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Other titles in the College Board Book of Majors series:

Book of Majors 2013: All-New Seventh Edition (College Board Book of Majors)

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Book of Majors 2013: All-New Seventh Edition (College Board Book of Majors) Cover

 

 

Excerpt

BOOK OF MAJORS 2013 (Chapter 1)

Agriculture

Agriculture is an ancient practice that has become a cutting-edge science and industry. It's all about the production of crops, livestock, feed, and fiber. People need agriculture for the basics like food and clothing.

"The things that we do have a major impact on everyone--everyone must eat," says Bonita A. Glatz, a food science professor at Iowa State University.

Farmers and ranchers have gotten pretty good at growing and raising crops and food. The big push in agriculture now is to increase the quality and quantity of plant and animal products, while preserving the ecology of our systems. Things are really getting technical. In many majors, agricultural study is a type of applied biology or applied chemistry. It's a science. So if you study agriculture in a four-year program, you're likely to get a solid science background followed by an in-depth exploration of chemistry, biochemistry, genetics, pathology (study of diseases), meteorology (weather), economics, or education.

Is agriculture for you? People who study and work in farming represent a wide variety of skills and interests. If you care about people, animals, or planet Earth, you might consider an agricultural major. Do you have a passion for vegetable gardening or horseback riding? Maybe you love nature, plants, or the outdoors. Perhaps you want to protect the environment or help developing countries that are struggling with poverty and malnutrition. Many students bring experience in farming and ranching with them to college. During college, they gain an interest in economics and business or a particular branch of agriscience. You don't have to come from a farming background or plan to work on a farm to be an ag major. But you will need quantitative skills--math and statistics--to study this field.

What about job prospects? We all need agricultural products, but the industry is so efficient that we don't need as many farms and traditional farm jobs as we did in the past. Farms are merging so that we have fewer and larger farms now. Agriculture is big business. That means a smaller number of jobs for farmers and ranchers. On the other hand, the business of farming and the global scale of food distribution expand the role of other things like agribusiness and agricultural economics. In fact, students in these two majors will take many of the same classes. The difference is that agribusiness students will probably have a career path toward management in a food company. Agricultural economics is more analytical and good preparation for either research or business. Your choice of major and level of degree affect your job prospects.

What's hot in the field

If you're thinking that agriculture is just plants and soil, no way. Computers, telecommunications, and other high-tech tools play a huge role. "Precision agriculture guided by geographic information systems, satellite guidance, and computer-equipped tractors increases production and conserves natural resources," explains Professor Douglas L. Young of Washington State University.

What else is happening? You've probably seen news stories about environmental regulations or about real estate development in what were once rural areas. These trends may require agriculture students to learn more about the environment and resource economics. "The sustainability of the way we produce food is becoming more important as fuel, transportation and food safety issues are intensifying," says Professor Marianne Sarrantonio, who coordinates the sustainable agriculture program at the University of Maine. She sees increasing demand for graduates in that field.

Another new area of study is the economics of biotechnology. The job picture is also bright for students in food science, partly because people's tastes change and consumers are learning more about nutrition, health, and wellness. And don't forget food safety and biosecurity. They couldn't be more important. Other hot jobs are in plant breeding and genetics, financial management, information systems, and teaching.

From field to table, from the plant to the planet, agriculture requires more knowledge and education than ever before. Today's agricultural professionals have business, economic, scientific, and technical skills and expertise.

It's no surprise that during graduate-level studies, students focus on a very specific area. For example, in agronomy, grad students zoom in on things like crop production and physiology; or soil sciences including soil chemistry, microbiology, and biochemistry. If you're interested in a business track, keep in mind that nearly all agribusiness professions require advanced degrees; grad studies veer toward agricultural marketing or agricultural trade.

But not all colleges and universities define majors in the same way. Colleges vary in the areas of study they emphasize. The differences could stem from the regional climate and its specific crop or soil suitability, or even a college's size and priorities. In college catalogs and on the Internet, look under agricultural sciences, biological sciences, environmental sciences, and natural resources. And be sure to go to the Web sites of the land-grant universities and the big state schools, which dominate agricultural education. Another section in this book related to agriculture is Natural resources and conservation. There you'll find majors in forestry, fisheries, and environmental studies.

Here are some Web sites to get you started thinking about your future in agriculture: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (www.usda.gov), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (www.fda.gov), the National FFA Organization (www.ffa.org), and the American Farm Bureau (www.fb.org).

Agricultural business

Also known as:

Agribusiness

What it's about:

Agricultural business deals with the management, marketing, and financing of food and fiber, "from the field to the table." You study principles from agricultural sciences, economics, business, and statistics in preparation for a career in agribusiness, farming, natural resources, government, and related areas.

Is this for you?

You might like this major if you also like: 4-H projects and competitions; debating; organizing or leading a club or other group activity; solving problems; sports. A concern for the problems of developing countries that are struggling with poverty and malnutrition might also lead you to this major.

Consider this major if you are good at: attention to detail; critical reading/thinking; leadership; organizing; persuading/influencing; quantitative analysis; teamwork...or have...initiative; verbal skills; writing skills.

Recommended high school prep:

English 4, math 3 (including precalculus), lab science 3 (including biology and chemistry), social studies 3, and a foreign language 2-3. If available, take a computer course covering basic office applications and spreadsheets.

Did you know...

...that to be successful in agricultural business, you must know math and statistics? Many students are surprised by the idea, as well as by the need for excellent writing and speaking skills.

Typical courses in this major:

Introduction to agribusiness

Managerial accounting

Economics (micro and macro)

Statistics

Farming technologies

Production management

Farm and ranch management

Human resources management

Agricultural marketing

International trade

Agricultural finance

Farm management laboratory

Agricultural history and law

Agricultural policy

Business/environmental law

Management information systems

Concentrations:

In college: agricultural economics; agricultural marketing; farm and ranch management; agricultural finance; environmental economics; crop or animal production; international agriculture and trade.

If you go on to grad school: econometrics; agricultural policy; rural and community economic development.

