In this ranking, we examine the best value colleges for online agriculture degrees in 2016.
At first glance, an online agriculture degree might seem like an odd choice. How can you learn to farm and tend to crops over the internet? Well, you probably can’t. But then again, people who plan to make their livelihoods as farmers probably don’t need to go to college to learn their trade. But even if you’ve grown up around agriculture and plan to take over a family business, that doesn’t mean you’re ready to handle all the professional challenges of the 21st century. Online colleges are now helping rural students learn modern practices by offering distance education programs that combine traditional farming topics with training in business, technology, and even education. You can expand your career options, improve your craft, and learn how to communicate effectively with other industry professionals – without ever leaving home! The eight schools we have listed below include both undergraduate and graduate programs, with degree options for beginners and experienced farmers alike.
8. The University of Tennessee at Martin
Online Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture: Agribusiness or Farm & Ranch
At the University of Tennessee Martin, online agriculture degree students can choose between two tracks: Agribusiness and Farm and Ranch. The former option is designed to meet the need for business-savvy farmers who can communicate with industry professionals and government agencies. The curriculum emphasizes economics and “technical agriculture,” preparing students for careers in foreign trade, agricultural communications, and sales. The latter option takes a more interdisciplinary approach, combining topics in natural resource management, food production, and technical agriculture. Graduates enjoy a wide range of career options in government, industry, international transportation, and of course farming.
7. Oregon State University
Online B.S. in Agricultural Sciences
Oregon State University boasts one of the most extensive “e-campus” platforms in the country – a superlative that pays off for online agriculture degree students. Students can access OSU courses from anywhere on earth, and this international reach has earned the university a reputation heard ’round the world. In fact, a multinational survey ranked OSU 9th in agricultural education out of a whopping 3,000 universities! But if you want access to this top program, you’ll have to be prepared for a serious commitment. The 180-credit curriculum requires at least 20 courses within the major, multiple science courses, and a writing intensive class. You’ll also have your choice of plenty of interesting electives in subjects like organic farming, environmental law, and world food crops.
6. Southern Arkansas University Main Campus
Online Master of Science in Agriculture
Of all the graduate programs on this list, the M.S. from Southern Arkansas University offers the most affordable online agriculture degrees. For less than $10,000 a year, you can buy your way into an advanced group of farm and crop experts. But of course, you’ll have to earn the title of “expert” by passing all your classes first! SAU’s degree prepares agricultural professionals to transition into academic careers – in particular, management jobs within secondary schools and extension programs. For the price of an inexpensive agriculture degree online, students gain access to a rich curriculum of industry-relevant topics. Courses include Adult Education in Agriculture, Philosophy of Agricultural Education, and Advanced Leadership for Agriculture Professionals.
5. Utah State University
Online Bachelor’s in Agribusiness
As Utah State University bluntly puts it, “It’s not all about cows and plows anymore.” To be successful, farmers can no longer rely on their knowledge of seeds and soil. That’s where this accredited online agriculture degree will come in handy. Utah State takes a multifaceted approach to agribusiness education, offering classes in natural resources and agricultural economics on the one hand and macroeconomics and accounting on the other. In fact, this program almost leans more heavily on business principles than agricultural know-how – but that’s exactly what modern farmers need! Plus, the 100% online delivery helps rurally-located students access everything they need with minimal hassle.
4. Texas A&M University at College Station
Online Master of Agricultural Development
There are plenty of reasons to pursue a Master of Agriculture degree online, and Texas A&M University covers them all. With flexible options for on-campus and online study, individualized coursework, and moderate tuition rates, this program is the perfect image of convenience. Plus, TAMU is the only school among the online agriculture degrees we ranked to include a required internship as part of its curriculum. Distance ed. students work with their advisors to find temporary employment with a local business – and some of them are even paid! And although this is officially a “non-thesis” master’s degree, you will still need to demonstrate your competency by completing a final professional paper.
3. University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Online Agronomy M.S.
Without a doubt, University of Nebraska Lincoln’s M.S. in Agronomy is one of the best online agriculture degrees for working professionals. First and foremost, the curriculum is intentionally designed to allow students to choose coursework that is applicable to their desired careers. In support of this goal, the agronomy program offers a dozen areas of study and potential minors, giving online learners the unique opportunity to combine specialties according to their needs. For example, you could focus on Turf Management while earning a minor in Agribusiness. Or maybe you want to study Plant Breeding and Genetics and take a minor in Entomology. The possibilities are nearly endless!
2. Fort Hays State University
Online Program in Agriculture – Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business
Fort Hays State University’s B.S. in Agricultural Business fills another unique need for online students. As a degree completion program, it targets community college graduates who are looking for the next step. Since an associate’s degree isn’t enough for most jobs, FHSU offers an agriculture degree online that can help students make a seamless transition to upper-level coursework – and help them get a leg up in the job hunt, too! With just an internet connection, you can take classes like Agricultural Law and Policy, Computer Applications for Agriculture, and Farm Management. Fort Hays even offers coursework during the summer, so you could easily finish the program in fewer than two years.
1. Texas Tech University
Online Bachelor of Science in Plant and Soil Sciences
A slight departure from the norm, this online agriculture degree is actually not in agriculture at all! Nonetheless, the B.S. in Plant and Soil Sciences from Texas Tech is worth considering. The curriculum provides a solid introduction to agricultural topics, with courses on everything from vegetable production and arboriculture to crop physiology and urban soils. You can even specialize in Wine! Classes like “The Science of Wine” and “Principles of Viticulture” will more than prepare you to run your own vineyard. Note that while most classes are available online, certain lab science courses may require face-to-face visits. Fortunately, Texas Tech will let you complete these classes at a local institution and then transfer your credits – just one more reason this is one of the best online agriculture degrees available today.
This concludes our ranking of the top 10 values in online agriculture degrees.
See our methodology page for more information about how we calculated this ranking.
By CVO Staff
Published June 2016