Agronomy Schools and Training Programs: How to Choose

Dec 13, 2019

Degrees in agronomy are available at every level, from the associate's to the doctoral level. Such degrees are offered at select colleges and universities around the country.

Agronomy is concerned with producing and using plants for a variety of purposes, from food and fuel to reclamation. Programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate degree levels.

10 Agronomy Schools

These schools offer agronomy programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition and Fees 2018-2019*
Auburn University Auburn, AL 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $11,276 (undergraduate), $11,282 (graduate)
Iowa State University Ames, IA 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's $8,988 (undergraduate) $10,507 (graduate)
New Mexico State University Las Cruces, NM 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $6,686 (undergraduate), $5,427 (graduate)
Texas A&M University - College Station College Station, TX 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $11,870 (undergraduate) $9,812 (graduate)
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $55,188 (undergraduate), $29,584 (graduate)
Kansas State University Manhattan, KS 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $10,383 (undergraduate), $11,069 (graduate)
Oklahoma State University Stillwater, OK 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $9,019 (undergraduate), $8,460 (graduate)
Washington State University Pullman, WA 4-year, public Master's, Doctoral $12,802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $15,094 (undergraduate), $18,126 (graduate)
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College Baton Rogue, LA 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $11,950 (undergraduate), $13,023 (graduate)

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Students should keep these considerations in mind when selecting a school:

  • Students should look for agronomy schools that are located in states, cities and towns with active agricultural communities, which may allow them ample opportunities to gain hands-on experience in agronomy beyond the classroom.
  • Students may want to consider schools that have what is known as a 'learning farm' or a laboratory setting on several dozen acres of land, designed to provide valuable experience working with crops, such as seeds, berries and vegetables.
  • Some agronomy programs and agriculture departments offer need and merit-based scholarships based on specific academic interests, such as seed science.
  • Some schools may offer extracurricular activities or student clubs related to agronomy or plant science, which can help build a resume or CV.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Agronomy

This 2-year program combines the study of chemistry, agricultural sciences and biology to provide an education in crop and soil sciences. Depending on the school, one can obtain an AAS or an Associate of Science (AS) in agronomy or agricultural production, but the curricula are the same. Students receive training on the newest technologies in agriculture and chemical application to crops.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Agronomy

The bachelor's degree in agronomy combines the study of organic chemistry, agriculture, biology and soil and crop sciences. Its coursework includes classes similar to those in an associate's degree program, with additional courses and, often, an internship or a professional development seminar

This degree is designed to combine practical hands-on approaches to agronomy with theoretical, classroom-based ones. Graduates are qualified for a variety of related professions, perhaps becoming crop scientists for a large-scale crop production company. They may even operate their own farms.

Master of Science (M.S.) in Agronomy

This master's program is a 1- to 2-year, full-time program designed to allow students to demonstrate their ability to perform independent research and complete advanced coursework in agronomy. Some master's degree programs in related fields, like applied plant sciences, provide an agronomy track.

Some schools have a non-thesis option, in which a comprehensive report of a student's education thus far is provided instead of the thesis. Some schools with this option require the student to spend one semester fulfilling a residency requirement on campus. Many schools also require a final oral exam.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Agronomy

The Ph.D. program in agronomy follows basically the same curriculum as the M.S. program, but following the qualifying oral examination, students must complete their research dissertation in the form of an original study in agronomy and have it approved by a committee of faculty members. Sometimes there are also required seminars as well as supervised teaching experiences to prepare students as educators. Depending on the school they attend, students may have the option to select a concentration for their degree.

When looking for a school, prospective agronomy students may want to consider factors like the availability of school farms or other opportunities for hands-on experience. Scholarships may be available for some programs or degree levels.

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