What is an Agribusiness Degree?

Agribusiness is the business and economics of food; in other words, the process of bringing food from producer to consumer, from field to table. It follows, therefore, that agribusiness degree programs teach all aspects of operating and managing an agricultural business. These include crop and pasture science, production, food technology, safety, the agricultural workforce, pricing, credit, accounting, marketing and sales, environmental sustainability, trade, policy, and law. The study of each of these areas prepares students to work in agribusiness roles in private industry or government or as entrepreneurs.

Program Options

Associate Degree in Agribusiness – Two Year Duration
The Associate Degree in Agribusiness is often a pathway to an agribusiness bachelor’s program. However, some associate graduates may succeed at joining the agricultural workforce in entry-level roles. Here is a snapshot of the kinds of courses offered at this level:

• Agribusiness Computer Applications
• Agribusiness Law
• Agribusiness Marketing and Selling
• Agribusiness Production Systems
• Agribusiness Workforce
• Animal Science
• Beef Production
• Business Communication
• Farm Operations and Management
• Financial Accounting and Decision Making
• Introduction to Crop and Pasture Science
• Introduction to Data Analysis
• Introduction to Microeconomics
• Land and Water Resources
• Precision Agriculture (farm management that uses information technology like GPS-based soil sampling and robotics)
• Seed Science
• Soil Science
• Supply Chain Management
• Trading in Agricultural Futures Markets

Bachelor’s Degree in Agribusiness – Four Year Duration
While the agribusiness associate curriculum provides an introduction to the principles of running an agricultural business, the bachelor’s program delves much more deeply into those principles and leaves students with a wider skill set that opens more opportunities to work in the industry. In addition to expanding upon the topics listed above in the associate degree section, here are some examples of additional courses that typically make up an agribusiness bachelor’s curriculum:

• Analyzing and Forecasting Markets and Prices
• Agribusiness and the Global Economy
• Macroeconomic Analysis and Policy
• Statistics and Probability

Master’s Degree in Agribusiness – One to Two Year Duration
Master’s programs in agribusiness commonly allow students to choose a specialization in which to focus their studies. Examples of these concentrations are listed below. Some programs require a master’s thesis and others require a non-thesis project.

• Agribusiness and Global Trade
• Agribusiness Entrepreneurship
• Agribusiness Risk Management
• Food Marketing and Sales
• Sustainable Agribusiness and Innovation

These are samples of graduate level courses that may be required in agribusiness master’s programs:

• Econometrics (the use of statistical techniques to understand economic issues and test theories)
• Economy of Agricultural Development
• Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
• Food and Agricultural Policy
• Land Economics and Appraisal
• Macroeconomic Theory
• Microeconomic Theory
• Quantitative Methods

Doctoral Degree in Agribusiness – Four Year Duration
Doctoral degree programs are research focused and are targeted at students who wish to pursue university-level teaching and research careers. Many agribusiness schools structure their Ph.D. programs around different concentration options. Here are some of the most common, along with possible required coursework within each option:

Agribusiness Finance
• Mathematical Economics
• Advanced Microeconomic Theory
• Advanced Macroeconomic Theory

Agribusiness Marketing
• Buyer Behavior
• Marketing Models
• Marketing Strategy

Agribusiness Management
• Organizational Behavior
• Organizational Theory
• Strategic Management

Agricultural Supply Chain Management
• Agribusiness Managerial Economics
• Applied Econometric Methods
• Applied Simulation in Agricultural Economics

Degrees Similar to Agribusiness

Degree programs in accounting prepare students for the work of gathering, recording, analyzing, interpreting, evaluating, and communicating financial information. This includes examining accounting records, reconciling accounts, preparing financial reports, and completing tax returns. The typical curriculum includes classes in mathematics, business management, business communication, business research, finance, and economics.

Degree programs in this discipline teach students about one or more aspects of general agriculture. Coursework may cover topics like farm management, crop science, animal husbandry, agriculture technology, soil science, and food distribution.

Students of agronomy learn about the science of soil management and crop production. Topics covered in this degree program include soil nutrients, weed control, and pest management.

Business Administration
Business administration includes overseeing finances, staffing, and contract negotiations. A business administration degree program, therefore, teaches students how to plan, organize, and direct all the activities of an organization.

Fishing and Fisheries
The focus of this degree program is the biology and ecology of fish and shellfish. Students of the field learn about fisheries protection, production, and management.

International Business
Students of international business study business from a global perspective. They learn how to work cross-culturally, how to manage multinational businesses, and how to turn local and national companies into international corporations. Coursework often includes some foreign language studies, as well.

Skills You'll Learn

Agribusiness students come away from their studies with a transferable skill set:

• Business Communication
• Business Software and Computer Applications
• Concern for developing countries dealing with malnutrition and poverty
• Critical Thinking
• Cross-Cultural Appreciation
• Flexibility and Negotiation
• Business Accounting and Finance
• Management Concepts and Best Practices
• Marketing
• Organizational Behavior, Design, and Leadership
• Project Planning and Implementation
• Quantitative Analysis
• Strategic Planning

What Can You Do with an Agribusiness Degree?

Because the agricultural business degree is specific in nature, the majority of agribusiness grads go on to work either directly in the field or in a sector related to it. While owning and/or managing a farm is the most obvious way to apply the degree, several other related employment options exist:

• Agriculture Banking – helping agribusinesses with financing and business models for sourcing and selling their products; possible positions are agriculture financial service representative and agriculture loan officer
• Agribusiness Education – teaching the business aspects of agriculture
• Agricultural Equipment and Systems Sales – sales of agricultural machinery, systems, or information technology
• Agricultural and Food Economics – business and policy analysis for the agriculture and food sector
• Agricultural Inspection – agricultural inspectors typically work for government departments or agencies, inspecting facilities and equipment used in the agricultural food production process
• Agricultural Insurance –insurance that provides agribusiness owners with financial protection against production losses caused by natural perils, such as drought, floods, hail, frost, wind, and wildlife; possible positions are insurance underwriter, risk management specialist, and claims officer
• Agricultural Lobbying and Stakeholder Relations – working with government agencies and policymakers in support of agricultural interests
• Agribusiness Marketing – designing marketing strategies and campaigns for companies that sell seed, fertilizer, and farming equipment
• Crop Management Consulting – farm agronomy management including insect, weed, and disease scouting
• Farm Labor Consulting – helping farm owners manage their labor costs
• Feed Mill Plant Operations and Management – production and quality control of feed for animals
• Global Agribusiness and International Trade – international buying and selling of agricultural commodities including corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, cocoa, coffee, cotton, and sugar
• Grain Elevator Management – grain elevator managers are responsible for storing grain, shipping grain to processing facilities, and purchasing grain from farmers
• Grain Merchandising – coordinating farmers’ grain purchases with suppliers


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