What the study of this major is like:

The agricultural business major prepares you to apply business and economic principles to the production and marketing of food and other agricultural products and to the management of natural resources. In order to make economically and environmentally sound decisions in this field, you need to understand accounting, economics, finance, labor, marketing, management, and public policy, as you analyze and deal with business and environmental risk; identify and respond to changes in the demand for food products and services; and improve profitability.

You learn principles associated with best practices for product development, profit maximization, and investment planning. You become familiar with accounting tools like balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements. You are taught to use quantitative tools such as statistics, accounting methods, computer programs, and investment analysis to solve management and planning problems.

You also learn the importance of risk management in an industry in which prices can zigzag (because of the uncertainties of worldwide markets) and production is at the mercy of weather, pests, and natural disasters. To thrive despite the risks, you must make smart use of futures markets, insurance, contracting, machinery maintenance, emerging technologies, and labor management. You also take supporting courses in data analysis, international studies, biological sciences, social sciences, and written and oral communication. A number of agribusinesses offer internships that give you a chance to get some real business experience.

Many majors are challenged by such requirements as calculus and courses in the humanities and social sciences. Third- and fourth-year team and individual projects--which can sometimes conflict with off-campus employment or other activities--require long hours of work. But problem-centered assignments help you build a solid foundation for future employment.

Leading agricultural colleges may emphasize agribusiness, marketing, farm/ranch management, technology, natural resource economics, or statistics/econometrics, but most colleges offer courses in all these areas. If you are interested in other areas, such as international agricultural development or rural development, explore the catalogs or Web sites of various programs to see what they offer. If you want to combine an agribusiness degree with another field (for instance, wine grape production), examine course offerings and prerequisites in departments such as crop and soil sciences. The agricultural business major is also offered at the two-year associate degree level; the program is generally geared for transfer into a four-year agribusiness program.

Other majors you might like:

Economics

Business administration and management

Accounting

Agronomy and crop science

Animal sciences

Forest resources production

Range science

Agricultural and biological engineering

Geography

Farm and ranch management

International business

Aquaculture

Questions to ask colleges:

Does the program feature the latest technologies being applied to agricultural production?

What ties do the faculty members have to the industry? Are undergrads given assistance in finding internships?

Where have recent graduates gone to work?

Career options and trends:

Agribusiness manager or marketer*; farmer or rancher*; loan officer*; government agency employee; production supervisor; financial analyst; commodity merchandiser.

The long-term trend toward consolidation into fewer and larger farms is projected to continue, further reducing the number of jobs for farmers and ranchers but increasing employment opportunities for agricultural managers since owners of these farms rarely live on their land. Most graduates obtain jobs in business and industry. There is demand for managers and specialists trained in accounting, credit analysis, marketing, and international trade. Job prospects are generally good, especially if you are willing to relocate.

For more info:

United Agribusiness League

54 Corporate Park

Irvine, CA 92606-5105

(800) 223-4590

www.ual.org

Agricultural economics

What it's about:

The agricultural economics major teaches you to understand agriculture from both the national and the international perspective. You apply economic principles to the study of agricultural trends, productivity, investment, and the use and conservation of natural resources.

Is this for you?

You might like this major if you also like: social studies; math; business; government; working with numbers; looking at the big picture; environmental issues.

Consider this major if you are good at: critical reading/thinking; leadership; math; persuading/influencing; quantitative analysis; teamwork...or have...initiative; verbal skills; writing skills.

Recommended high school prep:

English 4, math 4 (including precalculus), lab science 3, social studies 3, and a foreign language 3. If possible, take courses in computer science, economics, and statistics. A foreign language is especially helpful because agricultural markets are increasingly global.

Did you know...

...that most graduates in this major, contrary to popular belief, do not farm? While nearly 20 percent of all jobs in the United States are in the food and fiber industries, fewer than 3 percent of the employees in those industries actually work on a farm.

Typical courses in this major:

Accounting

Economics (micro and macro)

Statistics

Quantative methods in agricultural economics

Agricultural marketing and sales

Agricultural price analysis

Agribusiness management

Agricultural cooperatives

Agricultural finance

Agricultural policy

Commodity futures markets

International trade and finance

Agricultural and business law

Environmental resources development

Rural economic development

Professional career development

Concentrations:

Farm and ranch management; marketing; finance; environmental economics; rural development; international economic development.

What the study of this major is like:

Economics is the study of the way societies use available resources to meet people's needs. Since farming is the largest user of the earth's resources, agricultural economics is a wide-ranging field. You are most likely to benefit from the major if you have a broad educational background. Your general education courses may include English, speech, data analysis, chemistry, physics, economics, the natural and social sciences, history, literature, and the arts.

Many of the courses offered in this major are the same as in the agricultural business major, and sometimes it's hard to distinguish the two. Both majors cover economic principles, technical agricultural sciences, and business management tools. Whereas the agricultural business major provides management, operational, and production skills for business careers in the industry, agricultural economics focuses analytically on a broader range of issues to prepare you for graduate study or for careers in research and public policy as well as in business. You explore the relationship between agriculture and other sectors of the economy; you evaluate responses to economic problems created by the changing agricultural environment. You learn quantitative problem solving and qualitative reasoning, as well as how to make ethical judgments.

You also take upper-level electives in your chosen concentration, which may focus on public policy and regional development issues; natural resource allocation and environmental issues; management and production; or international trade. In many programs, a capstone project teaches you to debate concepts and integrate them into a wider perspective. Some colleges require you to do an internship or declare a minor. You may be able to earn college credit by participating in a study-abroad program.

You need good preparation in math and science to succeed in this major (students are often surprised by how much math is used in economics). Joining a student chapter of a national agricultural association will help you to learn more about the field, make valuable career contacts, and find internships and job opportunities.

This major is typically found in colleges of agriculture at land-grant universities; but similar programs are offered by other four-year private and public colleges, particularly in regions where agriculture is a significant industry. Admission and course requirements differ slightly among colleges. Some colleges combine agricultural business and agricultural economics into one program. There may also be differences in the areas of concentration offered.

Other majors you might like:

Agricultural business

Farm and ranch management

Agricultural education services

Environmental studies

Finance

Development economics

Mathematics

Statistics

Management information systems

Global studies

Public policy analysis

International business

Questions to ask colleges:

How much emphasis is placed on math and quantitative analysis?

