Last Updated: May 05, 2021
Studying Agriculture in the U.S.
Studying a course in Agriculture is not often a popular stream for students to aspire for unless they know what they are getting themselves into. Though it is easy to equate studying agriculture to being a farmer, the job opportunities that come from studying the course are extremely different. Doing a course in Agriculture makes the student learn about flora, fauna, and the soil of different places and they will also be required to work in research labs.
Students who are interested in the field can choose to do a Bachelor’s Degree in their Undergraduate studies and then move on to take a Master’s in the subject depending on their level of interest and the kind of job opportunity they want.
Benefits of an Agriculture Degree
The Agriculture Industry is one of those industries whose value never diminishes over time due to the level at which it addresses topics like sustainable living and world hunger at the same time. Students who have studied Agriculture will be familiar with concepts ranging from crop and soil to agribusiness which can help them both guide people at the lowest levels of agriculture to the corporate heads making important decisions regarding the product that is available.
Due to the vastness of the field and the inclusion of most of the topics associated with the fields in the syllabus, the course is suited for candidates who want to work on the sidelines ensuring the little bit they can in making the world a better place and for those who look upon the capitalistic side of Agriculture while maintaining the sustainability of the same.
Students will deal with subjects like animal science, horticulture, environmental conservation, etc. on the one hand and finance, business, statistics, accounting, etc. on the other hand while dealing with this subject. They have the option of working in the business field, or in a laboratory researching on producing high-quality grain all by doing the same course. The course then is both good for getting a high-paying job and allows the candidate to work in a field of their choosing even if that means working in a field since the knowledge acquired is a combination of what is to be known about nature and technology.
Undergraduate Programs in Agriculture
Doing a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture can provide students with various options considering how the easiest division in the field includes 3 wide topics. These topics are Animal Sciences, Plant Sciences/Horticulture, and Soil Sciences/Agronomy. The courses that students can opt for will fall under any of these three categories or will be inclusive of one or more of these categories making the student efficient in their career journey.
Programs Offered for Bachelor’s in Agriculture
The common programs that are offered by most universities with departments including Agriculture are as follows-
- BS in Agriculture
- BS in Agricultural Systems Management
- BS in Agribusiness
- BS in Soil and Crop Management
Courses Taught for BS in Agriculture
The topics that are covered in the course vary from university to university but at the same time there are courses that act as core courses in most of the departments due to the foundational nature of the subjects. These subjects are-
- Agricultural Sciences
- Economics of Natural Resources
- Economics in Agriculture
- Technology and Management in Agriculture
- Animal Science
- Microeconomics in Agriculture
- Agricultural Marketing
Master’s in Agriculture
Students who have completed their Bachelor’s in Agriculture often move ahead with their career aspirations rather than focusing on higher studies. After gaining a few years of experience in a job they often feel the need of doing a graduate program in order to aid their professional advancement and hence a Master’s program is mostly focused on the subject of Agribusiness. The course takes a duration of two years if candidates attempt it as a full-time course.
For students who have studied Crop and Soil-related courses, it is necessary to pursue higher studies due to the requirement of research for any career opportunities. They are often categorized as food scientists and are in charge of researching sustainable development.
Programs Offered for Master’s in Agriculture
Since the field of Agriculture is vast, the programs offered for Master’s vary from place to place and it is necessary that students look at the programs they want to enroll in before they choose their ideal university. It isn’t always necessary that the top universities in Agriculture have the courses of their choice and hence it is understood that choosing a subject of interest is better than opting for a less interesting course in a top league university.
Students can opt for either an M.A. in Agriculture or an MS in Agriculture. Though the difference between the two courses may not be explicitly apparent, it is a general perception that taking an M.A. is like taking a terminal degree course with no current intention of pursuing higher studies whereas taking an MS generally implies that the candidate is interested in doing a Doctoral program.
