Agriculture Degrees by Degree Program Level

Essential Information

Prospective students of agriculture might consider programs at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels, according to their previous education. Agriculture-related associate's and bachelor's degree programs provide an introduction to the field. By earning a master's degree in agriculture, students can prepare to conduct relevant research or teach agricultural topics. Those who earn a Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural Economics programs might work in research, education or high-level business.

Associate's Degree in Agriculture Production Technology

Most agriculture programs at the associate's level focus on the skills needed to operate farming equipment and the business aspects of the agriculture industry. Prospective students need to earn a high school diploma or successfully complete the GED exam in order to qualify for an associate's program. Associate's degree programs take two years to complete. Students enrolled in these programs often gain hands-on experience through required internships. Core classes may include:

  • Marketing in agriculture
  • Soil management
  • Crop science
  • Livestock management
  • Agricultural chemicals

Bachelor's Degree in Agriculture

Before enrolling, students should have taken plenty of high school math and science classes. The bachelor's program emphasizes management coursework in order to prepare students to oversee livestock and agricultural businesses. Internships and online coursework might be featured in the bachelor's program.

Bachelor's degree programs in agriculture are typically divided between programs that focus on managing agricultural businesses and those that emphasize soil, plant or animal management. Possible degrees could include a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Agricultural Systems Management, Agribusiness or Soil and Crop Management. Some programs are available in a distance learning format. A high school diploma or its equivalent is required in order to apply to an agriculture bachelor's program. Additional prerequisites may include high school-level coursework in lab sciences or advanced mathematics.

While the specific curriculum may vary depending on the type of agriculture bachelor's program, many programs explore business-related topics. The topics mentioned below are usually covered:

  • Microeconomics in agriculture
  • Agribusiness management
  • Livestock biometrics
  • Food and agricultural marketing
  • Agricultural research and statistics

Master's Degree in Agriculture

Agriculture programs at the master's degree level are designed for agribusiness professionals seeking career advancement. Many crop and soil scientists who wish to teach and pursue research opportunities enroll in master's degree programs in agriculture. Programs also appeal to people who want to use their skills in developing nations to address the problems of hunger and sustainable development. Students can pursue a Master of Agriculture (M.Ag.) or a Master of Science (M.S.) in Agriculture. The M.Ag. is often considered a terminal degree, while the M.S. program may prepare students for enrollment in a doctoral program. Some schools offer these programs online.

Most master's degree programs in agriculture only admit a few students each year. Schools look for students who earned top grades in their undergraduate classes and scored well on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test. Students in an M.Ag. program may be asked to complete an internship or final project. M.S. program students are usually required to write a thesis paper; some schools offer a non-thesis option. Common topics in both types of programs include:

  • Agricultural leadership
  • Research methods in agriculture
  • Agricultural technology
  • Statistics in agriculture
  • Agriculture education techniques

Doctorate Degree in Agricultural Economics

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Agricultural Economics programs may prepare students for high-level positions with agriculture businesses or international agriculture initiatives. Earning a Ph.D. in this field also prepares graduates for work as agriculture professors. In addition to knowledge about agricultural technology and theory, prospective students need to understand advanced mathematics and economics. Completion of undergraduate classes in economic statistical methods, microeconomic theory, mathematical economics and macroeconomic theory may be required prior to admission. Most programs expect applicants to meet undergraduate grade point average and GRE standards.

Doctoral candidates in this field are often able to choose a degree specialization. The majority of the coursework teaches students to apply complex economic theory to the agriculture and food production industries. Some common specialization options are listed below:

  • Agricultural demand and production
  • Agricultural market theory
  • International agribusiness
  • Agribusiness market forecasting
  • Strategic management in agribusiness

Popular Career Options

Associate's degree programs in agriculture prepare graduates for entry-level careers in agricultural equipment repair, agricultural product marketing or range management. Potential job titles include:

  • Agricultural technician
  • Agricultural field work personnel
  • Greenhouse technician
  • Farm manager
  • Agriculture sales associate

Earning a bachelor's degree in agriculture provides graduates with a solid foundation in a number of fields within the discipline. Popular options include those mentioned below:

  • Agricultural business and technology management
  • Plant and soil systems technology
  • Pest control
  • Livestock management

Earning a master's degree in agriculture could lead to work in government agencies, private businesses or college departments of extension education. Many people who earn a master's degree in agriculture often earn the following job titles:

  • Agricultural educator
  • Agricultural policy maker
  • Soil composition analyst

Individuals who earn a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics are usually qualified for advanced management or academic positions. Some common career options are listed below:

  • Agriculture professor
  • Agribusiness chief executive officer
  • Agribusiness investor

In summary, students wanting to study agriculture have many options at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Depending on your choice of degree, career options range anywhere from agricultural technician and farm manager to agriculture professor and agribusiness investor.

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