schools with Masters in Agriculture Programs
Types of Agricultural Science Master’s Degree Programs
The world of agricultural education offers an array of master’s programs, each focusing on different aspects of the field.
General agricultural science master’s degree programs
The Master of Science in Agriculture (MSc) is a versatile degree that provides a strong foundation in agricultural sciences. This program typically covers subjects such as crop science, soil science, animal science, pest management, and sustainable agriculture. Many MSc programs also offer specific concentrations (see next section).
Some programs focus more heavily on research, while others offer coursework in the business aspects of agriculture. Programs often culminate in a capstone or research project.
Sustainable agriculture master’s degree programs
Sustainable Agriculture Master’s degree programs offer an integrative approach to studying agriculture, emphasizing techniques and practices that may meet the needs of contemporary farmers and consumers while conserving natural resources. Programs focus on a broad range of topics required to create a sustainable agricultural system, including agroecology, soil health, land conservation, and rural sociology.
Master of Environmental Science in Agriculture
The Master of Environmental Science in Agriculture also focuses on sustainability. This program explores the intersection of agriculture and the environment, covering areas like crop sustainability, soil and water management, conservation biology, and biodiversity. Graduates might work in environmental consulting, research, or even play a pivotal role in shaping sustainable farming practices.
Agribusiness master’s degree programs
For those looking to combine their passion for agriculture with business acumen, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Agribusiness offers a strategic and management-focused approach. This degree covers topics like agricultural finance, marketing, supply chain management, and rural entrepreneurship. Graduates could gain the skills necessary to navigate the business side of agriculture in areas such as agricultural management, agricultural finance, marketing, and consulting.
Agricultural communication master’s degree programs
Master’s programs in agricultural communications programs are designed to equip graduates with the necessary skills for a wide range of careers in mass media, marketing, and public relations. This program typically also offers professional communication development for those interested in agribusiness, government service, education, and extension.
Horticulture master’s programs
This degree program is designed to provide students with in-depth knowledge of plant sciences, botany, genetics, pest management, and cultivation techniques for horticulturally significant crops. Programs often include a research component.
Specific areas you might study include landscape horticulture, agroecology, postharvest physiology, plant breeding, and nursery/greenhouse production.
Concentrations in Agriculture Graduate Programs
Many agriculture master’s programs offer students a chance to focus on a particular area of interest. Following are some common concentrations that may be offered.
Crop science concentrations
A crop science concentration offers a wide range of study areas that delve into various aspects of crop cultivation and management.
In a crop science concentration, you may have the opportunity to study crop breeding and genetics, where you could learn how to develop improved varieties of crops through selective breeding. Dive into crop physiology and metabolism to understand the inner workings of plants and how they produce and utilize nutrients.
Other topics you might study include crop production and management, food systems, weed science, and seed science.
Soil science concentrations
Soil science encompasses the comprehension of soils and the application of fundamental scientific principles rooted in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology. Its primary objective lies in the sustainable management of soil and the environment as a whole.
Courses you might take include microbiology of soil, soil chemistry, soil fertility, and soil morphology.
Animal science concentrations
A Master’s degree in Agriculture with a concentration in Animal Science is geared toward individuals aiming to enhance their knowledge and skills in animal husbandry, nutrition, genetics, behavior, and research. Coursework examines issues surrounding sustainable animal production, food safety, and animal welfare.
Other topics covered in these programs might include immunology, disease, reproduction, management, and endocrinology.
Potential Career Opportunities in Agricultural Science
Obtaining a master’s degree in agriculture opens up a diverse range of career opportunities in a field that plays a key role in ensuring global sustainability and food security. Graduates might pursue careers in agricultural research and development, agribusiness management, sustainable agriculture, agricultural consulting, policy analysis, education and extension services, environmental conservation, and more.
Agricultural science careers in research and development
Agricultural and Food Scientists conduct research to find ways to improve the productivity, efficiency, and safety of agricultural establishments and products. They research soil composition, oversee the implementation of new projects, or create new food products. The median annual salary for agricultural and food scientists in 2022 was $74,940.1
Largest employers of agricultural and food scientists, 2022:2
|Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences||12%|
|Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private||13%|
|Management, scientific, and technical consulting services||11%|
Agricultural science careers in production and management
Agricultural Engineers solve problems involving power supplies, machine efficiency, the use of structures and facilities, pollution and environmental issues, and the storage and processing of agricultural products. The median annual salary for agricultural engineers in 2022 was $83,260.3
Largest employers of agricultural engineers, 2022:4
|Federal government, excluding postal service||25%|
|State government, excluding education and hospitals||11%|
Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers oversee facilities that produce crops, dairy, and livestock products. While often no degree is required for this occupation, as farm and land management has grown more complex, these managers may benefit from postsecondary education. The median annual salary for agricultural managers in 2022 was $75,760.5
Agricultural science careers in education and extension
Agriculture Postsecondary Teachers work at colleges, universities, and other postsecondary institutions. While many schools might require postsecondary teachers to hold a doctorate, a master’s may be enough to teach in some institutions, including community colleges. The median annual salary in 2022 was $80,840.6
Extension Agents are typically employed by land-grant universities and serve as instructors in topics relating to agriculture. They provide the latest industry information to farmers, ranchers, community groups, and youth groups in their state.