How does the agricultural economics program differ from the agribusiness major? Are courses in the agricultural technical sciences included?

Is a senior capstone project required? What sort of projects have recent graduates submitted?

Career options and trends:

Agricultural statistician; agricultural consultant; government agency employee (e.g., USDA); financial analyst; bank manager or loan officer; sales representative; natural resources manager; public policy analyst; commodities broker, trader, or merchandiser.

The food and fiber industries are changing rapidly, because of corporate mergers and consolidations, the increasing reliance on telecommunications, and the growth of global trade and competition. As a result, companies want educated, productive, and flexible employees who can adapt in a rapidly shifting world market.

Demand for economists in general remains fairly constant, in good times and bad. Opportunities for agricultural economists in particular are increasing, as is the diversity, globalization, and high-tech nature of the profession.

Insider's viewpoint:

"I have enjoyed almost all the classes that are offered through this major, especially those dealing with commodities, farm planning, and managerial and decision-making economics. All of these classes deal with real-world situations; they are not all just about theories and concepts."

--Christopher, senior, University of Wisconsin

For more info:

Agricultural & Applied Economics Association

555 East Wells St., Suite 1100

Milwaukee, WI 53202

(414) 918-3190

www.aaea.org

Agronomy and crop science

What it's about:

This major provides the theoretical and practical knowledge needed for the efficient and sustainable production of food, fuel, feed, and fiber. You will gain a broad understanding of the diversity of, and relationships among, plants, soils, and climates. You will also explore the ethical, cultural, and environmental issues facing professionals in agriculture and natural resources.

Is this for you?

You might like this major if you also like: 4-H or FFA (Future Farmers of America) projects and competitions; Boy/Girl Scouts; science and math; the Weather Channel; gardening; outdoor activities; collecting or observing insects; seed collecting; issues relating to world hunger and the environment.

Consider this major if you are good at: attention to detail; critical reading/thinking; leadership; organizing; quantitative analysis; research; teamwork...or have...initiative; manual dexterity; verbal skills.

Recommended high school prep:

English 4, math 3 (including precalculus), lab science 4 (including biology, physics, and chemistry), social studies 3, and a foreign language 2-3. Take as much math and science as you can, and a computer science course if available. Courses that help you develop good writing and oral communication skills are also important.

Did you know...

...that a farm background is not essential for a major in agronomy?

Typical courses in this major:

Plant pathology

Entomology

Pest management

Soil fertility

Weed science

Ecology

World food issues

Sustainable agriculture

Genetics

Weather and climate

Seed science and technology

Global climate change

Plant breeding

Crop management and production

Soil science

Statistics

Concentrations:

In college: agroecology; crop and soil management; plant breeding; pest management; seed production and technology; soil conservation; turfgrass management; climatology; biotechnology.

If you go on to grad school: agricultural meteorology; crop production and physiology, with specializations in seed science and weed science; plant breeding; and soil science, with specializations in soil chemistry, physics, morphology, genesis, biology, fertility, and management.

What the study of this major is like:

Agronomists work to provide consumers with a sufficient supply of food; to help producers increase profitability and efficiency; and to protect the environment. As an agronomy and crop science major, you learn how the plant and soil sciences are used in the production of abundant, high-quality food, fuel, feed, and fiber. Crop and plant sciences relate primarily to the genetics, breeding, physiology, and management of crops. Soil science covers the physics, chemistry, origin, microbiology, fertility, and management of soil. Majors also study weather and climate.

You generally begin with courses in soil science, crop production, botany or biology, geology, chemistry, English, and statistics. In addition, you study the physical and social sciences, communications, economics, and math. You'll be encouraged to take at least one course in plant pathology, entomology, weed science, and soil fertility/plant nutrition. As you learn more about the discipline, you may develop specific interests in crop science, soil science, or climatology. You can generally double-major (or minor) in agronomy/crop science and agribusiness, agricultural journalism, animal science, environmental sciences, or extension education.

Core courses (natural sciences, math, English, and social sciences) are usually taught in a lecture/lab format. Upper-level agronomy and crop science courses focus on problem solving, real-life situations, and professional competency. Integrated into the instruction is an emphasis on teamwork, leadership, communication, critical analysis, and management skills, as well as sustainability principles and ethical values.

Your course work is often supplemented by field trips, industrial tours, orseminars on agronomy issues. Majors can participate in regional and national contests with crop and soil judging teams. You are also encouraged to seek internships and summer/part-time employment in government agencies, agricultural businesses (seed, fertilizer, agricultural chemicals), conservation centers, pest control companies, or other areas relating to food, fuel, feed, and fiber production. You can generally earn academic credit for such work.

Colleges may vary in their emphasis on the role of science in response to world hunger and pollution. If you plan to go on to grad school, you generally need to complete an undergraduate program that stresses agronomic, biological, mathematical, and physical sciences.

Other majors you might like:

Forestry

Sustainable agriculture

Plant sciences

Atmospheric science

Plant protection/pest management

Range science

Soil science

Biochemistry

Agricultural and biological engineering

Genetics

Turf management

Agricultural education services

Questions to ask colleges:

Are internships and summer work opportunities available? When you evaluate a curriculum, you should take into account the availability of internships and exchange programs that provide work in the profession and study-abroad experiences.

Does the program provide learning experiences at a working farm or in a campus greenhouse?

Does the program include courses covering leadership qualities and skills, especially in communications, ethics, and decision-making?

Career options and trends:

Agricultural business manager*; plant breeder; seed production specialist*; environmental and natural resources manager; farm manager; government agency employee*; range management specialist; crop and soil management specialist; soil conservationist and surveyor*.

Demand for Agronomists is expected to be good. The need to provide sustainable sources of food, energy, and raw materials will grow as our global population grows, and this need will become even more pressing if the trend towards loss of arable land continues.

Agronomy is increasingly international--you should expect to travel during your career. The "green revolution" occurring in developing countries calls for expertise in seed physiology, soil science, and plant breeding, to counter the effects of pests, disease, and drought. The role of genetic engineering will increase in importance as well, and you should expect a greater emphasis on biorenewables and food management and safety practices.

