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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.

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.

Want to learn more? To obtain a copy of the full curriculum, please submit this form.

Life sciences foundation

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

  • Two courses in life sciences biology
  • General chemistry with lab
  • Statistics

Students with life science research, graduate study or pre-health interests have the flexibility to expand their foundation with additional coursework.

Broad agricultural core

Common core coursework includes:

Core course areas

Students will complete one course from a select list of options in the following six areas: Animal science, communication or education, food science, genetics, international agriculture and introductory business management.

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):

  • Courses that meet the CALS social science and humanities requirements in Cultural Analysis, Historical Analysis, Knowledge, Cognition and Moral Reasoning, Literature and the Arts, Social and Behavioral Analysis and Foreign Language.

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

Faculty advisors

Our faculty advisors teach courses in the major, advise undergraduates and represent the breath of disciplines across the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.

Tim Setter
Tim Setter

Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Plant Breeding and Genetics Section

Tim Setter
Maize, wheat and cassava breeding and genomics
Drought and environmental stress physiology
International agriculture
Bill Miller
William Miller

Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Horticulture Section

William Miller
Flower bulbs and floriculture
Greenhouse and nursery crops
Physiology and post-harvest management
profile picture of tom overton
Thomas Overton

Professor

Animal Science

Program Director

PRO-DAIRY

Thomas Overton
Marvin Pritts
Marvin Pritts

Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Plant Sciences Major

School of Integrative Plant Science

Horticulture Section

Professor

Department of Global Development

Marvin Pritts
Berry crops
Season extension
Sustainable production practices
Frank S. Rossi
Frank Rossi

Associate Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Horticulture Section

Frank Rossi
Lawn, golf and sports turf
Urban grasslands management
Quirine Ketterings

Professor

Animal Science

Quirine Ketterings
Janice Thies
Janice Thies

Associate Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Janice Thies
Soil ecology
Soil biology quality assessment and remediation
International agriculture
Michael Van Amburgh

Professor

Animal Science

Michael Van Amburgh
Neil Mattson
Neil Mattson

Associate Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Horticulture Section

Neil Mattson
Greenhouse horticulture
Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)
Greenhouse lighting and systems engineering
Michael Mazourek
Michael Mazourek

Associate Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Plant Breeding and Genetics Section

Horticulture Section

Michael Mazourek
Vegetable breeding (cucurbits, peppers and peas)
Biochemical genetics
Organic systems
Antonio DiTommaso
Antonio DiTommaso

Professor and Chair

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

The Richard C. Call Director, Agricultural Sciences Major

Antonio DiTommaso
Weed ecology
Invasive species
Biological weed management
man in field
Matthew Ryan

Associate Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Matthew Ryan
Sustainable cropping systems and agroecology
Cover crops and ecological weed management
Organic production
man in apple orchard
Gregory Peck

Assistant Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Horticulture Section

Gregory Peck
Tree fruits
Hard cider
Organic production
Andy McDonald
Andrew McDonald

Associate Professor

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Associate Professor

Department of Global Development

Andrew McDonald
  • ajm9 [at] cornell.edu
Cropping systems ecology
Agricultural sustainability, food security, water resources and climate
International agriculture, policy, and applied social sciences
jeff perry
Jeffrey Perry

Senior Lecturer

Department of Global Development

Jeffrey Perry
Extension Education
Teaching Methods
Youth Leadership Development
Jonathan Russell-Anelli
Jonathan Russell-Anelli

Senior Lecturer

School of Integrative Plant Science

Soil and Crop Sciences Section

Jonathan Russell-Anelli
Spatial arrangement and characterization of soil properties, nutrient and contaminant distribution
Urban soils
Soil surveys

Explore your opportunities

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

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