In this article, we profile the top 10 online agriculture associate’s programs.
To become an agricultural technician, one must earn an agriculture degree. For entry-level positions, an associate’s degree is required. Since employers value work experience and training, earning a degree while working can be useful. Thankfully, online associate’s degree options in sustainable agriculture are available. Several of these are offered from accredited and affordable colleges and universities.
10 Online Associate’s in Agriculture Degree Programs Methodology
We reviewed approximately 40 colleges and universities that offered online agricultural degrees. Our focus was on online associate’s degree programs in the agriculture education field. Selection criteria was based on accreditation and raw affordability. We gathered information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES College Navigator). Then, we verified accreditation on the school’s website. Finally we selected programs that cost less than $16,500 per year and ranked them according to raw affordability.
Below is our list of the top 10 online associate’s in agriculture degree programs.
#10 – University of Massachusetts
Online Associate’s in Sustainable Food and Farming
At the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture, students may earn a sustainable agriculture degree online. The Stockbridge School now offers a fully online associate’s in sustainable food production and farming. This agriculture degree online program is designed for those interested in bachelor’s in agriculture and food science programs. Though the program is at the associate level, classes are taught by university professors. Agricultural science courses for online students cover unique agriculture and farm business management topics. Examples include:
- Introduction to Food and Ag Law
- Introduction to Mushroom Culture
- Practical Beekeeping
- Integrated Pest Management
- Sustainable Agriculture
Besides offering quality ag programs, UMass Amherst ranks with U.S. News and World Report as the 66th best national university. Prospective students are encouraged to apply for financial aid.
Undergraduate Tuition: $16,439
#9 – Utah State University
Online Associate’s in Agricultural Science
Utah State University offers an accredited online agriculture degree. This associate’s program combines research and new technology to prepare students with a strong foundation in the world of agriculture and food systems. As a graduate of Utah State’s online program, you are able to start your career in agriculture or pursue a four-year degree. The program consists of 60 credits and offers two early start dates. Curriculum is delivered 100% online. Plus, classes for online students are taught by Utah State’s esteemed faculty. Utah State is a top-ranked national university. In fact, the school ranks #241 in best national universities by U.S. News and World Report. Also, several of the school’s online programs have received top rankings. This includes the online bachelor’s degree programs (ranked 23 out of more than 1,200 programs).
Undergraduate Tuition: $8,960
#8 – Northwest Iowa Community College
Online Associate’s in Agriculture
For those interested in pursuing an agriculture associate’s degree online, Northwest Iowa Community College has affordable options. The online AAS degree in agriculture provides students the opportunity to pursue employment in many agricultural careers. Graduates of the program have gone on to work in ag sales, farm management, food systems production, and supplies and service. Some pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field. The online agriculture degree program at Northwest Iowa offers a wide array of classes. These are all taught by the school’s qualified instructors. Courses cover topics like:
- Ag Law
- Agricultural Sales
- Agricultural Finance
- Farm Management
- Fundamentals of Soil Science
- Survey of the Animal Industry (Animal Science)
There are many benefits of attending Northwest Iowa Community College. These include small class sizes (student to faculty ratio of 13 to 1) and a post-graduation job placement rate of nearly 100 percent. Financial aid may be available to students who qualify.
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,540
#7 – Southwestern Community College
Online Associate’s in Agricultural Business
The agriculture degree at Southwestern Community College combines business courses with agricultural science and food production classes. The online program provides future workers in agriculture with specialized training in ag business and farm management. The associate’s degree in agriculture is meant to transfer to a four-year college or university. Classes are delivered online and cover a variety of ag and business topics. These college education courses include:
- Ag Sales
- Introduction to Crop Science
- Introduction to Agriculture Markets
- Principles of Horticulture
- Livestock Management
Online students enrolled in the agriculture program must complete 68 credits. They must also maintain a GPA of 2.0 to be awarded the AAS degree in agricultural business. Interested students should apply for financial aid.
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,560
#6 – Lake Area Technical College
Online Associate’s in Agri-Business
Watertown, South Dakota
Lake Area Technical College’s (LATC) agriculture program offers an agri-business option. This option is ideal for those seeking careers in various areas of business and agriculture. The associate degree in agri-business takes 20 months to complete. Lake Area Tech offers one of the quickest completion times for an associate’s in agriculture on our list. Courses for online students cover topics like:
- Ag Safety
- Commodity Futures and Options
- Crop Science
- Principles of Selling
- Soil Science
- Agricultural Technology
There are also several college education business courses offered through the online degree program. This includes those featuring topics in business law and supervision as well as supervised occupational experience. LATC also offers a 99% graduate placement rate. This makes it one of the top community colleges in the state of South Dakota. Plus, financial aid may be available to qualified students.
