Virginia Tech offers new online master's degree in agriculture and life sciences

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 9, 2007 – Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is expanding its educational opportunities to include an online master's degree program in agriculture and life sciences for working professionals and others who are not able to participate in an on-campus learning experience.

The degree program, which will provide broad, scientific-based courses for professionals in agriculture, life sciences, and related fields, will begin in fall 2007. Upon successful completion of the program requirements, students will earn a Master of Science degree in agriculture and life sciences.

"This online degree program will provide educational opportunities currently unavailable to place-bound professionals wanting to pursue an advanced degree. Our unique program provides professionals the flexibility to earn a master's degree with focus on a career-relevant area of specialization from the convenience of their own home," said Sharron Quisenberry, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "Over time, we will be able to expand program areas, and thus, expand the educational capabilities of the college and the university to benefit professionals interested in a quality online education."

Students can choose from five concentrations: biosecurity, bioregulations and public health; food safety; environmental science; education; and plant science and pest management.

All courses will be offered in a distance-delivered format to provide students the flexibility to study at their own pace.

"Offering the program entirely online makes it more accessible for people already working in life sciences, agriculture, and other related industries," said Tim Mack, associate dean for Information Technology and Distance Learning in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "Students in the program will be able to work full time while they complete their degree at their pace."

The American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC) Degree and Program Database lists 11 advanced online degree programs that are offered nationally at other universities in the general areas of food and agriculture. According to Mack, Virginia Tech's online master's degree program offers a unique set of concentrations that are different from what is offered by the other online programs.

Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and have a 3.0 grade point average (4-point scale) unless there are documented extenuating circumstances. Students will be required to complete 30 hours of approved coursework, plus a project and report, to earn the degree.

A student could complete the degree in about four years, assuming he or she takes one or two courses per semester. All students must orally defend their reports in a meeting with their advisory committee.

For more information about the Agriculture and Life Sciences master's degree program or to apply, visit the Online Masters of Agricultural and Life Sciences webpage or contact Tim Mack, associate dean for Information Technology and Distance Education, at (540) 231-6879.

Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college's comprehensive curriculum gives more than 2,200 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world's leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.