Overview of Agriculture Bachelor’s Degree
Agriculture is a staple of U.S. infrastructure. Since the creation of the Philadelphia Society for the Promotion of Agriculture in 1785, agriculture has been a crucial part of North American society. Growing food, caring for livestock, and managing natural resources is critical to the U.S. economy's success.
Online agriculture degrees are potential options for students pursuing careers in food science, food production, or environmental policy. Bachelor’s degrees cover topics from agriculture technology and soil science to agribusiness and communications.
Agricultural degrees online typically take about four years to complete. However, if you already have an associate degree or plan to transfer credits from another program, you may be able to graduate faster. Most colleges and programs require the following:
Can You Get an Agriculture Degree Online?
You can absolutely get an agriculture degree online. Agriculture degrees focus on management, financing, technology, and policy, in addition to science.Those aspects can be learned just as easily online as in-person, so an online degree in agriculture is no less respected than an in-person degree. Consider what kind of career you’d like, and look for an accredited program that suits your goals.
Before choosing an agriculture degree program online, students should verify that their colleges and universities have received both institutional and programmatic accreditation
The main accrediting agency for agriculture degrees is the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, the agricultural, bioengineering, and environmental branch of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Students attending programs accredited by this agency can feel assured that they are receiving a high quality education and that they'll be eligible to receive financial aid.
Common Courses for an Agriculture Major
Agriculture is a science-based field, so courses focus on physical, biological, social, and agricultural sciences. Agriculture programs may cover food and soil sciences, agricultural machines and business, and farm management systems.
This course teaches students how to combine modern technology and traditional farming to best care for cattle and other livestock. Biometrics is the collection and interpretation of biological information, such as temperature, accelerometer data, and GPS tracking. This course prepares students to either farm or assist farmers in improving the care of their livestock.
Microeconomics in Agriculture
Microeconomics deals with supply and demand and how they interact with world markets. In the agricultural sense, it deals with farmland, labor, and other factors of production. This course provides insight into how agricultural businesses work and how students can succeed in the field after graduation.
Agricultural Research and Statistics
This course emphasizes the importance of gathering information on production and supplies of food and fiber, labor and wages, chemical use, and more. This course shows how organizations, like the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), collect data and reports on production, inventory, finances, and development.
Food and Agricultural Marketing
Investment, policy, and public consumption is such an important part of the agricultural field. Core courses, like this one, focus on marketing and awareness. Agricultural businesses use customer satisfaction and public opinion to influence the market, so understanding the influence of marketing can helps students prepare for a successful career.
Management is an important aspect of any industry. Agribusiness management courses provide experience with economics, business, and agriculture, preparing students to work in both the public and private sectors, or even how to operate a family farm.
Because agriculture is such a wide field, there are several possible concentrations. Specializing in agricultural business, food science, horticulture, or botany helps students find the jobs they want once they graduate.
When choosing a school and program, see what concentrations they offer and find a program that fits your career goals.
What Can You Do With an Agriculture Degree?
Agriculture is a crucial part of U.S. infrastructure, so jobs can be competitive in this field. Based in science and experience, the agricultural industry works closely with local and national governments to make policy, regulate costs, and protect the environment.
No matter your interest in agriculture, there is likely a career that will fit your interests. Check out some of the possible career options for bachelor's graduates with an online agriculture degree:
Annual Median Salary: $82,640
Job Growth Rate: 5%
Agricultural engineers work with local councils, farmers, and developers to draft proposals, create working drawings, and understand budgets. They advise on water quality and resource management, as well as ways to improve processes.
Annual Median Salary: $73,060
Job Growth Rate: -1%
Farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers work directly with livestock and crops. They focus on production and resource management. Their daily tasks include coordinating and managing operations, which may involve recruiting, training, or supervising employees. Their place of employment depends on the specific industry, but it could mean working outside or indoors.
Annual Median Salary: $66,750
Job Growth Rate: 10-15%
Soil and plant scientists perform research and communicate with other professionals to develop conservation and management methods. They provide information and recommendations to farmers, landowners, and policy managers to conduct experiments and develop new or improved varieties of crops that can withstand hazardous conditions, such as disease and weather.
Annual Median Salary: $74,160
Job Growth Rate: 9%
Agricultural and food scientists analyze nutrition, discover new food sources, and conduct research into processed foods and packaging. They may work with nanotechnology, preservation development, and food distributors. Some agricultural and food scientists work with the government to create policies that improve waste management, food-processing, and safety regulations.
Annual Median Salary: $63,750
Job Growth Rate: 7%
Conservation scientists and foresters help firefighters and other forest workers determine a fire’s impact on their region, and they also develop ways to suppress fire and safely perform controlled burns. They evaluate data on forest and soil quality to help preserve the environment. They may also plant seedlings and help restore land.
Is An Agriculture Degree Worth It?
There are many reasons to pursue an online degree in agriculture, but it’s always important to consider pros and cons when choosing a degree program and career path. Researching the job market, specializations, and long-term viability is an important part of the application process.
There are a variety of specializations to choose from. From mechanics and scientists to policymakers, there are many varied careers within the field of agriculture. Many programs offer specialized degrees or concentrations within a broader degree that prepares graduates for successful careers.
Those who work in this field report a high level of job satisfaction. For example, farm managers rank their satisfaction an average of 3.7 out of 5 stars. This puts them in the top 21% of all U.S. careers. Range managers and aquacultural managers boost similarly high numbers.
Contributing to environmental management is a worthwhile pursuit. Agriculture relies on nature, so conservation and resource management is a large part of the field, no matter the specific industry you work in. If you’re interested in protecting the environment and creating sustainable resources, an agricultural degree may be a suitable fit.
Employment locations are limited. While there are corporate offices and research facilities in the eastern U.S., the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that most agriculture-related jobs are located in the southern and southwestern parts of the nation. There may not be as much flexibility in terms of location for careers in agriculture.
Not all careers in the field require a bachelor's degree if you don't mind starting at entry-level positions. According tothe BLS, farming, fishing, and forestry occupations do not require a bachelor's. Instead, they rely on in-person experience. Consider the specific career you’re interested in before applying to a bachelor’s program.
The risk of injury or illness may be higher among these professions. In fact, the BLS reports that agricultural careers carry a higher risk of injuries and illness than other careers. Since the work can be labor intensive, involve heavy machinery and live animals, and use chemicals, agricultural workers are more likely to get hurt or sick. Agricultural engineers, specifically, have one of the highest rates of injury and illness.