Agriculture has been around since the beginning of civilization. It’s a vital part of living and maintaining a healthy economy. It’s here to stay, and it’s growing rapidly. The USDA and Purdue University concluded that universities aren’t keeping up with the demand of graduates ready to fill these available jobs. Many universities got their start as colleges of agriculture, so there’s an abundance of great selections to choose from. If you think that careers in agriculture are narrowed to crops and animals, you’ll be surprised at just how many different paths are out there. We’ve compiled a list of the top 30 agricultural colleges.
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Methodology for Best Agriculture Colleges
We looked at many schools offering a degree in agriculture from a long list on Wikipedia. We ranked them based on their ROI (return on investment) according to payscale.com, their average 4-year tuition listed on College Navigator, and their amount of agricultural departments listed on each college’s website. Each school received points for their competitive tuitions, amount of agricultural departments, and ROI. In case of ties, the deciding factor was a side-by-side comparison of their tuition.
Ranking the Top Colleges of Agriculture
Fort Collins, Colorado
The College of Agricultural Sciences is located on Colorado State University’s beautiful main campus. It offers a combined 19 undergraduate/minor programs along with 6 masters programs. Some of these majors include Agricultural Business, Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, Horticulture, Equine Science, and Landscape Architecture. CSU also encourages overseas learning and has active programs in Australia, New Zealand, France, Costa Rica, Spain, and Mexico. CSU gives students a well-rounded education through its fundamental classroom teaching and hands-on field approach.
“It starts before the fork. It goes beyond the farm.” This is a motto of Auburn University’s school of Agriculture. Auburn boasts of 11 undergraduate and 10 graduate programs. They also have agricultural online degrees available. Auburn’s agricultural departments are Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, Animal Sciences, Biosystems Engineering, Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, Entomology and Plant Pathology, Horticulture, Poultry Science, and School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences. They understand the importance of keeping quality production while keeping an eye on environmental costs.
The University of California, Riverside boasts of several achievements like world-renowned work researching citrus at its Citrus Research Center and Agricultural Experiment Station (CRC-AES). Students can choose from 13 different departments of study ranging from Molecular, Cell, & Systems Biology, Nematology, Physics & Astronomy, Statistics and more. The University of California, Riverside takes pride in offering unique and dynamic teaching.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences uses a combination of real-life, hands-on experiences and research to give its students a rich understanding of their major. CALS sprawls out onto a beautiful campus and has 24 majors. Bioenergy and bio-products, changing climate, economic and community development, food systems, health and wellness, and healthy ecosystems are its primary themes. A few of their majors include Agronomy, Dairy Science, Forest Science and Nutrition and Dietetics.
The University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources features a “350-acre classroom”. It is one of a few colleges that has a working farm on the campus. There are 20 programs CANR has available. Some of these include Food and Agribusiness Marketing and Management, Applied Statistics Online (M.S.), Animal Science, Landscape Architecture, and Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. The University of Delaware has the perks of learning at a small school while gaining all the knowledge that the larger schools can provide.
Clemson, South Carolina
Clemson comes in at #25 on 30 best value agriculture colleges. Its College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences is one of the many land-grant mission schools where agriculture is at its core. The state of South Carolina’s agribusiness enjoys the benefits of the research of the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service. Clemson’s agricultural school features 5 departments ranging from Animal and Veterinary Sciences to Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Sciences. With its 12 academic majors, Clemson strives to cultivate an environment of strategic learning and growth in agriculture.
The University of California Davis works very hard to create better ways to keep our environment and world a better place. It’s been ranked #1 in the US and #2 in the world by QS World University Rankings for its agricultural sciences and forestry. It’s also ranked by U.S. News & World Report as #1 in the world in plant and animal sciences. The University of California Davis has a broad range of agricultural majors within their 14 departments. Some of the departments include Land, Air and Water Resources, Entomology and Nemotology, and Environmental Toxicology.
The University of Arizona’s agricultural department has created valued innovations such as the development of integrated pest management for cotton and much more. UA offers majors from 5 departments including Integrated Pest Management, Crop Efficiency Development, New Arid Land Crops Water Usage, Sustainability, and Reclamation Biofuels. One of the main focuses of this university is to assure efficiency in farming in environmentally thoughtful ways.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
NMSU offers bachelor, masters, and doctorate programs from their College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. As an extension of the college, New Mexicans reap the benefits of the college’s research and implementation of new innovations in agriculture. With its 8 agricultural departments, 22 undergraduate and 18 graduate programs, NMSU makes it to the #22 spot of 30 Best Value Agriculture Colleges. Here’s a little sampling of the programs offered: Family and Consumer Sciences, Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Ecology, Plant & Environmental Sciences, and School of Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
LSU has been teaching agriculture for over 100 years. They started teaching about production agriculture exclusively and have expanded their horizons to a broad range of agricultural topics. There are 8 undergraduate programs and 11 masters and doctoral programs. Some of these include Environmental Management Systems, Animal Sciences, Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology, Renewable Natural Resources, and Animal & Dairy Sciences.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture ranks high at the #2 spot in the US and #4 in the world on US News & World Report 2020. Along with multiple degree programs, UMass is offering a brand new online B.S. degree in Sustainable Food and Farming. Along with this new online degree, it also provides many other quality programs. Some include Horticultural Science, Plant and Soil Sciences, Sustainable Food & Farming, and Turfgrass Science & Management.
