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Agricultural Sciences Major

Developing the future leaders of agriculture

Food and agriculture are at the center of a rapidly changing and growing world, and the challenges we face are some of the most important. The next generation of growers, policy makers, business leaders, innovators and educators are needed to shape the future of agriculture.

Consistently ranked in the top five universities for agricultural sciences, Cornell's Agricultural Sciences major gives you the flexibility to tailor your studies to meet your unique goals with concentrations in animal science, business management and policy, education and society, organic agriculture and sustainable cropping systems management.

Develop your leadership and critical thinking skills through a first-semester cohort course and gain practical, hands-on experience through lab and field courses, while you learn the science of agricultural systems and related environmental and socio-economic issues.

Major in Agricultural Sciences

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) 

Our Agricultural Sciences program offers a flexible, interdisciplinary major that prepares students to tackle important challenges, from improving their family farms to pursuing careers in policy, education, research or agricultural business. The major sits at the center of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, providing access to all that a public-private research university offers.

With CALS’ individualized approach to agricultural sciences, there is no “typical student.” Our major offers a broad foundation in agriculture, but allows for flexibility, so students can tailor their studies and explore their passions across and beyond the agricultural sciences.

Matching our students’ multi-faceted interests, this major allows for deepening your understanding with specific concentrations of study, in preparation for careers that require a scientific and integrated understanding of agriculture and food systems.

Major basics

CALS seeks students who maintain a rigorous high school curriculum and demonstrate an outstanding record of academic achievement. Admissions requirements include:

  • 4 Units of English

  • 4 Units of Mathematics (including pre-calculus)

  • 3 Units of Science (biology and chemistry)

  • Also recommended: statistics

  • Agriculture courses are also strongly encouraged

There are two parts to the Agricultural Sciences curriculum for a minimum total of 16 courses. Students gain breadth of knowledge with 12 core courses. Example areas include sustainable agriculture, integrated pest management, genetics, soil, plant, animal and food science, business management and international agriculture.

Students gain depth by choosing one of five possible concentrations involving a minimum of four courses or 12 credits. Prior to their last semester, students also gain practical experience through an internship equal to at least six weeks of full-time work. This structure trains our students to be critical thinkers across the life and social sciences.

To learn more, see the complete curriculum in the Cornell Courses of Study. If you have additional questions, email agsci [at] cornell.edu.

Life sciences foundation

The Agricultural Sciences major aligns well with college distribution requirements for foundational life sciences knowledge, including:

  • Two courses for a min. of 6 credits in life sciences biology. Example sequences:
    BIOG 1140, Foundations in Biology (fall, 4 credits) and PLSCI 1115, The Nature of Plants (spring, 3 credits) or
    BIOEE 1610, Introductory Biology: Ecology and the Environment (fall, spring, 3 credits)
     
  • General chemistry with lab. Examples:
    CHEM 1560, Introduction to General Chemistry (fall, 4 credits) or CHEM 2070, General Chemistry I (fall 4 credits)
     
  • Statistics. Examples:
    STSCI 2100, Introductory Statistics (fall, spring 4 credits) or STSCI 2150, Introductory Statistics for Biology (fall, spring, 4 credits) 

To learn more about the courses listed, visit the Courses of Study website.

Students with life science research, graduate study or pre-health interests have the flexibility to expand their foundation with additional coursework. Prospective transfer students may wish to contact the major (agsci [at] cornell.edu) for assistance in planning or evaluating transfer classes.  

Broad agricultural core

This represents the breadth of knowledge across agricultural disciplines. Of the 12 core course requirements, six requirements have choices. 

Set common core coursework includes:

  • AGSCI 1125 Guided Explorations: Growing You and Your Path in the Agricultural Sciences
  • ENTOM 4440 Integrated Pest Management
  • PLSCI 1101 Plant Science and Systems
  • PLSCS 1900 Sustainable Agriculture: Food, Farming, and the Future
  • PLSCS 2110 Field Crop Systems
  • PLSCS 2600 Soil Science

To learn more about the courses listed, visit the Courses of Study website.


