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What Can I Do With an AgriBusiness MBA?

Though many take it for granted, keeping people fed is big business. And we aren’t talking about the logistics of filling aisle after aisle with food at a big box store.

Before food products are assembled (er, cooked), an intricate science that looks into the development of new foods, the sourcing of raw food products from around the world, and the assurance of proper yields is performed. That science is agribusiness.

Agribusiness occupies the intersection between mainstream American consumers and those that run the — often hidden — food creation empires of the world.

Did you know that 51% of American land is farmland? While this number is way down from its height in the early 19th century, it still shows the scale of large corporate farming in America.

Along with the act of managing an agricultural endeavor, agribusiness also encompasses the manufacturers and service providers that aid in farming: equipment makers, chemical manufacturing, logistics providers, and so forth.

Around 5% of America’s economy is related to farming and food production. There’s plenty of room to advance in this economic sector. This is particularly the case for those that advance their knowledge in an organized way.

More schools than ever now offer masters or MBAs in agribusiness. If you already know a graduate agribusiness degree is for you, be sure to check out MBACentrals ranking of the best master’s in agribusiness today!

Still curious about what exactly you can do with an agribusiness master’s or MBA? Keep on reading below:

Table of Contents

What is an AgriBusiness MBA?

AgriBusiness MBAs are graduate professional degrees that provide recipients with schooling in core master’s in business administration topics as well as 3-5 courses in a concentration or focus area of agribusiness.

Along with master’s in agriBusiness (more on this degree later in the guide), agriBusiness are the primary graduate degree taken by managers within agribusiness enterprises.

Students in agriBusiness MBAs will start out taken a core complement of courses that don’t often vary between business schools.

The core courses taught in an MBA are meant to expose students to a wide range of business disciplines at the graduate level. Students won’t be experts on these subjects when they graduate, but they will have a basic framework through which to work with different divisions within a large organization.

The most common core courses offered by an MBA include:

  • Leadership
  • Statistics for Business
  • Corporate Finance
  • Global Business
  • Marketing
  • Analytics for Business
  • Strategy
  • Financial Accounting
  • Economics for Business
  • Operations or Supply Chain Management

Once students have worked through the core courses in their program, a selection of 3-5 courses in a concentration or focus area are then chosen from.

While concentration courses can vary greatly between business schools (and thus it’s important to ensure the program you’re interested in offers concentration courses that will work for you), below are some of the most common agriBusiness courses offered in MBAs:

  • Agribusiness Economics Research Methodology
  • Agricultural Development
  • Resource Allocation in the Agribusiness Firms
  • Agricultural Sector Problems and Policies
  • Data Analytics in Agribusiness

We should also note that while there are two common types of MBAs (traditional, and executive), agriBusiness concentrations are primarily only available in traditional MBAs. Executive MBAs typically require 5 or more years of managerial experience. They progress through their course of study much more quickly than traditional MBAs, and as such do not routinely offer additional specializations such as agriBusiness.

What’s the difference between a Master’s and MBA in Agribusiness?

Historically, the main way to gain graduate-level experience in agribusiness has been to pursue a master’s or Ph.D. in agribusiness. Today this is still the case. Many of the nations largest agricultural research universities still primarily offer master’s degrees in agribusiness.

With that said, a growing number of large MBA programs as well as schools that are traditionally known for a focus on agriculture education are now offering agribusiness MBA programs.

The main difference between the two degrees is that master’s in agribusiness degrees take a more prolonged and in-depth look at agribusiness topics than MBAs focused on the same area. MBAs, however, expose students to a wider range of business disciplines.

If you’re trying to determine which degree type may be better, we can say that there’s not one “right” answer. MBAs are some of the most versatile degrees and will continue to serve you if you move into higher management roles that don’t primarily deal with agribusiness. Agribusiness master’s provide a much wider range of agribusiness courses than MBAs with concentrations do.

If you’re looking for a “deep dive” curriculum where you can focus on one area of agribusiness, you’re likelier to find those courses in a master’s program. If you’re looking for a solid graduate-level introduction to agribusiness as well as a degree that can help you in a variety of roles, an MBA may be a better choice.

For the purposes of this guide, we’re primarily focusing on MBA programs in agribusiness. Just know that many schools offering an MBA in agribusiness also offer (sometimes in tandem) M.S. in agribusiness degrees. These degrees are closely related but are the optimal degree in different circumstances.

More schools than ever now offer masters or MBAs in agribusiness. If you already know a graduate agribusiness degree is for you, be sure to check out MBACentrals ranking of the best master’s in agribusiness today!

Can I Get an AgriBusiness MBA Online?

The short answer is, yes. There are some agribusiness MBAs that can be obtained entirely online. MBA programs have generally been some of the earliest and most ardent of advocates for online education. Many MBA students are non-traditional students in that they have several years of working experience. Furthermore, many MBA students work full-time or are juggling other life responsibilities. This makes online delivery a particularly fitting option for MBA programs.

