Certificate programs in agronomy and plant science, while rare, are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Agronomy is the science of crops and soils, integrating ecology, soil science and plant genetics in order to produce healthy crops for use as food, and fiber, among other things. It involves the complex combination of sciences such as biology, chemistry, ecology and genetics, as well as economics and earth science. Bachelor’s degree programs are often required for entry-level jobs in the industry of agriculture and food science. Most graduates go on to earn master’s degrees to specialize in a career or research pathway. Undergraduate and graduate certificates are also available from several colleges and universities.
Certification is not a requirement; however, the agricultural and food science industry recognizes its significance. Various organizations offer certification in the field. The American Society of Agronomy offers the Certified Professional Agronomist (CPAg) designation, while the Soil Science Society of American offers the Certified Crop Advisor credential.
- North Carolina State University offers the Undergraduate Certificate in Agronomic Crop Production. The program’s required agronomy courses include Crops: Adaptation and Production and Introduction to Agroecology. Students can select from elective courses which include Oil Seed Crop Production; Cereal Grain Crop Production; Seeds Science & Societies; Grassland Management for Natural Resources Conservation; and, Soil Science. The certificate program is open to students who have successfully completed one college biology course or equivalent experience.
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln, through its Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, offers the Plant Breeding and Genetics Online Certificate Program. This program covers a wide range of key topics for seed industry and plant breeding professionals. The agronomy courses included in the program are also ideal for Certified Crop Advisers who are seeking continuing education units (CEUs) in order to maintain their certification. The certificate program is designed for individuals who want to achieve career advancement, increase productivity or gain additional knowledge and understanding of cutting edge technologies and methods used in the field of plant breeding and plant genetics.
- An Agronomy Certificate program is offered by Northcentral Technical College which aims to equip producers or future agriculturalists with the required skills and techniques that will help them succeed. Aside from teaching participants about the basics of agronomy, this certificate program can be used as a stepping stone into the two-year Dairy Science Associate Degree program at NTC. Participants can eventually transfer to UW-River Falls to earn a Dairy Science Bachelor’s Degree.
- Northeast Iowa Community College offers the Agronomy Custom Application certificate program. Students who participate in the program will learn how to operate custom application equipment, and recognize and analyze crop production problems. The program is designed around the competencies required of the International Crop Advisor program. A majority of the agronomy courses are offered online which provides participants with flexibility and convenience.
- The Postgraduate Certificate in Agronomic and Rangeland Services is offered by the Department of Agronomy and Range Science, University of California, Davis, in collaboration with UC Davis Extension. The certificate program is designed to provide advanced training in agronomic and rangeland systems. Students must have a minimum of a Bachelor of Science degree or equivalent with courses in chemistry, botany, mathematics, physics and ecology in order to qualify.