Agricultural science is a field of biology. It deals with natural, economic and social sciences used in the practice and understanding of agriculture. This science revolves around the environment for the production of animals and plants for human consumption.
For individuals who would like to pursue this field, there are certain educational requirements they must fulfill. Various agriculture degrees offer a variety of courses, allowing students to enroll in a program that will help their future prospects.
Considering your previous educational qualifications and your future plans, you can choose an agriculture degree that suits your needs.
Associate Degree in Agriculture
In this 2-year associate degree in agriculture, students are typically taught the fundamentals along with certain business aspects such as machinery and equipment used in the farming industry. It also includes marketing for produce and market placement.
Most associate level agriculture programs focus on the technical knowledge required to operate complex farming equipment. To be able to enroll in an associate degree in agriculture, students need to earn a high school diploma or a GED exam.
A variety of subjects are covered during this 2-year program, most of them aiming to provide you with basic understanding. Marketing in agriculture, crop science, livestock management, agricultural chemicals and soil management are some of the course topics covered as part of this program.
Bachelor of Science in Agriculture
At bachelor level, the programs are typically divided into two branches; one that focuses on managing agricultural businesses and the other that covers soil, animal or plant management.
To enroll in bachelors in agriculture, you need to have at least a high school diploma or a GED. And due to the nature of this program, various colleges might require you to have completed specific coursework in lab sciences or advanced mathematics. The topics covered as a part of this degree include,
Microeconomics in agriculture
Food and agricultural marketing
Agricultural research and statistics
In addition to these course requirements, many programs expect students to complete an internship. While some universities may provide internship placement options, with others, you will need to search on your own.
Agriculture Certificate Programs
Undergraduate certification in agriculture programs award certificates in subject areas such as agricultural science and agricultural business management. An internship is also a part of this program.
The curriculum revolves around various subjects in animal and soil science. Following are some of the topics covered as part of this educational qualification:
Plant and soil nutrition
Supply and production
Since this is typically a smaller duration program, many students prefer to get this online, through an accredited online agriculture certificate program.
Online Agriculture Undergraduate Degrees
At undergraduate level, there are many universities that offer online programs in agriculture. Online agriculture degrees offer students the convenience and flexibility they may need for both personal and professional reasons. You can construct a timetable that matches your pace and study according to your own schedule.
Online agriculture courses mostly deal with the theoretical aspects of this degree. The practical aspects are taught either via live classrooms, nearby workshops arranged by the institute or on campus. Some online agriculture programs, also known as hybrid programs, combine online and offline experiences to create a well-balanced amalgamation, giving you a fuller experience.
Graduate Degrees in Agriculture
If you wish to pursue a higher level qualification in agriculture and related sciences, you might want to consider going for a graduate program. These programs offer you the opportunity to study higher level subjects and understanding complex concepts. They expose you to research elements involved in agriculture sciences and allow you to gather firsthand experiences in the field as well.
Masters Degree in Agriculture
For graduate studies in agriculture, you could consider going for a Master of Science (M.S.) in agriculture education, crop science or food and agricultural science. This program typically lasts for around 18 to 24 months and covers a variety of subjects ranging from irrigation to agricultural policy. There are a quite a few options available in concentrations. You could go for specializations such as animal science, agribusiness, nutrition and food science. Other subjects covered as part of this program include water and crop management, agronomy and soil science.
Typically, a masters in agriculture program is offered with both a thesis and a non-thesis option, and it may even include a graduate teaching assistant opportunity. During the course of your program, you will be required to sit for examinations and there might even be a mandatory internship requirement in certain programs.
To get admitted into a masters program, you will typically need a bachelor’s degree in agriculture or a relevant field. In addition, you will need to meet a minimum score cut off on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
The coursework for this program is likely to include the following topics:
Rural resource management
Statistics in agriculture
Agriculture education techniques
The nature of these topics would be more advance than their undergraduate counterparts, and the topics will be taught in detail.
PhD in Agriculture
A doctorate in agriculture prepares students for high level positions in agriculture businesses or as professors.
To meet the eligibility criteria for admission into a PhD program, there are certain educational prerequisites. For instance, prospective students need to understand advanced mathematics and economics along with concepts of agriculture technology. Most programs would require applicants to meet certain set GPA requirements and GRE scores.
The typical course structure revolves around complex agriculture science topics and can be expanded to include an economic or business aspect as well. In such cases, you would be looking at agricultural issues from an economic standpoint, for instance. Course topics could include:
Agricultural demand and supply
Agribusiness market forecasting
Strategic management in agribusiness
Agricultural market theory
In addition to the coursework, you will also be required to submit a well-researched thesis on a topic of your choosing.
Careers with an Online Agriculture Degree
There are many directions you can take with an online degree in agriculture. You could work as an agricultural consultant, farm manager, fish farm manager, soil scientist or a rural practice surveyor. Besides these, you could also go for other jobs where your degree could be of use but is not directly relevant to, for instance, working as an animal nutritionist, magazine journalist, sales executive or a field’s trial officer.
Your typical employers would not just be in farm management. Other potential opportunities are present with commercial ancillary service companies all across the United States. Agriculture degree graduates could end up working as managers in various capacities, agriculture workers, technicians and other professionals. They may also work in marketing or in Public Relations.