written by: Sam Lieberman•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 3/3/2011
Interested in taking an online course about farming? These two universities offer an entire major and a certificate in the subject, where you could take the entire degree or just a few courses of interest.
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While it's not the most common subject to take, there are actually college courses available in which you can study farming and agriculture. Amazingly, you can even take an online course about farming from the comfort of your home. Oregon State University offers a full Bachelor's of Science in General Agriculture that can be taken online. For those interested specifically in Organic Farming, Washington State University offers an Online Certificate in Organic Agriculture, and the classes can be taken as a normal WSU student or non-degree seeking student. Even if you don't want the complete one of these programs, you can choose and take one or more of the many classes offered by these schools.
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Classes at Oregon State University
The Bachelor's of Science in General Agriculture at OSU requires 60 credits worth of Agricultural classes. As such, they offer many classes in the subject spread across eight different categories: Agriculture, Agriculture and Resource Economics, Agricultural Education, Animal Science, Crops and Soil Science, Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Resources, and Rangeland Resources. Of these, there are four classes that are considered to be of central importance and are required for the major. These are Computer Applications in Agriculture, Leadership Development, Management in Agriculture, and Soils: Sustainable Ecosystems. You can find a detailed curriculum for the online agriculture degree in a PDF. The tuition for online classes at OSU is very reasonable at a flat rate of only $235 per credit in total.
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Classes at Washington State University
WSU offers an 18 credit Certificate in Organic Agriculture. There are two core classes which are required: Organic Gardening and Farming, and Soil; A Living System. In addition, each student must either take the Practicum in Organic Agriculture on campus, or arrange an internship on his own with an organic farmer, business, or certifying agency. Students using the off campus internship option are expected to work about 20 hours a week for 12 weeks while keeping a daily journal, and complete a 10 page paper at the end of the internship. The bulk of the certificate is 9 credits that can be chosen from 13 different classes. Those classes include such varied topics as World Agricultural Systems, Crop Growth and Development, and Field Analysis of Sustainable Food Systems.
The classes can be taken in any order, and the entire certificate, besides the internship, can be completed online. WSU also offers a full major in the subject on campus. WSU's tuition is higher than that at OSU, and the cost depends on whether or not you are a resident of Washington, and on how many classes you take at a time. For residents, part-time, defined as less than 10 credits will run $430 per credit, and 10-18 credits will run a flat rate of $4,296. Each credit above 18 during a semester will cost $404. For a non-resident, it is $632 per credit for Part-time, $6,315 for 10-18 credits, and $606 per credit for additional classes.
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Many people forget that in our modern world, we still need farmers to produce the massive amounts of food that our world consumes. For someone who wants to learn about farming online, OSU and WSU are great options. These classes can help prepare a student for a career as an actual farmer, or other careers in the food production and farming industries. They can also be a fascinating look into an unusual subject for the curious college student.