The Agroecology Program offers a Master’s degree program with two tracks that differ in coursework requirements and the nature of the final project.
The Research Track provides students the opportunity to obtain experience in the scholarship of original research, culminating in the writing of a thesis. The vast majority of students in this option will work as Research Assistants and be financially supported by research grant funds managed by faculty affiliates of the Agroecology Program. Research topics addressed by students in this option span across a wide range of the traditional disciplines and departments of the academy, while maintaining an agroecological framing required by a thesis committee composed of at least two faculty affiliated with the Agroecology Program. The Research Track is the more common of the two tracks, comprising approximately seventy-five percent of Agroecology MS graduates.
Students on the Research Track typically collect data for two field seasons, so two and a half years is a typical time frame for degree completion. However, similar to most other MS degrees, the duration of an individual's program is to some extent dependent on the vicissitudes of original research.
The Public Practice Track trains students to be project developers and program managers at the interfaces of agriculture and other sectors of society. Students enrolled in this track will have the opportunity to combine the academic rigor of their coursework with the practical challenges of managing an applied project and generating useful deliverables for stakeholders. Public Practice students typically complete a final product that is distinct from a thesis and is crafted to meet the needs of stakeholders. Past examples include creating a training manual for managed grazing, compiling an industry analysis report for Midwest hazelnut growers, and a assembling a curriculum development proposal for organic veterinary medicine. The time frame and nature of the final product varies depending on the needs of the specific project, but Public Practice students typically graduate in two years. Historically, about one in four Agroecology students enroll in the Public Practice Track. Opportunities are constrained by availability of funding for these projects.
For more information on program track requirements, please see the Research Track Learning Plan and Public Practice Track Learning Plan. A sample semester-by-semester course plan is available in the Student Handbook.