With that said, traditionally many agribusiness programs have online been offered in-person. Many aspects of agribusiness build off of in-person experience with elements of agribusiness. As such, many programs are still primarily offered online.

If you are intent on pursuing an online agribusiness degree, you’ll want to know a few key terms.

Those include the following:

  • Sychronous Online Learning involves logging in at set times to “attend” class. This form of online learning is similar to in-person learning. You’ll have due dates, live discussions with classmates and professors, with the primary difference being that you’ll be communicating through a webcam.
  • Asynchronous Online Learning allows students to log on to “attend” class whenever they would like. While courses are still likely to have due dates for assignments, videos of lectures will be pre-recorded. There’s still interaction between classmates and professors, but it will take place in another format such as a forum, instant messaging, or pre-scheduled appointments.
  • Hybrid Online Offerings provide some to most of your coursework online, but require some in-person visits. The number and extent of in-person visits may vary greatly depending on programs, however. Some hybrid programs require weekly in-person meet-ups, while some just require 1-2 trips per year.
  • Fully Online Offerings do not require students to attend any on-campus events. Many programs labeled as “online” in marketing materials may actually be hybrid programs. If the program does not note “fully online” or “100% online” in promotional materials, be sure to inquire.

While online agribusiness MBAs are available, students should consider whether online education is the proper choice for their needs.

Some of the most common “pros” for online education include:
-No need to move, change jobs, or refrain from working while pursuing your degree
-Lower fees than in-person programs
-Ability to fit in school work around work and other life responsibilities
-Ability to “attend” class whenever in asynchronous programs

Meanwhile, some of the most commonly cited “cons” for online education include:
-Harder to get to know classmates and instructors
-Requires more of a “self-starter” mentality than in-person programs
-Lack of access to on-campus events and support services

Needless to say, there are strong arguments both for and against gaining an MBA online, and whether online is the right choice for you will primarily be a personal choice.

If you value flexibility and are a self starter, online may be for you.

If you value more support and are potentially willing to move to attend a program, in-person may be for.

Additionally, many agriBusiness programs do have hands-on components. Even if you’re primarily taking courses online, many of the best agricutural research universities have plenty of hands-on learning opportunities that you may want to be a part of through a hybrid program.

More schools than ever now offer masters or MBAs in agribusiness. If you already know a graduate agribusiness degree is for you, be sure to check out MBACentrals ranking of the best master’s in agribusiness today!

Still curious about what exactly you can do with an agribusiness master’s or MBA? Keep on reading below.

The application process for AgriBusiness MBAs is generally the same as the application process for MBAs generally.

The primary components of MBA admission requirements include:

  • Application with essays, personal information, and fees
  • Recent GMAT Score
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • A resume
  • Transcripts
  • A Federal Financial Aid Application (or other funding arrangement details)

The application process in an MBA is meant to both ascertain that you are equipped to perform well in an MBA program, and that your goals properly align with the program of choice. Just as you don’t want to pay for part of an expensive program just to decide that it wasn’t the right choice, academic programs often get “graded” by the percentage of students that finish the program.

B schools often screen for this type of “intent” and goal alignment from the applicant through statement of purpose portions of an application, letters of recommendations, and proof of past experience that aligns with attending an MBA.

Though most MBA programs will allow students to take some core courses before deciding on their concentration, some will ask students to specifically apply to a concentration. In this case, students can tailor their responses within their application to show continued interest and excellence in agribusiness (or a desire to join the field).

GMAT scores are traditionally the graduate standardized test required for business schools. In recent years, more programs have begun accepting other graduate admissions tests, or not even requiring GMATs, however. So if standardized testing “isn’t your thing,” just know that many quality programs can be entered without one. For a list of some of the top programs that do not require a GMAT for admission, check out MBACentral’s ranking of the best no-GMAT MBA programs today!

Letters of recommendation and resumes fulfill the purpose of ensuring you have the minimum experience requirement for admission (some MBA programs have these). Additionally, these are a great spot to augment your academic records with more recent achievements or show achievement that may not be reflected on academic records.

Transcripts are used to establish the fact that applicants have graduated with a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Additionally, some MBA programs have a minimum GPA entrance requirements. Most commonly this threshold is a 3.0 or higher undergraduate GPA. In more competitive programs, this can be as high as a 3.5 GPA requirement.

Finally, many schools wish to ensure that students have suitable plans for funding their education upon enrollment. As a professional graduate-level degree, students who have filled out their federal financial aid application (the FAFSA) are eligible to take up to the entire cost of the program out in federally subsidized loans. Federal student loans generally have additional protections built in –when compared to private loans — and lower interest rates. Other common ways in which MBA students fund their educations are through paying themselves, scholarships, and finding an employer that may pay for their education.