For more info:

American Society of Agronomy

5585 Guilford Rd.

Madison, WI 53711-5801

(608) 273-8080

www.agronomy.org

Animal sciences

What it's about:

The animal sciences major deals with the breeding, raising, and management of livestock and poultry, and the foods and products obtained from them. The care and welfare of companion or captive animals may also be covered.

Is this for you?

You might like this major if you also like: working with large animals; biology; Animal Planet; working outdoors; physical challenges; 4H groups; farmwork.

Consider this major if you are good at: attention to detail; caring/nurturing; critical reading/thinking; math; organizing; quantitative analysis...or have...initiative; patience; physical stamina; writing skills.

Recommended high school prep:

English 4, math 4 (including precalculus or calculus), lab science 4, social studies 3, and a foreign language 2-3. If available, take an advanced biology course.

Did you know...

...that this major is not for the squeamish? You have to be willing to get up close and personal with the animals, and not mind the aroma--or maybe even like it.

Typical courses in this major:

Animal behavior

Animal biology

Animal evaluation

Nutrition

Livestock management

Poultry science

Dairy science

Endocrinology

Genetics

Growth and development

Lactation

Livestock marketing

Reproductive physiology

Artificial insemination practices

Companion animal management

Meat science and processing

Concentrations:

In college: reproductive physiology; genetics and breeding; endocrinology; animal nutrition; animal behavior.

If you go on to grad school: reproductive physiology; genetics and breeding; endocrinology; animal behavior.

What the study of this major is like:

Like most science majors, you will spend at least 40 percent of your time in courses in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and math--typically during your first two years. A solid foundation in the biological and physical sciences will help you get the most from the animal science courses you will take in your third and fourth years.

Biological concepts and animal science terminology are usually presented in lectures; you then get hands-on experience in class demonstrations and labs. You will also be encouraged (in some programs, required) to gain practice outside the classroom, by participating in an internship, research project, livestock judging competition, or extension work.

Because animal agriculture is a process that depends on cooperation among professionals and technicians, your courses will probably include teamwork activities. In fact, communication skills are essential in this discipline. You will also benefit from sharpening your understanding of math and chemistry. Most students who transfer out of animal sciences do so because they are having difficulty with one or both of these subjects.

Most colleges offer several options in the major: a production track, business/management track, science track, or preveterinary track. Colleges in regions with a livestock industry may focus on production systems and offer plenty of hands-on training. Colleges with strong research programs may emphasize the biology of animal growth and reproduction, biotechnology, and genetics. Some programs stress compatibility with the preprofessional requirements of veterinary medicine and human medicine, as well as with grad school requirements. A business option will emphasize agricultural economics.

If a species is prominent in the area around a college, its presence will likely be reflected in the expertise of the faculty and the courses offered. You can strengthen your ability to observe similarities and differences if you study not only the commonly found species but others as well.

Other majors you might like:

Zoology

Livestock management

Wildlife and wilderness management

Veterinary technology

Biochemistry

Aquaculture

Dairy science

Entomology

Food science

Microbiology

Poultry science

Agricultural and biological engineering

Questions to ask colleges:

Does the program have adequate resources, including labs and animal facilities, to provide practice in the animal handling skills you will need professionally? Access to facilities in which you can study meat, dairy, and other food processing and testing is also desirable.

Are there opportunities to participate with faculty members in their research programs? Such experiences are essential if you wish to go on to a graduate or professional program.

Career options and trends:

Livestock production manager*; artificial breeding technician; research technician; vocational agriculture teacher; sales representative for agricultural supplier*; extension agent; farm or ranch manager; veterinarian*.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is projected to be strong, growing faster than average through 2020.

For certain positions, such as consulting work, it may be desirable or necessary to be certified by ARPAS (American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists). To become a veterinarian, you must obtain a doctorate of veterinarian medicine (D.V.M.) and pass a licensing exam.

An understanding of environmental issues associated with animal production; concerns about animal welfare; and a sense of the ethical issues associated with animal product development are increasingly important to animal scientists. Global issues, such as growing populations, decreasing arable land, and climate change, will create opportunities for innovative professionals.

Insider's viewpoint:

"I liked being able to apply to real life the knowledge I gained through my classes. It's enjoyable to consult with a farmer on the best way to manage his dairy cattle, or to help a horse owner formulate a diet for her dressage horse."

--Kristen, senior, University of Maryland

For more info:

American Society of Animal Science (ASAS)

PO Box 7410

Champaign, IL 61826-7410

(217) 356-9050

www.asas.org

Equestrian studies

Also known as:

Equine studies

What it's about:

This major deals with horses and horsemanship (in Latin, equus means "horse"). You learn the scientific principles needed for the care, breeding, and conditioning of horses; the business principles needed for managing horse-related enterprises and facilities; and the equitation and training skills needed for teaching horseback riding and for training horses.

Is this for you?

You might like this major if you also like: horses and horseback riding; working outdoors; sports and competition; tutoring; business activities; taking care of animals.

Consider this major if you are good at: attention to detail; caring/nurturing; coaching; counseling; memorizing; organizing...or have...a sense of responsibility to your work; initiative; patience; physical stamina.

Recommended high school prep:

English 4, math 3, lab science 3, social studies 3, and a foreign language 2-3. If available, take anatomy and physiology.

Typical courses in this major:

Equine anatomy and physiology

Equine nutrition

Equine breed types and selection

Stable management

Equine lameness and disease

Stud farm management

Equine breeding lab

Equine business management

Equine health management

Management of equine events

Equine breaking and training

Equitation (riding) classes

Care and prevention of athletic injuries

Teaching horsemanship

Entrepreneurship

Concentrations:

Equine business management.

What the study of this major is like:

As an equestrian studies major, you learn to understand the horse and its role in society today. If you have little familiarity with horses, you take handling and riding courses and gain practice in caring for horses and horse tackle. If you are more experienced, you are taught how to break and train horses, instruct riders, and ride at an advanced level (such as dressage and jumping). To learn how to live and work responsibly with horses, all majors study the animal's history and its health and safety needs. Most likely, you will also explore various horse-related enterprises, such as feed sales, racing, breeding, and equine publications.