Core course areas with choices:

Students will complete one course from a select list of options in the following six areas: 

  • Animal science, choice between nine classes, examples include:
    BIOAP 1100, Domestic Animal Biology (fall, 4 credits)
    ANSC 2500, Dairy Cattle Principles (spring, 3 credits)
    ANSC 3800, Sheep, (spring, 3 credits)
     
  • Communication or education, choice between 13 classes, examples include:
    EDUC 2410, The Art of Teaching (fall, spring 4 credits)
    COMM 2850 Communication, Environment, Science, Health (spring, 3 credits)
    ILRLR 3300 Advocacy and Debate (fall, spring, 4 credits)
    LEAD 3100 Foundations in Leadership: Skills for Professional Success and Life (fall, spring, 3 credits)
     
  • Food science, four choices:  
    ANSC 2000 Sustainable Food & Companion Animal Systems and Perspectives (spring, 3 credits)
    FDSC 1500 Food Choices and Issues (spring, 2 credits)
    FDSC 200 Intro to Physiochemical & Biological Aspects of Food (fall, 3 credits)
    FDSC 3960 Food Safety Assurance (spring, 2 credits) 
     
  • Genetics, 3 choices:
    ANSC 2210 Introductory Animal Genetics (spring, 4 credits
    BIOMG 2800 Lectures in Genetics and Genomics (fall, spring, 3 credits)
    PLBRG 2250 Plant Genetics (spring, 4 credits)
     
  • International agriculture, choice between five classes, examples include:
    AEM/FDSC 3290 International Agribusiness Study Trip (spring, 2 credits) 
    ANSC 4880, Global Food, Energy, and Water Nexus – Engage the US, China, and India for Sustainability (fall, 3-4 credits)
    PLSCS 4140 Global Cropping Systems and Sustainable Development (fall, 3 credits)
     
  • Introductory business management, two choices:
    AEM 1200 Introduction to Business Management (spring, 3 credits)
    AEM 3020 Farm Business Management (fall, 4 credits) 

To learn more, see the complete curriculum in the Cornell Courses of Study. If you have additional questions, email agsci [at] cornell.edu.

Students will complete at least one concentration of 12 credits. The five concentrations are:

  • Animal science
  • Business management and policy
  • Education and society
  • Organic agriculture
  • Sustainable cropping systems management

Students often have space and flexibility to complete more than one concentration and may double-count any concentration course towards a minor from across the university.

Students are required to gain practical experience through an agriculturally related internship of at least six weeks of full-time effort that aligns with individual goals.

From the outset of studies, students are encouraged and introduced to career exploration, as well as the tools and resources for conducting a job search. All students are encouraged to use the Agricultural Sciences major’s growing network of alumni connections and strengthen coursework experiences with professional development.

The Agricultural Sciences major has about 100 undergraduates at any given time. As a mid-sized major, this allows us to provide personalized student support. We pride ourselves in nurturing our family-like culture, from our student ambassadors, and friendly, first-name-basis faculty advisors, to the common cohort course that assists with the college transition and supports academic and career exploration.

Prospective students often ask about the course experience. Many of CALS agricultural production courses are lab and field based, utilizing Cornell’s extensive research and teaching facilities from farms, research fields and greenhouses, to a near-campus teaching winery and orchard. Students also engage in food and agriculture-related international trip courses, clubs and organizations.

The Agricultural Sciences major prepares graduates to be critical thinkers, who understand the science behind complex issues such as global food supply and security and climate change, while also understanding the global marketplace. We care about our alumni, keeping in through an annual social and LinkedIn group. Alumni frequently serve as mentors for our undergraduates, and we are constantly seeking new ways to foster these vital networking connections.

  • Write and speak clearly, deliver information effectively, and think critically about complex food, agriculture and natural resource issues.
  • Demonstrate interdisciplinary knowledge and competency with the fundamental science and production of plant and animal systems.
  • Demonstrate depth of competency in one or more agricultural disciplines (concentrations).
  • Develop and apply sustainable and productive solutions that address the complex, multidisciplinary nature of food and agriculture challenges both domestically and globally.
  • Demonstrate leadership in agriculture and natural resources.

Transfer Student Admissions

The Agricultural Sciences major is a transfer-friendly program. We work hard to meet each transfer student’s individual needs and align prior coursework with as many curriculum requirements as possible, allowing students to advance with maximum flexibility. Prospective transfer students should connect with the major’s coordinator to receive more information.

Academic Record Required:

  • Strong academic record at the college level. Competitive applicants have at least a 3.0 (B) average.
  • CALS Required Coursework should be completed or in-progress with a “B” or better before applying.
  • The most competitive applicants are full-time students who have met the GPA and course requirements.

(Or transfers with two full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application):

Required:

(Or transfers with four full-time college semesters of study (post-high school) completed or in progress at time of application).

