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The University of Tennessee | Institute of Agriculture

Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

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Food & Agricultural Business Major

Students majoring in food and agricultural business are prepared for a wide variety of career opportunities.  The focus of their studies is on the functioning of the agri-food sector of the global economic system and economic principles for decision making by business managers, consumers, policymakers and others within that sector.  Students complete a curriculum designed to provide them with a broad-based education and the specialized skills necessary for a successful career in the agri-food industry or with a related organization or public agency.

Find answers to your questions about our program, scholarships, and potential career opportunities below.

What kinds of career options would be open to me? x

Students graduating with a major in food and agricultural business have many career options:

  • Management or marketing in the farm input supply sector, in large multinational corporations that manufacture inputs such as machinery, chemicals, and feed, as well as local retailers of such items.
  • Management of operations that produce agricultural commodities or process food products.
  • Marketing, logistics or customer service positions with food distributors or retailers.
  • Financial or marketing specialists with financial institutions, insurance agencies, or real estate companies.
  • Policy analysts or administrators with industry organizations and government agencies.
  • Various positions with businesses outside the agri-food system.
  • Graduate study in agricultural economics or agribusiness management, as well as professional programs such as law.

Below is a sample of employment positions taken by recent FAB graduates:

  Product Development, Syngenta
  Zone Manager, AGCO
  District manager, John Deere Landscape
  Financial Services Officer, Farm Credit Services
  Trust Investments Manager, Suntrust Bank
  Regional Supervisor, TN Farm Bureau
  Marketing Director, TN Dept. of Agriculture
  Distribution Supervisor, Frito Lay
  Training and Development Director, Procter & Gamble
  Vice President, Andrew Johnson Bank
  Commodities Broker, Sparks Refco
  Sales Manager, Syngenta
  Agent, TN Farmers Insurance
  Plant Manager, Bartlett Flour Milling
  Sales Manager, McKee Foods
  Manager, Tractor Supply Co.
  Animal Product Sales Director, TN Farmers Coop
  Sales Manager, McMinn-Loudon Coop
  Manager, Southern States Coop
  Fleet Manager, Covenant Transport
  Sales Manager, American Cyanamid
  Regional Distribution Center Manager, Wal-Mart
  Logistics Manager, Caterpillar
  Grain Merchandiser, Archer Daniels Midland
  Administrator, USDA

Students take Ag Econ 310 (The Agricultural Employment Process) during the fall semester of their junior year, which focuses exclusively on career preparation and placement.

The UT Career Services Office provides a wide array of information and services to assist students in this area, and facilitates the on-campus recruitment process.

What salary could I expect in my first job? x

Because of the variety of career options available, the range on starting salaries is rather wide.  The median is somewhere around $35,000 per year with the range extending from around $30,000 to as high as $45,000.

 

Would I be prepared to pursue a graduate or professional program? x

In recent years, roughly 25% of our graduates have pursued graduate studies.  Many continue in the M.S. program in our Department.  A significant number over the years have gone on to successfully complete a law degree, others an MBA.

 

How is academic advising handled? x

The department has a long-standing reputation for providing students with dedicated, personalized advising.

Students meet with one of the faculty advisors in the Department during freshman or transfer orientation and typically meet with that advisor on a regular basis throughout their academic program.  These faculty advisors are also actively involved in the Department’s undergraduate teaching program.  This extended interaction allows for very personalized advising with regard to course planning, scholarships, internships, extracurricular activities, graduate or professional studies and career placement.  Working closely with a student over a period of years, the advisor can be a valuable advocate if issues or problems arise and provide a letter of reference or recommendation when requested.

Advisors also initiate requests for course substitutions, provide referrals to campus resources. (e.g. Student Success Center), and write reference letters for students when appropriate.

Advisors have an open door policy, however, it is best to make contact ahead of time and make an appointment.

Although UT requires students to meet with an advisor only once per year, the department strongly encourages visits at least once per semester, and more often as needed.

What concentrations are available within this major?x

Students who wish to target a specific career direction can choose to pursue one of the four optional concentrations: Agricultural Production and Technology Management, Law and Policy, Finance and Risk Management, and Food Industry Management. Because each of these concentrations requires students to complete a more specific set of courses than the base major, students must work closely with their advisor to assure that they schedule required courses prior to their planned graduation date. Many required courses are offered only once per academic year, while a few are offered only every other year. Students unable to complete the required courses as listed for one of the optional concentrations for any reason (e.g., scheduling conflicts with alternate-year courses) will revert to using the base Food and Agricultural Business major.