In general, programs allow students at all levels to be stimulated by their course work. You typically begin with general science courses (for example, biology and chemistry) and then specialize, taking courses in anatomy and physiology, equine breeds, and types and selection. In higher-level courses, such as a breeding lab, you apply what you learn. Equitation courses (involving actual horseback riding) are also taught at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels.

Many programs offer a two-year associate of science or applied science degree. You can usually choose one of three tracks--equestrian, equine science, or equine business management. In the equestrian track, you concentrate on horsemanship, teaching, and training skills, as you prepare to enter the field of horse training and riding instruction. The science and business tracks generally prepare you to transfer to a four-year program.

In a four-year program, a concentration in science and preveterinary courses focuses on biology, chemistry, math, and equine health and breeding and usually leads to a Bachelor of Science degree. An equine management track includes business subjects and stresses industry-oriented courses, such as stable or stud farm management, equine economics, and equine marketing. At some colleges, equestrian studies (or equine science) is offered only as a concentration in an animal sciences program.

Other majors you might like:

Animal sciences

Physical education

Horse husbandry/equine science

Veterinary technology

Wildlife and wilderness management

Sports and fitness administration

Athletic training

Biology

Zoology

Entrepreneurial studies

Questions to ask colleges:

What are the graduates of the equine degree program doing in the industry now? The answer should indicate whether the program is a strong one.

Career options and trends:

Horse care technician; assistant manager/trainer; farrier (individual who shoes horses); riding instructor; equine massage therapist; veterinarian; biomedical technician; nutritional consultant; pharmaceutical representative.

Jobs as a professional horse trainer are very hard to come by; graduates might find positions as assistant trainers at best, or, more probably, as managers, assistant managers, and grooms. Graduates with a solid science background can investigate alternative career opportunities in the biomedical field and in the pharmaceutical and nutritional industries.

Today, horses represent a larger financial commitment than in years past. As a result, employers in the industry look for better-educated, more qualified personnel than previously.

Insider's viewpoint:

"I look at every student and every horse similarly. Each is an individual that needs support and the freedom of self-expression in order to grow and realize his or her full potential."

--H. Jerry Schurink, Director of Equine Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst

For more info:

United States Pony Clubs, Inc.

4041 Iron Works Parkway

Lexington, KY 40511

(859) 254-7669

www.ponyclub.org

Farm and ranch management

What it's about:

By combining courses in economics, business, and agriculture, this major prepares students to manage a farm, a ranch, and other rural businesses and to do commercial and professional work related to agriculture.

Is this for you?

You might like this major if you also like: working outdoors; using equipment; rural communities; team sports; animals.

Consider this major if you are good at: attention to detail; critical reading/thinking; organizing; quantitative analysis; research; teamwork...or have...initiative; manual dexterity; physical stamina.

Recommended high school prep:

English 4, math 3, lab science 3, social studies 3, and a foreign language 2-3. Three years of vocational agriculture is recommended, if available; as well as two years of computers and speech, and an accounting course.

Typical courses in this major:

Introduction to agricultural economics

Microeconomic theory

Marketing agricultural products

Principles of farm and ranch management

Equipment operation and maintenance

Financial management in agriculture

Accounting principles

Animal health and nutrition

Feedlot management

Livestock production

Advanced farm and ranch management

Agricultural price analysis

Agricultural commodity futures

Agricultural policy

Macroeconomics of agriculture

Rural entrepreneurship

Concentrations:

Crop production; animal husbandry; agricultural mechanization; agricultural marketing.

What the study of this major is like:

Your course work in this major provides a foundation in accounting, finance, marketing, management, economics, and technical production and/or processing. You use computer applications to integrate what you learn into a comprehensive set of entrepreneurial skills. Although you will be expected to study subjects in a number of academic and technical disciplines, you will have flexibility when it comes to identifying your specialty field.

At some colleges, the program emphasizes accounting and a traditional farm and ranch management-oriented curriculum. At others, more attention is placed on technical applications; some colleges may relax their focus and teach general rural entrepreneurship. And while some cover a variety of business, economic, and technical subjects, others stress the application of those subjects to a comprehensive business plan. Programs may also vary in the extent to which they explore risk management.

This major provides opportunities for you to learn and apply business and economic principles, concepts, and tools to a broad spectrum of rural management areas. Career opportunities include the operation of your own farm, ranch, or other rural business; professional farm and ranch management; and agricultural real estate appraisal. During college, you can benefit from interning with a rural lending institution or business.

Other majors you might like:

Range science

Agronomy and crop science

Veterinary technology

Animal breeding

Dairy science

Sustainable agriculture

Mining and mineral engineering

Entomology

Heavy equipment maintenance

Operations management

Turf management

Entrepreneurial studies

Questions to ask colleges:

What are the experiences and interests of faculty members who teach the core courses?

What computer resources are available, and how are they used in the curriculum?

How are "real-world" professionals involved in the program? People employed in rural management can help prepare you for challenges you may face in your career.

Career options and trends:

Farmer*; rancher*; business owner or manager*; farm/ranch appraiser; rural loan officer*; consultant; farm machinery company representative.

The number of self-employed farmers and ranchers continues to decline; farm/ranch consolidation, increased agricultural productivity, and the high cost of running a farm or ranch are all contributing factors.

However, many small-scale farmers have developed niche markets in horticulture and organic food production, which is among the fastest growing segments of agriculture.

If you are good at integrating business, economics, and technical expertise, you may be able to take advantage of other types of rural entrepreneurial opportunities that are increasing. A growing number of small-scale farmers have found success in "niche" (closely targeted) markets, organic farming, farmers' markets, and agricultural and marketing cooperatives. In fact, organic farming, while still a small part of the overall U.S. food supply, is one of the fastest-growing sectors in agriculture.

