Complete Guide to Online Agriculture Degrees
Online agriculture degrees are great options for students pursuing careers in food science, food production, or public policy. Bachelor's degrees in the field range from agriculture technology and soil science to agribusiness and communications. For more information about these programs, browse our list of the most popular online agriculture programs.
Students pursuing degrees in agriculture should verify that their colleges and universities have received both institutional accreditation and programmatic accreditation for the agriculture degrees offered. The predominant accrediting agency for agriculture degrees is the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, the agricultural, bioengineering, and environmental branch of the ABET. Students attending programs accredited by this agency can be sure that they are receiving a high quality education.
Most Popular Accredited Online Schools for Agriculture Bachelor's Degrees
Online Agriculture Degree Overview & Career Information
Agriculture degrees are available across all levels of higher education. Associate degrees in agriculture allow students to pursue positions as agricultural and food science technicians as well as apply their credits to a future bachelor's degree. Bachelor's degrees in agriculture allow graduates to pursue careers in engineering, food science, and may be used towards graduate degrees. Master's< and doctoral degrees prepare students for independent research, employment in leadership positions, and professorship in higher education.
Online Bachelor's Degrees in Agriculture
A Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture can be completed in 120 to 180 credits, or four years at a university or college. Those with an associate degree in agriculture may choose to transfer credits to a university and complete their bachelor degree in an additional two years of study. A bachelor's degree in agriculture prepares students for careers in local food and green businesses, urban agriculture, permaculture, herbal medicine, and related jobs in farm-based education, public policy, and community development and advocacy. Students who want to pursue careers in other fields but have an interest in agriculture or wish to homestead can choose agriculture as a second major. Applicants to a bachelor's degree program need a high school degree or equivalent and standardized test scores- either the ACT or SAT depending on the school. Each program may have different minimum requirements for high school GPA and test scores.
Coursework will be similar to those taken at the associate degree level, with additional general education courses, fieldwork requirements, and a final capstone project, depending on the school. Coursework includes business and communication, humanities, arts, math, social sciences, physical sciences, and a certain minimum of upper-division agriculture courses. In addition to these requirements, students take a number of electives of their choice to reach the full number of credits.
The Importance of an Accredited Online Agriculture Degree
Accreditation is essential for a degree to be recognized by employers and fellow academic institutions. Institutions of higher education are accredited by either regional or national accreditation, the latter reserved for more vocational programs. Regional accreditation is administered by seven agencies and divided by geographic region.
Program-specific accreditation is important depending on the field because employers may limit their recognition of degrees to those with both institutional and program accreditation. Agricultural, biological, bioengineering, and environmental programs are accredited by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE). ASABE is one of the 33 branches of ABET, the accrediting agency for engineering, computing, engineering technology, and applied science degree programs. Accreditation is decided by ASABE members who work in academia, industry, government, among other related fields. According to the ASABE website, "the accreditation process is used by universities, colleges and specific degree programs to clarify instructional goals and objectives, enhance program content and improve program delivery."
Careers in Agriculture
A degree or certificate in agriculture prepares students for a wide range of careers in local food and green businesses, urban agriculture, permaculture, herbal medicine, and related jobs in farm-based education, public policy, and community development and advocacy. Agricultural and food scientists need at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, and many hold graduate degrees. They work in universities, scientific research and development, and food production or manufacturing facilities. Food science technicians aid scientists in their work by applying chemicals to plants or performing tests, and need an associate degree with on-the-job training as necessary. Agricultural engineers also need bachelor's degrees, usually in agricultural engineering or bioengineering, and may work for the federal government, provide engineering contracting or consultation services, or work for agricultural machinery manufacturers.