What is an Agriculture Degree?

A degree in agriculture can give one an understanding of the real world that no other discipline can provide, as it is truly the interaction of society with the physical environment. Agriculture has been the foundation of human civilization since civilization began—villages, towns, and metropolitan cities have all come into existence as a result of agriculture. Agriculture is one of the largest providers of employment. Therefore, if the agriculture in a society is well developed, the standard of living of its members is also well developed.

The scope of courses taught in an agriculture degree program is dependent upon the school—some schools focus on preparing students for employment at an international level, while others may focus on a specific region or country, or on a specific facet of agriculture. For this reason, it is best to look at the many programs available and decide on the one that will steer you in the direction you'd like to go in. Regardless of program taken, students will graduate with an excellent understanding of the agricultural industry, as well as a wide range of technical skills and knowledge.

Associate and bachelor's degree programs in agriculture give students an introduction to the field as well as a strong scientific foundation. Agriculture courses typically include both the natural and social sciences, and touch on many academic disciplines such as biology, environmental science, chemistry, economics, business, and management. Master's degree programs in agriculture prepare students to go into many agriculture-related analyst, consultant, and decision-making jobs. Doctoral programs are tailored for students that want to work in research, education, or high-level business positions.

Program Options

Associate Degree in Agriculture - Two Year Duration
An Associate Degree in Agriculture focuses on practical, hands-on learning, as well as a foundation in theories related to agriculture. Classes may include: soil management, agricultural chemicals, livestock management, crop science, and marketing in agriculture. Graduates with an associate degree in agriculture are able to get employment in entry-level jobs such as: greenhouse technicians, farm managers, or field workers.

Bachelor's Degree in Agriculture - Four Year Duration
A Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture program is science-based and courses are focused on physical, biological, social, and agricultural sciences. Management coursework is also emphasized so as to prepare students with the management of livestock and agricultural businesses. Some examples of classes are: livestock biometrics, microeconomics in agriculture, agricultural research and statistics, food and agricultural marketing, and agribusiness management.

Students can specialize in a specific area—possible degrees include:

Bachelor of Science in Agriculture
This area encompasses a wide variety of topics such as food and soil sciences as well as animal care.

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Systems Management
Agricultural systems management combines interests in agricultural machines and business.

Bachelor's in Soil and Crop Management
A great option for students wanting to return to a farm, or wanting to obtain a cropping systems management position.

Master of Agriculture (MA.g) - Two Year Duration
Master of Science (MS) in Agriculture - Two Year Duration

A Master of Agriculture degree is structured for people wanting to advance their careers, to teach, or to pursue research opportunities. The Master of Agriculture degree (MA.g) is considered a terminal degree, while the Master of Science (MS) in Agriculture is often taken by students wanting to continue their education and enrol in a doctoral program. Common classes offered in both types of programs include: agricultural leadership, research methods in agriculture, agricultural technology, statistics in agriculture, and agriculture education techniques.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Agriculture - Three to Four Year Duration
Students pursuing a PhD in Agriculture are seeking to gain more in-depth knowledge and to perform research in a specific area of agriculture. Specializations may include: sustainable farming, animal husbandry, or biotechnology in the field of agriculture. Classes may include: agriculture and environmental risks, integrated animal management, statistics in agriculture, plant and soil relationships, and agribusiness management.

Graduates with a PhD in Agriculture typically work in teaching and research, however many other career opportunities are available, such as: agriculture research scientist, animal husbandry scientist, food company executive, agriculture production specialist, food commodity broker, and agriculture communication specialist (to name a few).

Degrees Similar to Agriculture

Horticulture
A degree in horticulture includes coursework in: soil fertility, plant biology, floral art, propagation, and crop production. Graduates are able to work as greenhouse or park managers, landscape designers, greenskeepers, horticulture consultants, or florists.

Plant Science (or Botany)
Plant science, a branch of biology, is the science of plant life. Students study plant growth, reproduction, evolution, and adaptation and get hands-on experience in plant ecology, systematics, physiology, botany, genetics, agriculture, ethnobotany and biotechnology. There are many career paths for plant science graduates. Examples are: landscape scientists, crop consultants, plant biologists, greenhouse managers, and plant breeders (just to name a few).

Agribusiness
Degree programs in agribusiness will educate students on the ins and outs of agricultural business. Students that graduate from a bachelor's degree program are capable of obtaining mid- to upper-management positions in farming and food production industries. General coursework includes subjects such as: farm operations management, farm planning and financial management, agribusiness strategic analysis, agribusiness economic analysis, operations management, and legal issues in agribusiness.

Animal Sciences
Animal science degree graduates will be able to pursue careers in farming and ranching, as they will have gathered knowledge in many areas associated with animal agriculture as it relates to farming, animals, and food. Examples of careers are: agricultural inspector, meat and produce farmer, and animal breeder. Coursework may include classes in: herd health and nutrition, range management, food and fibre systems, and advanced breeding. Most programs incorporate internships at farms or other locations in the animal agricultural industry.

Skills You'll Learn

Career opportunities in agriculture vary greatly. Graduates are taught both hard skills and soft skills in order to stand out among others in the industry, whether it’s in an interview or in the workplace. Examples of these skills are:

  • Analytical skills
  • Interpersonal (people) skills
  • Communication and negotiation
  • Flexibility
  • Adaptability
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Technical skills
  • Environment and life sciences knowledge
  • Verbal and written skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Collaboration
  • Listening skills
  • Observation
  • Organization
  • Time management
  • Business skills

What Can You Do with an Agriculture Degree?

Careers in agriculture no longer mean toiling under the sun and milking cows. Nowadays, the agricultural field has advanced in so many ways that many opportunities have emerged over time, giving graduates plenty of options and fields to choose from. The following are examples of fields that graduates with an agriculture degree can choose to go into:

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