The Washington State University Pullman Catalog

Program in Agricultural and Food Systems

The online catalog includes the most recent changes to courses and degree requirements that have been approved by the Faculty Senate, including changes that are not yet effective.

Program in Agricultural and Food Systems
Hulbert Hall 423

Animal Sciences Department Chair and Professor, G. Murdoch; Crop and Soil Sciences Department Chair and Professor, L. Carpenter-Boggs; School of Economic Sciences Director and Professor, J. McCluskey; Plant Pathology Department Chair and Professor, L. du Toit; Horticulture Department Interim Chair and Associate Professor, S. Ficklin; Entomology Department Chair and Professor, L. Lavine; School of Food Science Director and Professor, Soo-Yeun Lee; Professors, I. Burke, L. Carpenter-Boggs, A. Carter, D. Crowder, A. Felsot, M. Flury, J. Goldberger, P. Jacoby, R. Koenig, V. McCracken, K. Murphy, M. Neff, H. Pappu, C. Peace, M. Pumphrey, N. Rayapati; Associate Professors, M. Brady, L. DeVetter, C. Neely, J. Owen, K. Sanguinet T. Sullivan, A. Warner; Assistant Professors, J. Antonangelo, D. Griffin-LaHue, G. LaHue, H. Neely; Teaching Associate Professors, J. Baser, H. Henning, C. Perillo; Instructor, J. Holden; Teaching Assistant Professors, L. Brueggeman, M. Maquivar, T. Wheeler; Associate in Research, B. Jaeckel; Adjunct Faculty, C. Campbell; D. Cobos.

Feed the world. Power the planet. Save the environment. It’s a tall order by any measure, but especially when you consider that experts predict that by 2050, the world population will grow to more than 9 billion human beings. Join WSU’s Agricultural and Food Systems (AFS) degree program and focus on vital aspects of agricultural and food systems ranging from plant and animal production to marketing and education. This innovative program provides students with what they need to build or work in a modern food system that is productive, competitive and sustainable.

Delivered collaboratively by departments within the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, the AFS program provides foundational education in a wide array of disciplines, including crop and soil sciences, animal science, food science, horticulture, entomology, plant pathology, and economics. Students can choose among five Bachelor of Science degree majors: Agricultural Education; Agricultural Technology and Production Management; Agricultural and Food Business Economics; Human Nutrition and Food Systems; and Organic and Sustainable Agriculture. The college offers a minor in Agricultural Systems, which is specifically designed to complement a major in Communications, for students interested in careers in the communications sector of the agricultural industry. Additional minors in Agricultural Systems, Precision Agriculture, and Agricultural Technology and Production Management are also available. The college also offers an interdisciplinary Master of Science in Agriculture degree, an undergraduate Certificate in Organic Agriculture, and a graduate Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture.

A student may be admitted to an AFS major upon making their intention known to the department. For complete information about all majors within the AFS degree programs, please see the AFS webpage at:

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Food Systems (Pullman campus)

Systems not silos. The AFS degree program emphasizes the highly integrated nature of the science disciplines involved in growing food. All students take a core set of courses designed to provide them with a broad interdisciplinary background as well as the decision-making skills they’ll need to succeed and excel in the workplace.

Capstone courses.  At the end of their program, most students take an AFS capstone course. Agricultural Education students take a teaching experience capstone. These capstone courses are designed specifically to provide a culminating experience to help in preparing students to be “job-ready, day one”. In the standard AFS capstone, guest lectures from industry professionals challenge students on topics including developing your personal brand, project management, sales 101, private agricultural business ownership and succession planning, and the performance review process. A fundamental part of the capstone experience is a team-based, semester-long project where small groups of students address an emerging issue or problem and provide recommendations to one an industry partner (co-ops, private companies, etc.). Students meet regularly with industry partners (face-to-face, videoconference, phone) to define their project, collect research information, and develop a project plan. They prepare meeting agendas, take minutes and report back to instructors to identify what worked, what did not work, and what changes they plan to make for the next meeting. Besides introducing students to their business and colleagues, industry partners provide in-house research background information, assist in distributing employee surveys and provide excellent professional mentoring for students. At the end of the semester, student teams provide both a comprehensive written report and an oral presentation about their project and industry recommendations both to their peers and to industry leaders. In the teaching experience capstone (Agricultural Education majors), students teach their last semester as their internship in education. Students are required to complete the Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA) as part of the course. Additionally, Agricultural Education student teachers supervise students in and outside of a classroom and laboratory setting. Extensive lesson planning, materials preparation, SAE (Supervised Agricultural Experience) supervision, FFA activity involvement, and professional engagement are major components of the field experience of student teaching. 