Raleigh, North Carolina
NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 12 departments combine to validate its longevity as a land-grant mission school. The CALS works to prepare its students to succeed world-wide. They offer a vast array of agricultural programs including Molecular and Structural Biochemistry, Applied Ecology, Agricultural and Human Sciences and many more. NC State made it onto 30 Best Value Agriculture Colleges for several reasons including its excellent programs along with its convenient online programs.
Iowa State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is ranked 6 percent of 302 worldwide in programs of agriculture and forestry programs by QS World University Rankings. A few of its 15 departments include Agronomy, Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Statistics and Animal Science. ISU’s top priority is its students and has the 3rd largest student body in agriculture nationally. ISU gives just about 3.5 million dollars’ worth of scholarships a year. Through broadening diversity and education, it seeks to open doors for careers in agriculture and life sciences.
WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences has a whopping 27 departments. It’s the largest college of WSU. It awards around $700,000 a year to its students. Some of its programs are Fermentation Science, Turf-grass Management, Fruit and Vegetable Management, Viticulture and Enology and Apparel, Merchandising, and Design and Textiles. WSU combines three things to ensure success for its students. It builds a foundation, gives time for application, and opportunities to communicate well in their endeavors.
Making it onto #16 of 30 Best Agriculture Colleges is UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. IFAS has several locations throughout Florida, housing 18 different departments. UF/IFAS Extension programs focus on 5 characteristics including sustainable agriculture, environmental stewardship, financial literacy, food nutrition and safety and consumer and parenting skills. A few departments include Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Family Youth, and Community Sciences and Animal Sciences.
#15 Michigan State University
East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan State was the very first college to benefit from President Abraham Lincoln signing the Morrill Act, allowing for the creation of land-grant colleges. Its College of Agriculture & Natural Resources sprawls across 5200 acres. It’s home to 12 departments and a lengthy list of degree programs. Some include urban and community forestry, breeding and genetics, and landscape architecture. MSC combines its research, scholarship and outreach to impact the world through its graduates.
New Brunswick, New Jersey
A cool story coming out of Rutgers-New Brunswick Agricultural college is the “Rutgers 250 Tomato”. The university’s agricultural department created this variety and very shortly became 72% of all commercially grown tomatoes in the U.S. and grown throughout the world. Rutgers is a smaller school, while being very competitive as it sits in the middle of the 30 best value agriculture colleges. There are 6 departments with a long list of programs. Some of these include farmhouse management, shellfish restoration, obesity and disease prevention, and wildlife management.
#13 Texas Tech University
Texas Tech’s College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources is one of the larger schools in the nation. Along with its 6 agricultural departments, it added the Department of Veterinary Sciences. A few of CASNR’s programs include Interdisciplinary Agriculture, Agribusiness, Conservation Law Enforcement, along with many more. West Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University, and Kansas State University are all strong partners with Texas Tech.
Utah State offers quite a diverse array of programs. Among its 9 departments, Aviation is one that isn’t seen typically in other agricultural schools. It’s aviation graduates can receive FAA certification. It’s also the host of the first chocolate factory in the western United States. Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences and Veterinary Medicine are also a couple of the variety of programs that USU offers. Utah State’s dean is proud to say that his graduates have careers in business, farming, writing, healthcare, and many more,
Ithaca, New York
Cornell packs a big punch ranking #1 in agriculture, agriculture operations and related sciences by The Wall Street Journal/Times of Higher Education 2020 College Rankings. It has 22 majors available in agriculture and stands behind its commitment to bring excellent job opportunities through its program application process. Some of its programs include Agribusiness Management, Animal Science, Atmospheric Science, Dyson Business Engineers, and many more. It has 16 departments including Animal Science, Biological and Environmental Engineering, and Global Development.
College Park, Maryland
The University of Maryland makes it onto our 30 Best Value Agriculture Colleges as one of the schools chosen for the Morrill Land Grant Act. It’s been teaching about agriculture for many years, starting back in 1865. Some of its programs of study are Marine-Estuarine-Environmental Science, Nutrition & Food Science, Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Management, Plant Science, and Turf-grass & Golf Course Management. The University of Maryland created a 2+2 program with several universities in China that allow students to study abroad for 2 years then come back to the university and finish the remainder of their studies at AGNR.
The University of Illinois ACES is ranked top 30 agricultural schools in the world. It prides itself on not only being a top agriculture school, but also having top programs in engineering, finance and economics, and more. ACES has 10 programs of study. Some are Crop Sciences, Human Development and Family Studies, Technical Systems Management, and ACES undeclared. U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges gave the University of Illinois #14 ranking as a public university and #48 national university.
