5 reasons to study a master’s in agriculture | Top Universities

5 reasons to study a master’s in agriculture

By Stephanie Lukins

Updated August 3, 2023 Updated August 3, 2023

Sponsored by University of Reading

There is growing worldwide demand for a new generation of talented agriculture graduates. For those considering a master’s in agriculture, TopUniversities has teamed up with the University of Reading to come up with five compelling reasons to study a master’s in agriculture.

Study a range of subject areas

Agriculture is a very broad field and brings together a wide range of disciplines such as animal science and land management, farming practice, crop and livestock science, horticulture, economics, international development, environmental conservation and climate resilience.

At the University of Reading, agriculture master’s students develop a holistic understanding of the technical, scientific, social, ethical and business principles that underpin the industry.

“Students can also enhance the technical skills relevant to agriculture and horticulture research and practice,” said Dr Sarah Cardey from the University of Reading’s School of Agriculture, Policy and Development.

Address some of the most important challenges of the modern world

From famine to world poverty, development economics to environmental sustainability, genetic modification to disease epidemics, agriculture intersects with each of these issues, and students at the University of Reading can get involved in research and development work in all of them.

“Our academics and graduates are tackling some of the biggest issues of the 21st century, aligned to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Professor Simon Mortimer, Head of School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading.

“The world needs innovation within agriculture to continue developing appropriate and sustainable solutions for how to feed the world” added Dr Cardey.

“As a result, skilled graduates who have a foundational understanding of agriculture and global systems will be key in helping to shape the response to this global need in a range of areas, from research, the private sector, policy, to providing community-based programmes in a range of countries.”

Agriculture graduate job opportunities are in abundance

A higher degree is often desirable by employers, explains Dr Cardey, while it also has the benefit of opening up plenty of career paths on both a local and international scale for you. A career in farming isn’t the only option for agriculture graduates.

A master’s degree in agriculture gives you the knowledge and skills needed to manage agricultural and farm businesses, or work in areas such as agricultural sales and marketing, farming journalism, food production, nutrition, community development, addressing climate and environmental change and environmental conservation – to name just a few.

Work with innovative technologies to make a global impact

Innovation and technology aren’t only reserved for the likes of finance and science – cutting-edge technology is playing a key role in the way the world produces and distributes food, from drones to robotic harvesters, autonomous tractors to modern greenhouses. Innovation also means combining technological solutions with new ways of approaching social challenges in global agriculture.

Samuel Wairimu studied the MSc Agriculture and Development at the University of Reading and is from Kenya. He is now a junior research associate at TMG Research – a Berlin-based sustainability think-tank, supporting a five-year urban agriculture project in Nairobi that aims to promote a resilient and inclusive urban food system.

“The role is exciting as it is relevant to my postgraduate training and taps into my interest in applying a systems approach to solve complex problems,” said Samuel.

Although Samuel’s undergraduate background is in finance, he knew he always wanted to pursue a career that combined research, policy and development within the agriculture sector and credits his master’s in providing him with the knowledge and skills to pursue a rewarding career.

“I wanted to shift my career to international development and specifically in tackling poverty and food insecurity in developing countries through agriculture,” he said.

During his studies, Samuel had the opportunity to join a food systems enrichment programme offered in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development and learnt how to use his problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to solve various pressing agricultural issues.

He said: “Towards the end of the programme, I was selected to be part of the virtual summer school together with students from three other European universities. With the guidance of a mentor, my group won the competition designed by John Deere on what it would take to run all agricultural machinery in Germany using biofuel.”

Good preparation for a research degree

A master’s in agriculture is ideal if you’re thinking of pursuing a PhD later down the line, have a keen interest in extensive academic research, or simply want to develop your research skills within the field.

The agriculture master’s degree programmes at the University of Reading allow students to link current research within the field and gain an understanding of the current trends in global agriculture, says Dr Cardey.

This article was originally published in August 2021 . It was last updated in August 2023

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