Agriculture has long been the industry most integrally tied to human survival and thriving. Though few think of it regularly, massive logistical, technological, and organizational feats go into simply keeping the stores of grocery shelves stocked. Agriculture is one of the largest industries in the nation as well, with roles ranging from corporate boardrooms to managing small niche farms or animal herds. The range of subjects encompassed by agribusiness is wide, but many of the programs below allow for students to take courses in the following: agrichemicals, breeding, crop production (farming and contract farming), distribution, farm machinery, processing, and seed supply, as well as marketing and retail sales. Better yet, all of the degrees below have been vetted by our editors and can be completed entirely online! Check out our ranking of the best online masters in agribusiness below.
- Affordability (1/3):
- Average indebtedness of program graduates in the last calendar year.
- Percentage of graduates who needed to take on student loan debt.
- Support Services (1/3):
- Online-specific flexibility, accessibility and support measures for online and non-traditional students
- Quality Classes (1/3):
- The average class size
- The percentage of faculty with terminal degrees in their field
1.) Auburn University
Auburn University is a public research university with a main campus located in Auburn, AL. Home to some 28,000+ students, the university is one of the largest in Alabama. It is also one of two flagship universities in the state, and a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research institution. Historically, the university was known as the Alabama Polytechnic Institute and was the first four-year coeducational school in the state. Regarded as an academically rigorous school, Auburn has been ranked as one of the top 50 public schools in the nation for the last several decades. Programs the university is most known for include architecture, pharmacy, veterinary science, engineering, forestry, and business. The department of architecture, the first to offer a degree in architecture in the nation, also runs the noted “rural studio” program. Rural studio helps to provide ingeniously crafted — often made of recycled materials — free homes for some of Alabama’s poorest residents.
The fully online Master of Science or Master of Agriculture, both in Agronomy and Soil, place highly in our ranking due to academic support, flexibility, affordability, and support services. The online graduate degrees in Agronomy and Soils offered by Auburn allow for students to choose from a variety of disciplines to create a program that fits their personal and professional needs. Courses are available in soil science, crop science, weed science, entomology, and plant pathology. Students wishing to pursue the business side of agronomy may choose from courses including “Food Laws and Regulations,” and “Developing, Implementing, and Auditing Food Safety Programs.” While the Master of Ag program requires slightly more electives, the Master of Science requires a GRE for admittance, a thesis, and one more seminar hour. Both programs are the most affordable of agribusiness degrees surveyed for our ranking.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour (Out-of-state): $545
2.) Colorado State University Online
Colorado State University is a public research university with a main campus located in Fort Collins, Co. Home to over 33,000 students, the university is a land-grant institution rated as having a very high research activity level. Originally an Agricultural and Mechanical college, the university has a long lineage of supporting agricultural endeavors, located on the front range of the Rockies: the gateway to the great plains, Colorado’s greatest agricultural sector. The most notable programs of the university include those in biomedical sciences, engineering, environmental science, agriculture, and human health and nutrition. The school of veterinary medicine is particularly well regarded, often ranked as one of the top handful of schools in the country. Overall, the school is ranked as one of the 60 best public schools in the nation, and well into the top 50 in terms of endowment among schools without medical facilities.
The fully online MASTER OF AGRICULTURE (MAGR) IN AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES offered by Colorado State University places high in our ranking due to its affordable price point and its high ranks for student support services. Three areas of study are available in the degree, including specializations in Agricultural Extension, Integrated Resource Management, and a Peace Corps Master’s International Program. The integrated resource management option is particularly well suited for those seeking a career in agribusiness, as it focuses on the larger context of management settings within agriculture. The degree is supported by a number of renowned research institutes at the land-grant university, including the College of Agricultural Sciences, the Warner College of Natural Resources, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and the School of Global Environmental Sustainability (SoGES). Tuition for the program was the fifth most affordable of those surveyed in our ranking.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour (Out-of-state): $605
3.) Washington State University
Washington State University is a public research university with a main campus located in Pullman, Washington. Home to some 30,000 students systemwide, the university is the state’s land-grant university, accordingly known for programs in chemical engineering, veterinary medicine, agriculture, pharmacy, neuroscience, food science, plant science, mathematics, business, architecture, and communications. The second-largest institution of higher education in Washington — making it one of the largest in the western United States — the university is known as a very high research activity institution. Located in the Palouse region of Washington (rolling hills along the border of Washington and Idaho), the school is particularly well suited for providing agricultural education from the breadbasket of Washington.
