What Types Of Agriculture Degrees Are There?

"I’m thinking of getting into the family business of agriculture. Some of my relatives in my extended family are farmers. I’ve spent a few summers working on my aunt and uncle’s farm, and I always liked it. I don’t think they have any space for me as a worker, so I’d need to find another way to get started, at least in the beginning. They suggested that I go to school first and get a degree. I didn’t actually realize you could get a degree in agriculture, but they say it will be very valuable to me. Are there different types of degrees in agriculture, or is it just one program? What will each type of degree teach me?"

asked by Clive from Chicago, IL

The degree which probably will interest you starting out is a bachelor’s degree in agriculture. Even here you may find several different types of degrees. The most basic type would be a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, but you also might find a B.S. in Agricultural Systems Management, Agribusiness, or Soil and Crop Management.

You will learn a variety of disciplines, including hands-on farming, livestock biometrics, microeconomics as applies to your field, business management, marketing and more. How much you learn of each aspect will depend on which degree you choose to get. Whether or not you pursue a higher degree depends a lot on what you actually want to do in the field.

You can get a master’s degree or doctoral degree in agriculture. Some examples include Master of Agriculture (M.Ag.) or Master of Science (M.S.) in Agriculture. If you go with the first route, that’s a terminal degree, whereas the M.S. degree can lead to a doctoral degree if you continue along your educational path. These programs are highly selective, and are open to graduates from Bachelor’s degree programs.

If you get a master’s in this field, you’ll learn about agricultural leadership, technology, education and research. If you go on to get a doctoral degree, you can learn more about demand and production, market theory, doing business internationally, market forecasting, and various management topics. This is generally an economics-related degree.

You also might consider getting a two year’s associate’s degree in agriculture production technology. This allows you to get a few vital skills and get started more quickly on your career, though your career options may be more limited. Still, this may be a good fit for you, depending on your plans.

If you get an associate’s degree, you’ll learn how to operate farm equipment, learn about crop science and soil management, as well as how to take care of livestock and deal with agricultural chemicals. You also may learn some basic marketing skills, though generally these skills are more valuable at a higher level of management.

Whether you decide to go for an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or higher degree, you can be sure that an agricultural degree will help you to learn the skills you need and make the professional connections you need to succeed.

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