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Food and Agricultural Business Major Guide for 2016-2017

What is Food and Agricultural Business

Students majoring in Food and Agricultural Business study the structure and function of markets within the global economic system with emphasis on the agri-food sector. Students also study principles for decision making by business managers, consumers, policy makers, and others within that system.  Students complete a curriculum designed to provide them with a broad-based education and the skills necessary for a successful career in the food and agribusiness industry, with a private company, an industry organization, or a public agency.  Students have ample opportunity to develop strong microcomputer skills and gain practical real-world experience through case study analyses, the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) marketing team, internships, and extracurricular activities.

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
  • 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. Scroll to the near the bottom of this page for links to the specific course requirements for the Food and Agricultural major and each of the optional concentrations.

A minor in Food and Agricultural Business is available to students pursuing other majors.  The requirements for the minor include 15 hours of prescribed courses in the department in addition to introductory economics and accounting.

Career Opportunities in Food and Agricultural Business

Students graduating with a major in Food and Agricultural Business are prepared for a wide variety of career options.

While some graduates pursue opportunities managing farms or other commodity production operations, far more take management positions with farm input supply businesses, commodity processors, food distributors, and food retailers.  Others take positions in marketing or customer relations with companies that manufacture farm input supplies or food products.  Many graduates work in one of the closely related areas of finance, insurance, or real estate.  Others work in the public sector for government agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture or UT Extension.  It should be noted that it is also common for graduates to obtain employment with companies outside the food and agribusiness industry.  Finally, an increasing number of our graduates continue their education in highly respected graduate programs in agricultural economics or agribusiness, or in professional programs such as law.

Salary Trends in Food and Agricultural Business

Because Food and Agricultural Business graduates pursue careers in a variety of directions, the salary range for entry-level positions is fairly wide.  Depending upon the type of employer and position responsibilities, beginning salaries range from about $35,000 to $50,000.  Starting salaries generally increase over time at slightly above the rate of inflation.  Potential for advancement in both responsibilities and salary depends on both the type of employer and the performance of the employee.

High School Preparation

High school students who wish to major in Food and Agricultural Business should take college-preparatory mathematics courses.  Completion of electives in accounting or other areas of business, microcomputer applications, oral and written communication, and social sciences such as psychology and sociology could also prove helpful.  Participation in extracurricular activities to develop leadership, interpersonal, and entrepreneurial skills is also advised.

How to Major in Food and Agricultural Business

Students wishing to major in Food and Agricultural Business simply declare this intent once they have gained admission to the University.  The department has no enrollment restrictions or association requirements beyond the Unversity-wide minimum 2.0 GPA required to remain in good academic standing.

Students who plan to transfer into Food and Agricultural Business at UT after one or two years at a community college should consult the current articulation agreement between the community college and UT to choose appropriate courses.  The flexibility of the Food and Agricultural Business curriculum works to the advantage of transfer students, in most cases allowing for all credits taken from up to two years of study elsewhere to apply toward requirements of the program.

Requirements for Food and Agricultural Business

To complete a bachelor’s degree with a major in Food and Agricultural Business, students must complete 120 semester hours of course work.  This includes 42 hours of general education courses in the areas of English, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, cultures and civilizations, and arts and humanities.  Eight hours of additional course work is required in oral communication, written communication and microcomputer applications.  Students take 18 hours of business courses in economics, accounting, statistics, and an elective area.  At least 12 hours of courses outside the department but within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources are required.  The heart of the curriculum includes 18 hours of required courses in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (AREC)  and 15 hours of directed electives within the department.  And finally, 7 hours of general electives can be used by students to pursue a minor or special interests.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

Internships with food and agribusiness companies, industry organizations, or government agencies can be an exceptionally valuable component of a student’s academic program.  Approximately one-third of the students who graduate in Food and Agricultural Business complete an internship, typically during the summer between their junior and senior years.

Three hours of academic credit can be received for a three-month internship.  Students must submit periodic progress reports, complete a special project and receive satisfactory ratings from their supervisor.  During the following semester, students must also complete a written report and make an oral presentation summarizing their internship experience.

Listed below are companies and other organizations with which Food and Agricultural Business majors have completed internships in recent years:
American Cyanamid, Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill-Nutrena Feeds, Ducks Unlimited, Elanco Animal Health, Farm Credit Services, John Deere, Monsanto, Murphy Farms, Syngenta, SYSCO, Office Depot, Target, TN Agricultural Statistics Service, TN Dept. of Agriculture-Marketing Div., TN Farmers Cooperative, TN Farm Bureau-Legislative Div., TN Farmers Insurance, Tyson Foods, USDA Rural Development, UT Center for Profitable Agriculture, UT Extension.

Highlights of Food and Agricultural Business

Wide applicability of major to a variety of career options:  Graduates are prepared to pursue opportunities for employment or further education in a number of different directions.

Personalized advising:  Academic advising for majors is handled by a dedicated team of faculty members in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Students typically work with the same adviser from orientation to graduation and develop a close relationship that often extends well beyond graduation. Advisers are committed to assisting majors they advise not only in course selection but in career planning and placement as well.

Small class sizes:  Departmental courses all have relatively small enrollments, allowing for personalized interaction between professors and students.

Scholarship availability:  Majors are eligible for a large number of scholarships offered by the Department and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

Agribusiness Club:  Members benefit from opportunities to develop leadership skills, volunteer for community service activities, hear presentations about career opportunities, network with alumni, and participate in social or recreational activities.

NAMA Marketing Team:  This student team competes each year with teams from other universities around the country at the NAMA (National Agri-Marketing Association) Conference. The team works together to identify a potential new product and develop a marketing plan that is summarized in a 20-minute group presentation.  The 2008 Team placed third nationally out of more than 30 competitors. The NAMA Conference also provides an excellent opportunity for networking with industry professionals.

Experiential Learning Requirement:  All majors must complete at least one of the following three activities for academic credit: an internship, a research project, or study abroad. This is a new requirement effective with the 2016-17 catalog, consistent with the campus-wide Experience Learning initiative described below.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

The agri-food sector of the economy is truly global in nature.  Students are exposed to the importance of international trade and policies in various courses within the curriculum.  Students are also encouraged to participate in faculty-led study abroad programs sponsored by the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) which include Thailand and Jamaica.  Other UT faculty-led and semester abroad programs are offered through the Center for International Education.  CASNR offers scholarships for students participating in study abroad programs. CASNR students, faculty and staff participate in the annual Unity through Diversity Dinner held each fall. Some CASNR students select a minor in Modern Foreign Languages and Literature.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Experience Learning

Experience Learning LogoExperience Learning is a bold new initiative with the goal of transforming the educational student experience at the University of Tennessee. Over a five-year period, UT will transform our culture to give students more opportunities to be involved in civic engagement, solve complex real-world problems, and contribute to the welfare of their communities as part of their regular course work.

The purpose of Experience Learning is to help students apply the knowledge, skills, and values learned in the classroom to real-world challenges. Experience Learning also seeks to engage student learning through direct experience and intense reflection to increase knowledge, acquire lifelong learning and problem-solving skills, and elucidate values.

Learn more about Experience Learning.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see the academic plan with semester-by-semester course requirements and milestones for this major and its optional concentrations, use the links below:

Food & Agricultural Business – Base Major


Food & Agricultural Business – Agricultural Production & Technology Systems


Food & Agricultural Business – Law and Policy


Food & Agricultural Business – Finance and Risk Management


Food & Agricultural Business – Food Industry Management


For More Information

Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
302 Morgan Hall
Knoxville, TN  37996-4518
Phone: 865-974-7231


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

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