In addition to WSU's Six Learning Goals of the Baccalaureate, graduates with a major in AFS will be able to:

  1. Agricultural Systems: Identify the basic human, socioeconomic, environmental, and biophysical dimensions of agricultural and food systems at the local, regional, and global levels.
    • Apply systems thinking and principles to explore linkages and leverage points in agricultural and food systems.
    • Describe how physical, social, and political factors impact global agriculture and food systems.
  2. Scientific Reasoning: Describe the context and scientific basis of current practice and future changes in agricultural and food systems.
    • Interpret and integrate basic and applied science knowledge to explain and evaluate agricultural and food systems.
    • Collect, analyze, and interpret scientific data to inform decision making.
    • Discern appropriate scientific evidence and research to inform decisions.
  3. Critical Thinking: Evaluate real-world agricultural and food systems and paradigms considering agricultural science, social, economic, and environmental outcomes.
    • Obtain and apply scholarly information to expand student understanding and knowledge of agricultural systems.
    • Identify the scientific, cultural, economic, and environmental context and diverse perspectives influencing agricultural food systems.
    • Understand the students’ own values and perspectives in shaping agricultural food systems.
    • Draw conclusions and make recommendations based on an understanding of the system, scientific evidence, contextual factors, and desired outcomes.
  4. Science and Professional Communication: Communicate scientific principles, research, and findings to diverse audiences.
    • Deliver professional oral and written communication.
    • Use graphic representation to present data and scientific findings.
    • Work effectively as a member of a team and collaboratively across disciplines.

Depth (Major-Level Outcome): Demonstrate major-specific mastery of a topic with specialized knowledge and skills in at least one area of inquiry within the AFS degree.

Agricultural Education
  • Demonstrate the necessary subject matter knowledge for success as an agricultural teacher.
  • Develop and deliver effective lessons based upon sound pedagogy and student needs in a culturally responsive manner.
  • Construct, analyze, and appraise formative and summative assessment data in order to inform teaching practice.
  • Implement the components of a complete agricultural education program.
Agricultural and Food Business Economics
  • Apply appropriate economic principles, analysis, and quantitative methods to analyze problems and issues of social importance.
  • Collect, organize, evaluate, and analyze appropriate economic data to apply economic theory to AFS managerial problems.
  • Illustrate and communicate analytical results, conclusions, and limitations of the econometric testing in real world applications.
Human Nutrition and Food Systems
  • Being developed by the curriculum committee
Agricultural Technology and Production Management
  • Being developed by the curriculum committee 
Organic and Sustainable Agriculture
  • Locate, access, and interpret principles and certification guidelines (if applicable) of organic and other agroecological systems, such as conservation agriculture, and mixed crop-livestock.
  • Be competent with using important sustainable agriculture website sources, including the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), OrganicMaterials Review Institute (OMRI) and National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA).
  • Understand agricultural sustainability metrics in the areas of social wellbeing, financial performance, environmental quality, and productivity for measuring these components of any farming system.
  • Develop the ability to plan, certify, and manage production on an organic farm, including practical skills in farm production, marketing, and teamwork.

Hands-on opportunities with the AFS degree are numerous. Students are encouraged to participate in undergraduate research projects, work as part-time employees with research and extension personnel, study abroad, and/or participate in professional internships to put their classroom training to work.  Student clubs also provide a variety of ways to interact with peers, faculty, and staff within the college, yet another way to enrich the educational experience (


Scholarships for AFS majors are available on a competitive basis, and are awarded based on ability, need, and interest in a career path in associated professions (

Transfer Students

Students planning to transfer into the AFS program should take courses that meet the University Common Requirements (UCORE) and the AFS core requirements, when possible. Transfer articulation agreements have been developed with several Washington state community colleges degree programs. More information can be found on our Transfer Student website:, as well as the general major website: Prospective transfer students are strongly encouraged to consult with an advisor within the AFS program for further guidance.

Graduate Studies

Master of Science in Agriculture (Pullman and Global Campus)

The MS in Agriculture is an advanced degree program that focuses on the agricultural professional, practitioner, and educator to meet the growing need for prepared individuals to apply new and emerging technologies and science to the advancement of agriculture and to prepare these individuals for leadership opportunities. This degree offers individuals already working in the field, or those with a personal want for more training, the opportunity to continue their education.  Students may elect to customize their program or choose from three options: General Agriculture, Food Science and Management, or Plant Health Management (online only).  Access complete program description on-line at:

Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees are also offered in Crop Science, Economics, Entomology, Food Science, Horticulture, Plant Pathology, and Soil Science. More information can be found on the CAHNRS Graduate Studies website:


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