Undergraduate Tuition: $6,718
#5 – Umpqua Community College
Online Associate’s in Agricultural Business Management
Umpqua Community College offers an agricultural science degree online. This program includes an emphasis in agricultural business management. The affordable online associate degree program prepares students for successful careers in agriculture. Agriculture education students are taught leadership skills and solid business management practices. For the online associate’s degree in agriculture, courses are taught by experienced faculty. Topics explored include:
- Discovering Agricultural and Resource Economics
- Introduction to Business
- Management in Agriculture
- Farm Management
The school works closely with Oregon State University to provide a degree partnership program. This means online students may dual-enroll at UCC and OSU. They may also take advantage of scholarships and other services offered by the university.
Undergraduate Tuition: $5,282
#4 – Western Iowa Tech Community College
Online Associate’s in Agriculture Business
Sioux City, Iowa
At Western Iowa Tech Community College, students may earn an agriculture associate degree that combines both agriculture and business. To earn the online AS in agriculture business, students must complete program requirements. Courses are delivered online and cover topics like:
- Ag Selling
- Farm Business Management
- Fundamentals of Soil Science
- Introduction to Agriculture Markets
- Principles of Agronomy
- Survey of the Animal Industry
A total of 64 credits must be completed to earn the AS in agriculture business. The program is ideal for students interested in pursuing various careers. Some of these include commodity sales, farm and agri-business management, and retail and wholesale selling. WITCC is fully accredited with the Higher Learning Commission. It is one of the most affordable institutions on our list, and financial aid is available.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,802
#3 – Lakeshore Technical College
Online Associate’s in Agribusiness Science and Technology
The agriculture associate degree online program at Lakeshore Technical College consists of 60 credits. The entire program can be completed in four terms. It is available 100 percent online with classes taught by Lakeshore Tech instructors. The agriculture degree online program opens doors to many agribusiness and agricultural industry career pathways. Some of the core classes offered throughout the program cover topics like:
- Agribusiness Economics
- Agricultural Finance
- Legal Aspects of Agribusiness
- Livestock Production Systems and Management
Both full-time and part-time completion pathways are available. This only adds to the program’s flexibility. Lakeshore is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The HLC is one of six regional accrediting bodies authorized by the U.S. Department of Education. This means eligible students qualify for financial aid to fund their attendance.
Undergraduate Tuition: $4,484
#2 – Casper College
Online Associate’s in General Agriculture
Casper College’s agriculture associate’s degree requires no prerequisites for admission. Plus, it is tailored to align with a wide range of career goals. Students enrolled in the online program at Casper take classes taught by the institution’s experienced faculty. Some of the class topics include:
- Agriculture Economics
- Animal Science/Animal Health
- Record Keeping
- Soil Science
Since courses are delivered online, you will need access to a computer and proper Internet connection. Courses can be taken from anywhere and offer flexibility while balancing outside obligations, such as work and family. All courses are transferable to four-year institutions. Still, students may seek employment in the field upon graduation. Also, Casper College is fully accredited, so eligible students will qualify for federal financial aid.
Undergraduate Tuition: $3,480
#1 – Northcentral Technical College
Online Associate’s in Crop Science (Agronomy)
Northcentral Technical College offers the most affordable agriculture degree program on our list. The online associate’s degree from NTC emphasizes crop science or agronomy. The 60-credit program provides hands-on learning opportunities that are infused with theoretical principles. Studies cover four major components of crop management. These include nutrient management, pest management, soil and crop management, and water management. During the program, students take part in the management of 100 acres and complete an internship experience. Courses cover topics like:
- Agriculture Equipment Safety
- Crop Scouting Techniques
- Nutrient Management
- Principles of Crop Production
For over 100 years, Northcentral Technical College has been in operation. Today, the school is fully accredited. Even without financial aid, it is one of the most affordable institutions to offer an online agriculture associate’s degree.
Undergraduate Tuition: $3,723
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I do with an online associate’s degree in agriculture?
An agricultural and food science technician typically holds an associate’s in agriculture or closely related discipline. Related fields may include animal science, animal health, or crop science. Some positions, particularly agricultural engineering jobs, require a bachelor’s degree. But an associate’s degree is more the norm for those who seek employment in entry-level positions.
In 2019, agricultural science technicians held 24,000 jobs in the workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that food manufacturing employed the largest number of agricultural and food science techs. In fact, this industry employed 32% of all ag science technicians. The next largest employer of this occupation is professional, scientific, and technical services. These technicians often work in laboratories and offices. This industry employed approximately 20% of all agricultural science technicians. The third largest employer of agricultural technicians is colleges, universities, and professional schools. These institutions employ about 15%. Support activities for agriculture and forestry employ 5% of all ag techs, and crop production employs about 2%.
As an agricultural technician, you could work in a variety of settings. These settings include farms and ranches, greenhouses, laboratories, offices, and processing plants. Ag techs often work full time and adhere to standard employment schedules (Monday through Friday with weekends off). Depending on the job, some travel may be required.
