By CVO Staff
July 2015

Ranking the Best Value Agriculture Colleges is relevant for students today when one realizes that agriculture is still one of the largest industries in the United States. Farms employ 15% of the American workforce, and in 2010, $115 billion in agricultural goods were exported from the United States, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. And the agriculture industry doesn’t just grow food. It also engineers food, evaluates soil, finds ways to minimize environmental impact, develops new methods for resource and energy conservation, and sells and markets agricultural products. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The agricultural industry offers a huge number of career options, and we want to connect you with the top 30 agricultural degree programs that constitute the best value for your time and money investment.

We began with Wikipedia’s List of agricultural universities and colleges and paired that down from more than sixty schools to the thirty we have in this list according to their average 20-year net return on investment as calculated and posted by payscale.com. We then rated the schools based on tuition, percent of students receiving financial aid, and most important, the number of agricultural programs available at the school. Below is the points system we used.

Average 20-year Return on Investment:

$400,000-$499,999= 1 point

$500,000-$599,999= 2 points

$600,000-$699,999= 3 points

$700,000-$799,999= 4 points

Tuition (in-state tuition used for public schools):

$0-$9,999= 3 points

$10,000-$19,999=2 points

$20,000-$29,999= 1 point

$30,000+= 0 points

Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid:

Below 60%=0 points

60%-74%= 1 point

75%-89%= 2 points

90%+= 3 points

Number of Agricultural Programs:

1-5= 1 point

6-10= 2 points

11-15= 3 points

16-20= 4 points

21-25= 5 points

26-30= 6 points

30+= 7 points

#30. California State University, Chico

Cal State Chico Agriculture

Points: 6

CSU Chico is part of California’s CSU university system, whose member schools are considered to be high-quality options for students looking for affordability and higher admissions rates. CSU Chico features a stellar overall ROI and offers programs in agricultural science, agricultural business, animal science, and crops, horticulture, & land resource management.

ROI: $481,900

Tuition: $7,002

Receive financial aid: 68%

Number of agricultural programs: 4

#29. University of Arizona

University of Arizona Ag

Points: 7

The University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences offers many in-demand programs, including biosystems engineering, agricultural economics & management, agricultural education, agricultural leadership & communication, and dietetics. U of A is also a major research university and offers many opportunities for agriculture students at the graduate level.

ROI: $430,000

Tuition: $10,391

Receive financial aid: 86%

Number of agricultural programs: 13

#28. University of California, Riverside

UC Riverside

Points: 7

The University of California system is the most respected of California’s three university systems, and all of the three systems are highly respected in their own right. UC Riverside is one of many state universities from California on this list and offers a wide array of high quality programs from the agriculture department. These include biochemistry, biological sciences, cell, molecular, & developmental biology, entomology, plant biology, environmental sciences, and geology.

ROI: $435,300

Tuition: $12,960

Receive financial aid: 86%

Number of agricultural programs: 10

#27. University of Wisconsin, Madison

UW Madison

Points: 8

The University of Wisconsin at Madison is home to a top-of-the-line College of Agriculture that houses eighteen different programs. Among the programs available are: agronomy, biological systems engineering, dairy science, entomology, food science, genetics, horticulture, plant pathology, and soil science. The University of Wisconsin takes a multifaceted approach to the agricultural field, seeking to make a positive impact on food, energy, health, and the environment.

ROI: $404,700

Tuition: $10,410

Receive financial aid: 66%

Number of agricultural programs: 18

#26. Colorado State University

CSU Ag

Points: 8

The main campus of Colorado State University boasts 15 programs offered through the College of Agricultural Sciences, including an online program in agricultural business. Some of the other programs offered are agricultural economics, farm and ranch management, natural resources economics, agricultural education, animal science, equine science, environmental horticulture, and landscape architecture. The department focuses on finding new ways to strike a balance between meeting production needs and environmental cost.

ROI: $409,700

Tuition: $9,313

Receive financial aid: 74%

Number of agricultural programs: 15

#25. Auburn University

Auburn Agriculture

Points: 8

Auburn seeks to build a better world through its agriculture programs. The school understands that the big push in agriculture right now is to mitigate environmental costs while maintaining the production necessary to provide food to people. Some of the programs offered by Auburn are agricultural business & economics, agricultural communications, agriscience education, agronomy and soils, biosystems engineering, and horticulture.