College Station, Texas
Texas A&M boasts of 100 diverse programs of study in agriculture. It has a few different learning centers like Rosenthal Meat Science and Technology Center, Leach Teaching Gardens, and Center for Coffee Research that enhance its students’ learning experiences. Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Poultry Science, and Biochemistry and Biophysics are three of its 14 agricultural departments. It is a part of Texas A&M AgriLife.
Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has 12 solid departments with many majors as well as an online graduate program. Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise; Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science; Biological Systems Engineering, and Dairy Science are just some of the departments. VT is ranked quite a few times by sources like US News and World Report, Money, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, and Forbes.
West Lafayette, Indiana
Purdue ranks #1 in Agricultural and Biological Engineering programs in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report and as #6 in Agriculture programs in the U.S. by Quacquarelli Symonds. It has numerous departments including Forestry and Natural Resources, Agricultural Economics, Animal Sciences, Biochemistry, and Entomology. Two of its distinguished professors, along with an alumnus, are World Food Prize Laureates.
Fargo, North Dakota
Listed in the National Science Foundation’s top 100 for its agricultural program, NDSU has an extensive College of Agricultural, Food Systems, and Natural Resources. It’s agricultural department gives more scholarships than most on the campus. It has 19 undergraduate programs ranging from Agribusiness to Equine Science to Biotechnology. The three of NDSU’s search centers are excellent. NDSU Beef Cattle Research Complex is one of the top four in the U.S. NDSU makes it into the best 5 among top agriculture colleges.
St. Paul, Minnesota
The University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences is located right in the center of the Twin Cities using its laboratories to benefit the state of Minnesota. It offers 14 undergraduate, 13 graduate, and over 25 minor programs. Their topics range from fish, food, forest, agriculture, economics, and many more. CFANS also has two pre-professional programs: Pre-Health Sciences and Pre-Veterinary Medicine.
University Park, Pennsylvania
Agriculture has been at the core of Penn State since its beginnings. It’s one of the very first land-grant institutions. The 9 agricultural departments include Ecosystem Science and Management, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Entomology, and more. Students can study at any of the 19 campuses, abroad, and even online. It also offers a whopping 18 graduate programs. Some of these feature Applied Youth, Family, and Community Education, Horticulture, Food Science, and Turfgrass Management.
CSU’s College of Agriculture is home to its own farm (ATRC) where different units are studied such as Organic Dairy, Beef, Sheep, and Swine. It also has Aquaponics, greenhouses, and an irrigation training facility. Among its degree programs, it offers Agricultural Business, Crops, Horticulture & Land Resource Management, and Animal Science. The curriculum combined with hands-on experience makes for a great education.
San Luis Obispo, California
Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences made it to the top spot of 30 best value agriculture colleges for its overall greatness. Its economic value and wide-range of programs it offers brings it to the top. Wine and Viticulture is a unique program offered by CPSU; you won’t find it at many colleges. Horticulture and Crop Science, Food Science and Nutrition, and BioResource and Agricultural Engineering are a few more of the departments Cal Poly has available.
Frequently Asked Questions about Degrees in Agriculture
Q: What is the average salary with a degree in agriculture?
A: According to Payscale, the average is $64,000.
Q: Along the lines of annual salary, which are the highest paying careers in agriculture?
A: Agricultural Lawyers make the most coming in at around $115,820 (listed on Career Addict’s website). Some of the other highest paying jobs are: Agricultural Economists, Biochemists, Environmental Engineers, Agronomy Sales Manager, and Food Scientists.
Q: Are there online-learning options for agricultural degrees?
A: Yes. There are quite a few options for online degrees in Agriculture. Some options include Oregon State, Texas Tech, Colorado State, Fort Hays State University, and University of Tennessee-Martin. Some other schools offer different online program options.
Q: What are some degrees in agriculture?
A: There are numerous levels and types of degrees. Starting with associates Degrees, there are many. They include Forestry, Agricultural Technology, Environmental and Agricultural Management, Oceanography, and many more. Similar to the associates degrees, there are dozens of bachelor’s Degrees. There’s Microeconomics in agriculture Agribusiness Management, Food and Agricultural Marketing, Livestock, Horticulture, Dairy Science, and many many more. Getting a masters and doctorate in Agriculture is also readily available in many colleges.
Q: How is the agricultural job growth?
A: Purdue did a study on Employment Opportunities for College Graduate in Food, Agriculture, Renewable Natural Resources, and the Environment. They projected about 58,000 annual job openings for bachelor degrees or higher. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that in the years 2012 and 2022 that labor jobs in the US would rise by 10.8% and jobs in food and agriculture would grow about 5%. It’s safe to say that agriculture is growing steadily.
Q: What are some careers in agriculture?
A: Careers run the gamut in Agriculture. Farming, animal control, equine science, management, biochemistry, dairy scientist, greenhouse manager, groundskeeper, pesticide handler, engineer…and many more.
Exciting Possibilities at Agriculture Colleges
An agriculture studies major has so many agricultural domains to choose from. This ranking of Best Agriculture Schools highlights these diverse opportunities in order to propel you forward in your search for a superior investment in your own future.
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This concludes our ranking of the 30 best colleges of agriculture.
By CVO Staff