How much money can I earn with an agriculture associate’s degree?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual wage for agricultural science technicians in May of 2021 was $44,700. The highest ten percent of earners working in this field made $62,660 per year. The lowest ten percent earned approximately $29,550.
Marginal changes to salary are affected by industry and geographic location. Still, BLS reports the top three industries for agricultural science technicians as follows:
Colleges, universities, and professional schools (state level) paid their ag techs a median annual wage of $47,800. Colleges and universities are the highest-paying industry for these specialized technicians. Next in line for top-paying ag industries is food manufacturing. As listed by BLS, food manufacturing offers median annual wages for agricultural science technicians of $46,340. The third highest-paying industry for ag technicians is professional, scientific, and technical services. This field pays a median annual wage of $38,250.
Other occupations and median pay for individuals working in agriculture include:
- Agricultural and food scientists: $74,160
- Agricultural engineers: $82,640
- Agricultural workers: $29,680
- Conservation scientists and foresters: $63,750
Most agricultural science technicians work full-time and have traditional daytime schedules. Yet, some technicians may travel extensively on the job, both nationally and internationally.
What is the job outlook for individuals with an agriculture degree?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of agricultural science technicians to grow eight percent from 2020 to 2030. This rate is about as fast as the average for all occupations and is considered to be a favorable job outlook. But what will cause the employment growth?
As demand continues for agricultural research, more technicians will be needed. This is especially true in areas like changes in weather patterns and climate, harmful pests, and the impact of population growth. Agricultural science techs are needed to assist scientists working in the field. In fact, projections show an extra 2,100 agricultural technician jobs will be added over the next several years.
Food science technicians help improve food processing techniques, ensure food safety, and provide resources that limit waste. Agricultural science techs will be useful in the study of genetic makeup of livestock, improving diets for both animal and human, and living conditions. Also, technicians will be needed to analyze soil composition, breed crops that are resistant to pathogens and pests, and help improve the taste of food.
Due to the favorable job outlook, those earning an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, or higher in agriculture should see the best job prospects.
What are the admission requirements for an agriculture degree program at the associate’s level?
Students interested in a career as an agricultural technician may enroll in an agriculture associate’s degree program. To better prepare you for these online associate degrees, students should take as many high school math and science classes as they can. A solid foundation in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and statistics is important to doing well in college agriculture courses. As for students interested in going beyond the associate’s degree level and earning a bachelor’s in agriculture? Having a strong background in math and science helps.
Admission requirements for an agricultural science degree program vary by school and department. Still, many of the programs featured on our list require similar criteria. Applicants should maintain a strong academic record in high school. They should also perform well on standardized tests (if required by the institution) and gain a strong foundation in math and science. At some institutions, recommendations are required for admission. These referrals can be from teachers or those who can vouch for the student’s academic strength.
Since agriculture degree programs are often hands-on, gaining work experience or on-the-job training through internships can prove to be useful to the success of a student. While work experience and training is not required for admission, they may help better prepare you for both school and the career path. If you are unable to get an internship, job shadowing an agriculture technician will also provide valuable experience.
Besides earning an agriculture associate’s degree, what other important qualities should I have to work in the field?
Education and training are the most important requirements for a career as an agricultural or food science technician. Even so, there are other qualities that can help. Individuals interested in working in agriculture as a technician or scientist should have strong skills and abilities in a variety of areas. Below are five areas that are important to a successful career in agriculture.
Agricultural technician jobs require accuracy, detail, precision, and strong mathematical skills. Technicians are often required to conduct various observations and take onsite measurements. These tests require strong analytical interpretation and skills.
Strong communication skills are important to any job. But they are especially critical to the work of an agricultural or food science technician. When working with teams, ag techs must deliver clear instructions. Other tasks include maintaining detailed records and writing concise reports.
Critical thinking skills
Having strong critical thinking and interpretive skills is necessary for the work as a successful agricultural technician. These specialized techs draw conclusions through reasoning and judgment. Thus, it is necessary to be able to interpret critically.
Endurance and/or physical stamina
Often, agricultural techs remain on their feet for long periods of time. They may be required to lift heavy equipment and perform physical labor. Having physical stamina helps.
Interpersonal skills are important to the work of an agricultural technician. Effective communication with colleagues and team members is necessary.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook
- National Center for Educational Statistics: College Navigator
- Agriculture Colleges
- Sustainable Agriculture Degrees
- Agriculture Degree Online
- Highest Paying Associates Degree Jobs
- Online Permaculture Courses
- International Agriculture Major
- International Agriculture Minor
- Great Food Science Jobs
- What is an Associates Degree in Science?
- Top Online Community Colleges
This concludes our list of the top 10 online agriculture associate’s degree programs.