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Agricultural and Rural Policy Studies

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College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Agriculture is more than just farming; it is about food, energy, and conservation. Rural is more than just small towns; it is the linkages between cities, urban consumers, and the global economy. Our major prepares students to guide policy decisions impacting agriculture, the environment, and the well-being or rural communities. In short, our major is the people and policy side of agriculture. Students will learn about the social and policy dimensions of agriculture and about strategies to promote rural resiliency and community vitality. The major will train students to engage with diverse audiences to discuss controversial issues, to promote public-private partnerships, and to lead and manage policy programs. Our goal is to give students the tools to help rural people and places thrive in the 21st century.

Our curriculum is flexible to meet the interests and needs of each student. A specialization area outside the major is required. Internships, experiential learning, and study abroad are important parts of the major. Graduates work as policy and legislative advisors, agriculture and farmer relations specialists, government affairs specialists, public information and communications officers, extension educators, community and economic developers, and in agriculture m

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will develop the necessary skills to become effective leaders in agriculture-related companies, non-profit associations and organization, and state and local government agencies working on agriculture and rural issues. Specific learning outcomes include:

  1. Making connections between agriculture, the environment, and rural communities
  2. Making linkages between local, national, and global agricultural systems
  3. Investigating how social, economic, and cultural systems affect decisions
  4. Analyzing information and recommending solutions to guide decisions
  5. Evaluating program and policy outcomes
  6. Communicating information and ideas to others to guide decisions
  7. Leading and managing policy programs
  8. Promoting civic engagement among diverse groups


Administered by the Department of Sociology

Total Degree Requirement: 120 cr.

The major in Agricultural and Rural Policy Studies requires a minimum of 120 credits and a 2.00 minimum GPA. Only 65 credits from a two-year institution may apply, which may include up to 16 technical credits. Up to 9 P-NP credits of free electives can be applied toward the degree.

University Requirements:

ENGL 150Critical Thinking and Communication3
ENGL 250Written, Oral, Visual, and Electronic Composition3
ENGL 302Business Communication3
or ENGL 309 Proposal and Report Writing
LIB 160Introduction to College Level Research1
U.S. Diversity from approved list3
International Perspectives from approved list (Met by SOC 348)3
CALS Communication Proficiency Requirement: A grade of C or better in 6 cr. of composition (ENGL 150, ENGL 250, ENGL 302, or ENGL 309); and a C or better in speech fundaments (COMST 214 or AGEDS 311)
Total Credits10-16

CALS Requirements:

Mathematics from approved list (MATH 140, MATH 143, MATH 145, MATH 150, MATH 151, MATH 160, or MATH 165) 13
STAT 101Principles of Statistics3-4
or STAT 104 Introduction to Statistics
Physical Sciences from approved list (MTEOR 206, [CHEM 163 & CHEM 163L], GEOL 101, [GEOL 102 & GEOL 102L]) 25
BIOL 101Introductory Biology3
or BIOL 211 Principles of Biology I
Life Sciences from approved list (Met by AGRON 181)3
Ethics from approved list (Met by SOC 325)3
Humanities from approved list 33
Social Sciences from approved list (Met by SOC 230)3
AGEDS 311Presentation and Sales Strategies for Agricultural Audiences3
or COMST 214 Professional Communication
Total Credits20-30

Mathematics approved list:


Physical Sciences approved list:


Humanities approved list:

Major Requirements -- Agricultural and Rural Policy Studies Core

SOC 110Orientation to Agricultural and Rural Policy Studies1
SOC 230Rural Society in Transition3
SOC 262Data Discovery and Civic Engagement3
SOC 264Facilitation of Public Issues in Agriculture3
or SOC 210 Social & Civic Innovation
SOC 325Agriculture in Transition3
SOC 348Global Poverty, Resources and Sustainable Development3
SOC 350Human Diversity in Agriculture and the Food System3
SOC 382Environmental Sociology3
SOC 415Agrifood Policy and Social Change3
SOC 433Strategies for Rural Resiliency and Vitality3
SOC 444Sociology of Food and Agricultural Systems3
AGEDS 315Personal, Professional, and Entrepreneurial Leadership in Agriculture3
or POL S 475 Management in the Public Sector
Total Credits34

Major Requirements -- Social Science Foundation

AGEDS 451Agricultural Law3
ECON 101Principles of Microeconomics3
ECON 235Introduction to Agricultural Markets3
POL S 283, POL S 335, POL S 344, or other approved POL S course3
Total Credits12

Major Requirements -- Agricultural Science Foundation

AGRON 180Global Agriculture in a Changing World3
AGRON 181Introduction to Crop Science3
AN S 114Survey of the Animal Industry2
FS HN 242The US Food System3
or AGRON 342 World Food Issues: Past and Present
Total Credits11

Major Requirements -- Minor or Co-Major

Minimum of 15 cr. in a declared minor (9 cr. must stand alone; 6 cr. must be at 300 or higher); or a declared co-major (30 cr. must stand alone)15
Total Credits15


Complete 15 cr. for a second minor or co-major plus 3 cr. free electives; or complete 18 cr. free electives18
Total Credits18


SOC 1101SOC 2623
SOC 2303ECON 2353
SOC 2643AGRON 1813
ECON 1013ENGL 2503
AN S 1142LIB 1601
ENGL 1503Mathematics3
 15 16
SOC 3483SOC 3253
SOC 3503POL S 335, 344, or 2833
AGRON 1803FS HN 242 or AGRON 3423
BIOL 101 or 2113STAT 101 or 1043-4
Physical Science3Physical Science1
Physical Science1Humanities3
 16 16-17
SOC 4443SOC 3823
AGEDS 315 or POL S 4753SOC 4153
COMST 214 or AGEDS 3113ENGL 302 or 3093
 15 15
SOC 4333AGEDS 4513
Minor3Free Elective3
Free Elective3Free Elective3
Free Elective3Free Elective3
Free Elective3 
 15 12


The department offers work for the degrees master of science and doctor of philosophy with majors in sociology and rural sociology and minor work for students majoring in other departments. For M.S. and Ph.D. departmental requirements, see Program of Graduate Study for Degrees in Sociology and Rural Sociology, available from the department office. The department offers concentrations in a number of areas, e.g., community studies and development; sociology of families, inequality, food systems, agriculture and environment; methodology; social change and development; criminology; the economy, organizations and work; and social psychology. The Department of Sociology does not offer a nonthesis master’s program.

Graduates have a broad understanding of sociology, address complex societal problems, and communicate effectively with scientific colleagues and the general public in both formal and informal settings. They understand sociological theory, conduct research, and are prepared to educate college students and contribute to public policy. Although the department stipulates no language requirement for either the degree master of science or the degree doctor of philosophy, specifying competence in one or more languages may be desirable in some instances.

The department also participates in the interdepartmental program in interdepartmental majors in sustainable agriculture, transportation and water resources, and interdepartmental minors in gerontology (see Index).