The fully online Master’s in Agriculture: Food Science and Management degree offered by Washington State University due to its support services, quality classes, and affordability. The degree is equally split between food science and management requirements, and also requires a directed study project, final examination, or research project. For students not seeking a formal degree in food sciences, the university also offers a certificate of proficiency in the area online. Other related programs available fully online include a masters in agriculture and a masters in agriculture – plant health management degree. Professors of the program are world-class and include directors who are internationally recognized food scientists, attornies specializing in food law and regulatory compliance, and advisors to governments on food regulation and policy. On top of the quality of the program, WSU’s program is also one of the most affordable of those surveyed, coming in as the fourth most affordable of schools surveyed.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour (Out-of-state): $587
4.) University of Nebraska
The University of Nebraska is a public research university located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Home to some 25,000+ students, the university is the flagship institution of the University of Nebraska system. As with a number of our top picks for agribusiness masters, the university is a land-grant institution founded in an area of great agricultural activity. One of the top schools in the midwestern United States, UNL has multiple alumni who have won the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, many Rhodes Scholars, and many Goldwater and Truman Scholars. Accordingly, many faculty members have also received high caliber awards as well. Offerings are wide-ranging at the research university and include a total of more than 275 courses of study. The university is also known for a wide range of online offerings through the office of online and distance learning.
The fully online Master of Science in Agronomy offered by the University of Nebraska places highly in our ranking due to its affordability and support services. Students in the program may choose from four specializations to tailor the program to their personal and career-related goals. These specializations include plant breeding and genetics, crop physiology and production, horticulture, and range and forage science. A number of minors are also available, including Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication, Business and/or Agribusiness. Adding to the already impressive flexibility of the program is the ability to elect to pursue a thesis, or not. For students not electing to pursue a thesis, another hands-on research project will be required. Graduates of the program work in many sectors of agriculture throughout the United States, and students are afforded the ability to connect with those already working in industries through the career services office.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour (Out-of-state): $545
5.) Virginia Tech University
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University — commonly referred to as Virginia Tech — is a public research university located in Blacksburg, Virginia. Another land-grant university in our ranking (as well as a sea-grant and space-grant institution), Virginia Tech has a long history of research into areas like agriculture and the earth sciences. Currently, over 30,000 students attend Virginia Tech, which offers comprehensive offerings from the bachelors through doctoral levels. Regularly ranked among the 30 best public universities in the United States, Virginia Tech has a long lineage of success in their engineering, agriculture, business, architecture and urban studies, natural resources and environment, and career education departments. Furthermore, students at Virginia Tech love their time there, with the University ranked #1 for quality of life and students who love their school in the nation according to the Princeton Review.
The fully online Master of Agricultural and Life Sciences offered by Virginia Tech places highly in our ranking due to its affordable price point and quality classes. Six concentrations are available for students to choose from, the most of any program surveyed. These concentrations include Applied Nutrition and Health Sciences, Education, Environmental Science, Food Safety and Biosecurity, Leadership Studies, and Plant Science and Pest Management. A further flexibility-granting component allows students to take courses in the program of study before they are admitted. Students may apply to the Commonwealth Campus, Virginia Tech’s non-degree seeking program option, and take up to 12 credit hours to see if the program is right for them. Upon acceptance to the program, students may then transfer their twelve credits into the program. All concentration options require 30 credit hours, with courses offered year-round. The tuition per credit hour for out-of-state students is currently $750, the 8th most affordable rate of programs surveyed.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour (Out-of-state): $750
6.) University of Tennessee at Martin
The University of Tennessee at Martin is a public university that is a member of the University of Tennessee system. The university is located in an agricultural region of the mid-south and operates a large experimental farm as well as several satellite campuses. Due to its rural location, the most prominent departments on campus (number of students-wise) include the department of agriculture as well as education and nursing. Accolades of the university include being a regionally ranked university, as well as being named one of the best universities for servicemembers and veterans. The university also boasts a quality student-faculty ratio of 16 to 1. Furthermore, 59.6% of classes have under 20 students per class. This number is reduced even further in graduate-level programming at the university.
The fully online Master of Science degree in Agriculture & Natural Resources offered by University of Tennessee at Martin places highly in our ranking due to its affordable price point and quality classes. The degree draws on the strengths of the university and the surrounding agriculture-rich region and offers three concentrations: agribusiness and risk management, natural resources systems management, and system science in agriculture. All three concentrations are in-depth and require 18 credit hours within the concentration for graduation. A further flexibility-enhancing program component may be seen in the option to pursue a thesis or non-thesis track. The entire program requires 36 credit hours for graduation. Of programs surveyed, University of Tennessee at Martin’s program was the 6th most affordable.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour (Out-of-state): $614
7.) Iowa State University
Iowa State University is a public research university with a main campus located in Ames, Iowa. Classified as having a very high research level, the university is both land-grant and space-grant. Like many of the programs in our ranking, the land-grant status coupled with the agriculturally-rich state of Iowa leads to many opportunities in agribusiness. This can be seen through the fact that of all American Universities, Iowa State University ranks second for license and intellectual property options that yield income. As one might expect, the biological/agricultural engineering and broader engineering departments at Iowa State have helped to lead to this wealth of intellectual property, and are some of the most well-regarded programs of their kind in the nation.