ROI: $439,900

Tuition: $10,200

Receive financial aid: 78%

Number of agricultural programs: 11

#24. Texas Tech University

texas tech

Points: 8

Most of Texas Tech’s agriculture programs offer two to six concentrations, and many of those concentrations allow students to specialize in areas that are considered separate degrees by other schools. The programs available at TTU are: agribusiness, agricultural and applied economics, interdisciplinary agriculture, animal science, food technology, natural resources management, crop and soil sciences, and horticultural and turfgrass sciences.

ROI: $456,200

Tuition: $7,517

Receive financial aid: 75%

Number of agricultural programs: 9

#23. University of Massachusetts, Amherst

umass ag

Points: 8

UMass offers six primary areas of agricultural study, with associate’s, bachelor’s, and graduate-level programs in all six. There are also a great number of concentrations through which students can choose an area on which to focus. The six degree areas are arboriculture & community forestry, equine management, landscape contracting, sustainable food & farming, sustainable horticulture, turfgrass science & management, and plant, soil, & insect sciences.

ROI: $462,500

Tuition: $13,446

Receive financial aid: 90%

Number of agricultural programs: 6

#22. Penn State University

Penn State Ag

Points: 8

Penn State may not be the cheapest school, or the easiest at which to get financial aid, but it is one of the best schools among state universities and has one of the best agricultural colleges in the United States. The College of Agricultural Sciences offers 17 high-quality programs, including agribusiness management, agricultural science, veterinary and biomedical sciences, toxicology, biological engineering, biorenewable systems, and environmental resource management.

ROI: $480,000

Tuition: $16,992

Receive financial aid: 68%

Number of agricultural programs: 17

#21. University of Delaware

Univ Delaware Ag

Points: 8

This school offers a good selection of agriculture degrees, including some not commonly seen in most programs. These include agriculture and natural resources, environmental soil science, insect ecology & conservation, natural resource management, and environmental & resource economics.

ROI: $499,700

Tuition: $12,112

Receive financial aid: 84%

Number of agricultural programs: 14

#20. University of California, Davis

UC Davis AG

Points: 8

UC Davis is one of the United States’ top universities. This school may not have a massive selection of agriculture majors, but you can bet that each one it does have will be operating at the cutting edge of research and methods. Among the available programs are: animal biology, biotechnology, entomology, plant sciences, viticulture and enology, and agricultural and environmental education.

ROI: $552,900

Tuition: $13,896

Receive financial aid: 75%

Number of agricultural programs: 9

#19. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Virginia Tech Ag

Points: 8

Virginia Tech is one of the best universities in the United States, and has a good number of programs in its top agriculture college. Most of the programs have many options for concentrations, and the school also has many minors in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Among the programs offered are: agribusiness, applied economics management, agricultural sciences, animal and poultry sciences, biochemistry, environmental horticulture, landscape contracting, and crop & soil sciences.

ROI: $583,900

Tuition: $12,017

Receive financial aid: 68%

Number of agricultural programs: 12

#18. California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo

Cal Poly Ag

Points: 8

Cal Poly SLO is California’s primary polytechnic university. Cal Poly is a top polytechnic university and its graduates tend to go on to be very successful professionally. Ten of the school’s seventy majors are agricultural programs. Among those programs you will find: agribusiness, agricultural education & communication, animal science, bioresource & agricultural engineering, dairy science, and wine & viticulture.

ROI: $696,100

Tuition: $8,918

Receive financial aid: 47%

Number of agricultural programs: 10

#17. University of Wyoming

UnivWyAg

Points: 9

The University of Wyoming offers many agriculture courses, however many of them are only offered at graduate level and above. This doesn’t mean that the school doesn’t offer many of the most important, sought-after agriculture degrees at the undergraduate level. Among such undergraduate degrees available are: agricultural business, agricultural communications, agricultural education, agroecology, and animal and veterinary sciences.

