Should I Get A Master’s Degree In Agricultural Engineering?
Agricultural engineers put their expertise and knowledge of engineering and technology to make land farming, aquaculture, forestry, environmental conservation and food processing better and more adaptive to today’s needs. A bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering is the minimum entry-level requirement to a career as an agricultural engineer. However, there are programs that lead to a master’s degree in this field that professionals also pursue. If you are still unsure if a master’s degree in agricultural engineering is right for you, the following considerations should help you arrive at a decision.
You should get a master’s degree in agricultural engineering if:
- You want to focus on a particular aspect of this field. Whether you want to concentrate on areas like environmental engineering, bioprocess engineering, animal production systems engineering or others, a master’s degree will teach you what you need to know. There are also non-thesis programs for professionals who wish to build upon their knowledge and be able to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.
- You want to do applied research. There are programs that equip students to be able to do fundamental and applied research which can be helpful especially if they work in the academe or on research and development.
- You want to earn higher income. Compared to entry-level agricultural engineers who only hold a bachelor’s degree, those with a master’s degree generally earn more.
- You want to go to the academe and teach. Colleges and universities typically require doctoral degrees but master’s degree holders may also be employed to provide instruction to aspiring agricultural engineers.
- You want to do more challenging work.
- You are gearing for a promotion.
You don’t need a master’s degree in agricultural engineering if:
- You are satisfied with the work you are doing now. An undergraduate degree will give you the general knowledge you need to work in the field. You’ll learn more with experience.
- You have other important concerns that prevent you from concentrating on a master’s degree program.
No doubt about it, a master’s degree opens doors to more opportunities. If work and family responsibilities hamper you from pursuing postgraduate studies, you can consider distance education courses. Unlike a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering which needs to be done on-campus due to the hands-on requirement, a master’s degree in this field can be completed online. Some may have a minimum time requirement on-campus but for the most part, you can study at your own pace and time through distance education mode. For as long as you complete the coursework and pass the requirements, you will still be able to obtain your master’s degree.
If tight finances prevent you from pursuing your postgraduate education and you want to do it through the traditional on-campus setup, you can inquire for research assistantships that provide tuition discounts and monthly stipends to those enrolled in a master’s program. These will give you the opportunity to learn from an experienced practitioner in the field while at the same time allowing you to pursue further studies.
Combining work and studies for a master’s degree—whether online or on-campus—can be challenging. It requires a lot of hard work, discipline and initiative to be able to do so successfully without sacrificing your other responsibilities. Not many have what it takes to do so but when you do succeed, the rewards can be well-worth all the effort you have committed to your studies.