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10 Sustainable Ag Degrees Worth Investigating

March 8, 2017 |

Whether you want to run a nonprofit focused on improving the food system or start your own organic farm, there’s a degree for that. In fact, America now boasts over 394 sustainable agriculture degrees and certificate programs. With so many great programs out there it’s hard to narrow down the best, so here are just ten of the great offerings for the budding farmer in you.

1. Cornell $1310 per college credit hour

When it comes to range of options, facilities, research opportunities and concentration of growing experts in one place, it’s hard to beat the self-claimed “world leader” in sustainability research and education that is Cornell. Offering 52 sustainability based majors and another 75 sustainability minors, Cornell allows you to learn everything from sustainable engineering and design to globalization, food systems and organic production. The main issue with Cornell is the cost. Coming in at approximately 47K for an out of state resident per year, it tops this list alphabetically and economically.

2. University of Florida $212 per college credit hour        $530 non residents

With ample opportunity to specialize in horticulture, organic crop production and horticulture science offering four areas of focus as well as three related minors, the University of Florida is a solid choicer for the sun lovers. Students have the opportunity to help with ongoing research projects conducted by university staff at the nearby Plant Science Research and Education Unit which offers research facilities including a citrus greenhouse for researchers and their interns.

3. Michigan State University $468  per college credit hour

Offers a degree in sustainable and organic horticulture, ideal for the urban farming movement dominating Michigan’s post manufacturing landscape. Students can specialize in horticulture science, landscaping and design or sustainable and organic horticulture. The specializations are tailored toward sector jobs and the department emphasizes the hands-on approach to learning.  A professional internship is required and the university’s local ag contacts ensure plenty of practical employment experience for degree seekers.

4. Montana State University $222 per college credit hour        $889 non residents

Out West, Montana State offers wide open spaces and four programs options in their sustainable food and Bioenergy Systems degree. Whether you choose to pursue the crop production, food systems, agroecology or livestock program, every student completes two internships and a mentorship. The degree combines bookwork and core sustainability teachings with practical time in the field and real life food systems experience.

5. Ohio State $382 per college credit hour for residents and $1,104 for non-residents

The Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability EEDS degree at Ohio State is ideal for the student considering a career in food policy, systems analysis, food production, environmental economics or community development. The focus here is on the people in the food system and would be a good option for those considering work with an NGO or nonprofit agency. With four areas of specialization, EEDS students can focus on either the business side or the community side of people focused sustainability.

6. Sacramento State $372 per college credit hour for out of state students

California residents have many options when it comes to sustainable agriculture education, but Sacramento offers affordable tuition, an established farming tradition and is home to the state fair. Sac State offers the sustainability nerd a strong academic approach to food systems and organic agriculture focused on the economic, political, environmental and social implications of sustainable agriculture. Classes in climate change and resource depletion are mixed with habitat preservation and pollution issues. Designed for those seeking work as lawyers, journalists, analysts, activists,  public health administrators or engineers in the environmental field.

7. Stanford $982 per college credit hour

The Stanford School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences is leading the way in sustainability research. Undergrads pursue a degree in earth systems and can then choose the sustainable food and agriculture track. The number of projects, programs and resources at Stanford for the would be sustainability expert are hard to beat. With a number of student lead sustainability clubs, sustainability seminars, government funded research projects all over the place being a Stanford earth scientist is quite the opportunity. Be sure to check out their scholarships and employment opportunities.

8. Washington State $570 per college credit hour

For those considering farm management or organic food production, WSU offers a degree in agriculture food systems with a major in organic production. Classes are focused on both pest and soil management as well as business management and marketing. Their current four acre organic teaching farm will soon expand to 17 acres offering students practical experience operating a CSA, growing certified organic food, selling at a farmers’ market and networking with community partners. All students are required to take at least two internships so plenty of opportunities to work the soil while learning the business.

9. University of Wisconsin, River Falls $390 per college credit hour

The new sustainable agriculture option at River Falls focuses on producing and marketing sustainable food while promoting land stewardship and community development. Affordable classes taught only by qualified professors (UW is passionate about expert led classes only) in things such as world food and population, forage management and the sociology of rural life await the River Falls student.

10. University of Wyoming $113 per college credit hour

Home to the nation’s first vertical greenhouse and the largest manufacturer of sustainable growing towers in the world, Wyoming is a great place to observe the changing landscape of the American farming industry. UW also happens to be one of the most affordable universities in the nation. UW was the first college in America to offer an Agroecology degree program and boasts a reclamation center focused on restoring broken ecosystems. The degree offers studies in ecosystem management and breaks down into two main areas of study: soil science and crop management. The agroecology degree at UW offers research apprenticeships, internships, as well as a “well-funded scholarship program” and part time campus jobs in the greenhouse and plant science laboratories.

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