Agriculture Majors and Degree Programs

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A major in agriculture addresses the general practices, principles and technologies that drive modern day agricultural production and research. The agriculture major helps student prepare to apply the knowledge and skills they gain to solve practical, real-world problems facing agricultural production. Students who pursue a major in agriculture will study plant, soil, and animal science; plant cultivation and animal husbandry; soil conservation; and agricultural operations including but not limited to farming and agricultural business.

If you’re currently a high school student planning on majoring in agriculture once you get into college, there’s a lot you can do to prepare now. First, you’ll want to take as many science courses as you can, including biology and AP or IB biology if offered at your school. If you’re able to earn college credit while you’re still high school, you’ll be that much further ahead when you get started on your degree.

You can select a concentration below to explore various agriculture majors and view colleges and universities offering majors and degree programs in agricultural production, dairy husbandry, animal breeding, greenhouse management, horticulture, nursery management, agronomy and more.

Agricultural Major and Bachelor’s Degrees

In essence, when you declare a major in agriculture you’re starting the process of earning a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. A four-year bachelor’s degree is the most common path to launching a career in agriculture, including careers in several agriculture-related fields.

A bachelor’s degree in agricultural science is designed to help students gain an intimate understanding the of biological, scientific, social and economic issues relating to food production and distribution throughout society. In addition to theory, students will gain practical agricultural production skills and knowledge through classroom instruction, labs and hands-on experience. While most bachelor’s degrees in agricultural science share a similar core curriculum, students are provided the opportunity to pursue diverse tracks of study that are in line with their specific career aspirations, such as animal husbandry, equine science, animal breeding, agricultural business management, and horticultural services, among many others.

Admission to most bachelor’s degree programs in agriculture requires at minimum a high school diploma or GED. Most programs also require applicants to have a minimum GPA and achieve certain ACT and/or SAT scores. While not usually included as a prerequisite, some colleges will review high school transcripts to see if an applicant has sufficiently high grades in their science and math classes. Having completed courses in relevant subjects (e.g. biology, environment science, etc.) may also help to get into a good program.

A bachelor’s degree in agriculture usually includes core coursework in the physical sciences and various elective courses that are specific to the students area of specialization. Common topics addressed in a bachelor’s degree program include crop systems and production, livestock production, soil science, pest management, sustainable agriculture and horticulture services.

Earning a bachelors degree in agriculture will prepare students for a large variety of career opportunities relating to farming, food production and food processing. Students who complete their program successfully will also qualify to pursue a graduate degree in agriculture or a related field of study.

Why Major in Agriculture

Simply put, a major in agriculture is about food–a basic need of all humans and animals. More precisely, agriculture deals with the cultivation, production and distribution of food, and is closely related to farming and animal husbandry. Students who pursue an undergraduate degree/major in agriculture can look forward to various courses relating to agricultural sciences and agribusiness. These courses are designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge they’ll need for a myriad of careers and occupation in agriculture-related fields and industries. Many undergraduate agriculture majors also provides students the opportunity to take specialized coursework in various agricultural disciplines, such as Agri-Business, Agronomy, Agri-Science, Sustainable Development, Livestock Management, Crop Production, Agri-Communications, Horticulture and Pre-Veterinary Medicine, to name just a few.

Agriculture is one of the few majors where students really get to know their professors and fellow students. Some students have compared the individuals in their major as more like family than fellow students. Agriculture students work closely with one another throughout their entire major on assignments, completing projects, and performing research. Outside of the classroom, agriculture students and faculty often spend time together at social activities and via student organizations.

Best Colleges for Agriculture Majors

Below are the top four colleges identified by our editors for the exceptional agriculture programs they offer students.

1. Utah State University

Not only is Utah State University (USU) known for its historic dedication to agricultural sciences as an institution, they’re also known for their dedication to agricultural education. Each year USU grants more agriculture related scholarships than any other program in the nation–over 150 scholarships a year.

With over 1,200 students, USU’s College of Agriculture is also one of the university’s largest academic colleges–and it’s only getting bigger. And if you thought getting a stellar agriculture education was expensive, think again. Tuition for in-state residents at USU is only $4,300 and just over $12,500 for out-of-state students.

2. California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo

Through its College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Science California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo offers one of the top agriculture science programs in the United States. The college itself awards over 115 agriculture related scholarships each year, and specific departments within the college offer their own scholarships.

The college offers one of the few programs in the nation to have an irrigation research center, an organic farm and even a commercial creamery that operates from on campus. While not as affordable as some programs, at $24,800 a year, tuition at Cal Poly State University is still less than the cost of attending most top agricultural schools.

3. Purdue University

With so many exceptional academic programs, it’s no surprise that the Purdue College of Agriculture is one the best schools in the nation. In fact, the College of Agriculture at Purdue has consistently ranked among the top 10 agriculture programs in United States. With 2,500 students, Purdue’s agriculture program is also one of the largest. And a great program is usually the result of great faculty–and Purdue is not exception. Over 40 renowned faculty teach at Purdue’s College of Agriculture.

The College of Agriculture at Purdue offers a lot of scholarships, ranging from $1,000 to over $10,000. If you receive a scholarship, there’s a good chance you’ll receive at least a few thousand dollars to help cover the cost of tuition.

4. Montana State University (Billings)

The Montana State University College of Agriculture is a highly acclaimed institution of agriculture education. It has six departments, state-of-the-art research centers, and several working farms. With a total annual enrollment of over 1,050 students, the College of Agriculture offers one of most popular majors at Montana State University. While much of the research conducted at the College of Agriculture is funded through private grants and donations, as a Land Grant institution, research is also funded by the federal government.

Montana State’s College of Agriculture, like other top agriculture programs, offers its undergraduate students quite a few scholarship opportunities. Scholarships are also offered through the College’s individual departments in various specialties including reproductive physiology and animal rehaiblitation. As freshmen, sophmore, juniors or seniors, students can qualify to receive new scholarships on an annual basis.

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