Programs are offered under different titles according to which the core courses may change. The programs offered are generally in
- Crop Production
- Sustainable Development
- Natural Resources
- Global Food Security and Nutrition
- Agri-Food Technology
- Food Security
Master’s degree provides options for the students to take up different concentrations based on which they will be able to research if they choose to. This is also available in courses where students opt for the Thesis mode of M.A. in which students can write and submit a thesis regarding their subject of choice. The concentrations provided for Master’s may be-
- Agricultural Education
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Veterinary Hospital Management
Courses Taught for MS in Agriculture
The popular courses that are considered core courses in most of the Master’s programs are as follows-
- Agricultural Market and Prices
- Agribusiness Management
- Livestock Biometrics
- Agricultural Leadership
- Macroeconomic Analysis
- Agricultural Technology
- Research Methods
- Food and Agricultural Marketing
- Agricultural Research and Statistics
Doctoral Programs in Agriculture
Students who have completed their MS in Agriculture can opt for Ph.D. programs in order to become scientists or specialists in their field of interest. The demand for Ph.D. holders in this field has been increasing over the past few years and it does not seem to be one that can be satisfied any soon. Candidates who have earned a Ph.D. can easily choose a teaching career in colleges which is one of the best paying jobs in the field. But at the same time candidates can work in expanding their research.
Doctoral programs often have specific requirements that generally include prior knowledge of fields like mathematics, economics, macroeconomics, statistics, etc. for gaining admission. It takes 3-5 years to complete a doctoral degree and students will have to complete their coursework, attend examinations, write a research proposal and submit their dissertation in order to complete their Ph.D.
Courses Taught for Ph.D.
The general courses taught during coursework of Ph.D. include courses like-
- Agriculture and Environmental Risks
- Small-scale Agriculture
- Animal Management
- Agriculture, Nutrition and Food System
- Plant and Soil Relationships
- Statistics in Agriculture
Top Universities for Studying Agriculture
The top universities for studying Agriculture in the country according to the US news are-
- University of Massachusetts-Amherst
- University of California-Davis
- Cornell University
- University of Florida
- University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
- Purdue University
- Michigan State University
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Harvard University
- Texas A&M University-College Station
Career Opportunities for Agriculture Graduates
People who have completed their Agriculture Majors will be able to work with soil, plants, animals and humans depending on their field of interest. Each of these will require them to take a concentration depending on the career of their choice which will turn out to be important in the job application process.
They will also be able to work for both private organizations and public organizations. If they are interested in working with humans, they will be able to take up jobs like being a professor or a nutritionist. There are also jobs that require candidates to conduct financial planning for farmers. Being a diary manager or veterinarian are options for those who want to work with animals whereas working on the land would include a set of options ranging from working as a farmer to developing high-quality food grains and pesticides.
- Agriculture Manager- This job does not include direct participation from the candidate and requires them to do managerial duties like hiring workers for the farm, ensuring the job gets done, and also maintaining information regarding the budget and expenditure of the farm.
Median Salary- $68,090
- Agriculture and Food Science Technician- They have to work long hours in the laboratory in order to process plants, farms, etc. whereby they will assist the Food Scientists who are at work. This job can be taken up by students who have completed their Bachelor’s.
Median Salary- $41,970
- Food Scientist- This job includes working extensive hours in laboratories assessing and studying different food compounds and analyzing their nutritional value in order to better processed foods and make them healthier than what they are right now. They must have deep knowledge of chemistry, biology and other subjects in order to perform well in this job.
Median Salary- $68,830
- Professor- People who have completed taking their Ph.D. in the course relating to any particular field will be able to apply for a teaching job in the same field. It is a highly secure job though the competition in the field is relatively high.
Median Salary- $80,790
- Health and Regulatory Inspector- This job is often provided by the government sector and deals with the constant checks and tests that are to be done in order to ascertain the quality of the food provided by food industries. This job includes interacting with people ranging from business owners to employees in different firms to draw a clear picture of the production process.
Median Salary- $72,530
- Aqua-Culturist- They deal with aquatic animals that are bred for both the food industry and the entertainment industry. Their job includes focusing on the growth and development of the animals and tracks their health from the time they are grown to the time they are consumed.
Median Salary- $37,500
- Chemical Technician- They have to process and run checks on products that are sent to the market in order to confirm whether they adhere to the rules and regulations in place. This will include dealing with production-related problems and malfunctioning tools.
Median Salary- $49,820