For more info:

National FFA Organization (formerly Future Farmers of America)

P.O. Box 68960

6060 FFA Drive

Indianapolis, IN 46268-0960

(317) 802-6060

www.ffa.org

Food science

What it's about:

In the food science major, you integrate and apply your knowledge of chemistry, biology, nutrition, and engineering as you learn to preserve, process, package, and distribute foods that are wholesome, affordable, and safe to eat.

Is this for you?

You might like this major if you also like: science and math; cooking; hands-on learning; working individually or in teams; applying scientific principles to real-world problems.

Consider this major if you are good at: attention to detail; critical reading/thinking; quantitative analysis; research; teamwork...or have...initiative; lab skills; manual dexterity; verbal skills.

Recommended high school prep:

English 4, math 4 (including precalculus), lab science 4 (including chemistry, biology, and physics), social studies 3, and a foreign language 2-3. Chemistry is essential; courses in health and nutrition are helpful if available.

Typical courses in this major:

Introduction to food science

Agricultural economics

Food chemistry

Food microbiology

Food engineering

Packaging and distribution

Nutrition

Dairy foods processing

Plant foods processing

Meat processing

Food laws and regulations

Sensory analysis

Food quality control and management

Unit operations

Concentrations:

Food chemistry; food-processing technology; packaging; safety and quality assurance; sensory evaluation; food microbiology; food engineering; nutrition.

What the study of this major is like:

Food science is an interdisciplinary program. It brings together principles from the natural sciences, the social sciences, engineering, and business to shed light on the nature and characteristics of food and the nutritional needs of people of various ages, cultures, and lifestyles.

The first two years of a typical food science program consist of required core courses in general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry; biology; general microbiology; physics; calculus; statistics; human nutrition; communications; and humanities. Most courses have a practical, hands-on laboratory work or project assignment in which you put into practice the facts and concepts you've learned in the classroom.

The course of study is rigorous, but it lays a solid foundation for the food science courses you take in the third and fourth years. Because scientists, technicians, producers, and business people work together in the food industry, you need to develop good communication skills and to understand the differing perspectives these individuals represent.

In upper-level courses, you learn and apply technology to the sanitary processing, preservation, storage, and marketing of foods. You become skilled at using food science instruments and processing equipment. You also receive extensive training in laboratory techniques. Internships with industry or government agencies provide valuable experience.

Special emphasis may vary among colleges, depending on the particular strengths of the faculty members or the needs of local industry. Programs that stress basic science, as it applies to food and food ingredients, focus on food microbiology, food chemistry, or food engineering. Other programs are more commodity-oriented; they focus on dairy processing, meat processing, or plant processing. You may be encouraged to take a minor concentration in food marketing, consumer education, nutrition, business, or economics.

Other majors you might like:

Food and nutrition studies

Dietetics

Agricultural and biological engineering

Animal sciences

Dairy science

Plant sciences

Agricultural business

Microbiology

Chemical engineering

Biotechnology

Restaurant/food services management

Culinary arts and chef training

Career options and trends:

Food technologist; research and development scientist; quality assurance manager; food inspector; process engineer; packaging technologist.

A graduate degree (master's or doctorate) is required for a position as a research scientist or extension food technologist.

Employment can be found with manufacturers of retail food products, as well as with companies that supply food ingredients, processing equipment, and packaging materials, or are involved in institutional food service. Positions are also available in various government agencies and in independent testing laboratories.

Prospects are generally good in this field, even during economic downturns. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is projected to be strong, growing as fast as the average through 2020. Job growth will be driven in part by the demand for new food safety measures, and heightened public awareness of diet, health, food safety, and biosecurity issues.

For more info:

Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)

525 West Van Buren, Suite 1000

Chicago, IL 60607

(800) 438-3663

www.ift.org

Horticulture

What it's about:

Horticulture is a diverse field that includes plant biology, physical sciences, systems management, and the arts. Horticulturists study fruits, vegetables, herbs, trees, shrubs, flowers, and ornamental perennials and annuals, as well as the operation and management of field and greenhouse production, and the design and construction of gardens and landscapes.

Is this for you?

You might like this major if you also like: being outdoors; working with your hands; the arts; science; gardening clubs; arboretums; the environment.

Consider this major if you are good at: attention to detail; caring/nurturing; creativity; critical reading/thinking; math; memorizing; organizing; spacial thinking/analysis; teamwork...or have...manual dexterity.

Recommended high school prep:

English 4, math 3, lab science 3 (including biology, chemistry, and physics), social studies 3, visual arts 1, and a foreign language 2-3.

Typical courses in this major:

Plant biology

Plant propagation

Plant taxonomy and identification

Soil science and plant nutrition

Plant genetics

Greenhouse management

Floriculture production

Vegetable production

Nursery management

Organic and sustainable plant production

Fruit production

Viticulture (grapes and wine making)

Plant physiology

Landscape design

Plant pathology

Entomology

Concentrations:

In college: floriculture; environmental horticulture; ornamental horticulture; field crops; nursery management; greenhouse operations; landscape design; fruit crops.

If you go on to grad school: plant breeding and genetics; plant pathology; environmental plant physiology; horticulture management.

What the study of this major is like:

As a horticulture major, you study the biological and physical sciences as they relate to plants and plant growth (the effects of temperature, light, moisture, and nutrition) and to the environment. You will probably be required to take general and organic chemistry, and math at least through trigonometry. You should also expect to take a computer systems course.

Because many graduates eventually take on managerial positions, curricula often include horticultural business management and economics. You are encouraged to develop problem-solving and quantitative reasoning skills. To help you learn the techniques of sustaining production systems, your course work combines principles of biological sciences, ecology, and horticultural technology. You usually concentrate in one of the following:

General horticulture is the study of crops, including fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Landscape design and construction trains you in plant materials, irrigation control, and other aspects of landscape maintenance.

Floriculture examines the production, marketing, and use of cut flowers and potted plants. You learn about plant breeding, nutrition, disease, and insect pests; effects of the environment on plant growth; floral design; and interior plantscaping.

Olericulture/vegetable science covers the production and marketing of vegetables and herbs. You explore greenhouse, field, organic, and inorganic production techniques; plant breeding, nutrition, disease, and insect pests; and related human health issues.

