Agriculture Majors and Degrees
Agriculture is a foundation of our economy and society. What we eat, where we live, what we wear—all are related to agricultural careers. While being an independent farmer can be difficult work—between prices, weather and natural impacts one can’t control and the actual physical work and time that goes into a successful farm—it can be rewarding and fulfilling as well.
Much more goes into growing food and crops than people think—soil scientists to make sure nutrients are at their peak levels and that plant rotation can keep fields fertile; hydrologists to make sure that clean water exists and that there is an abundance; biotechnologists who create seeds which need less water, are more resistant to disease or which produce better plants; agriculture scientists who teach farmers how to increase crop yields with new technology—not to mention those who keep things running—oversee, budget, manage ,and staff farms. Even technology plays a part to keep an eye on crops and livestock, field sensors that tell farmers when to water and plant, equipment to help harvest and plant. The science of agriculture is an important and vast field.
Agriculture offers a range of opportunities to specialize—depending on which pathway you choose in the field. Core classes will focus on science, chemistry, mathematics, the physical sciences, technology and plant/animal biology. Most programs will include coursework in Ag sciences, animal science, crops and soils, horticulture, ag technology and management. You can also choose a multitude of focus areas: business, conservation, education…
Many farmers learn through hands-on work experience with experienced farmers, and do not pursue a college degree. However, both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in farming and agriculture are helpful, as well as degrees in crop science, soil science and other technologies which make it easier for a farm to succeed.
There are a wide variety of agricultural careers beyond farming, and they all have differing educational requirements. The best way to determine how to go about pursuing your potential field in agriculture is to do some research on sites like this, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, college and university websites, and to speak to people who currently do what you’d like to do—who knows better what the requirements of a job are than those who are in it right now.
Agriculture Major and Degree List
Majors and Concentrations
Every state has at least one land-grant college that offers agricultural science degrees. Many other colleges and universities also offer agricultural science degrees or related courses. Degrees in related sciences, such as biology, chemistry, and physics, or in a related engineering specialty also may qualify people for many agricultural science jobs.
Many people with bachelor’s degrees in agricultural sciences find work in related jobs rather than becoming an agricultural or food scientist. For example, a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science is a useful background for farming, ranching, agricultural inspection, farm credit institutions, or companies that make or sell feed, fertilizer, seed, or farm equipment. Combined with coursework in business, agricultural and food science could be a good background for managerial jobs in farm-related or ranch-related businesses.
Agriculture Business and Management
Agricultural Production Operations
Agricultural Public Services
Applied Horticulture/Horticultural Business Services
Food Science and Technology
Courses in an agricultural degree program could include-
- Agricultural Business
- Agricultural Mechanics
- Animal Science
- Environmental Services
- Food Science
- Plant Science
- Natural Resources
- Agricultural Economics
Jobs and Careers in Agriculture
As there are a wide variety of careers in agriculture, so are there a variety of companies who hire people in these careers. Many people are employed by government agencies (Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Soils and Water Management, Bureau of Agriculture Research, Bureau of Plant Industry), consulting firms and agriculture machinery manufacturing. Other opportunities include:
- Farms and ranches
- Processing plants
- Pharmaceutical/biotechnology industry
- Educational institutions and community education organizations
- Animal breeders
- Zoos and aquariums
What can you do with a degree in Agriculture?/Jobs for Agriculture Majors - To learn more about jobs, careers and salary information in Agriculture, please visit the Careers in Agriculture page.
Scholarship for Agriculture Majors - To research scholarships to help earn a degree in agriculture, please visit the Paying for College page.
Colleges and Universities with Agriculture Majors and Degrees - To locate schools with Agriculture Programs, please use the collegemajor.com College Search Tool.
Learn More About the Field of Agriculture
Professional associations are groups of professionals dedicated to topics in specific fields. Professional associations provide a wealth of online resources, some of which are geared specifically towards students. These organizations typically also host conferences and events, providing great opportunities for learning and networking across your field of interest.
A small sampling of relevant organizations are-
- American Society of Agronomy
- American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
- International Commission of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
- Association of Food & Drug Officials
- Horticultural Inspection Society
- American Society for Horticultural Science
- American Society of Plant Biologists
- Crop Science Society of America
- National Association of County Agricultural Agents
- American Association of Pesticide Safety Educators
- American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
- American Farm Bureau Federation
- Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs
Agriculture Majors Data from the US Department of Labor
Agriculture degree, 2018
Data - Agriculture
Median wage $50,000
Percent employed part time 13%
Percent employed in occupations requiring at least a bachelor's degree 40%
Percent with an advanced degree 29%
Types of agriculture majors, 2018
Agriculture majors - Major share
Animal sciences 26%
Agriculture production and management 19%
General agriculture 18%
Plant science and agronomy 16%
Food science 8%
Note - The sum of percentages by major may not total 100 due to rounding.
Employment distribution of workers with an agriculture degree, by occupational group, 2018
Occupational group - Occupational group share
Management occupations 23%
Sales and related occupations 11%
Healthcare practitioners and technical occupations 10%
Educational instruction and library occupations 8%
Business and financial operations occupations 8%
Note - The sum of percentages by major may not total 100 due to rounding.
Top-employing occupations for workers with an agriculture degree
Occupational Outlook Handbook profile - % Growth, projected 2019–29
Health specialties teachers, postsecondary 21%
Soil and plant scientists 7%
Elementary school teachers, except special education 4%
Farmworkers and laborers, crop, nursery, and greenhouse 4%
Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing,
except technical and scientific products 1%
Retail salespersons -1%
Personal service managers, all other; entertainment and
recreation managers, except gambling; and managers -2%
First-line supervisors of retail sales workers -5%
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers -6%
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Field of degree, Agriculture.
Other Majors and Careers You Might Be Interested In
USDA, Animal, Farm Credit Bureau