Agricultural Production and Technology Management Concentration

Compared to the base major, this concentration requires courses within the department in futures/options markets and agricultural commodity policy, along with a capstone course in agricultural production and technology management. Outside the department, courses in animal science and plant science are required, along with an additional six hours of coursework in areas related to production agriculture. This concentration would be appropriate for students who expect to be involved in management of a farm or agricultural production facility and for students who are pointing toward a career in the farm input supply sector.

Law and Policy Concentration

Compared to the base major, this concentration requires courses in two of three areas of law (agricultural, business, environmental) and two of three areas of policy (commodity, conservation, and food). Two additional courses related to law and/or policy are also required from a list of directed electives. This concentration would be appropriate for students pointing toward law school or a graduate program in public administration or public policy. Students seeking to work for a government agency or and industry organization would also benefit greatly from pursuing this concentration.

Finance and Risk Management Concentration includes Business Administration Minor

Compared to the base major, this concentration requires departmental courses in rural real estate appraisal, agricultural law, futures/options markets, and commodity policy. This concentration builds in a Minor in Business Administration that includes courses in management, marketing, and finance. This concentration would be appropriate for students interested in working in some capacity within the finance, insurance, or real estate industries, or for the US Department of Agriculture agencies that administer the commodity and crop insurance programs.

Food Industry Management Concentration includes Business Administration Minor

Compared to the base major, this concentration requires departmental courses in food industry management and marketing as well as food policy. A course in food laws and regulations is also required. This concentration builds in a Minor in Business Administration that includes courses in management, marketing, and finance. This concentration would be appropriate for students interested in employment with companies engaged in the processing of agricultural commodities or the manufacturing, wholesaling, or retailing of food products.

What kinds of courses would I take? x

The core of the curriculum requirements is 36 hours of course work in the Department.  The eight required courses cover agricultural economics, farm and agribusiness management, food and agricultural marketing, agricultural finance and quantitative methods.  Students also choose four courses from areas such as agricultural law, professional selling, rural development, international trade, food and agricultural policy, precision farming technology and natural resource management.  This core is complemented by a set of required courses and directed electives from three areas: the University-wide General Education categories, the College of Business Administration (accounting, economics and statistics) and elsewhere in our College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (focusing on food and other related subjects).

Students may choose to follow the curriculum requirements from the catalogue for any fall semester in which they are enrolled at UT.

The Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheets are listed below for the most recent fall semesters. The four new concentrations begin Fall 2016. The Curriculum Requirements include course requirements by year while the Advising Work Sheet includes course requirements organized by category (General Education, Business, Agricultural Economics, etc.) with columns to keep track of progress.

Major in Food and Agricultural Business

Fall 2012 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet
Fall 2013 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet
Fall 2014 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet
Fall 2015 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet
Fall 2016 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet

Concentrations

Agricultural Production and Technology Management Concentration
Fall 2016 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet

Food Industry Management Concentration (Business Administration Minor):
Fall 2016 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet

Finance and Risk Management Concentration (Business Administration Minor):
Fall 2016 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet

Law and Policy Concentration:
Fall 2016 Curriculum Requirements and Advising Work Sheet


Complete course listing

Would I be able to do an internship? x

An internship experience is encouraged for every student to gain practical experience, to enhance knowledge, and to further define career interests. An internship is a 10-12 week work experience usually done between the student's junior and senior academic years.

Students might intern with an agribusiness firm; a local, state, or federal government agency; or an organization related to the student's interest area. An internship could be with a local machinery dealership or be part of a national internship program hosted by a major ag chemical supplier. Working with a rural development agency or with the local co-op or extension agent are other possibilities. the opportunities are almost limitless.

As part of the internship, students complete a project agreed upon by their internship supervisor and faculty advisor. The project requires an in-depth analysis of a problem or challenge faced by the host company or organization. The report is presented to the internship supervisor. The student also makes a written and oral presentation of the project and internship upon returning to his or her college studies.

Internships are typically done during the summer, though some take place during the fall or spring semester.  Participation in an internship commonly leads to an offer of full-time employment upon graduation.

Interns generally receive compensation during the internship period. The amount varies depending on the internship host. The student can also receive 3 hours of academic credit towards the degree program.