Environmental horticulture teaches you about urban and natural landscapes. You learn how native plants are selected, produced, and installed to restore disturbed habitats. Environmental ethics and issues relating to sustainability are also covered.

Ornamental horticulture studies landscape and greenhouse crops, including trees, shrubs, potted plants, and foliage plants.

Greenhouse operations is the study of the construction and operations of greenhouses, with an emphasis on producing ornamental and vegetable crops.

Nursery operations focuses on the outdoor or protected production of ornamentals, perennials, fruit trees, and other crops.

Turfgrass management explores the production, marketing, installation, and maintenance of grasses used in golf courses, athletic fields, parks, and commercial and residential landscapes.

Although you learn horticultural basics in the classroom, your training involves plenty of hands-on work, such as greenhouse production or landscape design. In most programs, you get to know your professors and interact with students of diverse interests and ages. Horticulture clubs are often an important part of your academic (and perhaps social) life.

Generally, research horticulture is conducted at land-grant universities, which usually have good facilities and strong programs. The most significant differences among programs relate to the fact that horticulture generally focuses on crops specific to a state or a region. For example, you would not go to Minnesota to study banana production!

Other majors you might like:

Botany

Plant sciences

Forestry

Entomology

Natural resource conservation

Sustainable agriculture

Landscaping/groundskeeping

Turf management

Agricultural and biological engineering

Landscape architecture

Fine/studio arts

Questions to ask colleges:

Does the program utilize teaching greenhouses and field plots?

Which areas of specialization are available? If, like most entering students, you don't know which area of horticulture to pursue, you should look for a strong program that offers a range of possibilities.

Career options and trends:

Plant production manager; manager of garden center or retail florist; golf course or resort landscape manager; fruit or vegetable grower; greenhouse grower; nursery manager; landscape designer; organic producer; viticulturalist (wine grower); research technician.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, horticulture is one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture and a great place to get started in the field. Opportunities exist in landscaping, ornamentals, organic production, health aspects of plants, and greenhouse operations. More efficient production often means more sophisticated techniques, so there is a market for well-trained, motivated, creative professionals. In an exciting trend, horticulture and education join forces to set up "children's gardens" as an imaginative method of teaching and learning.

For more info:

American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS)

1018 Duke St.

Alexandria, VA 22314

(703) 836-4606

www.ashs.org

Soil science

What it's about:

Soil science applies principles of biology, chemistry, mathematics, geology, and physics to one of the most important and dynamic natural resources--often abused, sometimes reclaimable, and only slowly renewable. Soil science majors examine the nature and properties of soils and gain the skills needed for wise use, conservation, and management of this resource.

Is this for you?

You might like this major if you also like: nature and the outdoors; working with your hands; science and math; solving complex and multi-faceted problems; farming; gardening; environmental issues.

Consider this major if you are good at: attention to detail; critical reading/thinking; organizing; quantitative analysis; spacial thinking/analysis...or have...initiative; manual dexterity; verbal skills.

Recommended high school prep:

English 4, math 4 (including precalculus), lab science 4 (including earth science, biology, physics, and chemistry), social studies 3, and a foreign language 2-3. If they are available, take a computer science course and an environmental science course.

Did you know...

...that soil is not just dirt, but a complex, varied ecosystem that makes up as much as one third of our environment? Critical for life, this natural resource is often taken for granted; but after years of being studied and put to a variety of uses, soils still hold many secrets for scientists to unlock.

Typical courses in this major:

General and organic chemistry

Quantitative soil analysis

Meteorology

Geology

Soil chemistry

Soil morphology, genesis, and taxonomy

Soils and land use

Soil fertility

Environmental soil management

Soil microbiology

Agronomic crop science

Soil contaminants

Plant and soil water relations

Soil physics

Introductory plant pathology

Hydrogeology

Concentrations:

Generally, none in college; but if you go on to grad school: soil microbiology; soil chemistry; soil mineralogy; soil physics; soil conservation; soil management; soil fertility; forest soils; land reclamation.

What the study of this major is like:

Soil scientists have prime responsibility for determining the distribution of soils on the landscape, assessing their characteristics, and predicting their suitability for different purposes. Professionals also help promote practices that will conserve or reclaim soils. Majors learn to describe soils in the field, recognize their uses and limitations, and make recommendations for erosion control, reclamation practices, water movement, and soil improvement.

Soil science is sometimes a concentration within agronomy and crop science; geology and earth science; environmental science; or natural resources and conservation majors. Whether you major or concentrate in soil science, you need a solid foundation in chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics, along with courses in the humanities and the social sciences. Courses in geology, geography, economics, plant sciences, statistics, nutrition, and genetics are often recommended or required.

In your first and second years, you may be discouraged by the emphasis on university core and basic science courses--soils are hardly mentioned. But if you master the basics, you will likely be rewarded later: in upper-level, soil-oriented courses, you will be expected to apply what you've learned earlier. Because many courses are in lecture-laboratory format, you will spend more hours a week in class/lab than students who take only lecture classes. On the other hand, you generally learn more through hands-on experimentation and probably have to spend less out-of-class time reading and writing.

You are usually encouraged (if not required) to do summer internships and/or part-time work with field soil scientists. Many organizations that employ graduates--such as contractors, mining companies, government agencies, power companies, and landscaping firms--also offer summer internship opportunities.

Relatively few colleges, other than the land-grant state universities, offer the number of credit hours in soil science needed for certification or licensure as a soil scientist. Among those that do, some may emphasize agronomic applications, and others may focus on environmental aspects; but generally there are few differences. Look for a program that is strong not only in soil science but also in the basic sciences.

Other majors you might like:

Horticulture

Environmental science

Natural resources and conservation

Agronomy and crop science

Landscape architecture

Microbiology

Range science

Agricultural and biological engineering

Botany

Farm and ranch management

Geology/earth science

Biochemistry

Questions to ask colleges:

Does the program have a soil judging team? This competitive activity helps you solidify your understanding of soil morphology, classification, interpretations, and landscape distribution, and provides a way to meet other people in the field.

Are the teaching labs well equipped for soil analysis? Are agricultural research stations, as well as farm, forest, and/or range lands, close by and accessible?