If you already know a graduate agribusiness degree is for you, be sure to check out MBACentrals ranking of the best master’s in agribusiness today!

What Can I Do With an AgriBusiness MBA?

Master’s in business administration degrees are some of the most versatile degrees out there. MBA grads can be found at nearly every level of large organizations, including the C-Suite. In fact, the single most common degree among C-Level executive in America’s largest corporations is an MBA.

So the short answer to ‘what you can do with an agribusiness MBA’ is ‘work your way up to nearly every organizational level within large organizations.’

The long answer is that you can also use agribusiness MBAs to qualify you for many agribusiness-specific careers.

Some of the most common job titles that an agriBusiness MBA can specifically prepare you for include:

  • Agronomy Sales
  • AgriBusiness Owner/Manager
  • Agriculture Operations Specialist
  • Plantation Manager
  • Large Farm Manager
  • Ranch Manager
  • Manager within an agricultural product producer

Looking at the first three of the above, agronomy sales is a unique subset of sales in which in-depth knowledge of business demands and agricultural processes are valuable.

Unlike ‘normal’ consumer goods, agronomy sales are generally quite large purchases that are made annually. Purchases are often made by lifelong farmers or farm managers who can be quite discerning in their methods.

Agronomy sales also encompass a very wide range of products and services. Full-service agronomy corporations may help with all of the following stages of farm production:

  • Analysis of soils of crop quality
  • Seed sales
  • Chemical sales
  • Fertilizer sales
  • Transportation of farming byproducts and goods
  • And more

Agronomy salespersons will often create a multi-component plan for enhancing yields and quality while lowering price within a given farm or region. Generally, salespersons within agronomy will specialize in an individual crop type or family of crops. For example, an agronomy salesperson may be in charge of providing products and services to potato farmers within a region.

The average salary for an agronomy salesperson is presently $80,000

AgriBusiness managers work in a variety of settings including large multinational corporations and “on the ground” in ranching and farming settings.

There are over 2 million farms and ranches in America, or roughly one per every 150 citizens. Though many are smaller family operations, the average size of a farm in America is 444 acres, largely due to massive corporate farms that skew the number upwards.

In smaller farm settings, agricultural managers may also do a great deal of the outdoor work on the farm: feeding animals, preparing products, laying fencing, sowing fields, and so forth. Oftentimes even the smallest farms require several person teams at the least. And agribusiness managers are – at the end of the day – responsible for making ends meet, accounting, human resources, and the operations of the farm.

In larger farming scenarios, agricultural managers may be in charge of large staffs providing skilled and manual labor, logistical support, and sales. Management roles in settings such as these are still “jack of all trades” roles, and require managers to wear many more hats than managers in traditional office settings.

The average salary for agricultural managers across America is presently $75,790.

Within larger agricultural production centers including labs, farming operations, and ranches, agriculture operations specialists play a crucial role in the day-to-day operations of the enterprise.

Oftentimes playing a hands-on supporting role beneath agricultural managers, agriculture operations specialists help to manage individual tasks throughout an agricultural enterprise, help with analysis of crops, and may lead a smaller team of their own.

These positions are a great fit for someone with business savvy wanting to gain hands-on agricultural operations experience. Additionally, these are great positions for those with agricultural knowledge that want to set themselves on the ladder to agricultural management.

Many academic settings in which natural resources, animal science, food science, or agricultural research are performed employ a wide range of agriculture operations specialists.

Common daily tasks in this role include applying concepts or general knowledge of the agricultural field being supported, applying scientific research methods to projects, applying general knowledge of project management and business principles, supervising unskilled labor in the workplace, and dealing with a variety of stakeholders.

Agricultural operations specialists may perform more general support roles to managers or specialize in one area (a creamery, an arboretum, a logging operation, a farm, and so forth).

The current average salary for agricultural operations specialists is $51,267.

Finally, managers within agricultural production firms are yet another broad category of job you may find yourself entering after an agribusiness MBA. Categories within this type of job include many of the common types of managers in other firms. The main difference is that oftentimes agricultural businesses will want managers with some background in agriculture. Even if you’re an accounting manager, or a project manager, or a marketing manager, you’ll need to know how those specific disciplines intersect with agriculture.

Job descriptions for most managerial “types” are similar within agricultural businesses to those outside of the field. With that said, knowledge of agricultural operations, logistics, and engineering can help you to advance more quickly. The average salary for some of the major manager types within agricultural organizations include the following:

  • Agricultural Marketing Manager: $103,459
  • Human Resources Manager Within Agriculture: $101,499
  • Accounting Manager Within Agriculture: $97,539
  • Agricultural Operations Manager: $70,429
  • Agricultural Logistics Manager: $109,953
  • Agricultural IT Manager: $97,000

If you already know a graduate agribusiness degree is for you, be sure to check out MBACentrals ranking of the best master’s in agribusiness today!