ROI: $409,900

Tuition: $4,404

Receive financial aid: 93%

Number of agricultural programs: 8

#16. Louisiana State University

LSU Ag

Points: 9

While LSU’s selection of programs isn’t as large as some on this list, the school offers deep study of the programs available — often with five to ten concentrations available per degree. The degrees offered are agricultural business, agricultural education, environmental management systems, natural resource ecology & management, nutrition & food sciences, plant & soil systems, textiles, and animal, dairy & poultry sciences.

ROI: $442,500

Tuition: $7,873

Receive financial aid: 94%

Number of agricultural programs: 8

#15. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Univ Illinois Urbana Ag

Points: 9

UI:UC is one of the nation’s top research universities. Though the school only offers 11 programs, most have several concentrations from which to choose. Another very attractive option is the several dual degrees and double majors for students looking to broaden their education beyond what they can do with just a minor. Some of the available majors are agricultural and biological engineering, agricultural and consumer economics, agricultural communications, agricultural leadership and science education, animal sciences, horticulture, and crop sciences.

ROI: $601,000

Tuition: $15,020

Receive financial aid: 65%

Number of agricultural programs: 11

#14. Washington State University

University of Washington Ag

Points: 10

If the 24 majors offered by the agriculture department aren’t enough to convince you that WSU is worth a look, the school also has a selection of  twenty minors to choose from — and that’s just within the department. Among the programs you will find at WSU are agricultural biotechnology, earth sciences, economic sciences, field crop management, food science, integrated plant sciences, and viticulture & enology.

ROI: $420,900

Tuition: $12,327

Receive financial aid: 79%

Number of agricultural programs: 24

#13. North Carolina State University

ncsu ag

Points: 10

NC State has some great programs in its college of agriculture, and quite a number of them. The school is one of U.S. News’ top 100 universities, and among its programs at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences you will find agricultural business management, agricultural education, agricultural and environmental technology, biological engineering, horticultural science, natural resources, plant and soil sciences, animal science, and nutrition science.

ROI: $510,300

Tuition: $8,296

Receive financial aid: 69%

Number of agricultural programs: 17

#12. Clemson University

Clemson Ag

Points: 10

Clemson University is one of the South Carolina’s top public universities. The agriculture department houses some of the school’s most cutting edge programs, a list which includes: agricultural mechanization & business, soils and sustainable crop systems, forest resources management, ecology, entomology, horticulture, genetics, and biochemistry.

ROI: $514,400

Tuition: $13,446

Receive financial aid: 89%

Number of agricultural programs: 16

#11. University of Minnesota

U of MInnesota Ag

Points: 10

In addition to its selection of 13 agriculture majors, students can select from among 25 minors to further specialize or diversify their education. There are also three pre-professional programs, majors that are specifically designed to allow the student a seamless transition into advanced study. Among the majors available are pre-biproducts and biosystems engineering, pre-veterinary medicine, agricultural education, agricultural and food business managment, animal science, bioproducts marketing and management, and plant science.

ROI: $517,600

Tuition: $13,560

Receive financial aid: 78%

Number of agricultural programs: 15

#10. Rutgers University, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

Rutgers Ag

Points: 10

The Rutgers New Brunswick campus is the top public university in New Jersey and one of the top agriculture colleges in the country. Among the programs available to undergraduate students are agriculture and food systems, animal science, biochemistry, bioenvironmental engineering, biological sciences, biotechnology, environmental planning and design, marine sciences, and plant biology.

ROI: $663,100

Tuition: $13,813

Receive financial aid: 71%

Number of agricultural programs: 17

#9. Cornell University

cornell ag

Points: 10

Cornell University is an ivy league university and consistently ranks among the top 15 universities in the United States. It’s also the only ivy league university that is considered an agricultural school as well. Cornell has upheld a tradition of providing the finest education available in all the subjects it teaches for over 150 years. Among the agriculture programs available at the school are agricultural sciences, applied economics and management, biological engineering, biological sciences, environmental engineering, international agriculture and rural development, landscape architecture, and plant sciences.

ROI: $735,700

Tuition: $47,286

Receive financial aid: 60%

Number of agricultural programs: 21

#8. Utah State University

Utah State Ag

Points: 11

Utah State University offers a robust selection of 23 bachelor’s level degrees through their school of agriculture. This is one of the most fully equipped agriculture programs in the United States, offering degrees in agricultural systems technology, aviation technology (think crop dusters), animal & dairy sciences, biotechnology, dietetics, food science, environmental soil & water science, and plant science, to name just a few.