Career options and trends:

Soil surveyor*; researcher; field soil scientist with federal or state agricultural or environmental agency, or with private industry*; environmental consultant; soil chemistry consultant; hazardous waste specialist.

Several states require certification or licensing in order to practice as a professional soil scientist. Requirements vary but usually involve taking a certification exam and three to five years of experience.

Soil scientists find more jobs in nonagricultural areas than agricultural. Traditionally, most jobs were in government agencies, but opportunities have been growing in the private sector, especially in environmentally related fields. Overall, the number of job opportunities is much greater than the number of graduates in this field.

Insider's viewpoint:

"I interned with a field soil scientist to run soil transects and update the soil surveys in Delaware. I worked outside almost every day in the summer, investigating the different soils in the lower part of Delaware, and scientifically classifying these soils so that they can be mapped and correlated."

--Kristin, sophomore, University of Delaware

For more info:

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA)

5585 Guilford Rd.

Madison, WI 53711

(608) 273-8085

www.soils.org

Soil science education home page: http://soil.gsfc.nasa.gov

Sustainable agriculture

Also known as:

Agroecology

Environmental agriculture

What it's about:

Sustainable agriculture is an ecological approach to farming that conserves and protects natural resources while profitably providing healthy food to local communities.

Is this for you?

You might like this major if you also like: science; working outdoors; community service; involvement with social justice or environmental issues. Most students in this major actually don't have much farming experience, but they usually enjoy working with others on socially meaningful projects, such as hunger awareness activities or farmland preservation workshops.

Consider this major if you are good at...synthesizing ideas; organizing; critical reading/thinking; advocating and persuading; doing research; writing...or have...initiative, creativity, a love of nature and a desire to help bring positive change in society.

Recommended high school prep:

English 4, math 3, lab science 3 (including biology and chemistry), social studies 3, and a foreign language 2-3. If available, take a course in environmental studies or ecology.

Did you know...

...that sustainable agriculture does not mean farming "the old-fashioned way" or rejecting modern technology? Rather, it combines the best practices of the past with current science and cutting-edge "green" technologies.

Typical courses in this major:

Principles and practices of sustainable agriculture

Agroecology

Cropping systems

Weed ecology and management

Integrated pest management

Soil science

Organic soil management

Organic vegetable and fruit production

Crop ecology

Watershed ecosystem analysis

Human nutrition

Land use history and planning

Resource and environmental economics

Environmental policy and law

Rural sociology

Agriculture and environmental ethics

Concentrations:

Entomology; plant pathology; agricultural economics; rural sociology

What the study of this major is like:

Since sustainable agriculture is as much a way of life as a system of farming, it is taught as an interdisciplinary major, blending agricultural, physical, environmental, and social sciences.

The program typically starts with a combination of basic science courses (biology, chemistry and plant science) and courses that will introduce you to the methods and concepts of sustainable agriculture, such as how to boost crops without chemical fertilizers, or how to protect against pests using natural, rather than synthetic, controls. You are also introduced to the social dimensions of agriculture, such as how to maintain family farms and how to establish and support local food supply chains.

Upper division courses go into more detail in these areas, and you will begin to work on projects that pull together what you have learned. Most colleges have a student farm, or provide hands-on internships, where you will have ample opportunities to put theory to practice.

Students participate in all levels of planning and operations on the student farm. They determine how much land will be planted with a variety of vegetable and herbs, based on the markets they are likely to have. They order seed, prepare the soil, and start transplants in the greenhouse. As classes wind down in the spring, they begin planting their vegetable seeds and transplants, then manage them throughout the summer (weeding, fertilizing, controlling pests). Harvesting begins when the earliest crops are ready, usually in mid-summer.

Some student farms operate a farm stand at their site, or participate in local farmers' markets. Others supply the college cafeteria with produce or sell to local restaurants. Many operate a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, in which community members purchase a "share" of the farm's produce.

How this all works can vary at different colleges. Students may work under the supervision of an experienced farm manager on many student farms, or they may manage the farm themselves, with faculty and farm staff available for help and advice as needed.

Back in the classroom, you will be taught in a variety of styles, including traditional lectures and class discussion. There may also be a service-learning project, where you work in a group to help the local farming community.

The main difference between colleges offering this major is whether their primary focus is on classroom science and theory, or on hands-on practical training. Many try to blend both approaches. Some offer training opportunities in such areas as tractor safety and repair, farm equipment maintenance and operation, or pesticide application certification.

Other majors you might like:

Agronomy and crop science

Farm and ranch management

Agricultural education services

Global studies

Plant protection/pest management

Urban, community, and regional planning

Agricultural and biological engineering

Botany

Food and nutrition studies

Solar energy technology

Environmental studies

Natural resources and conservation

Questions to ask colleges:

Is this major housed in a school of agriculture with special admission requirements?

How much contact will students have with working farms and farmers?

What opportunities exist for summer on-farm jobs?

What are recent grads doing now?

Career options and trends:

Farmer or farm manager*; organic farm certifier; agricultural educator*; Natural Resources & Conservation Service (NRCS) agent; crop consultant; community farm manager*; community food bank manager; agribusiness employee.

The U.S Department of Agriculture foresees strong growth in the sustainable agriculture industry, fueled by rising consumer demand for organic food and the growing trend to "buy local" produce. And because everyone must eat, employment of agricultural and food scientists is projected to be fairly stable even during difficult economic times.

For more info:

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education USDA-NIFA

Stop 2223

1400 Independence Ave. SW

Washington, D.C. 20250-2223

(202) 720-5384

www.sare.org

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA)

P.O. Box 3657

Fayetteville, AR 72702

(800) 346-9140

http://attra.ncat.org

BOOK OF MAJORS 2013 Copyright 2012 The College Board

Product Details

ISBN:
9780874479812
Author:
College Board
Publisher:
College Board
Author:
The College Board
Subject:
College Guides
Subject:
Reference-College Guides
Publication Date:
20120731
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
1360
Dimensions:
10.875 x 8.25 in

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An in-depth look at the top 200 college majors and a guide to 3600 colleges offering any or all of these programs.

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