Agricultural science careers in marketing and sales
Agriculture sales and marketing is a key aspect of the agricultural industry that connects farmers and producers with consumers, retailers, and other stakeholders in the supply chain. It involves promoting and selling agricultural products, such as crops, livestock, and farm equipment, while effectively communicating their value and benefits to potential customers. Professionals in this field may play a vital role in ensuring the profitability and success of agricultural businesses by developing and implementing strategic marketing plans, conducting market research, identifying customer needs and preferences, establishing strong relationships with buyers, negotiating contracts, and managing distribution channels. Careers in agriculture sales and marketing require a blend of agricultural knowledge, marketing acumen, and effective communication.
Online Agricultural Science Master’s Degree Programs
Online master’s in agriculture programs could provide you with the flexibility to pursue education while balancing work and personal commitments. These programs typically offer a convenient and digital learning environment that brings agricultural education directly to your home or wherever you have access to the internet. Whether it’s studying sustainable agriculture, agribusiness management, or agricultural education, online master’s in agriculture programs could open up new opportunities for individuals who are unable to attend traditional on-campus programs due to geographic constraints or other responsibilities. With the flexible nature of online learning, students could boost their careers and make meaningful contributions to the agricultural industry from anywhere in the world.
Benefits of online agricultural science master’s degree programs
The flexibility of online programs offers a number of benefits:
- You don’t need to relocate or worry about transportation costs.
- You could study at your own pace—taking more time if you can only go to school part-time, or potentially finishing faster.
- You might have a wider choice of courses since you won’t have to worry about the scheduling conflicts that often occur when you need to take a course at a fixed time.
Curriculum and courses in online agricultural science master’s degree programs
Online master’s in agriculture programs provide the same high-quality curriculum and experienced faculty as traditional on-campus programs. Through virtual classrooms, interactive discussions, and multimedia resources, you could engage in coursework, collaborate with classmates, and participate in hands-on projects related to agriculture.
Additionally, online programs might allow you to customize your learning experience by selecting courses that align with your interests and career goals.
Accreditation and Quality Assurance in Agricultural Science Graduate Programs
Accreditation is an important factor in choosing a master’s program. What is accreditation, and how could it affect you?
Overview of accreditation and quality assurance in agricultural science graduate programs
Accreditation in college refers to a process of evaluation and recognition that ensures a college or university meets certain standards of academic quality and institutional integrity. Accreditation is typically conducted by independent accrediting agencies or organizations that assess various aspects of an educational institution, including its curriculum, faculty qualifications, student services, facilities, and administrative processes. The goal of accreditation is to provide assurance to students, employers, and the public that a college or university meets recognized standards of excellence and operates in a manner that promotes student learning and success.
Accreditation not only validates the quality of education provided by an institution but also plays a crucial role in facilitating the transferability of credits between institutions, qualifying students for financial aid, and increasing the credibility and reputation of the institution. It serves as a mark of distinction, indicating that an institution has met or exceeded established benchmarks and is committed to continuous improvement and accountability in its educational programs.
The field of agriculture offers a multitude of master’s degree options, allowing individuals to focus on their area of interest. Whether it’s through research, business management, economics, environmental sustainability, or plant health, a master’s degree could equip graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle agricultural challenges and potentially contribute to the industry’s advancement.
GradSchools.com offers 61 Master’s in Agriculture Degree Programs
Sources: 1https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/agricultural-and-food-scientists.htm#tab-1 | 2https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/agricultural-and-food-scientists.htm#tab-3 | 3https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/agricultural-engineers.htm#tab-1 | 4https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/agricultural-engineers.htm#tab-3 | 5https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/farmers-ranchers-and-other-agricultural-managers.htm | 6https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/postsecondary-teachers.htm#tab-5
Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Accessed 7/14/2023.
Utah State University
University of Wisconsin - Madison
University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez
Colorado State University
South Carolina State University
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Washington State University
University of New Hampshire
University of Nottingham
Brigham Young University
Green Mountain College