Internship Program Guidelines

Internship Opportunities

Would I be eligible for departmental scholarships? x

Approximately half of our majors each year receive scholarships from departmental or college sources, averaging about $2,000 per student.  This is in addition to the Hope Tennessee Lottery Scholarship and any guaranteed UT scholarships a student may receive.  Students must submit an application by February 1 for the following academic year.  Both merit and need are considered in the process of awarding scholarships.  For general information, click on Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.

The University of Tennessee Farm Credit Scholars Program

In 2012, Farm Credit Mid-America established the Farm Credit Scholars Program through the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the University of Tennessee. The program goal is to enhance the learning experience of students and to prepare them for careers in agriculture.

Learn more about the program and how to apply at the Farm Credit Scholars site.

What sorts of extracurricular activities are available? x

The NAMA/Agribusiness Club is a student organization within the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. All majors are invited and encouraged to become involved in the club

  • as a way to get to know each other better
  • as means of learning more about their studies
  • as a way of networking for internships and career opportunities
  • as a way of developing leadership skills
  • and as a way of having some fun

Club activities include field trips, employer panel discussions, presentations by industry representatives, and social mixers. Sometimes, there may be service projects. Faculty members usually participate in club meetings and activities which means students get to know their advisers and instructors better. Club members often serve as a resource to the departmental administration for new ideas.

NAMA or the National AgriMarketing Association is a professional organization of persons involved in ag related marketing, advertising, public relations, media and more. The UT Chapter is a student affiliate of the professional organization. That gives students an even greater opportunity to interact with professionals in the field for jobs and internships.

Club members often become members of the UT NAMA Student Marketing Team. The Team develops a product and marketing plan for presentation in national competition each spring. The competition is held during the NAMA AgriMarketing Conference in a U.S. city. About 800 professionals and 300 students participate in this conference each year. The UT Team has been in the finals of the competition three of the last nine years. Students can receive academic credit for being on the Marketing Team. The 2008 NAMA Marketing Team placed third nationally out of more than 30 teams.

Whether a freshman or a senior, the NAMA/Agribusiness Club has something for you.

Numerous college-wide clubs and organizations are open to students from any major.

 

Are there opportunities to study abroad? x

Students in agriculture and natural resources can participate in UT study abroad programs throughout the world. These experiences can include courses and other activities during the summer, mini-term and an entire semester or academic year. Find your path and begin your journey now by searching CASNR's Study Abroad site and then contact your advisor, and/or Dr. Dayton Lambert, departmental contact, and/or David Ostermeier, CASNR Study Abroad Coordinator.

 

What requirements must I meet to be accepted? x

Students can declare the major as freshmen or when they decide to transfer from a community college or different major at UT.  There are no minimum GPA requirements or prerequisite course requirements that must be met to associate with the major.

To learn more about the admission requirements and process check out the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

How easy is it to transfer from a community college or another major? x

A faculty advisor works carefully with any student looking to transfer into the major and seeks to be as flexible as possible in assessing how previous credits can count toward meeting curriculum requirements.  The advisor takes the initiative in submitting substitution or waiver requests when appropriate.  The Department has developed articulation agreements with several community colleges which provide guidance on courses to be taken in preparation for transferring into the major.

From community colleges

Students who plan to transfer into one of our majors after one or two years at a community college should consult with a faculty advisor in our Department as early as possible. Students should review the current articulation agreement between the community college and UT for guidance in choosing appropriate courses.

To learn more about how to apply as a transfer student check out the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

From other majors at UT

Students transferring from other majors at UT should consult a faculty advisor to discuss how previous academic work will apply to our major requirements. The advisor will be as flexible as possible in seeking to assure that a maximum number of credit hours from previous academic work are applied toward meeting specific requirements in our majors.

How and when should I apply to UT? x

For incoming freshmen, apply early in your senior year of high school, anytime after August 1 but no later than the December 1 deadline.  For transfer students, apply by June 1 for fall semester enrollment and November 1 for spring semester enrollment.  For more information on procedures and deadlines check out the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Once admitted to UT students may declare either of the Departmental majors, concentration or minor immediately. No minimum GPA or prerequisite course requirements must be met.

How do I contact an advisor to learn more? x

You can email or call Dr. Bill Park, Undergraduate Coordinator, or our department to ask more questions and to setup a time to meet with an advisor.

Dr. Bill Park
Undergraduate Coordinator
321A Morgan Hall
(865) 974-7413
wpark@utk.edu

Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics
2621 Morgan Circle
302 Morgan Hall
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-4815

Phone (865) 974-7231
Fax (865) 974-7484

agecon_undergrad@utk.edu

 

graduate students in Ag Econ

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