Required:

  • Two College Writing/English Composition courses or one writing/composition and Public Speaking
  • One full academic year of Introductory Biology with labs
  • Statistics
  • General (Inorganic) Chemistry I with lab

Strongly Encouraged (Not Required):

Learn more about our students and alumni

In the news

Supporting farmers, protecting soil health

Agricultural Sciences major Mikala Anderson ’23 is working on a concentration in education and society. For the past two summers, she has participated in a summer internship at the Delaware County office of Cornell Cooperative Extension, first as a Cornell Cooperative Extension summer intern and last summer as part of the Dairy Sustainability Key Performance Indicator Project.

In the news

More student veterans join a welcoming community

Jenny Cunningham, a former staff sergeant in the Marine Corps, wanted to go back to college for a degree in sustainable agriculture. But as a veteran and at age 40, she wondered if she would really fit in an undergraduate population.

At Cornell, “I was welcomed with open arms,” she said, “and I was really surprised – because it was almost like an instant family.” Cunningham is now a junior transfer student in CALS.

In the news

Lund fellows program supports undergrads and organic agriculture

Agricultural Sciences major Jeremiah Lazo '22 fell in love with agriculture in the fourth grade. A friend had asked Lazo over to his family’s ranch near Edinburg, Texas, where they raised cotton, cattle, sorghum and corn on 300 acres. Soon, and for the next eight years, he was heading to the farm every weekend and summer to help build barns, fix fences and manage cattle.

“I’d wake up at the crack of dawn to head out to the farm and work way past when the sun went down,” Lazo said. “I had other hobbies, but agriculture, farming and showing animals – that was really where my heart was, and I knew that my career would be in the food system.”

In the news

Student firefighters answer the call

Most students can drive a car by the time they graduate from college. Not many of them can drive a fire truck.

John Gregory ’23 is among the few. An agricultural sciences major, Gregory has been a volunteer firefighter throughout his time on the Hill (and for two years before that, as a high schooler in New York’s Westchester County). Now a junior, he has risen to the rank of lieutenant with the Cayuga Heights Fire Department (CHFD), the all-volunteer force that serves the tree-lined village adjacent to campus that’s home to many Cornell faculty and staff.

In the news

Reflections from the next generation of ag educators

Megan Lamb ’22, an agricultural sciences major, participated in a joint summer internship program between the Nutrient Management Spear Program (NMSP) and the William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute.

Lamb’s internship was made possible with funding from the NMSP’s Dairy Sustainability Key Indicators Project run by Quirine Ketterings, professor of nutrient management and director of the NMSP in the Department of Animal Science in Cornell CALS.

In the news

CCE’s role in the future of dairy sustainability

Agricultural science major, Megan Wittmeyer ’22, spent the summer completing a joint internship between the Nutrient Management Spear Program (NMSP), run by Quirine Ketterings, professor of nutrient management in the Department of Animal Science in Cornell CALS, and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s (CCE) South Central NY Dairy and Field Crops Team. CCE provided full funding for this internship experience through the CCE Summer Internship Program.

mikala with a plastic wrapped baleage
cunningham inspecting plants outside greenhouse
Jeremiah Lazo and fellow interns working in an agriculture field
Gregory conducts ladder drill
megan lamb in wheat field
Megan Wittmeyer

Exploring agriculture through hands-on experiences

Through this college-wide interdisciplinary major, you will have access to Cornell’s world-class agricultural resources and facilities. Students gain hands-on experience through labs and course field trips to a number of campus-area farms.

Careers in agricultural science

Graduates pursue a variety of careers, including food production and marketing, agricultural education in secondary schools, organic farming, cooperative extension and crop consultation.

Two people pick spinach

Agriculture Business

  • Marketing specialist
  • Dairy nutrition sales and consulting
  • Crop consultant
  • District sales manager
  • Chief innovation officer
  • Director of training and development
  • Financial loan officer
  • Associate produce buyer
  • Marketing project coordinator
  • Management trainee

Education

  • Teach for America teacher
  • Science teacher
  • Secondary school farm manager

Environment

  • Sustainability and energy fellow
  • Energy project technician
  • Soil scientist

Farming

  • Herd health assistant
  • Field manager
  • Crop operations manager
  • Dairy farm manager
  • Food safety manager
  • Poultry farm manager
  • Livestock operations manager
  • Greenhouse manager
  • Agronomist
  • Assistant grower
  • Organic farming certification specialist

Research

  • Research assistant
  • Trials manager
  • Field technician
  • Plant breeding technician

More

  • Equine dentist
  • NYS Department of Ag & Markets fellow

Explore your opportunities

A CALS education goes beyond the classroom and gives students frequent opportunities to apply what they learn in real-world settings.