Part of Iowa State’s ascendence to scientific prominence came through being the only university to have a federal department of energy laboratory on campus, a lab that helped in the Manhattan Project to create atomic weapons. The university is also known as the birthplace of the federal extension service system, a form of education many states now adopt to help provide outreach and education to rural areas and particularly to farmers.
The fully online Master of Science in Seed Technology and Business draws on the long lineage of technological development and agricultural education at Iowa State outlined above. The program ranks particularly well in our ranking due to its affordable price point and quality classes measure. While the degree is slightly more specialized than others on our list, and particularly for those working in the seed sector of agriculture, it covers the intersection of business and technology in agricultural fields and helps to develop analytic thinkers and leadership qualities. At $572 per credit hour, Iowa State’s Master of Science in Seed Technology and Business is the third most affordable program of those surveyed.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour (Out-of-state): $572
8.) Kansas State University
Kansas State University is a public doctoral university with a main campus located in Manhattan, Kansas. The university is a flagship as well as a land- and space-grant university, and the oldest institution of higher learning in the state. Currently home to more than 22,000 students, the university is particularly well known for its longstanding excellence in agriculture fields, its academic rigor, and its high number of graduates achieving national awards such as the Goldwater and Truman scholar designation. The university’s interest in the biology and agronomy of the great plains is particularly evidenced through their on-campus horticulture display garden, their native tallgrass prairie preserve, and their 18,000 acres in cities across the state used as agricultural research stations.
The fully online Master of Agribusiness provided by Kansas State University places highly in our ranking due to its affordability and quality classes. The program of study is designed for those who have already gained at least two years of experience in an agribusiness field, and who wish to continue working in conjunction with pursuing their degree. Programming in the course of study is wide-ranging, tackling many components of what one would commonly see in an MBA, only applied to agricultural enterprise contexts. Course work covers risk management, logistics, financial management, strategic planning, agricultural resource, and trade policy, marketing, human resource management. Of programs surveyed, the cost per credit hour is the 11th most affordable for Kansas State’s program.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour (Out-of-state): $929
9.) Murray State University
Murray State University is a public four-year university with a main campus located in Murray, Kentucky. Currently, Murray is home to over 10,000 students, extended and graduate-level programming is available at a number of extension campuses and online. In all, associates through masters level programming are available. Murray State University has been ranked as a top regional university by the likes of US News for 26 years running. Over the last two decades, they have also continued to rise in a number of prominent rankings. The school is known for a large international student body. The international community at Murray State University is largely facilitated by the university’s unique ESL program, allowing non-English speaking students to come to Kentucky to study at a university level.
The fully online Masters in Agriculture offered by Murray State University places highly in our ranking due to its affordability and quality class component scores. The degree is one of the more customizable programs we surveyed for the ranking. Currently, four emphases as well as a more general degree option are available. Emphases for the degree include agribusiness economics, agribusiness education, sustainable agriculture, and veterinary hospital management. All courses of study require 31 credit hours for graduation and the same core education. Core education classes in the program include research in agriculture, research methodology, a final capstone project, and courses on statistics and presenting to agricultural audiences. The program is the 7th most affordable of those surveyed.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour (Out-of-state): $640
10.) Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University is a public land-grant, space-grant, sea-grant university with a main campus located in College Station, Texas. With over 60,000 students, the university is one of the largest flagship campuses in the nation and ranks highly in terms of research and endowment dollars. The university has been ranked across many measures and by many publications over the years. Some accolades include being ranked second nationally as the “most likely to help students land a job in key careers and professions”. The university is routinely ranked in the top 150 schools in the world and has particularly well-known programs in engineering and agriculture. The school also operates satellite campuses, including one in Qatar, and provides a wide range of courses online.
A number of agribusiness degrees are offered fully online by Texas A&M University. Though some are more clear cut segues into the business sides of agribusiness roles, all could help advance careers in agriculture. Online agriculture degrees offered by TAMU include masters in agricultural development, agricultural education, agricultural systems management, food engineering and food technology, natural resource development, and plant and poultry breeding. The agricultural development degree is potentially the most agribusiness centered and seeks to prepare students for leadership roles in agricultural fields. The degree does not require a thesis, though does require a hands-on internship of 3-6 months in length and the submission of a professional caliber paper. TAMU’s agricultural development program is the 9th most affordable of those surveyed for our ranking.
- Estimated Tuition Per Credit Hour (Out-of-state): $823