ROI: $422,400

Tuition: $6,250

Receive financial aid: 80%

Number of agricultural programs: 23

#7. North Dakota State University

ND State Ag

Points: 11

North Dakota State University has a great college of agriculture with a wide selection of majors. Among the majors offered are agribusiness, agricultural economics, animal science, crop and weed sciences, economics, general agriculture, microbiology, range science, soil sciences, and veterinary technology. The school also offers agriculture programs outside the college of agriculture, including biosystems engineering and agricultural communication.

ROI: $437,200

Tuition: $7,660

Receive financial aid: 88%

Number of agricultural programs: 22

#6. New Mexico State University

NM State Ag

Points: 11

When you think of New Mexico, you might think of an arid climate with lots of scrubland and desert, but there is a lot of agriculture in the state as well, and it is one of the top three pecan producing states in the country. The main state university has a robust agriculture program which includes degrees in agronomy, animal science, conservation ecology, general agriculture, horticulture, soil science, wildlife science, and agricultural biology.

ROI: $450,500

Tuition: $6,220

Receive financial aid: 97%

Number of agricultural programs: 17

#5. University of Maryland, College Park

University of Maryland Ag

Points: 11

The University of Maryland at College Park has a lot going for it on this list. The massive selection of programs, combined with a great ROI and low in-state tuition make it a fantastic choice for many students. Among the great number of programs offered by the school, you will find agricultural and resource economics, agricultural science and technology, animal biotechnology, environmental science and policy, soil and watershed science, landscape architecture, and urban forestry.

ROI: $589,500

Tuition: $9,427

Receive financial aid: 73%

Number of agricultural programs: 23

#4. Iowa State University

Iowa State Ag

Points: 12

Iowa is a heavily agricultural state, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that the state’s major university is also one of the nation’s major agricultural schools. With over 27 agricultural programs available at the undergraduate level, there ought to be a program there for just about anybody interested in agriculture or anything related to the field. Among the programs offered are agronomy, agriculture exploration, genetics, international agriculture, microbiology, seed science, forestry, and animal ecology. In addition to these more unusual options, you will find all the usual degree areas available Iowa State as well.

ROI: $474,400

Tuition: $7,726

Receive financial aid: 87%

Number of agricultural programs: 27

#3. University of Florida

Univ Florida Ag

Points: 12

The University of Florida is one of the top universities in the United States. The school’s extensive selection of agriculture programs is as impressive as the school’s reputation. At UF you will find agriculture programs like agriculture operations management, botany, dietetics, entomology, forest resources and conservation, geomatics, and horticultural science.

ROI: $479,200

Tuition: $6,313

Receive financial aid: 96%

Number of agricultural programs: 25

#2. Texas A&M University

Texas A&M Ag

Points: 12

Many people might have forgotten that the A in A&M stands for agricultural. Over the years, many A&M universities have come to resemble all the other universities, but there are still some placing a strong emphasis on agricultural education. Texas A&M is one of those colleges — how could it not be with eighteen programs to its name?

ROI: $659,900

Tuition: $9,685

Receive financial aid: 78%

Number of agricultural programs: 18

#1. Purdue University

Purdue Ag

Points: 13

Purdue University is the mother of all agriculture colleges. A major factor in our ranking it best among the best agricultural colleges is the sheer number of majors from which to choose. The expected return on investment for Purdue graduates is very high, and the tuition is affordable, especially for in-state students. Among the many programs one will find at Purdue are agribusiness, agricultural engineering, agricultural systems management, biochemistry, farm management, fisheries & aquatic sciences, forestry, insect biology, plant genetics, breeding & biotechnology, and soil & water sciences.

ROI: $635,300

Tuition: $10,002

Receive financial aid: 67%

Number of agricultural programs: 31

Exciting Possibilities at Agriculture Colleges

An agriculture studies major has so many agricultural domains to choose from. This ranking of Best Value Agriculture Colleges highlights these diverse opportunities in order to propel you forward in your search for a superior investment in your own future.

Further Reading: