In this article, we profile the top 15 most affordable online master’s in agriculture programs of 2019.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the overall employment of agricultural and food scientists is projected to grow seven percent through the year 2026. As research into agricultural production methods and techniques continues, the field will expand. To secure employment as an agricultural scientist or researcher, a graduate level degree is important. We reviewed accredited colleges and universities with master’s in agriculture online programs. Online options allow students to work while earning their graduate degree.
Top 15 Most Affordable Master’s in Agriculture Online Programs Methodology
We looked at approximately 40 colleges and universities listed by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered affordable master’s in agriculture online programs. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying the following criteria: Regional or national accreditation, online or hybrid options for completing a master’s in agriculture, institution rankings from at least one major publication like U.S. News and World Report, and graduate tuition and fees less than $19,000 per year. We listed the top 15 master’s in agriculture online programs according to raw affordability.
Below is our list of the top 15 most affordable online master’s in agriculture programs for 2019.
#15 – University of Illinois
Online Master’s in Crop Sciences
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,126
One of the most affordable master’s in agriculture online degree programs on our list is the crop sciences graduate program at University of Illinois. The program consists of 32 hours of coursework and a comprehensive exam administered by faculty. Courses are delivered entirely online and include crop growth and development, genomics for plant improvement, horticultural physiology, principles of crop advising, and research methods in plant sciences. Admission requirements include an earned bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA for the last two years of undergraduate study. U.S. News and World Report ranks University of Illinois #46 in best national universities.
#14 – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Online Master of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,510
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s online master’s in agriculture and life sciences offers six concentrations and world-class curriculum. The online program follows the same format as the regionally accredited degree offered on campus. Classes include agribusiness marketing policy and business strategies, community partnerships and volunteerism, principles and methods of non-formal teaching and learning, and soils for professionals. Concentration areas offered include applied nutrition and physical activity, education, environmental science, food safety and biosecurity, leadership studies, and plant science and pest management. U.S. News and World Report ranks Virginia Tech #76 in best national universities and #103 in best value schools.
#13 – Green Mountain College
Online Master of Sustainable Food Systems
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,225
Green Mountain College offers a sustainable food systems program ideal for individuals researching master’s in agriculture online degrees. The program is designed to prepare students with the understanding of sustainable agriculture and diets. Consisting of 39 credits, the graduate level degree can be completed by taking classes online and attending the optional residency requirement. Courses include advanced food and agricultural policy, contemporary food systems, food law and policy, food systems solutions, and sustainable organization management. Green Mountain ranks with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the school ranks #142-#187 in best regional universities in the North.
#12 – University of Arizona
Online Master’s in Agricultural Education
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,044
One of the most affordable master’s in agriculture online degree programs on our list is the master’s in agricultural education at University of Arizona. The program is designed for working professionals who want to advance their careers in agricultural fields. Two pathways are offered. The traditional research option includes the completion of a thesis, while the professional agricultural option provides distance learning and requires a cumulative project instead of a thesis. Admission to the program requires an earned bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA, letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a statement of purpose. U.S. News and World Report ranks the institution #106 in best national universities and #97 in best value schools.
#11 – Washington State University
Online Master’s in Agriculture
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,802
Washington State University’s online master’s in agriculture program is designed for working professionals, agricultural educators, or practitioners who wish to further their agricultural career. The program’s flexible format consists of online classes that start at three different times throughout the year. Non-thesis and thesis pathways are offered. A general MS in agriculture is offered, or students have the option of pursuing one of two concentrations. These concentrations include food science and management or plant health and management. U.S. News and World Report ranks WSU #140 in best national universities. Also, the school ranks #83 in best value institutions, and several online graduate level programs have received top rankings.
#10 – Colorado State University
Online Master of Agriculture in Agricultural Sciences
Fort Collins, Colorado
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,495
Colorado State University’s online agriculture master’s programs include the Master of Agriculture in Agricultural Sciences with a specialization in integrated resource management. The program blends multiple disciplines, including animal science, business, ecology, human resources, policy, and wildlife. Courses are delivered online and include animal production systems, building the business, integrated forage management, managing for ecosystem sustainability, and the integrated resource management plan. The degree can be completed in just two years, fully online. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school #140 in best national universities and #141 in best value schools. Also, several online graduate programs have received top 20 rankings from U.S. News.
#9 – North Carolina State University
Online Master of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
Raleigh, North Carolina
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,495
One of the top online agriculture master’s degrees on our list comes from North Carolina State University. This flexible 30-hour program requires no final exam and no seminar. Classes are delivered online and designed for working professionals. Since students may take up to 12 hours of coursework per semester, the degree may be finished in as little as three years. However, students have the option of finishing their degree in up to six years. Admission requires an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.8 coupled with a 3.0 or higher GPA in an undergraduate major. NC State is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school #80 in best national universities.
#8 – Auburn University
Online Master’s in Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,282
Auburn University’s online master’s in agriculture is a 30-credit distance education program that closely adheres to the curriculum delivered on campus. Two degree pathways lead to graduate degrees. The Master of Science requires the GRE, but the Master of Ag does not. Courses cover topics in plant and weed science, soil science, and other agricultural pathologies. Some of the courses include advanced crop science, bioenergy and the environment, food laws and regulation, and nutrient management. Successful admission requires all official transcripts, at least three professional or academic references, a statement of purpose, and satisfactory GRE scores. U.S. News and World Report ranks Auburn #115 in best national universities and #132 in best value schools.
#7 – Kansas State University
Online Master’s in Agribusiness
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,069
The College of Agriculture at Kansas State University offers a unique online agriculture master’s degree in agribusiness. This program blends the study of agribusiness management, animal health, and food to help prepare students for careers in agricultural economics and agribusiness. Curriculum covers topics in advanced food and agribusiness management, agribusiness financial management, applied agribusiness economics and logistics, behavioral management theory, marketing concepts and research, and optimization techniques for agribusiness. Admission to the program requires an earned bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA in the final two years or last 60 credit hours. Also, two years of professional work experience are required for admission. U.S. News and World Report ranks Kansas State University #147 in best national universities and #75 in top public schools.
#6 – Iowa State University
Online Master’s in Agricultural Education
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,504
The online master’s in agricultural education at Iowa State University is a flexible program offered 100 percent online. With 13 credits of electives, students may shape their degree and focus on areas of interest. Students may even specialize in agricultural extension education. Courses include foundations of agricultural education, instructional methods, introduction to research, learning theory, and program planning. There is no GRE or GMAT requirement. However, admission requires the submission of all academic records, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and a strong undergraduate GPA. Iowa State is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school #119 in best national universities and #81 in best value institutions.
#5 – University of Missouri
Online Master’s in Natural Resources – Agroforestry
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,017
University of Missouri’s online agriculture master’s programs include the 100 percent online master’s in natural resources. This 30-credit program is designed for individuals who want to pursue careers as agriculture and food scientists, conservation scientists, or environmental engineers. Classwork is completed online, and students take courses like agroforestry economics and policy, natural resource policy and administration, principles of agroforestry, and soil fertility and plant nutrition. The application process includes a completed baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, a minimum GPA of 3.0 or better, and GRE scores of 300 or better taken within the last five years. U.S. News and World Report ranks University of Missouri #129 in best national universities.
#4 – Murray State University
Online Master’s in Agriculture
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,114
The highly affordable online master’s in agriculture degree program at Murray State University is designed for adult and professional learners who want to advance in agriculture careers. Five master’s in agriculture pathways are offered. The general track emphasizes agriculture with no specialization. Also, four degrees with specialization tracks are available. Specializations include agribusiness economics, agribusiness education, sustainable agriculture, and veterinary hospital management. Classes are delivered online and include such core classes as presentation and training strategies in agriculture and research in agriculture. U.S. News and World Report ranks Murray State #34 in best regional universities in the South.
#3 – Oklahoma State University
Online Master’s in Agricultural Education
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,460
Oklahoma State University’s master’s in agriculture online degree program is designed to prepare students for entry into or advancement in formal agricultural teaching careers. Thesis and non-thesis pathways are offered, and classes are delivered entirely online. Some of the classes cover topics in agricultural economics, biosystems and agricultural engineering, occupational education, and plant and soil science. To be eligible for admission, applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree in agriculture or closely related discipline with a presentable GPA of at least a 2.8 in the last 30 credit hours. The GRE is not required for applicants with a GPA of 3.25 or better. U.S. News and World Report ranks OSU #157 in best national universities and #80 in top public schools.
#2 – Texas Tech University
Online Master’s in Agricultural Education
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,015
Texas Tech University’s master’s in agriculture online degree program is one of the most affordable degrees of its kind on our list. The 36-credit hour program is designed to prepare graduate for administrative, research, or teaching positions in the field of agriculture. Students take online classes and complete a thesis, though a non-thesis pathway is offered. Online courses include history and philosophy of agricultural and extension education, methods of technological change, and program development in agricultural and extension education. Texas Tech is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school #187 in best national universities and #100 in top public institutions.
#1 – University of Nebraska
Online Master’s in Agronomy or Horticulture
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,588
The most affordable master’s in agriculture online program on our list is offered by University of Nebraska. Students have the option of earning a master’s in agronomy or horticulture by taking online classes. A mixture of asynchronous and synchronous classes makes the program flexible for working students. Also, three specialization options allow students to tailor their degree toward areas of interest. These specializations include crop physiology and production, plant breeding and genetics, and range and forage sciences. The school is nationally ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks University of Nebraska #129 in best national universities and #95 in best value schools.
Frequently Asked Questions for Online Master’s in Agriculture Programs
What can I do with a master’s in agriculture online degree?
The primary role of agricultural and food scientists is research. Master’s in agriculture online programs offer valuable research experience that can be conveniently transitioned into the workplace.
Individuals with a master’s in agriculture online degree may choose from a variety of specialized roles. We detailed some of the different types of agricultural and food scientists below.
Animal scientists: Agricultural and animal scientists focus on food production as they conduct research on domestic farm animals. Nutrition, reproduction, disease prevention, growth, and development are all explored and researched to help create efficient methods for food production. Animal scientist jobs require a master’s in agriculture or closely related discipline.
Food scientists and technologists: Food scientists use their background in biology, chemistry, and science to study the basic elements and nutritional makeup of food.
Plant scientists: Plant scientists help improve food development, crop yields, and production. They often research and develop ways to combat pests and control weeds impacting crop yields.
Soil and conservation scientists: With a master’s in agriculture online degree and specialization in soil or conservation, individuals will be equipped to work as soil scientists. Since soil science is closely related to environmental science, individuals often work with climate change, environmental quality, and effective land use.
How are master’s in agriculture online degree programs ideal for working students?
Agricultural and food scientists require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level employment. However, moving up the ladder or starting at a higher paying position requires further education and experience. Thankfully, master’s in agriculture online degree programs offer the best of both worlds. Online master’s programs allow students to continue working and gaining valuable experience while earning a graduate degree.
Since research is an important aspect of agricultural scientific work, having an advanced degree can set you ahead of your competition. Showcasing advanced research topics in specialized areas of agriculture also helps. Many master’s in agriculture online programs on our list feature specializations in agronomy, biotechnology, food science, soils and conservation, and other areas important to the field. Advanced coursework shows interest and expertise in particular areas that may be highlighted on a job application or resumé.
Online degree programs, such as the master’s in agriculture online degree, offer flexible coursework. Not only are classes offered online and provide students with a convenient schedule, but students may choose particular electives to help tailor their degree. If you are interested in pursuing a job in soils and conversation, you will be able to take additional classes in your area of interest.
Master’s in agriculture online degree programs provide many benefits for working students–the most important being flexibility.
How much money will I make with an online master’s in agriculture?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median annual pay for agricultural and food scientists in May 2018 was $64,020. The lowest ten percent of agricultural and food scientists earned an average of $38,740, and the highest ten percent earned approximately $116,000.
Top industries paid more than the average listed above. In fact, BLS reports agricultural scientists working in research and development in physical, engineering, and life sciences earned $76,590 per year. Government agencies with agricultural scientists were the next top agencies by pay. Government-run agencies and programs paid an average salary of $68,040. Agricultural scientists working in food manufacturing earned an average of $63,430.
It should come as no surprise that education impacts earnings potential. Individuals with a master’s in agriculture online degree earn more than individuals with a bachelor’s degree in the same discipline. Employers often view a graduate degree as having two to three years of work experience in the field. Job applicants with a master’s in agriculture online degree can showcase research experience gained while in school.
Agricultural and food scientists typically work full time with weekends off. Research facilities may require scientists to work longer hours but offer bonuses and overtime pay.
What is the job outlook for individuals with master’s in agriculture online degrees?
The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a favorable job outlook for agricultural and food scientists through the year 2026. In fact, the projected growth rate is seven percent, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
So why the projected increase in employment? Growth is expected as research into agricultural production methods and food science techniques continues. Agricultural economy and infrastructure face challenges that will continue to be addressed in upcoming years. Challenges including demand for water resources, population growth, climate and weather pattern changes, and pest and pathogen control will continue. Also, additional demand for agricultural products, such as biofuels and particular foods and grains, will put demands on research in efficiency and sustainability.
Animal scientists will be needed to help improve diets, living conditions, and investigate the genetic makeup of livestock. Food scientists will work to improve food safety and efficient elimination of waste. We should see the biggest growth rate among plant and soil scientists. In fact, BLS reports a nine percent growth among these highly trained agricultural specialists. As the population works to understand and map soil composition, more skilled specialists will be valuable to the field. Pest resistance and disease control specialists will face particular challenges, but individuals with research backgrounds in these areas will likely secure employment as more jobs become available over the next several years.
What are the admissions requirements for online master’s in agriculture degree programs?
While admissions requirements for master’s in agriculture online degree programs vary by institution, most have similar criteria. Highly selective schools require competitive GRE or GMAT scores for admission, strong undergraduate performance, and letters of recommendation. It is likely applicants must also provide adequate work experience for many of the master’s in agriculture online programs on our list. Work experience requirements, for example, include one to three years employed or interning in an agricultural or food science setting.
Across the board, top agricultural programs require an earned bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university for admission. In many cases, satisfactory academic performance is also required. Programs require official transcripts for all undergraduate work with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Top-ranked programs may require applicants have a higher GPA, such as 3.5. Also, programs requiring superior undergraduate performance often waive the GRE requirement with a 3.5 or better undergraduate GPA.
Top agricultural programs may also require letters of recommendation attesting to the applicant’s academic or professional background. Other requirements may include the completion of specific undergraduate courses, such as food science or agricultural methods. Statistics or a college-level math class, such as calculus, may also be required prior to applying to a master’s in agriculture online program.
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